I sat next to Richard Yates on a plane to Los Angeles. He was knocking back glasses of bourbon. One, two, three, four … Nervous, I asked. About what, he said, unwrapping a pair of saltines. The Times was folded, tucked between his leg and the arm rest, and I asked if he was reading it. He said he would be, but first he wanted to sleep.
When I was sixteen I danced with Dorothy Parker. She pressed a small delicate hand to my back and dipped me. The man in her booth watched us, frowning. She said she felt faint and asked if I would bring her a drink. What are you drinking, I said, the way I had seen it done in movies. She trusted I was old enough to decide for myself. By the time I returned, she had left, and so had the man. I don't remember what I brought her.
There was the time I watched Thomas Pynchon lather himself with cologne samples from magazine ads. We were going out on the town. He didn't have anything to wear.
Gabriel García Márquez was feeding pigeons in the park: slices of banana, browning slightly, and puddles of warm milk from a thermos he tipped at intervals. I'd like to introduce you to my favorite pigeon, Raul, he said, pointing to a pigeon in the middle of the flock. Can you see the pain in his eyes, he asked. But the pigeon, as far as I could tell, was no different than the other birds. Have you known Raul for long, I asked. Many years now, he said, and kneeled to smooth a ruffled feather on its back.
I spotted J.D. Salinger at a supermarket in Cornish. He was shoveling gummy worms into a clear plastic bag. His face was wrinkled. His beard reached his belt. He seemed to derive little pleasure from the task at hand. Hey, I know you, I said to him. He told me I was mistaken and that he just had one of those faces.
Ravi Mangla collects lists at http://readreadreadreadreadreadread.blogspot.com/. Other microfictions from this series appear in Gigantic #2.