You In the Suit Who I've Cornered in an Empty Street

by Nathan Alling Long

Look, I know some things can't be stolen, like the scent of a body, or the way someone nods, the green of the trees when it's June and or the food they dump in to the trashcans at the cafeteria, but most things can be, even the fillings you have tucked away in the back of your teeth, like un-mined gold in some dark cave, or your ability to play a string instrument by crushing your hands with the metal lid of a trash can, or that smirk of pride that seems to be permanently glued to your face, with a quick, old fashion punch to the ribs… so I hope you will reconsider what you said about me knowing nothing about possession and property, and start thinking about giving over the things you can give, before I consider taking the things you can't, because you're wrong: dignity is something that can be robbed from you, which I know because it has been done to me, and it takes not much more time than it does to take from you a pint of blood, which makes me want to tell you, look, that sunset illuminating the brick building behind you is something I can't steal, but the copper in those walls I can steal, with some effort, just like I can steal your head from your body-although the time it would take to cut it off completely, to separate the spine between two vertebrae and slice through the tendons and ligaments, that I could never get back. So, hand over the simple things, now, because I am, and you are, running out of time, and I'm offering you the rest of your life at such a low rate, it's practically a steal.

Nathan Alling Long's stories and essays have appeared in over 50 journals, including Tin House, Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, The Sun, Crab Orchard Review, Salt Hill, Camera Obscura, and Indiana Review. His work has also appeared on NPR, in a dozen anthologies, and in a chapbook of short stories published in 2005 by Popular Ink Press. Nathan loves bicycles, baking bread, books—anything that starts with the letter B. He lives in Philadelphia and teaches at Richard Stockton College of NJ.

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