I didn’t want to at first. I knew nothing about him. Which I told him. On the contrary, he said, you know everything about what I do on Tuesday afternoons. It was partly things like that made me change my mind.

 

The way he spoke. Like the British, but without the accent. Precise. And he wasn’t upset. Even after I ambushed him. He was so gracious, polite.

 

All I know is that he didn’t set off any of my internal warning systems. So I said yes. He suggested a nearby coffee shop and I suggested one a little further away, a place he’d never been to. I told him the coffee was much better there. Always ready for adventure, he said.

 

Oh, this is funny. By now, the museum is closing. I tell Keller I’ll meet him in half an hour, then I go to help with the final roundup. Chuck sidles up to me. What did he say? I said, Hey, that wasn’t part of the deal. You only said I had to talk to him. Chuck gets pissed, but I tell him to fuck off; if he was going to be a dick about the money then to hell with him, I’ll just wait until the streak gets broken. And I was thinking that maybe I could ask Keller to break the streak, if things went O.K. later.

 

In fact, I did. And when Keller didn’t show up, Chuck tried to get some mileage out of that, saying I had scared him away. Wrong Chuck, I said, I told him what a butthole you are and he agreed to help me out. He’ll be here next week. And he was and that spooked Chuck.

 

No. No one at the museum knew about any of the coffee dates, until he spilled the beans and the police found that journal.

 

Seven meetings total, all at that same place.

 

At first, just like he promised, he spent a lot of the time explaining his interest in With Hidden Noise.

 

Just like it said in the papers: he wanted to know what the hidden noise was.

 

No. Seven discussions about Duchamp would have been too much, even for me. Keller had opinions about everything. And he was more than willing to tell me what they were.

 

That’s what I kind of liked about him. While he was definitely one strange character, he knew he was a little off the scale. He’d start pontificating about some subject, completely wrapped up in his own thinking, and then all of a sudden come to a screeching halt. He’d look very embarrassed, his ears would get red, and he’d apologize. And then he went out of his way to be the perfect conversationalist. He’d ask me all sorts of questions, listen intently to my answers. He could be very charming.

 

Sure, it occurred to me. Serial killers are always the WASP boy next door with the butterfly collection. But I want everyone to be clear on this: Keller was weird, yes, but just weird. Not threatening weird.

 

Never touched me. We didn’t even shake hands good-bye.

 

Of course that was part of what made him weird. But it was a relief, too, you know? The guy just liked to talk. And it was nice being listened to, to be treated like I had a brain, for once.

 

What difference does it make? He’s an art thief, therefore maybe he’s gay? Maybe he’s celibate. Maybe he lusts after Connie Chung. But what fucking difference does it make? Jesus, I see some of the crap you people print about him and . . . I don’t know. It just makes me sick.

 

Yeah, I do feel protective. The Keller you people have created is nothing like the Keller I knew. He doesn’t deserve so many lies. Sometimes I wish he would just come out of hiding and stand up for himself.

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WithHiddenNoise

Mr. & Mrs. Hide: A NovelTable of Forms: Experimental Poetry.The Story That Teaches You How To Write It.Mars Needs Lunch.Steal Stuff From Work.Story of the Sparrow, by Raymond Federman.Drawn Inward: Palindrome Poetry.Joey Zoey.Letter to Lamont.Lost Citizen.Riddle & Bind, by Nick Montfort.2002: A Palindrome Story in 2002 Words.Fourier Series, by Joshua Corey.here/gone: art by Karen Green.

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