Barry finds a neon green lab coat outside L’Enfant Plaza. He wears it like a cape, sleeves tied snugly around his neck. “Today we are scientists!” he declares. Then we hurl our bodies down a jagged, broken escalator. Dizzy with pain and laughter, we wait for a Huntington-bound train. It arrives in five minutes. The train’s interior glows like an afterimage.

We disembark at Pentagon City and march to the food court. I buy two cheeseburgers — both for Barry. He eats them and says, “Cheeseburgers are good science.” We discuss science. I stand up and gesticulate toward the relevant portions of an imaginary presentation. Barry listens attentively and awards me the grand fantastic medal of science. I receive this prestigious honor with the seriousness it deserves.

Barry and I leave the food court and climb three broken escalators. We decide to focus our scientific energy on men’s clothing stores. I investigate suits and ties and fancy dress shirts, while Barry records our findings in a yellow-ruled notebook titled “Important Suit Data for Science.” He sketches notes, diagrams, and anatomical portraits that capture the unique physical characteristics of suit anatomy. I feel like Charles Darwin.

After gathering data for several hours, Barry and I ride a mint-green bus to my apartment on Columbia Pike. I cook a pile of rigatoni, spinach, and feta cheese while Barry plugs our data into a spreadsheet. He generates reports, white papers, graphs, and presentations. While we eat, Barry presents exciting new scientific theories concerning suit anatomy and necktie evolution. I award him every scientific prize I can think of. And then we eat cake.


Michael Lynch is a painter and writer living in the Washington DC area. Michael is the author of two short story collections, Omelet Shark and Helicopter Show, and he edits the online fiction zine NONTRUE.