The woman at the counter attracts me. She is tall, bulky without being heavy or overweight. I don’t love her and never will. I love her desperately.

Like many other men, I want to sleep with her  but don’t. I want her to walk away from her work to the back shelves of this bookstore and reveal herself to me. My wife is a beautiful woman who would never harm me. I will never sleep with this stranger at this bookstore because I will not hurt my wife. I want to sleep with the bookstore woman all the same. I want to take a journey into the far corners of desire, not because it would feel good to me but because it would feel awful.

I am middle-age and overweight. The notion that I have not accomplished what I should overwhelms me. Copulating—the impersonal clinical action that would happen in the stacks—with the bookstore woman would stir an adventurer in “me” who goes to unknown places and returns with a different vision of the world. I know this adventurer well. He is the roller-coaster rider, the man who climbs up on things because they frighten him.

I also know the man who won’t undertake this bookstore adventure. The moral core is too solid, too immutable. It will not let me walk with this woman, even if she was willing, into the back of the empty bookstore and sate physical desire that I don’t and have never understood or come to terms with.

I talk of me and him. I am me and I am the characters I create and recreate. I understand myself as characters as well as me’s. I look back on myself and construct myself us as people I think I am and once was. I sleep with her. I don’t sleep with her. Two different characters. Two different me’s.

Published by

Patrick Dobson

Patrick Dobson was founded in 1962. He is a writer, scholar, ironworker, and poet who lives in Kansas City, MO. He is author of two books with the University of Nebraska Press, Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (2009) and Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer (May 2015). Dobson is a work in progress until termination.

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