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January 30, 2023

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

By Mitchell Waldman

He is sitting in a black chair at a plain white table, in a windowless room. The jungle humidity is locked in this room.

I sit across from him. It wasn't easy to find him but, now, here I am.

"Most men live lives of quiet desperation," I say.

"I am not one of them," he says, smiling. It gets my blood churning. He's still smiling, staring, just staring at me with those icy eyes.

He squints as he stares at me, then says, "Tell me something I don't know."

"All right. Let's see, the earth was created in six days, and on the seventh day. . ."


"Great white sharks appear not to like the taste of humans but of all shark species are responsible for the most attacks on humans."


"Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of over 700,000 of his own countrymen."

"Ha! Amateur!" Suddenly, his eyes clench tight and he looks like he's going to spit. Then, under his breath, he says "Insufferable bastard."

"The capital of Delaware is. . . ."

"What is 'Delaware,' and why would I care about that?"

"Your mother was a whore."

He smiles, shakes his head. "You know that's not going to work."

"And . . . I did her."

"Mmm hmmm."

"Nobody likes you."


"And, if they did, nobody would admit it. It would be too embarrassing to admit."

"They all just take orders from you, pretend, or pretended, at least, back in those days, to like you because you are, were . . . well, you know."

"What else? Surely you can do better than that?" He smiles, fingers the spot above the lip where the mustache used to be.

"You want some truth, some real truth?"

"Yes, that is what I want."

I pull it out of my back pocket, lift it and point it, try to keep the tremors in check, as he rubs his arm where the swastika armband once was.

"This gun I'm aiming at your head is loaded. And now I'm going to make you a memory, just like you made my parents a memory for me."

Originally appeared in Foliate Oak.

Article © Mitchell Waldman. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-01-23
Image(s) are public domain.
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