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Dancing with a Kerchief Salesman by David Scheier

I didn’t like any of them. I had never thought much about kerchiefs and I wondered what sort of man tried to sell kerchiefs at a dance club. I shook my head and tried to dance. “Do you see that shoelace salesman near the cracked mirror? Do you know him?” The kerchief salesman wiped sweat droplets from his cheek. I looked over at the shoelace salesman who was dancing the jig, alone, unbuttoning his silk shirt and blowing kisses at his reflection.

     “No, I don’t know him.” I picked up the kerchief salesman’s paisley kerchief and rubbed my fingers against the grainy fabric.

     “I think he wants to sell you laces. He told me he wanted to sell you odd numbers of laces.” The kerchief salesman pointed to my feet. “But you’re not wearing shoes, and he won’t understand that, so buy one of my kerchiefs and he’ll leave you alone. I’ve seen him before with his ziploc full of laces. He doesn’t like me or competition. He won’t bother you if I’m with you.”

     I loved it when men came to my rescue from other men. The kerchief salesman couldn’t just talk to me or sell me a kerchief; he had to rescue me from buying shoelaces. I didn’t want to tell him I had no need for a kerchief either, but feeling one in my hand I asked how much it was. The shoelace salesman watched us from the corner of his eye and pretended to ignore us by talking to his reflection. He held up lace after lace to where his face met the crack in the mirror, making his head split from the corner of one eye to his chin.

     The kerchief salesman grabbed both my hands and wrapped the kerchief around my fingers. “You’ll buy this?”

     I tried to think of the last time I had a kerchief against my cheek, around my neck, cupping my nose. I thought about sneezing into the kerchief and how good it would feel to sneeze into the safety of cotton. I looked back at the shoelace salesman, thinking, if I can humor this one I can humor them both. The shoelace salesman was lacing another woman’s tennis shoes on a table top, and the kerchief salesman was already tucking his merchandise into my pants pocket. I hadn’t realized I’d paid him until he said, “Thank you, I don’t accept refunds.”
     I have often tried to find a use for the kerchief. I’ve tried using it to keep my hair up, but it’s too small. I’ve used it to blow my nose and wipe my hands, but cleaning it so often is a hassle. It’s no good as a neck accessory because the fibers cause my neck to break out in hives. So I’ve placed it next to other items I’ve collected over the years: from the wine cork salesman, the purse strap salesman, the vinegar bottle salesman, and the camera lens salesman, all on a shelf I got from the bookcase salesman next to a pile of shoes without laces.
Born in Germany and raised in El Paso, Texas, David Scheier is a writer & illustrator who holds an MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. His work has appeared in several publications including BlazeVOX, Pacific Review, Gather Kindling, Petrichor Machine, Rio Grande Review, and Front Porch. His birth tree is the Elm Tree. Visit him online: davidscheier.com.