Perpetually late, Laura wandered into the restaurant, her dyed black hair wispy thin, clothes slightly hanging. She was always apologetic. Always an excuse I didn’t quite believe. Back when time was money, when I was a single parent working on straight commission, no friend was worth waiting an hour for. When pressed, Laura confessed her singleton childhood, her broken parents: mother bent on crazy, father so enamored of his whacked-out wife he’d do anything wifey asked. When she was fifteen, Laura awoke to her father pulling her waist-length hair taut above her head, her mother poised over her with sewing shears, cutting close to the scalp. I didn’t scream, Laura said. No one was there to hear me. When she turned seventeen, her parents took her to a cafe in NYC, sat her at a table, and left. A wild-haired man, acne-scarred and snaggle-toothed, came up and introduced himself as “Master,” then led her away. Laura’s parents had sold her for $5,000; Master produced a bill of sale. He was a savage, Laura said. It took her months to escape. You understand now why I’m late, she said. But I grew tired of her tardiness, and began giving her a meeting time 45 minutes before the actual appointment. It worked. She showed up on time again and again. One day she asked me why I no longer seemed perturbed when she arrived for lunch. I confessed my subterfuge. She burst into tears. Like she’d been duped. Again. I can’t be alone at a restaurant table! she said. Too traumatic. Her shorn hair. Her “kidnapping.” Her entire, frightened life.
Bumpy Night (photograph: Beverly Hills, 2018)
Copyrighted © by Alexis Rhone Fancher. All rights reserved.
Image is published in the artist’s latest collection of poems and photographs,
Erotic: New & Selected (NYQ Books, 2021), and appears here with her
Bio: Alexis Rhone Fancher