Linguist, lexicographer, writer, editor, broadcaster


I first saw Elke in my kitchen making tea one morning. She stood there in doubtful black shiny nightclothes, fair-skinned. One of the roommate’s many dames. This week he tried to break it off with her. She responded by stepping out for unreality. One a.m., she’s cracking and knocking around the apartment like a three-year-old at recess. “No. no no no no noooo.” To herself, then like a wounded animal, wailing. “No I don’t want to I don’t want to no nono nonononon ononono nonon no no no.” Throws his laptop computer across the room. He’s talking quietly, low. I can’t hear the words. Sounds like chatter used to break a mustang. In and out of the bathroom she goes, banging the door both ways. Tries to shut herself in his bedroom. Slams the door. But he’s in there. “I don’t want to go. Make love to me. Make love to me.” Opens the bedroom door a crack. She’s hunched low, looking up at me. Says: “I just want to make love to him.” I think, That’s a song. She rips at her clothes. She’s near-naked, breasts hanging out, unconcerned. Finally she calms. He puts her in a cab, tells me, “She’s lonely. She doesn’t know anybody.”

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Grant Barrett