VESICA PISCIS by Stephen D. Rogers

I mine the overlap of public and private, the vesica piscis formed by the intersection of two circles in the Venn diagram of life. The double eclipse. The ellipsis.

The slips.

Last night she searched the internet for “hot m/m bodies.” She stayed up until two in the morning, and today she hurried into work ten minutes late.

Monday, her recycling bin contained five empty wine bottles (cabernet, from various wineries, 2 for $10) buried under forty-three plastic bottles that advertised the benefits of iodized spring water.

Her trash, picked up twice as often as the recycling, contained, among many other items, four fudge ripple cartons, two chocolate samplers complete with identification charts, and three paperback romances, each of their last pages torn out but not discarded.

I have yet to determine whether she kept the resolutions, burned the pages, swallowed the lies, or flushed the toilet.

But I’ve only been on the job a month. As you know, since this is my fourth report.

You are keeping count, aren’t you? My invoice will be itemized, and you’ll want to check my figures, if only for the peace of mind.

Also of interest is her attempt to shred a preapproved charge card application, the bank offering to wave the fee for the holographic image, guaranteed to reduce the possibility of identity theft.

Should I bill separately for irony?

Amidst the flyers in her recycling, NEWSWEEK and PEOPLE, bold pen strokes erasing the details of the mailing labels.

But then her name is unimportant to you, as meaningless as all the other minutia I don’t include in my weekly reports.

Doubtless you long ago imagined her torso and limbs, cut and colored her hair, colored and marked her skin, formed her nose and eyes.

Dare I hope you picture her eyes almond-shaped, a horizontal pair of vesica piscis, intersection of body and soul? I’m not saying her eyes could be mistaken for a tree nut, only that I would find pleasure in the coincidence.

Her shampoo has one scent, her conditioner another. On the average, she goes through the containers at a ratio of three to two.

What mystery is another’s life. The conscious subconscious and that of which she is unconscious.

The guiding principles of conscience, literally acting “with science”, as if she measures out her days.

Earlier this week, she experimented with a new brand of spaghetti sauce. Based on how much she threw out, the flavor did not find favor.

Perhaps you wonder whether I wear gloves, whether I camouflage my lens, whether my key loggers and wireless sniffers contain electronic signatures.

Hire me to find out if you must. Keep me on the payroll. Find a way to ensure we’re both satisfied.

I investigate the debris, curate the finds, and create the reports you receive in the mail. I’m doing my part. Can I count on you to continue doing yours?

She’s not eating her vegetables.

On the other hand, the allergies that bothered her last week have abated.

Not so her propensity to shop. Even though she goes to the supermarket on the weekend, she continues to make daily stops, sometimes leaving the store with a single purchase, sometimes a bag.

Sublimated desire.

Thursday, she worked two hours past quitting time and treated herself to dinner out, ordering steamers and a Drambuie on the rocks. I worried she might have another before she got on the road, but she made the right decision.

As do we all, she lives her life between the parentheses of birth and death. I extract the treasures and delete the inessentials, compress until the left parenthesis and the right parenthesis touch, cupped fingertip to fingertip, curled toe to toe.

This is the life I present to you, the intimacies of a stranger, just as we agreed when you hired me.

Which brings me to this: I heard your message saying you might want to wrap up the investigation next week. I suggest you consider the service I provide and reconsider firing me.

I don’t tell you everything about her. To do so would ruin the mystique. One of the details I redacted was an item I found in her trash the first week I started investigating her for you.

My final report, including an itemized invoice, sent after she insisted my services were no longer needed.

Why, I wondered, didn’t she recycle?

Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH and more than 900 shorter works. His website,, includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.

Copyright © 2015 Stephen D. Rogers. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. 

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