Late fifties, body like a well-fed penguin, graying hair, thick novel, turns out to be Dickens. She takes off her glasses, settles into her chair. There’s a collection of papers in the middle, but evidently not serving as a bookmark and she opens the front cover and pulls the book in close, maybe six inches from her face. Lets it drop from orbit again to reach for her glasses. Folds them completely, puts them back on the table, brings the book close enough again to have the heat of her breath fog the pages.

I am thankful for my eyes. Lasik is not in my immediate future. No doctor will need to clamp my head down, clamp my eye open, slice her way into my cornea and allow a computerized laser to alter the shape of my lens. I can read at arms length, I can crouch closer to the felt surface of a pool table and determine with some precision the correct angle of impact for the ball at my cue’s tip to strike the ball at the far end.

I have a voice, to me unremarkable, brings to mind no immediate adjectives, but it suits me.

These fingers do the trick.

My legs are long enough to render me what some would consider tall, and they’ve never failed me in a significant way, all tendons, ligaments, cartilage still intact as ever. The numb spot on my right thigh, I’ve determined, is slowly spreading but I believe is limited to the surface, the skin, about the size of an empty cupcake wrapper pressed flat, indeed as if one is stuck to my skin because when I trace a finger across, my leg feels nothing, as if it’s not even there. It’s been years now, this spot, this numbness, and now it’s a part of me, and I would not give it away. It is a lack I would keep.

Facially I am doing fine. The great nose expansion of old age has not yet commenced with any noticeable gusto. My eye color still occasionally catches me off guard, particularly on days after drinking; maybe I expect them to be dulled, foggy as they feel, so they only appear brilliant in contrast, but appearance is all they have to be judged by, isn’t it. Have you ever seen a blue so, what. Inorganic, but on an organism. Mostly only on birds.

Use your glasses, woman. Why bring them otherwise.

In due course of the evening I’ll be entertaining guests in this, my coffee shop. My home turf, and the guests in attendance will only know me before they get to know each other, making me the center of attention because otherwise, what. Talk of the weather? Why do I deserve this stage, I wonder. What should I do there.

I can write, passably. These tricky fingers. I don’t know how to translate that to real-time entertainment, but this isn’t an entry for complaints. I can pull off a wide-brimmed hat. I can still drum Wipeout on my chest. Juggle three items for four seconds on my fifth try. Smoke rings.

Two car payments left to make until I have a new address. I deserve the stage because I am leaving. This is a limited-time engagement, the farewell tour, tickets are hot so get them now before it’s all in the hands of scalpers, scuzzy folk, like patent trolls buying up potential to resell it when it’s worth more.

I am willing to try out tangents at the risk of losing the thread.

What Dickens book is nine hundred pages long? Maybe it was large print, she’s gone now, I’ll never know.