Johnny America


My Glau­cous Umbrella


Illustration of an umbrella

“I don’t think I’m smart,” I said to the drip­ping man stand­ing be­side me in the bus shel­ter. He had re­marked about my um­brel­la, how it was a col­or like­ly fa­vored by some­one who thought they were smart. I had no idea what he meant by this. In­deed, I had no idea how this par­tic­u­lar um­brel­la had come in­to my pos­ses­sion. More­over, he said it was a col­or I’d nev­er heard of be­fore. It sound­ed more like an eye or blood af­flic­tion than a col­or. Why was this man both­er­ing me? The um­brel­la, what­ev­er its fuck­ing col­or, ef­fec­tive­ly kept the rain off my head and shoul­ders and thus I had no rea­son to de­cry it or to throw it aside so that a sod­den cretin wouldn’t feel com­pelled to va­pid­ly opine about it. That he wore rub­ber ga­losh­es piqued me fur­ther. “What kind of man wears ga­losh­es these days?” I snarled. “A smart man,” he said, “for even your sil­ly um­brel­la won’t keep your shoes dry.” I glanced at my shoes, the toes a dark­er shade of brown than the rest. The man’s seg­ment­ed smile re­mind­ed me of a ventriloquist’s dum­my; so too, his ap­ple cheeks and his dead eyes. “I win, dum-dum,” he said. And as the man sud­den­ly spun around like a bal­le­ri­na and dashed away— per­haps cor­rect­ly en­vis­ag­ing a thrash­ing with the um­brel­la in ques­tion — I couldn’t help but think of Hein­rich von Kleist and his es­say on the pup­pet the­atre and how no hu­man be­ing can match the pup­pet in ef­fort­less grace.

Filed under Fiction on June 17th, 2022

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Hazi Smith wrote:

This is a per­fect lit­tle vignette…

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