Danger Proximal

Brett Biebel

Lana dated this guy who liked cocaine, and no one really liked him. No one but me, anyway. We used to watch HBO late at night and with the lights off, and sometimes it would be action movies or else Entourage or Real Sex or whatever, and “You make me feel like I’m at a hotel,” he said, and his name was Dale. He had a tattoo on his chest. A spider maybe, and I saw it once, when we spilled vodka, and he wiped it up with his shirt instead of a towel. We thought moving around would wake them all up, those assholes sleeping upstairs, and we never said much. Dale and I. Sometimes you don’t need to. Sometimes you just watch the light and hear the traffic out on Lyndale, and subscription TV fills your head. Extra sex. Extra profanity. Maybe even a little bit of extra art, and after Lana left him, or, I don’t know, could have been the other way around, I found a baggie between the cushions. At night. By myself. Must have been 3 AM, and I would have done the drugs if there were any left, but there weren’t. There was only a note. “Man,” it said, and not another word. There was a drawing of a smile on top of a penis, and I threw that shit away faster than you can spit because what was I gonna do with it? Frame it? Who has the fucking space, and, anyway, I’d already committed it to memory. Dale’s smiles. That guilty broken curl you could never really forget.


Brett Biebel is the author of 48 Blitz (Split/Lip Press, 2020), a collection of flash fiction set in Nebraska. He has two forthcoming collections in Winter Dance Party (Alternating Current, 2023) and Gridlock (Cornerstone, 2024). His reader’s companion to Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon will be released by University of Georgia Press in 2024.