Dana Sonnenschein: Creature from the Black Lagoon

My neighbor leads a life of fiction and once in a while invites me in—to make believe she’s got a spotless apartment, a couple kids, religion.  It’s hard to keep up with the plot.  The radiator hisses like a cast-iron snake.  Or the kitchen faucet drips, and a roach slips out from under a plate.  She changes her age like her clothes, every few days.  Sometimes she stares where water scales the wall and says she’ll give up booze.  One night the building’s old pipes ring and then my phone—I heard you typing.  I’m writing a novel, too, she says, about some people I know.  I sigh and lean on the wall we share.  Soon she’s breathing into my ear, So you think it’s your honey, forgot his keys, no, drops the keys, he knocks and calls, louder, because you were in the shower, yeah, and you let him in, but   he’s   not   your   honey.  He’s a man in flippers and a black rubber suit.  Universal Studios, 1954.  I roll my eyes.  But then I think of her, hunched over, listening behind her door, as keys jangle onto hardwood, as this thing between a man and beast slithers inI say, Sorry, I left the water running.  You’ll have to stop by tomorrow and tell me how it ends.  When I hear her slippers in the hall, I shiver and pretend there’s no one home.

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