Chapter Two: But a Dream Away
“we barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
we are choosing to be here right now. hold on, stay inside…
this holy reality, this holy experience. Choosing to be here in…
this body. This body holding me. Be my reminder here that I am not alone in
this body, this body holding me feeling eternal all this pain is an illusion
of what it means to be alive…”
Tool . Parabola
In one final death wail, a trail of smoke exploded from the water as the cherry on the cigarette popped its final breath. It was twenty minutes before three, and Josh was heading back into the office at the hotel from his car; a fresh, unopened pack of cigarettes tucked in the breast pocket of his shirt. As he hopped up onto the sidewalk for the homestretch of his short journey, the Companion phone rang, sending his shirt into a stream of sporadic vibrations.
“Thank you for calling…”
“Dude, I just caught her fucking cheating on me. Never fucking imagined it, but there she was, some dipshit pounding her into kingdom come.” It was David, a sadistic smile creeping across Josh’s face. Sure, they were friends, but he still couldn’t help but find a little joy in the misery of anyone, friend or foe.
“Who? Do you know him?”
“No, not a clue. But he looked familiar, like some fuck from over in Jackson. One of the club kids. I don’t know. I walked into the bedroom, and there she was, staring straight at me, clawing his back and screaming louder than a goddamned banshee. Screaming for him to fuck her harder.”
“Sorry to hear it, dude. You’re better off. You should come to the hotel for a bit, cool off. What is she doing?”
“Packing at the moment, she kind of regained coherency when she felt the picture frame shatter behind her head. Told her to get the fuck out.”
“Good, now get over here before you do something stupid. You suppressing rage, motherfucker.”
“Yeah, eat me. I’ll be there in fifteen. If there’s blood on my hands, you’ll want to say farewell and get Beth over there to do the same, because I’ll be heading to jail for killing the wench.”
“Oh shut it, you big galoot. You’re not going to kill anyone. Just get your happy ass over here. Got it? Good.” He turned the phone off and headed into the foyer, through the lobby, and into the office, plopping down in the comfy chair from Ikea. Leaning back, he popped his feet up into the desk and folded his hands behind his head, listening to the sax of Charlie Parker emanating from the computer behind him. His eye began to twitch, and from his lips escaped the loudest and most relaxing yawn he had ever felt, as if it were the great stress-reliever everyone had been searching for since the Reaganite era when stress was invented. A moment holier than an orgasm.
When he heard the door open through closed eyes, he rearranged himself and glanced down at his watch, exactly fifteen minutes from when he had hung up. “Damn the boy is punctual…”
After shooting the shit for an hour, David was as calm as a Hindu cow, grazing peacefully at the stretch of life ahead of him. Sure, she was gone. Sure, he found her on top of another. Sure, at that moment of shock, he had considered offing himself. But now, he realized that was sheer stupidity, and that there were hundreds of others, hundreds better. It was all irrelevant, in the long run, when you were staring saucer-eyed at the color bars of death, burning brightly in front of you, six miles high and twelve miles wide, which meant – nothing mattered.
As he was leaving, Josh noticed two headlights in the distant section of the parking lot, and in a flash, they were out, returning the night to its inky black depth. Leaning back against one of two pillars holding the awning up, he watched David leave through one eye and a dark, shadowed figure nearing him; hair hanging in wet strings in front of the face, the petite frame under the long coat indicate a woman, as well as the hair, but she was too far to make out who it was, or if she was pretty. It’s simply in a man’s nature, just to be curious; he told himself, a smile tightening his lips around the cigarette dangling haphazardly, vibrating slightly from the steady breeze coming in from the ocean, just a few miles away.
Her eyes were dark, caked with make up, streaking wildly down her face. Looking up and towards him, the deep crimson lips pursed into that familiar shape. He smiled and slipped down onto the park-style bench behind him, his back to his incoming guest. It was a cheeky game, but he enjoyed it, wondering would be done, if someone didn’t know they had been actually seen. It was like playing stupid. Briar rabbit.
“I know you saw me, asshole.” Her voice, throaty from smoking and sleep deprivation, hung in his ears, pulling at his forebrain, forming the word “Caught” in his mind as he turned to face her. “Yeah, you’re caught. Now, get your happy ass out here, and give me a hug. Get as soaked as I am. Bastard.”
Anxiously, he smiled, and rose from the bench, walking out to meet her, feeling the first few drops of cold rain before wrapping his arms around her. With a soft kiss on the cheek, the saturation from her clothes soaking through his, the chill nipping at his skin, goose bumps rising like the plague. Letting her go, keeping one arm around her, he escorted her into the office and let her sit at the desk while he fetched her a towel from the back room.
Returning from the back room, the dryer rumbling rhythmically behind him, he tossed the towel to her, a playful glint in his eyes. “So dear, what brings you out so late at night?”
“Bored, and figured I’d stop by and say hi. Was that David I saw pulling out of here?” Josh nodded, glancing down at his watch. “Well, what was he doing here?”
“Michelle. The world was right.” He chuckled nervously, “She was fucking someone else. Dave doesn’t know who it was, but knew he looked too damned familiar just to be a one-night stand, or just a weird coincidence. I don’t know; I made sure to get his mind off it before I let him leave. There’d be no telling what he’d do. When he called, he’d fucking lost it. He was talking some crazy shit, shit I hadn’t heard, seriously, come out of someone’s mouth, and I know he wasn’t being goofy Dave. He wanted blood, and he didn’t care whose it was.”
“Shit, man. Do you think he’ll really be okay? Should I run over there here in a little bit, just to check on him?”
“I don’t care, it’s up to you. If you think it’d be wise, then go ahead. Like I said, I don’t know. There’s no telling what could, or already has happened. Life’s too unpredictable. Eh, fuck… go over there. Just be careful, if it feels wrong… get out of there, got it?
“Yes, massa’ I gots it good. I gots it reals good, massa’.”
“Good, that’s what I thought. Now, go on Lassie, sniff out the well, and tell me if Timmy is okay.”
“Woof! Woof! Rowr!”
“God we’re retarded…” he said, shaking his head.
Dropping her coat into the backseat, she settled in and turned the ignition, the engine leaping to life, and the CD in the dash filling the car with its bass heavy ambience. Lighting a cigarette, she stuck the car into reverse, backing out of the space, then into drive, and pulling out through the parking lot to the street, her eyelids growing heavy.
Twenty minutes later, she was sitting outside of David’s apartment, staring up at the living room window. He was there, the walls seeming much barer; evidently, most of the decorations were hers she thought letting a deep sigh escape her lips. Up there, alone, watching television – he looked so sad, and it killed her. They had known each other since birth; they were practically brother and sister. Pulling the keys from the ignition, she decided against throwing her coat back on, and just hurried up to the front doors, the rain still making sure to soak through her tank top. Cursing quietly under her breath, she tapped the page button, and worked on wringing out as much water as she could.
“Yeah?” a drunken voice answered, seeming dazed.
“It’s Beth, open the fucking door. It’s pouring out here.” She demanded, a playful tone in her voice, and on second thought, she was wondering if he heard the sarcasm. Before she could think too deeply on the subject, the click of the lock sounded, and she abandoned the thought and the rain soaked mess of clothes she was wearing. Up the stairs and to the first apartment on the right, she prepared to knock, the door easing open as her closed hand moved to greet the lacquered wood of the door.
“Hey Beth, what’re you doing here?” he asked, a half empty fifth of Dark Eyes clutched in his hand, the rattling of QVC filtering through the apartment, selling Valentines Day Paraphernalia. Stepping into the apartment, she noticed the deep red marks lining the inside of his arms, and a small single edged razorblade sitting on the table. Looking at him, a brutal piercing stare he felt cutting deeper than anything had ever gone, he closed the door and lit a cigarette, averting her eyes. “What’re you doing here?” he asked again, trying to draw the attention away from himself.
“I stopped by the hotel after you left, and decided to check on you after Josh told me what happened. And it looks like its damned good I did. What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she asked, turning him to face her, the razor held between her thumb and index finger, quickly flicking it like a cigarette towards the closed window, listening as it clinked against the glass. Grinding her teeth hard, the muscles in her jaw seeming to bulge, she stared him deeply into the eyes, bringing the palm of her hand against his face, the stinging red outline of her fingers prominently displayed. “You goddamned fool, grow up. It’s just a fucking girl!”
“I know she was just a fucking girl, but Christ, it gets a bit trying! I’m sick of every few months someone new. I want someone I can trust, someone I can love, and someone that will fucking stick around. Is that too much to ask? Doest that make me too damned needy?”
“No, it just makes you a bitch. Look, I know it can be…”
“Beth, you know shit. You and Josh have been together for what? Six years? And you’re only 21? You have no idea! How many people have you seen my cycle through? Just since the two of you have been together? Exactly, too many. You’ve lost count, now shut up about what you think you know, because you know fuck!”
Stepping back, her head hung like a wounded animal, exposing the curve of her neck, she realized that she had overstepped her bounds, but the look in his eyes told her a lot; that he was going to be fine, that she had better leave, and if she didn’t, he would be more than pissed. A lot can be said by a single glance through two, ice cold, eyes. Running her fingers through her hair, she took a step over what she had taken back to, and gave David a tight hug, smelling the booze reeking about his body. “I’m sorry.” She muttered, moving towards the door.
“Come by tomorrow. We’ll talk. Okay?”
“Yeah, if you say so… call me.”
Down the flight of stairs and slowly through the rain, which was falling even harder than before, she climbed into her white Dodge Neon, and made her way home, to the cold bed that wouldn’t feel right until a few hours later when Josh returned from work? She had fucked up by confronting David in the manner she did, and he was right; she knew nothing of relationships. Slamming the steering wheel, she changed CD’s and skipped past the intro-track, the grinding guitars of nine inch nails ‘wish’ tearing forth through the speakers.
Wish there was something real. In this world full of you.