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Nelson Lloyd lives and works in Bloomington, IN.

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Nelson Lloyd

6 checked the phone and placed it face down on the bar.

“4 again?” asked 8.

6 nodded.

4 had been calling 6 repeatedly. 6 was uninterested. 6 was interested in 7 and was meeting with 8 to discuss probabilities. Why couldn’t 6 and 7 do something in the evening sometime? 8 confirmed that it was possible. After all, 8 had been with 9 for ten years now. As long as the distance wasn’t too great, things could work, suggested 6’s friend.

“That’s your problem with 4,” said 8.

“Yup,” said 6.

“I mean, it’s not like you’re 5.”

5 was currently slumming with 3, desperate after having been rejected by 6. 3 was discussing the plans for the revolution. Encouraged by 2 and inspired by 4, 3 had been drafting a manifesto for a society without numeric values, free from sequential prejudice. The three of them had been meeting in 2’s basement apartment. Late one night, long after 4 had gone home, 2 had leaned into kiss 3 just as the other had finished reciting a speech entitled “The Euclidean Shift: On the Origins of Geometric Rebellion.” Mumbling something about having to feed the cat and mow the lawn, 3 had rushed out of 2’s apartment and off down the street. The next day, overjoyed to have something to talk about, 3 relayed the story to 4. 4 had then done the same with 6. Thinking that the story was meant to reference 4’s interest in 5, 6 had tried to be encouraging.

“But 4 thought I was referring to myself!” said 6 to 8.

“Unbelievable,” 8 agreed.

“Sure, I’ve got a little belly,” said 6. “But 4? It’s insulting.”

9, coming in from working late, overheard them on the approach into the back of the bar. 9 sat and listened as 8 and 6 discussed 4 and 7 and appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Not wanting to upset things, 9 thought of what happened at night. 9 never talked with 8 about the places that were visited after they both went to bed, never talked about dreaming or waking. But it wasn’t only loyalty that kept 9 quiet. There was something else. It was what 9 saw in sleep and could not explain. There, in the dream, on an unreachable island beyond the arm of logic, walked 1 alone with nothing.

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