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  • Jake Corbin

Smell You Later

Art by Paul Rios


“You’ve got mail… hella mail.”

Sifting through 55 unopened e-mails in the confines of my small, gray cubicle, I assume this is what Microsoft Outlook would say to me if it could communicate. I also assume AOL would be cool again if it incorporated some variation of curse words into it’s talking inbox.

It’s Thursday; near the end of the week. Be that as it may, it’s Monday in my world. I’ve just returned from a short, but well-received, jaunt to Santa Cruz. Other than my fluorescent snot-fueled sinus infection and Jen’s constant loop of coughing fits, I wouldn’t change a thing about the trip. Sometimes wandering the hippy-encrusted streets of the Banana Slug barrio with your sweetheart is the only ingredient necessary for a magical evening—even when she’s hacking up a lung. The never-ending supply of Bloody Marys is merely an added bonus.

Despite my history of pale skin, I need a little fun in the sun every once in a while. Sure, Sacramento has sun—plenty of sun—but it’s not always that fun. The Africa-hot temperatures of July and August disagree with both my freckled epidermis and my idea of what is acceptable “going out” weather.

It’s 9:30 a.m. and the temperature outside has already matched the high for all five days I was in Santa Cruz. Lame.

“I’m gonna grab a coffee,” I half-mumbled to Ev, my team lead. “You want anything?”

“No,” she replied, barely looking up from her computer. Although I typically start work much later than everyone else, Ev arrived after me this morning and is already behind in her work.

“Alright, I’ll be right back.”

Taking the elevator down to the first floor, I moved through the lobby with Shaggy-like swagger—smooth but hunched over a bit.

“I need coffee,” I quietly remarked, sunglasses already on, as I pushed through the front door of the building.

Crossing the street, I entered La Bou, despite hating the place, and ordered an iced coffee without incident. I proceeded to the front patio, café con leche in hand, with no intention of going “right back” to work.

Suddenly, if words could attack, I was ambushed. “Spare any change?” a potentially toothless mouth spoke to me. His face, weathered badly by the sun, resembled one of the characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Before I could give my traditional response (“no”), the breeze picked up and found something along with it. I was hit in the face—like some kind of tsunami of funk—with the one smell words can never quite put into perspective: B.O. Soap had clearly not touched this bumming buccaneer’s body in weeks.

It was at that moment, with the perfect ratio of cool air and sun comfortably warming my face and this hobo’s armpits, that I was taken back, transported through sense to my earlier expedition beachside.

“I miss you, Santa Cruz” was all I was able to mutter through the dizzying fumes emitting from the panhandler, much to his confusion.

Somehow, this made my day a little more bearable.


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