James Denmark, "Age of Innocence"
James Denmark, Age of Innocence
Can a Game Be Literature?

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November 9, 2002:

Her resentment at the way stupid Americans pronounce her name: "Lo-ray-na."

Lovely brown eyes, intelligent, humorous. Dark complexion: as a child her mother called her "La Negra." Spends a week with you exploring the city. Every night she sleeps on the couch and, when she returns home, she rightly marries your mutual friend.

San Francisco MUNI bus, 5 Fulton line, outbound, afternoon on a sunny weekend. You and L. in the second-to-last seat. Usually you walk everywhere but this time you're returning from a BART trip to Berkeley with bags of books. She bought Marx and Kafka in English; you bought Carlos Fuentes, Adolfo Gilly, and the Sandinista newspaper "Barricada" in Spanish. She's half-asleep, with her head of rich brown waves resting lightly on your shoulder.

There are whispers behind you which grow sharp, like pointed sticks. You realize you're supposed to hear them. "Mexican?," says a contemptuous male whisper-voice. "Uh-huh," says another.

You are not amused. You turn around. Three teenybopper skinheads looking for confrontation. Camouflage pants, black military boots, t-shirts with khaki suspenders. Murky blue eyes lacking insight or mirth. Fat, in a way that makes you think of sausages. They're underage, but, it would be simple to provoke them into attacking you. If you were alone you'd do it.

She puts her hand gently on your arm, turning you back around. At your stop they flip you off through the window.

At home, her mother wants to know who the tall gringo is, with the leather jacket and the bad-boy posture, in the snapshots from her vacation.


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