There are three basic times I can be alone: while watching Sportscenter, when I take a shit, or smoke a cigar. Every once and again I used to get crazy and combine the three, but since Jessica moved in it has become increasingly difficult. Now, it's one in the morning, and I watch Sportscenter for the third consecutive time. She's in her basic mood and says, "You know-- you smoke too much anyway." She is always "saying." Sometimes she "says" while she is smoking even, or when her scented candles wake me at four in the morning.
"Don't you have an email to send?" I say. I prefer using "don't." I mix it into general conversation as often as possible, as in, "Don't you have somewhere to be?" or, "Don't you have homework?"
"No," her favorite word; uses it varyingly; "no, I won't fuck you," or, "you know you're not funny, right?"
"How was work?" I ask.
"Horrible," she says. "Horrible" is her favorite adjective; "that shirt your wearing looks horrible," "that movie you suggested was horrible," or, "thanks for dinner, but mine was...." You get the point.
"That sucks," I tell her, turning the volume on the TV up.
"Oh well." She says. "At least Chris was there." This is always the best part of my evening. The part I like to call The Chris from Work Part. Or, The Chris Who Got Offered a Scholarship to Play Baseball at LSU and Always Says My Atlanta Braves Suck Part. "And Chris said...." Oh yeah? "Chris is so cute the way...." Hmm. Really? "Oh, and you wouldn't believe what Chris did." Interesting. "Oh Chris such and such...." No kidding? "You know baby, Chris is so cute the way...." Wow. Well whadda you know? "Chris was the manager at work tonight and he said I didn't have to do anything so we just sat around the office smoking cigarettes." Blah blah blah, blah blah, fucking blah, blah. "Chris picked me up tonight and carried me all the way across the back line at work."
"That Chris," I say, "tsk, tsk, tsk. Such a kidder." Her face is about seven inches from the imac that sits on the floor of our apartment. She is on her knees, bent over, sucking on a blowpop. "I thought you weren't down for him anyway."
"Oh yeah, he's a real jerk, but lemme tell you: he said if you and I weren't still getting along and you were still going to throw me out I could sleep either at his house or at fat Kevin's trailer. Hehehe."
"Well that was nice of him baby."
"Yeah, that's what I said."
"I thought that fat Kevin was always trying to molest you anyway."
I think about slapping her, but the last time I did we ended up fucking for hours and I just don't have the energy.
"Jessica," I say.
"What?" "What." Did I forget about "what." She loves that damn word, uses it religiously, as in "I've got about one hundred other things to do that are all just about three times as important as listening to what you've got to say."
"I don't care if you fuck Chris and that fat Kevin both, I just don't want to hear about it while I'm sitting on my couch watching a fine program."
She just stares at the computer screen, sucking on that blowpop, sending her emails, I guess. After a minute or two she scowls at me. This is possibly my favorite thing she does, her scowling. A little vein jumps out of her neck. A chasm runs across her forehead. I fascinate myself with the TV, suppressing a smile.
"That smoke is killing me. Do you mind going upstairs?"
I take a puff or two, tell her, "Yes, I do mind going upstairs. I told you already, Sportscenter is on and I am very eagerly awaiting the highlights from the Hawaii Invitational."
"Fine," she says and slams the keyboard down. She storms upstairs and I hear her stomping around.
I finish my cigarette and turn off the television. Upstairs she gives me a short glare. I sit down on the bed. She is throwing random clothes in a day bag and makeup into a backpack.
"Where you going?"
"Oh." I pick up one of her hairbrushes and put it in the bag. "Just out, huh?"
"Yeah out." She walks by me and down the stairs, carrying her bags with her.
I follow, barefoot, wondering what routing I will have to pull to get her to stay the night. For a moment I just stand in the doorway. She throws her bags in the backseat of the Eclipse and starts to get in.
"What?" She turns the key in the ignition.
Now here I walk a fine line with her car idling and her hands on the steering wheel; if I talk she will stop and maybe even shut her car off, but if I don't say anything she will go.
I back away from the door and into the living room, leaving it open. A light breeze blows. I turn the TV back on. ESPN is showing a replay of the Miami/Florida State game. I am awake, some hours later, when she returns.
About the author:
Tom H. Macker has attended numerous colleges and universities of varying noteriety. Currently he lives in Los Angeles where he watches Atlanta Braves baseball and fishes for Halibut in the offseason.