M. calls to tell me that he has captured a woman too.

“What kind?”

“Thai. From Thailand.”

“Can she speak English?”

“Beautifully. She’s an English teacher back home, she says.”

“How tall?”

“As tall as yours. Maybe a little taller.”

“What is she doing now?”

“Polishing her rings. I gave her a lot of rings. Five rings.”

“Was she pleased?”

“I think so. She’s polishing like a house afire. Do you think that means she’s tidy?”

“Have to wait to see. Mine is throwing her football.”


“I gave her a football. She’s sports-minded. She’s throwing passes into a garbage can.”

“Doesn’t that get the football dirty?”

“Not the regular garbage can. I got her a special garbage can.”

“Is she good at it?”

“She’s good at everything.”

There was a pause.

“Mine plays the flute,” M. says. “She’s asked for a flute.”

“Mine probably plays the flute too but I haven’t asked her. The subject hasn’t come up.”

“Poor Q.,” M. says.

“Oh, come now. No use pitying Q.”

“Q. hasn’t got a chance in the world,” M. says, and hangs up.

Donald Barthelme, The Captured Woman

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