By Chris Wilkensen
Eric’s knees bounced up and down so fast that the floor vibrated.
“Would you stop shaking already? Just calm down. You might wake up the neighbors,” Suzy said.
“You know what, maybe I should go,” Eric said.
Eric slid books and papers onto the floor, bent down on the carpet, searching.
“Where did you put them?” she asked.
“Well, if I remembered, I’d have them.”
He couldn’t find his keys. His anger and embarrassment pushed him to urgency in his exit, but his forgetfulness put more time on the clock. More time equaled another chance.
“I wouldn’t let you drive anyway. You’re wasted,” Suzy said.
“So, you’ll let me stay here then?
“If that’s what it takes.”
“And I’m not high either. I’ll just have to call the dealer for a new key tomorrow. The car dealer. Not the drug dealer.”
They laughed. He sat back down.
“There’s a little resin left. It might be enough for you, though.” She eyed the residue from the weed still in the purple pipe.
She put on Netflix. She chose What Dreams May Come, a movie that always made him cry. She told him it reminded her of the afterlife, where she said he would meet her .
He signaled he wanted no more, so she took a hit from the pipe.
“You know what they say, that basically any movie is better when you’re high? Well, could you put something else on?”
She left it on, teasing him. He was too high to say anything back. He was still shaking. Nothing changed. She turned off the TV.
“Just lie down. Try to get some sleep,” she said.
Eric got up from the chair, walked to her bed, and fell face first onto it. She hit the lights. He made room for her in bed.
He was too high to stay still or get hard.
“It’s only been four months since you last smoked, but you’re acting like it’s your first time.”
“I’ll be good in an hour,” he said.
Suzy heard him snore, but she couldn’t fall asleep. She looked for his keys, finding them under the remote. Suzy sighed.
“What made you decide to run off and join the carnival?” she asked.
She was too high to say ‘the circus.’ He would have corrected her, if he wasn’t asleep.
Suzy drove. A copper followed her two stoplights. She didn’t know where to go, anywhere to get away from him; he disappointed her. He did the same thing to her, in a way, she justified it. She turned right into the convenience store. The cop turned left toward the squatters and graffiti.
“I just had to get out tonight,” she said. The usual graveyard-shift clerk protected the cashier.
She felt comfort in meeting a familiar but strange face.
“Zig Zags?” the clerk instinctively asked.
“My boyfriend’s over. Ex-boyfriend.”
Suzy sighed, perhaps expecting him to ask why her boyfriend was acting like a child. The clerk stared at the wall to avoid eye contact.
She looked behind the counter. Small bottles of spirits. Vitamins and pills. Condoms.
If it was going to happen, it would have already happened. Normally, he had them with him. But he was behaving different tonight, and maybe didn’t remember. She bought condoms and cigarettes. She smoked a few in his car before walking to her apartment.
He was raiding her fridge.
“Where’d you go? You were gone for a while,” he said.
“For a drive. Found your keys.” Suzy held the small plastic bag behind her back.
“I don’t remember you being this healthy,” he said.
“Living with a chef like you was fattening me up. I had to lose the pounds if anyone would have me again,” she said.
“Well, I’m going to find some real food somewhere. Where are my keys?”
“You sobered up fast. I’ll go with you.” She slipped the condoms into her back jeans pocket.
“You were just out. Plus, I’m not trying to find healthy stuff. I’ll be back in less than an hour.”
“It’s two a.m. on a Sunday. You’re not going to find anything.”
“Just give me my keys. I’ll be back soon.”
He walked toward her. He frisked her, finding the keys in her sweater pocket.
“Done already?” She pulled him into her, stroking his back.
“Seriously, if I don’t eat something soon, my stomach’s going to keep us both awake all night.”
“Fine, go.” She plopped herself into bed.
He carefully closed the creaky apartment door and slowly climbed down the stairs. She heard a car engine start, put a pillow over her head.
She heard footsteps up the stairs about two hours later, waited for a knock on the door. Her stomach growled. She got up and opened the fridge. Yogurt, vegetables and fruits. She dipped a spoon into the strawberry flavor, pacing around the apartment.
She lit a smoke and opened the window. The bright, big sun emerged. She tossed the plastic bag with the condom out her third-story window. It landed on the grass, where someone who might actually get laid could easily find the pack of Trojans.