N and I decide to head to Moscow for a few days.
We see the red square. It is square. It is red. It is cold. We go to a bar.
V is there, sitting, smoking, trash bag full of water around her tail. It is an Irish pub.
“There are no Irish mermaids,” she explains, when asked why she likes it so much.
“How’s your husband?” I ask.
She shrugs, “dying somewhere.”
“Right, of course.”
N orders a beer.
V looks at the menu.
“What is an Irish car bomb?” she asks.
“Socially accepted racism,” N tells her.
We get three.
I excuse myself to the bathroom. There are stalls and a trough. I, developing pee-shyness at twenty-seven, take a stall. I stand in front of the toilet, about to pee when a voice calls something from beside me. I turn, losing concentration.
“Hey big man!”
It is a picture of a busty Thai woman, topless in a G-string. I frown, startled, unable to pee. She smiles.
“Oh, look at that!” she says, looking down at my crotch. I zip up and back into the other side of the stall. She giggles. Inside the frame, she can’t be more than a few inches long.
“Why don’t you call this number big man, I’ll show you a good time.”
She waves her hand beneath her at a large yellow series of numbers. She winks.
“Uh, no, thank you.”
She makes a pouty face. “I won’t tell the mermaid.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The Thai woman shrugs, “nothing,” she mutters, admiring the back of her own lacquered nails.
“I really have to pee,” I tell the picture.
She sighs, “fine,” she groans, covering her eyes with one hand. I eye her a moment before going back to my attempt at peeing.
“You know,” she starts again, I grit my teeth. “You know, you can’t love a mermaid, they don’t love humans. It’s not in their nature. But me, I’ll love you. I’ll love you all night.”
“Oh shut up,” I growl at the picture. I take my sweatshirt off and place it over the frame. Her muffled laugh mocks me as I finally manage to pee.
I take my sweatshirt back.
While I put it on, the Thai woman admires one of her own nipples.
“Do you think I’m beautiful?” she says, once my hand is on the door.
I scratch the bridge of my nose. She nods.
“At least I’m easy to love,” she tells herself.
I open the door.
“Wait!” she cries.
“Will you tear me into little bits and send me down that toilet you forgot to flush?”
I turn. I reach for the picture.
“No wait!” she cries. I pause.
“Misery is better than boredom. Death seems boring.”
I roll my eyes and let the door fall shut behind me. I take a breath.
I go back out to the table. N is ordering another beer. V is looking across the room at a young couple the way an oceanographer might look at plankton.
N stands up.
“My turn,” he announces, headed towards the bathroom.
“Use the trough,” I call after him.
When he is gone, I watch the young couple with V. They kiss, the girl giggles.
“His ears are uneven,” V says.