by William Kitcher
I wake up. Oh I feel awful. Don’t know where I am. But I sorta remember her, and she’s not here. I hope she’s gone out for juice or bread or something, and I can just leave.
She’s blonde, or maybe she has light red hair, and she has a blob of a nose and I think slightly crooked teeth that intrigued me for some reason. Other than that, I can’t remember. Drank way too much. I don’t feel well. I need air. But it’s already humid and polluted. My mouth’s dry and dirty. I gotta go.
It’s coming back now. We met in the Taps. I was already drunk, and I mighta even smoked something. We talked and drank even more. Shooters. We had shooters. How stupid. We danced, and my ears hurt. They’re still ringing. It was so loud I could feel the bass and drums pounding in my heart. Still can when I think about it. Then we were in a country bar. I hate country. She had some friends there. She ignored me, and I kept drinking. What was I drinking? Scotch. I love scotch, but not on top of the rest of it. Then she came back to me and we danced, and I fell over once. Or twice. I went outside and fell asleep in the back of someone’s truck. I woke up because of her voice, but I don’t remember getting here. Did we have sex? I don’t wanna know. Oh yeah we did. To Patsy Cline.
I stand up and put my pants on. I feel dizzy. I think I’m gonna throw up. My mouth feels like a garbage can. I sit down on the bed again, and try to will away the cobwebs. My stomach hurts, and rubbing it doesn’t help.
I hear the clinking of plates or cups somewhere else in the apartment. The door is shut, and I can’t remember what’s on the other side. I hear footsteps. I go back under the blanket and pretend to be asleep. I see horrible green and purple lights and force my twitching eyelids to remain shut.
The door opens, and she must be looking at me. And I’ll bet she sees my pants gone from the chair. The door closes.
My eyes open but I didn’t do it. I need more sleep; I need to be in a coma for the rest of the day. But I have to go. My eyes gradually close.
Last week, at a party, I had again drunk too much and looked for a woman. Saw one I thought would take me home. After talking to her for a few minutes, I knew she would. But I still had to play the game.
Her cat had had kittens, and when we went to bed, the kittens were all around us. That was all I remember. In the morning, she seemed to be asleep, so I dressed quietly. As I left the room, she said, “Are you going?” “Yes,” I said. And that was all I could say. I felt stupid and embarrassed that I thought I could leave without waking her, and I vomited on her front steps.
I open my eyes. The ceiling has cracks and the walls are green. There are a couple of prints of flowers. It’s terrible. My head’s pounding.
I stand up and see myself in a cracked mirror, and it’s me ten years from now, but it’s me now – seedy-looking, brittle hair, pasty face, black puffy eyes, flabby neck, and a fat gut. I flex my biceps; they’re not impressive anymore, if they ever were, and they’re aching. I put on my shirt and socks and shoes and see my underwear underneath a chair. Oh the hell with it.
I stand in front of the closed door, and think I will do what I hadn’t done last week, and talk to her, to not skulk out like that man I wish I’m not. But it’ll be so much easier to go without saying anything. The easy way out.
But I can’t be sure I won’t have to see her as I go. No. I will talk to her. I think I’ll talk to her.
I open the door and see a hall leading to a living room and the front door, with three rooms on the right, all with their doors open. The hall’s wall is a dirty white, and covered with posters, faded Monets and that Marilyn Monroe by Warhol you see too much.
I pass a bathroom and a bedroom, then hear paper rustling in the third room. I look around the doorjamb, and she has her back to me, reading a newspaper. Can I get past her without her knowing? Am I gonna do this again? I hesitate, standing stupidly.
I’m gonna talk to her. Am I?
I feel something at my ankle, and look down. Kittens.