by Steve Davenport


Black Guy and Bald Guy are buddies.

Black Guy tells Bald Guy things.

Every morning.  4:40.  Stagger out of bed, glance at the clock as I go by.  The numbers are glowing at me.  4:40.  I have to pee.

That’s some clockwork, man.

Okay, sure, maybe not always 4: 40 on the nose, but 4:40 something.  And closer to 4:40 than 4:50.

Remember when I ran the 440?  Set the record in grade school?


440.  I loved that race.  They call it the 400 today.  400 meters.

Not that.  Forget I said anything.  Let’s go get something to eat.

A little shorter race, the 400.  440’s yards.  My time would be better.

You know what?  I don’t think there’s a connection.

Oh, there’s always a connection.  Numbers tell us things.

No, we tell things with numbers.  We use them to manipulate personal gain and social advantage.

You know I count things, right?

You’re doing it again.  I was talking about me and now I want to go get an early dinner.

Bald Guy raised a finger and pointed at the quilt nailed to his apartment wall.

Sixty panels.  Each one telling a different story.  You know why?

Why what?


Six across, ten down?  Pattern.

She was sixty when she finished it.  1960.  When she set it down on the table, satisfied it was done, she heard a thump in the other room, like a big sack of flour had fallen off the couch.  It was six in the evening, time of her birth.  She went in the other room and what do you think she found?

A lot of flour?

Dead.  Full out there on the flour between the couch and the television.

On the flour?

Floor.  I didn’t say flour, did I?  Wonder what that means?

Probably not much.  I’ll drive.  I’ll even pay.

Jack was her sixth husband.

Sixth?  Now that might mean something.


Family ever talk about Grandma maybe being a serial killer?

That’s not the point.

What is the point?

Okay.  Number recap.  Sixty years old.  1960.  Six in the evening, time of her birth.  Sixth husband.  Sixty panels.

That’s only five.

Outside it was sixty degrees.

Black Guy pauses dramatically.  Bald Guy’s expecting him to say something, but Black Guy’s got nothing.

Bald Guy looks at him.

When, for instance, were you born?

You know when I was born.

March 14?  When was I born?

No.  Absolutely not.  Let’s go.


I’m not going there.  Remember back when I was in the middle of a story?  Remember when I said I’m hungry?

Come on.


Say it and I’ll go.

March 14.

What time of day were you born?


A.M., right?

How did you know that?

Ask me what time I was born.

No, you weren’t.

11:29.  A.M.


And I’m two inches taller than you.  Two minutes.  Two inches.

That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a week.  That or the sixty-degree weather-conspiracy thing.  You win the award.  Twice. 

You tell me that every week.

This week you tied with yourself.  That’s a change.

Bald Guy slips his shoes on.

And what, Black Guy says, do any of these numbers have to do with my waking to pee every morning around 4:40?

Not around.  4:40 or two or three minutes past, never more than four or five so as to always be rounded off back to 4:40.  The number that means something.

I’m sorry I brought it up.  Again.

You got to piss?  Before we leave?


Bald Guy points to the clock on the wall.


P.M.  Universe makes sense, man. 


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