birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Jesus, Not Bunyan

I noticed this person because of their silhouette and style. A quiet, beautiful man with his own look and spirit. He entered the large room confidently and entirely comfortable with himself and his surroundings as he sat down at the bar. He was slim, fit and of medium height with tan, glowing skin. He was dressed casually but only in shades of white, natural and neutral. He had quiet mannerisms and graceful posture. His most striking feature was his hair. Amazing brown hair. Voluminous and shapely with glorious wild waves, falling wide and high. His beard was Jesus, not Bunyan.

Having just gotten into town that day, I was sitting at the bar where I was served local beer and microwaved Hawaiian pizza. I talked to the young bartender about the area, and it turned out she was new to town. So I told her what I knew about the area, why I was there, and she told me about her young daughter and her former life in the city, where she used to dance -- to strip -- and earn very good money. She also told me she was introduced to cocaine there, that it was not good for her, and that she stopped dancing because of her pregnancy.

Perhaps he was a dreamy refuge from the bartender’s turbulent recent biography. His unexpected presence in this new, exciting place was actually quite natural and fitting because of his ease. Was he comfortable everywhere? I envied his sleek and peaceful presence. Perched on the stool with a glass of pale golden lager, he was all hair and limbs, curled over his iPhone, very involved. But when others came in, it was clear he was acquainted with everyone. I could not hear his voice from where I was, but I could tell it was steady and never loud. I wondered if I would end up talking to him, if I could get past my awe. But I did not talk to him that night.

The awe continued and over the next several days in town. It was turning into a thing. I saw him almost everywhere, at the coffee shop, standing in a parking lot, and out running in the rain (once when he was running and once when I was running). I pretty much expected to see him wherever I went. Did he notice me too? And if he did, was he noticing me for me, or noticing me noticing him?

First Day of Class

The Pink Chair