She is sitting to my left and I am trying to bring blood to her fat cheeks. My voice is that of a radio: thick, groomed and bursting to be turned down. She is in a blue dress that stops just before it hits her fish bone knees. I can tell as she walks over to the bar that she is either not wearing underwear or wearing something I shouldn’t be thinking about with so many people around. There are three empty glasses on the table, none of which are ours. All have lemons and portions of ice in them. The place is lit same as a cigarette. The walls all stir in babyboomed afterglow.
While I wait for her to come back, I try to make the tops of the glasses sing. There is no crystal here. This is not that type of place. I tap my feet on the wood flooring. I tap my hands on the oak table. There is a jukebox nearby, so nothing I do goes noticed.
She sit down back beside me. Two drink in her hand. One is a dark beer. That will be for her. The other is something I haven’t tried before. She tells me I should have tested it a long time prior. She’s correct.
“I don’t want to put you on the spot or anything, but I want to make sure that you know I only agreed to see you under the hope that you would not be trying to sleep with me anymoe,” she says.
As she says this, I love nothing but her cavities.
“I know,” I reply.
There’s a distance between the table the size of the pacific.
“Anyways, how have you been?”
“Oh, I do alright. Sometimes I’m low, other times I’m high. Usually I’m somewhere in between.”
“Don’t act like that,” she tells me.
“I’m doing pretty good. Still onely. Still kind of figuring out what is what and how all these people keep from hanging themselves. But other than that, I’d say life’s alright.”
“And where are you working now?”
“I’m not done answering the first question yet…”
“Then finish, she says.”
“I was going too if you would just give me a little time to figure out the words.”
“Take what you need.”
“I’m not depressed,” I say, “I’m not even particularly unhappy…the theatre still.”
“Why did you bring up the hanging bit to me then?”
“Thought it was funny.”
“It’s not funny. It’s aggravating and from the sound of your back track, dishonest.”
“I wouldn’t go that far back,” I say.
“how about you and me start over…how are you?”
” ‘How are you’ is too big for us. We need something small like dishwashing or your new sweater. Or, yeah, yeah, ‘how’s the drink’ would be a pretty good start.”
“Alright. How’s the drink?”
“Tastes like a wet cat,” I say.
“It’s my favorite drink,” she says.
“Well next time I come across some road kill I’ll make sure to boil it up and walk the pot over to your door.”
“That wasn’t funny, either.”
“I know. I’m sorry. How are you? How is the boyfriend? Still taking you to the coast and posing for photos?”
“He’s good. He doesn’t complain about things. He tells me what he thinks. There’s one problem though.”
“I’m getting bored and I think he’s beginning to be able to tell.”
“How’s the kissing?” I ask.
“As good as when we met.”
“Then what’s the damn problem then?”
“The Laundry,” she says.
“The laundry? What about the laundry?”
“When we first started seeing one another, I would wear a new dress every time we met. Now, only a year out the gate, and I can hardly bring myself to put on a clean pair of socks when he asks me to get coffee in the morning.”
“What about this dress you got on now,” I ask.
“This? I wore this for you, of course.”
As her smile come across her face so does Grace Kelly.
“You shouldn’t say things like that to me. Not now.”
The drinks were all drunk.
Five empty glasses now lay vacant on the table. It was my turn to fill them, but I didn’t have any cash on me and I hate using a credit card for tips, so I waited till things began to boil over.
“Next round on you?” She asked.
“Yeah, sorry. Just doing a little dreaming.”
“Dream on your own time, Keaton. I’m worth much more than your minimum wage charm.”
I went to the bartender and gave him the orders. He was an unhappy man with a frown that seemed to extend all the way to his chin. Holding it all inplace was basketball round face. From the looks of it, he must have been dribbled a few too many times as a baby. I wonder if he knew he wasn’t the only one here who needed more air.
It took three minutes for him to pop one can tab and throw together a single rum and coke.
When I went back to the table, she was gone.
She had left a note though.
“Keaton, it was good seeing you today. I’m sorry for this napkin buisness, but I just remembered I have to go pay the electric bill before the place closes. Yet another disappointment you can blame on puritans.
I wiped my nose with the napkin and then placed it in my shirt pocket for latter. There was no need to be unpractical in addition to sentimental.
I walked over to the table directly next to ours. There were a couple of greyhaired young men in leather shoes. They looked like brothers. They might have been of Puerto Rican. You never can tell nowadays. The older looking one was on a cellphone.
I gave the other one her beer and the one on the phone my rum and coke, which at this point was pretty much just melted ice
They looked at me the same way a city slicker looks at an engine block.
I left the bar.
The bouncer didn’t look up.
I went home.
The next day I got her text message. She was moving with him to Philadelphia and wanted to know if I would help her pack her apartment.
I didn’t write her back.
After that, I went a bit insane.
I slept for two days. I slept until my heart felt like it was going to explode all over the sheets. The room was so hot even the flies went east. How had I gotten here? Surely, it was the devil. God would never put me in this hell. Even damnation has limits. The walls of the room were yellowing from chimney smoke. The carpet had little marks on it from the previous tenant’s self-help methods.
While in the room, I remembered my dreams in real time. The process took an entire summer.
As I laid there in the room, staring at the moldy ceiling tiles, I also listened to the married couple who owned the house. I listened to him tell her about her drinking problems and then tell her his own was not as bad because he wasn’t a dick when he drank.
I listened the first time she hit him in the throat with a hockey stick he threw her against the empty blue room and she hit the mattress like duck feathers.
I listened as her cries seeped through the walls and into my dreams.
I dreamed of young women. Too young. And I dreamed of their chest hairy as chimps.
I dreamed as the sounds ate me alive and the girls bit at their arms till they drew blood.
It went on like this for the entire summer and then some. The same thing, a different thing, a mixture of the same and difference of things.
I stayed in that room until my student loan money from the previous quarter was all gone and the sheriff began knocking at the door.
At the sound of this, I simply clasped my eyes until the covers were soaked through with oil and b.o. and my armpits smelled like garlic paste.
I must have looked like a demon when they found me that day.
They said they could hear me during the night whimpering.
And that even in my crashing I had managed to alter the names to protect the innocent.
They said my sister had stopped by twice to see if I was alright, and I had barricaded the door with my desk when she tried to see me.
At the time, I remembered none of it.
Instead, all I could think about were the young women with the hairy chest and the milk like blood that now seeped out from beneath my legs.
The place was dancing with fruit flies on the day I finally left. Bananas were rotting to the pulp. All the oranges I had bought the summer earlier now had green skins like flesh viruses.
The married couple told me the smell was was the last straw.
The husband brandished a dagger and said if I didn’t leave he would kill me in my sleep and then go looking for my sister.
Without notice, he swung the thing at me. He wasn’t going to wait till nightfall. His eyes showed me television.
I screamed at him to back up. I threw a plate at his knees and then ran past him and into the outside.
The sun was gone.
So was the moon.
There was still the rain, though. That’s one of the beauties of Washington. Even when all else fails, the rain still remains like a blanket to your good and bad days. Finally some consistency!
As I waited at the bus stop, the wife, in her pink bathrobe and hair in curlers, grabbed the family van and proceeded to attempt to run me over.
I jumped onto her hood and spit the worst of words.
She turned on the defroster and I got off from it-semen cakes the inside of my pants. Another mutant liquid to add to the mix.
My spine shivered and my legs went limp.
The bus came around the corner and I hopped on without any coins to my name.
Everyone thought I was the mayor of Texas.
I didn’t have the energy to tell them I was just their god.