John gets out of bed and turns on the computer. He goes to Facebook. His page Facebook profile says “BRODY WELLINGTON. Pronouns: he/she/them/they. Ally of all women, trans people and BIPOC. Believe science.” His header is a Ukraine flag and a Black Lives Matter logo, which he cleverly spliced together.

He sees he has three messages from the little red “3” there and is disappointed about the small number.

He has 4,999 “friends.” 5,000 is the maximum, and he has been at that maximum for a couple of years now. It makes no sense to him, this maximum number; seems random and stupid, for a popular guy like John could easily have ten or twenty thousand friends by now if it was allowed. But somehow, he has lost a friend over the last few hours. This is depressing, but fixable. To the right of the screen, Facebook asks him: “Do you know these people?” There are a few people there. The first one is a woman named Heather Kaye. John clicks on her name, goes to her page, and clicks on the box to request her friendship. He writes her a message: “Heather, have been reading and enjoying your posts, which always brighten my day. Would love to be ‘friends’ (ha ha) with you here on Facebook. I am a poet and a lover of life. Have a nice day. Brody.”

He goes to his messages. One is from a woman named Karin Fowler. Karin is in love with him and won’t get the hint that he isn’t interested. She is a fat sow and at least 46 years old, much too old for John, even though he is 54. The message reads: “Brody, where have you been? Didn’t you get my last message about the getting coffee?” Sure, John thinks, like I’d ever have coffee with you, you fat skank. Besides, he doesn’t even live in New York. That’s what his Facebook page says, though really he lives in Tucson, Arizona.

His second message is from another woman named Ami Reese: “Brody, read your last poem and it made me weep. You are truly talented. Thank you for being you.” Ami isn’t bad looking; nice ass from what her pictures show.

The third message is from Claire Larson: “Brody, what up? Hope you’re well, just wanted to send you a hug.” Who the hell is Claire? he thinks.

His Facebook header is a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge and his photo is from some tall, dark, and handsome model he found on the Internet. He had used the same model for his photo albums. If you click “About” on the page, it informs you that he works at “poet, photographer, artist” and that he is married, is male, and knows English and Spanglish.

He clicks to the general Facebook feed. Nick Murray-White has posted: “Embrace your fate, love your fate.” Love your hate, he thinks. Then he clicks “Like.”

Sammy Girard has posted: “344 new words finished on my novel! Great morning so far. Am going to reward myself with a cup of tea!”

Comments under this read: “Yay, Sammy!” “Way to go Samuel,” and “Atta boy!”

John exits Facebook and goes to the Internet and writes in the search engine box: “poetry journals.” A zillion pop up, and he scrolls down until he finds one he’s never looked at before called My Old Shoe Review. He looks through the poems, finds one that he likes, copies it. Then he goes to his Facebook page again and pastes the poem. He changes a couple of words and the title, then clicks “post.” In about four seconds, he has two “Likes.” Likes are fine, but it is the comments that really get his juices flowing. In a minute or two, there is a BLOOP from his computer speaker, indicating someone has commented. Below the poem, Jackie Fire has written: “Brody, you are amazing, please keep it up, this was one of your best!!”

John doesn’t write a response; instead, as a reply, he puts a little yellow smiley face and clicks enter. The smiley face pops up in his comments section and then someone puts a “Like” under the smiley face. Then someone likes Jackie’s original comment. There is a number “1” underneath it and a “thumbs-up” symbol. Then, there is a number “2” and soon after a number “3.” Then it is like popcorn pushing up the lid of the Like-pan.

John leaves the popcorn popping and goes out of the room, down the hall, and into the bathroom. He washes his face and brushes his teeth. He is five feet six inches tall and has a small head with a puffy pale face and thinning hair. He steps to the toilet and takes a piss.

He leaves the bathroom and goes went back into his bedroom. He flips on the light switch on the outside of the closet wall and opens the closet door. She is huddled against the farthest wall of the cement-lined room. She’s not moving. Shit, he thinks, just what I fucking need today.

When he bought the house, he’d lined the closet with concrete block, installed a drain in the middle of the floor, and poured concrete over the floor. He had inserted iron hooks on the walls and attached to one of them was one end of a pair of handcuffs, the other end dangling. He hadn’t had to use them on her in a long time. He had done all the home improvements himself, with the help of the kind folks at Home Depot, which was only a few miles down the road.

The girl is emaciated and wears a tattered blue dress. She is filthy, her long Mexican hair dark and caked together like dreadlocks. Her eyes are half-open. The only other thing in the room besides her is a bucket filled with urine, the smell of which fills the little cell. John thinks about how her eyes had looked so much more beautiful when he’d brought her home that day three years ago.

“Fucking Mexicans come here, take our jobs, take our land, take everything!”

He gives her a kick.

She doesn’t move.

He walks into the closet, grimacing at the dirty floor.

He backs out of the cell, closes the heavy iron closet door, locks it with the deadbolt, shuts off the light. Then he goes out of the bedroom, down the carpeted hall, and into the kitchen. He fixes himself eggs benedict, his favorite, whisking the sauce with skill, poaches the eggs perfectly, toasts the muffin, piles it on a white plate with artistry and patience. He spins the plate around and views it from all sides. He carries the masterpiece into the living room and sets it on the thick oak table. His digital camera is sitting there; he lifts it and takes a photo of the eggs, then takes the plate and eggs back into the bedroom and sits down at the computer.

Back on Facebook, Heather Kaye still hasn’t accepted his friendship request. “Fucking stuck-up cunt,” he says. His photo of breakfast pops onto his page with the upload, and he makes a little caption: “My humble breakfast.” Almost immediately the Likes start coming, and then the comments.

Heather Worthington-Fuller says: “YUMMY!!”

Denise Hamm says: “Oh, my, that looks GOOD!”

Roger Edith-Erickson says: “Eggs Benedict, YAH!”

John types into the keyboard: “Another day where I’m wondering where I went wrong. My wife, as always, refused me this morning and last night, just as she’s done for months. I try and I try, but nothing is good enough. Am I ugly? What is wrong with me? I even made her breakfast in bed this morning, as you can see, and she didn’t touch it.”

The Likes come so fast it’s as if they’re elbowing each other out of the way to get there, a stampede of likes.

Heather Lovings-Fuller writes: “Brody, she’s not worth it, but I realize you can’t just let three years of marriage go, because you are a good man. Whatever this woman’s problem is, it’s her loss! You are beautiful and don’t ever forget it!”

The clock says 7:35; he turns the computer off sadly and gets ready for work, pulling on his dress pants and his green dress shirt. He picks up the phone and calls a cab because his Celica is in the shop, being worked on by a couple of Mexicans, no doubt. He checks the lock on the closet door again, grabs his briefcase.

The sun is already hot on the upper middle-class neighborhood as he climbs into the cab that pulls into his driveway. He tells the driver the address. He works at an immigration office on the south side of Tucson. His office is not much different than the cell where he had kept the girl for three years. He’s not looking forward to the long day, listening to all those fucking Mexicans whining and whining and whining, and all the goddamned paperwork. He’s especially not looking forward to the hole he’s going to have to dig in his backyard when he gets home. He grabs his sticky note pad, writes “BUY AIR FRESHENER,” and sticks it on the side of his desk. His memory just isn’t what it used to be.