/a janos


Bury me in my pajamas. Do not dress me in a suit, do not blush my face, do not signal to the world that I am ready one last time to go to work. Bury me in my pajamas. And not a new pair of pajamas, the old pair: the pair with the faded skid marks from all the times I went to bed after taking a shit and — like a child — forgot to wipe properly. Put me in a coffin with my neck unshaven and the black earth still impacted under my fingernails and my hair grown out.

When I was five years old my brother Ben — then six — took me up into the attic to cut my hair. I had long loose curls and Ben being a little boy didn’t know what he was doing so he cut giant patches that went right down to the scalp. My mother took me to a barber but the best he could do to correct the disaster was give me a buzz cut.  Even then I had glaring bald spots. A week later we all flew out to see family in Hungary, and my grandmother said I looked like a little Auschwitz boy.

She liked that joke even though her own father and own brother and own grandparents all died in the camps, naked and shaved and holding onto bars of soap waiting to get clean. I hope that one day my grandchildren will laugh about my death and some little Jew angel somewhere will get his wings.

Sometimes when it’s late at night and the work is stacked tight and he thinks of that yawning death he feels relief, it puts him to sleep, he is unburdened and free. Not me. My death will be my whole life’s apology.

And everybody is always apologizing. I shouldn’t have overshared during that team building exercise. I didn’t realize you were lactose intolerant. I honestly thought you were pregnant. And everyone’s entitled to their feelings. Everyone’s entitled to healthcare. Everyone’s entitled to stand in line if they really want those tickets. And some men scratch their balls, but it’s the men who scratch each other’s balls that change the world.

I went to your party and you were dancing by yourself, listening to that retro Walkman of yours and I thought how exhausting it must be to always be a shark when I am no stronger than a dog, a door, a closet, a cord, and when they found him hanging from the banister people said what a shame and he obviously said nothing but we all knew that his silence meant that yes, even life is a choice.

I don’t mean to brag, but I took A.P. C++ in high school with a pair of smoking hot identical twins. I wanted to make out with Julie and so I asked her to the semi-formal dance and she said yes but then later I didn’t go to the semi-formal dance because I played it too cool and I blew it and now she knows that I’m bad news.

We like to say that the people who know us best are the people who know us most but what if it’s the opposite?  There’s a paradox in journalism that the more information you have the less objective you become and so the only people who see things clearly are the uninformed. Oh Julie. You know me so well. Bury me in my pajamas. I promise this time I will not flake. Curate the service for me.  Use a laser pointer.

Later it is silent. Later it is black out. Later is forever and while it eats at you it is never there. We are forever near. There are swaths of black cloth and papier-mâché that’s holding together the air. Dorothy is here. She’s pulled a ring out of her asshole and she smeared shit all over her hair. I turn to you and try to pull you near because I’m so much less afraid of this than I am of the sound of your tears. This is that very scary scene at the end of that dream with that ominous loaded gun that you’ve minimized to the bottom of the screen. Put me somewhere special — take me to a world where nobody’s mean. I want to be comfortable I want to be quiet I want a long hot bath and no more riots. But the planes are still bombing the minarets are still ringing and Jerusalem is still singing. The lambs are still screaming Mumia’s still speaking the print goes to press and the ledes keep bleeding: truth guns germs knives fist stick bloodlines.  Tear me off your dollar pack and bring me up to bed — I’ve never been happier then when giving you head. And I am voiceless I am senseless I am over the moon. I am glad I’m in pajamas I will be home soon.



Adam Janos’ creative prose has been published in Word Riot, Narratively, Journal of Microliterature, and as a newspaper reporter his work appears regularly in The Wall Street Journal. He is currently an MFA candidate at Rutgers-Camden, where he also teaches creative writing.