Notes on the Human Condition
René Georg Vasicek

Never mind that I am from elsewhere. I am here now. My name is Ziggy Hrbaty and I am alone again.
My first wife left me because I was an animal in bed. My second wife left me because I was a barbarian at the dinner table. My third wife left me because I was uncivilized in public. I have yet to meet my fourth wife.
I am a writer. I try to keep things simple. One friend is more than enough. His name is Travis. He likes beer. I like beer. We meet every Thursday night at the Grassroots Tavern.
Travis now has a girlfriend named Zoë. She is a graduate student of astronomy at Columbia. Every now and then Travis brings her to our Thursday night coterie. I usually don't mind. Sometimes Zoë brings along a girlfriend. That's how I ended up sleeping with a Welsh girl named Eve.
I no longer know what to say to strangers. So when Travis and Zoë show up at the tavern with Eve. . . I am nervous. I don't want the night to end in yet another episode of misanthropy. Travis and Zoë do most of the talking. Eve and I sit quietly. She has green eyes and long, straight raven-black hair. We try to avoid each other's gaze. I look under the table. She is wearing black cowboy boots.
Zoë tells me Eve had earned her undergraduate degree from the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. Travis tells Eve I am a writer.
"So what," asks Eve, "are you working on?"
"Right now, I am taking notes on the human condition."
"And what is the condition of the human?"
Travis senses trouble. He tries to change the subject. "Eve specializes in the search for extraterrestrial life!"
"Not exactly," Eve corrects. "I am working on a project that searches for earth-like planets beyond our solar system."
"The Kepler mission?" I ask.
The waitress arrives with pitchers of pilsner. The rest of night we spend talking about Zoë's area of expertise: asteroids. And specifically, whether or not the asteroid Apophis will pass through a gravitational "keyhole" in 2029 placing the giant rock on a collision course with Earth in 2036.
Zoë says, "Um. . . probably not."
Travis has a few too many pilsners and tells Eve I have a really big "telescope." She smiles. Under the table I kick Travis in the shins.
As I am getting ready to leave, Eve startles me: "I really would like to see your telescope."

Back at my apartment Eve undresses. She has small Nordic breasts, a large Slavic ass. She is half my age. I don't deserve her. What Eve does not expect is that I really do have a telescope, a Meade 12-inch Dobsonian reflector. We carry it up the stairwell to the rooftop of my apartment building. The night sky overwhelms us.