by Zachary Caballero

“You happy now, bitch?”
-Buck Moreland, The Wire

It depends cause when I was in Venice with my cousin Marcos I ordered a drink called the Papaya King, and instead of just telling the waitress the name of the drink, I told her I’m ready to declare myself the Papaya King, and for the rest of the afternoon, that’s what she called me, and I drank a sweet kingdom. I became a kinder sovereign to myself. Nobody ever looks at the laws we follow. I’m here to change my constitution and that takes time. Who am I to promise time? I am always giving what I do not have. I want to be less selfish but I want more time for myself. If it weren’t for the places I travel in my head. Dark passengers and all crawling under the flood boards. But that plot is boring. The plot where I could be happy right now is ideal especially since I just went home for Easter, saw my cousins and brothers, saw my grandma and grandpa, saw my aunts and uncles, saw my best friends, and saw my brothers, all the pieces to this puzzled person who processes an infinite number of ideas together at once. I pull a memory like a thread and run through the past and the people who saw me grow. But where I go isn’t always so sweet. Like if I explained to each person I met the number of sad departures my mind takes every moment without ever guaranteeing my return, it’d be too much. But god I love the rush of remembering. I keep the pantry stocked with details. I’m not even looking for the truth and it still surprises me. Admit or forget, admit or forget, admit or forget. Pride is a pickle so don’t call this confession. It’s the lonely in-between I run from. But my hamstrings are weak, the muscle memory is terribly tender. This game of hurt is a worrisome sport. The thing is, I hurt myself more than any contact with a woman could. I make a promise to pretend cause it’s easier to revisit the invisible futures we could’ve had than spitting up the apple. I want to anticipate the taste of temptation, tired of hesitating at the jump, just want to be done waiting, but ask me if I’m tired of wanting, or yearning, or hurrying the present like I need my faith in the future sustained cause in twenty-four days I graduate law school with honors and this year I take the bar to become a lawyer and this is history in my family, this is a dream I see on my calendar, like this past Valentine’s day, my first niece was born, crying in the afternoon heat, the love I felt then would’ve destroyed the demons of kingdom, would’ve tossed the tyranny of guilt out like rotten fruit at the end of spring, but spring is still here, and these days, a swarm of birds follow my car home and in my head, it’s the Flying V from Mighty Ducks, and I am not alone anymore, which is such a fucking relief. When people ask me how I’m doing, I usually reply, I’m happy because I’m here, and I’m here. I admit it. I admit it so I will not forget. Today the sunset looked like a papaya pulled apart. I stood in my backyard like a proud Papaya King. I tell my people who want to know, it’s not always yes or no. I rest my case, Your honor.