Francisco, in progress


Who is he? That man with the clandestine smile, with a jaw of thunder, with fatal holes in his chest. That man is Francisco. His name inspires crusades, carnivals, and sloop designs. Francisco is equal parts man and simile of a man. Francisco knows about this but cannot stop it.


Francisco dreams at night of bells. Not church bells, like the ones he heard the city, but the menacing, a-tonal burst of bells belonging to some other family of sound, a genus of frequency that might only live in the vast dark caves of an active mind. These nightmares never ring, but they crash, a single tone crashing again and again in the mind of Francisco.


There is nothing about Francisco that remains a constant. Francisco plays the harmonica, but it is never in the same tune. Francisco melts copper into small cups, but they are never handled. He walks below the highway lines and only thinks of pheasant hunts. Francisco sees a woman now and then, but he never decides to keep her. All the women that have known Francisco would describe him in the same way: he is gentle, but parts of him are made of ice. He is an incredible anomaly in bed, where the lines between satisfaction and anthropology are closer than ever. None of these women will give a more specific description.


Francisco rides the tall waves of the city into a deep industrial lagoon. He walks around infectiously, watching the stares of the coal dusted workers see through him completely.

The voice that calls him breaks into splinters. Francisco moves around the city often. He takes up residence in a different place every year, but never has a reason to leave. He lived for six months in a cold storage building. Despite the industrial sized freezers down the hall, his room stayed a consistent 75. He has lived in various shared living situations. He has locked himself away for weeks at a time, and once, an entire year. Roommates don’t interest Francisco. He prefers to be mostly alone. Francisco lived with a man with a young child in a two-bedroom apartment once. Francisco found the young boy one afternoon in one of his father’s shirts, crouched low and crookedly on the kitchen floor, clutching a dented metal serving spoon. The boy was peering under the fridge. The collar of the shirt was fringed and long. It hung below his thin neckline and almost swept the floor. Francisco had a sudden memory of coral that lived in boiling sulfur water and the way they survived by opening themselves wide. He later wondered why he thought of it then, and then never thought of it again.


To be perfectly honest, Francisco is hardly literate. He doesn’t read, he doesn’t drive, he doesn’t exchange small favors. Francisco lives impossibly well for a man with no use for words, for a man who is half-simile and invisible to most. In his current home he has strung up all appliances to the ceiling. He built a pulley system for everything he needed and wove a hammock for his bed. People of the building often pass beneath Francisco’s living room, but they don’t ever see it. If the people look up, they will see Francisco. When Francisco looks up, he can see the patterns in cement.


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