Confessions in Echo Park
Robin Wyatt Dunn
She rested her fingers on the keys of the laptop as horns sounded outside. Murmurs swirled through the air and other keyboard sounds clattered into the echoes of the library. DVDs sorted in patient time, snuffles and cubby holes filled and wound, the night buses streaming by in a grunting Los Angeles, old phlegm cleared from throats, rich voices in the pride of new money, hungry for destiny fresh from Persia a man practiced his English at the circulation desk; a sigh, and typing.

Chills ran down her spine because this was her confession. Where do confessions begin? The buses ran by and the answer pinged into her ear in the brakes’ screech like a bird caught in a homily and the shuffled papers reassured her of her destiny unknowable, but felt.

A backpack was zippered up, a tinkle on the smooth hardwood; she adjusted her glasses. DVDs, muttered words, where did the Persian go? The century was such a long mouth, so horrendous and hungry in the pleasures of a new anarchy (capitalism wins . . .) and she listened — why did she still listen?

This was her confession: “I listen too much.” And she did. In the strip of paper torn from notebook by the man across from her she heard the quiet urgency bespeaking a tome of worlds, the care and cause of beatings, and she saw his wary glance away before he secreted it inside his bag.

They were talking about her now; the only woman in the library at this hour and she was listening, god, how she listened, it was uncountable irrational unstoppable disaster in the time that was the moment of her undoing, her refashioning, her surrender she was typing:

“I think too much. I am getting the lobotomy.”

Whispers now, even more urgent, consonants carried in the quiet night, shufflings and mutterings and the quiet caress of a Carolingian Dynasty writ hard into the DNA of America, the public library, and this library was so sad in Echo Park, where Mexicans, God bless them, had never been inside one, and didn’t know to shut their fucking traps. But that was in the afternoons, the long hours of unemployment winding by, and in the evenings it was quieter, and she could confess.

“I want the eggbeater motion inside my brain,” she wrote, and so she did. So she did, it was just. Why did the long arm of the universe bend towards justice as Dr. King asserted, she wondered. What was the logic of it? And if the Milky Way in its spiral shape bent towards justice, what of the galaxies that did not bend in spiral fashion? Were they unjust? Weren’t all metaphors ultimately literal?

A door unlocked, and the tinkled key of the restroom moved through space, and a voice filled with authority informed other librarians of something gone amiss, and one librarian whispered back, with humor in her voice. Librarians were counting by the centuries, eschewing perfume and lamination, in the coils of our heart, in the washing of our sins, she huddled at the table to confess:

“I am a virgin . . .” (this was a lie) “and I want to take a lover, take a black man to my bedroom. I want the whirring motion of the eggbeater delivery in my forelobes. I want deliverance . . .”

Someone coughed and she was jerked out of it. She buttoned her trenchcoat and clasped her laptop in front of her, heading strictly out the door without comment; sirens soared by in the Los Angeles night.

Robin Wyatt Dunn

was born in Wyoming in the Carter Administration. He lives in Los Angeles.

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