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The Short Form

“Not Right at All”

Jeffrey Rotter


I told him flat-out: “You don't look right.” The guy was young and counter-cultural, so he ignored me. He reinserted the buds in his ear canals, looked past me at our popular city going by. I could hear drums beat inside his brain, grown mean screaming like a pair of hornets in his ears. “Not right at all” I shouted over the music.

“Leave him be,” said a woman in the seat behind me, in the seat reserved for handicaps and the pregnant.

I had to turn around. She was neither handicapped nor pregnant, but she wasn't exactly an exemplary human, either. “He doesn't look right,” I explained. 

This was the woman's stop, not a desirable intersection by any stretch. She gathered her belongings, a bike helmet and a paper shopping bag from a panties boutique. “Maybe he doesn't want to look right,” she said.

He just sat there, his elongated head bobbing to the music. Why a stranger was defending the guy, I can't say. I tried to look inside the panties bag, but she covered it with the helmet. “You looking at my lunch?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Not unless you eat underpants for lunch.”

We read it in The Minus Times Collected 1992-2012.

Originally published in The Minus Times.