One of Those Times
She and he had this pre-arranged phrase that was supposed to carry some special weight, was supposed to brighten up the dark corners, strip things bare to their essence, the real the true: "This is one of those times". Said softly earnestly with conviction meaning, weight. He was supposed to look her either in the eye or on the floor and tell her straight whether this was one of those times or not, whether he was lying again or telling the truth. He never hesitated. Hesitation suggested guilt. He would pause, draw a breath, then tell her. He would keep his hands still, in his lap or at his sides, look her in the eye, unblinking, and tell her what she wanted to know. "Yeah, this is one of those times" and that was to be it, done. He was telling her the truth-- no shade no selective save your feelings bullshit, the real damn truth. And he lied, Lord, he lied to her imploring face, because he knew she did not want the truth, she wanted him to tell her straight what she wanted to know. The truth was not it. He had only to remember-- never ever turn your face, avert your eyes, or push your hair back because these were his tells, and told on him.
The door slammed and he almost spilled it. He heard her distinctive click clack high heels on hardwood down the hall. She tried the door. Locked. She didn't knock, just twisted the knob and he could picture her one hand on the hip the other on the door knob. He froze."Yeah baby, be right out" he said, attempting to pry loose her fingers, get her to keep moving down the hall, to throw her purse on the bed and look at herself in the mirror while he did his business, quick and clean.
She kicked the door with her shoe. "Open the door" said without histrionics or emotion. He was still frozen in time, at a crucial time, the time cats like him truly live and breathe for. See- as good as it felt when it was done, as hard as it was to hustle the money, to make the connection, to not get taken off , it was the ritual of the fix that it was all about. The FIX think about it. So aptly named, so simple, so true. It did, it was. It did not ever lie, always told the straight truth. Was always, "one of those times" but for real, for true. It fixed it, whatever it was, and if he could draw her attention away from the bathroom door for just a quick minute, it would fix this too.
"Be out in a minute" said with what he knew to be just the right mix of agitation, and mindless innocence. Come on baby, he thought, as he went back to business, pouring the powder into the spoon. He'd just do it all, the whole balloon, knowing it was more than he needed or even wanted, no time to split it up, save a wake-up taste. He sensed her presence outside the door, she had not budged. He knew the play so he beat her to it; "What are you doing home baby?" as he doused his shit with water and prepared to cook it up. Silence, didn't fly. He did not want to get ugly, but it was clearly the next play; "Can't you just give me a fucking minute here? Huh?"
He heard her sigh, that sigh of sighs, loosen her grip and start down the hall. Click clack, he would remember that distinctive rhythm all his life, could beat it out in time in his head, hear it plain as day. He lit it up and brought it to a boil, dropped the cotton, sucked it up, did his thing, bang boom. Rolled up his gimmicks, hid them away, dabbed at the blood, flushed the toilet. Done. Ran some water purely for effect, opened the door and walked down the hall to the bed room. She sat on the bed, not looking at herself in the mirror like he had pictured it, but right at him. Eyes hard. He knew his face went slack when he fixed so he beamed a smile. His eyes, well, pupils a pinpoint. Hers as big as a cat about to pounce. She started in before he could and he played it six ways to the finale, which was "This is one of those times". He didn't hesitate, looked her straight in the face unblinking, pushed his hair back and said "Yeah baby, this is one of those times".
About the author:
Barrett Crary writes and lives on the West coast near the ocean. Is published on Eyeshot and in French--which he does not speak. Behaves most of the time. Has no imaginary friends, wants or warrants. But is in love.