Whenever someone offers me a delicious clementine, which, honestly, happens all of the goddamn time, I keep it on my desk instead of eating it. It becomes a version of a stress ball. Something comforting to hold in my palm. I toss it from hand to hand when thinking. I roll it around in front of me. First, it is supple but firm with a pleasantly cool and rubbery skin. Over the week it hardens. The skin tightens around itself, making the wedges beneath bulge like toned muscles. Now it is a hard clementine. As hard as some rocks. When I roll it around in front of me now it makes a thick sound. It smacks a pleasant smack when it lands in my palm. Months later, it hardens even more, shrinks even more, and turns bruise colored then brown then black. It’s like a large, round peach pit. At this point, I swallow it whole. Then I repeat the process. Right on cue, here comes Tabitha, doling out clementines across the office like a citrus goddess. I nod at her, she recognizes me, reaches in to the box resting between her forearm and hip, and tosses me a fresh clem’ like a stadium vendor. The same steps occur. I hold it, soft. I roll it, smooth. I toss it, lightly. Days, weeks, months, then finally, a brick-hard, gnarled puck of a clementine. I swallow this one, too! And again, and again, and again, until my stomach is full of them, like a tender purse of deformed, chipped golf balls. Like a burlap sack filled with volcanic rock. A three-quarters-full bag of Kingsford brand charcoal briquettes, my stomach. Finally, I am ready. I walk right over to the south end of the office, my gut growling beneath my sweater like fondled marbles in a Crown Royal pouch, and march into Corbin’s ugly, wide office. He looks up at me, surrounded by his paintings of various cartouches, his little scarab figurines, and utters something like, “I’m really swamped right now, what’s up?”
"Hey Corbin. You wanna punch me in the solar plexus, you fucking eel?"
That’s what I say.