There are so many boulevards in Kansas City and even more fountains. There's a Jackson, a Filmore, a Washington, a Louis, an Abner- far too many to remember in one life time. But the ones you do, the ones that slide down your tongue and live at the back of your head, become a whole new world on their own. The air, the trees, the people, and even the trash cans are all different. The dogs bark different. The flowers smell different. And even a coke, the one you bought at Olive, tastes different when you open it in Langston.

It was five in the evening, in the park on old Olive, and I found myself walking in my old business suit (I called it old because an hour before then I was just fired from work) holding an empty briefcase in my hand because I refused to pack all my things when they told me to. I bought a coke from Big, the vender there I always bought pretzels from on my lunch breaks and sat down at the bench I always sat on, next to his cart. Big and I chat it up often. He's a big guy (not fat) from New Orleans with a damn heart of gold. He saved two children in the water when the hurricane hit. He was a damn hero.

"Big," I said, sipping my coke while crossing my legs, my briefcase at my side.

"eh?" Big kept his eyes on the dogs and peppers frying on his hotplate.

"They finally fired me today, the cunts."

"Aw, that's tough, man." He rolled a dog over with his tongs.

"Yeah, damn cunts."

"Yeah."

I got up and spun on my toe once around for no reason, the coke spilling a little bit on my hand.

"Shit!"

I put the coke down on the bench and wrung my hand. Big laughed a little, his eyes still on his dogs and his peppers.

I sat down and leaned forward, my elbows on my knees, my hands rubbing my face. I remember rocking back and forth and thinking at the time that maybe if I rubbed my face the right way I could make myself look different and I'd be able to go back to work and apply for the position I was just fired from under a different name like John or Gary. Then I remembered stopping suddenly and staying really still until Big tapped me on the shoulder and offered me a free dog after realizing how stupid and unrealistic I was being.

OOO

I walked home and left the car at the parking lot at work. I sipped a new coke and had a hot dog in my stomach as I walked the second block of the four and a half away from Olive on Langston. I lived on Langston in a three bedroom house with my wife and her sister. Yolie, my wife, was a hot red head who I met in college and her sister, Bridget, was her younger sister who was also a hot red head who went to the old college Yolie and I had went to two years back. Their parents were dead so Yolie and I were putting her through college (she's a Psychology major) and she lived at our home because it saved all of us a hell of a lot of money. Yolie was a librarian and I "used to be" an accountant at an insurance company for a bunch of whores in the now "all female" accounting department. We lived happily like this on Langstom. It really wasn't that bad. My wife and I were in love, Bridget was like a sister and a daughter at the same time, and money (although it was always a factor in our everyday life) wasn't really a problem. But that day, as I looked at the last bit of sunlight leave the side walk and the lights light up on everyone's porches, I thought that maybe some small, insignificant thing like money could ruin it all. Then I heard a dog bark and I tripped off the side walk face down on the street and I felt the earth rumble from a car stopping beside me and a voice coming from it asking if I was ok.

OOO

Yolie treated the little scrape on my cheek with some Neosporin I bought a month ago for a huge paper cut she got from work. We sat in bed, I had my old business suit still on and Yolie wore a shirt and some shorts. We looked at each other in silence. Usually, I liked the silence between us. It's an acceptable kind, it wasn't lonely. We shared it like we shared the blanket at night: it kept us warm and brought us closer together. But that night, the silence was different, that night the silence was all my own and I could already feel the awkwardness of it from the both us. Yolie looked at me, and I thought I saw something in her face that could turn me around and stay and maybe make love to her but my head was already elsewhere, already on the verge of collapse, already losing everything. I got up and headed out the door.

OOO

By morning I found myself where I find myself every morning even up to today, many years later: naked, next to Yolie, who is naked too except with a beautiful body, wondering what it was I was worrying about the day before. Life's crazy like that and it's easy to feel like you're on the verge of some helpless collapse, some sort of total ruin. Then something makes you stop collapsing, be it some innate ability to rationalize things or plain old optimism. Something makes you remember all the good things in your life that have happened and are still going on and sometimes it only takes remembering those things to keep you sane for another couple of days, another couple years, well before something really worth crumbling over.

Besides, what's one loss to everything else, all the streets and fountains to Kansas City?