The bed disturbingly small, I shimmied to the foot and placed my feet down to sit up and watch him leave.
– You don’t have to you know.
– I won’t.
– You won’t?
– I won’t.
I threw off the blanket and yawned, a stretch aloud, the stale air permeating my lungs. It reeked of week old cologne and leftover pasta carbonara steadily decaying into an amorphous scentual blob. Fuzzy motivation to clean the rest, the creamy linguine hovered over the last bit of clean carpet.
A dangerous proposition, it continues to excite.
I threw on my robe and marched to the walk-in closet seeking a pair of jeans. Only singles and triples, I doubled back to trace my steps. I found the fugitive jeans and apprehended them. The denim pleaded as I walked-out; both of us anxious but I to catch Peter before he left.
At the door I dressed, the jeans’ subjugation one-by-one.
– An ululation unfairly received.
– Peter P.!
I shoved through and stumbled into the living room. Fully clothed and ready to leave, Peter stood open-mouthed at the open door, his piece of toast awaiting entry.
– You forgot something.
– Wha -?
I disrobed and flung it at him. An arm smacked his torso while the other wrapped his legs. The belt wound its way around his neck and he fell backwards into the street. I thought I heard a bus go smacking by but couldn’t tell above the diffuse noise of the city. I shut the door and thought –
– Good riddance!
and returned to my room.
I made sure to clean up his things – toothbrush, toothpaste, many of his teeth, and anything vaguely related to our time together. I bagged it all and eyed the last memento, our final reminder, but let it be. I hefted the bag over my shoulder and made my way to the garbage chute.
Passing the pasta, I shivered with exultation.
At the cafe, I waited.
My cappuccino grew cold and I, agitated.
I considered throwing it out, my cup of disdain
But remembered the words of immortal Mark Twain:
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
A foamy mis-masterpiece made
by bad barista or vendetta repaid?
My perfume: coffee bean breath,
its presence, a modern shibboleth.
Though the possibility remains, perhaps —
I turned around. It was him! It had to be.
– It’s me! Michael M.
– Oh! Nice to meet you!
I played down my excitement and shook his hand. I noticed that, as my hand slid past his, our hand-sweat mingled well: a good sign, the first of many.
– So, tell me about yourself.
And he did; he told me all about his adventures. I smiled and nodded thinking little and less about their progenitor, my attention directed to the cascade of orders passing behind. The swarm of baristas carried turbulent demitasses on tiny saucers: unbalanced flying objects. Their coffee splashed about, rebellious drops raining hell on cafe clientele in a caffeinated uprising. My white-on-white gown and glittery slippers though remained unstained thanks to my seat, well-set.
– So yeah.
Michael waited expectantly, his burnt hair matted brown.
– I don’t really have anything to say.
– Well do you mind if I keep talking?
He continued at his previous pace. Or had he sped up? Maybe it was the caffeine, I couldn’t tell. I tried to keep time but got lost counting the seconds in my head. By the time he stopped, I had finished my cappuccino and a complimentary croissant. Delicious!
– That was delicious!
– Excuse me?
– My croissant! Delectable.
– I hadn’t noticed.
– That makes two of us.
We shared a laugh; his bellowed over my hollow howl. Our love language in bloom, mislaid.
My next date undoubtedly less exciting:
He lacked the charisma to carry a conversation despite the handsome mug. I spent most of our pre-meal time watching him nod and smile as I rambled about my day. With each appeasement, his teeth flashed a creamy yellow, the faux bark between us reflected in their coffee stain bite.
When our salads arrived, I started to stop but faced with awkward silence or the continuation of one-sided intercourse, I chose the latter.
Talk talk talk, gnashing denticles and greeny bits, his ochre alabaster stark against the verdant kale; a thousand leafy islands funneled down his throat neatly aligned with the current. Through my torrent of words, I managed a taste. Decent. But I let him finish mine.
We left the restaurant to traverse the parking lot
his arms aloft;
the takeout salads delicately held,
their dressing atop.
Three of the six words he spoke all night:
“for the parents”, his claim.
I continued to talk,
though my anxious supposition remained.
Another two words: “balsamic vinegar”,
With that, the conversation died,
death, death at last.
We held hands in mourning
but gave up to give proper burial.
I left without saying goodbye: a disappointing internment,
my disappointment: pharyn-gial.
He tried to contact me afterwards but I found a way to let him down nicely. He thanked me for being honest and I thanked him back. We passed a few more thank you’s before it finally died down and we both caught some sleep. Letting mine go, I thanked him again in the morning and that was the last of it.
I would sometimes think of thanking him when I felt alone – wondering if he thought of thanking me too. I had, at one time, tried his number as a half-hearted joke half-expecting him to answer. I wasn’t sure why I did it but decided it was probably out of desperation. No dice though, the call never went through. I didn’t roll again.
My fourth date, Kevin K., held more promise. I entered the mall and saw him duck the sliding-glass door behind me. We made salutations, him towering above, and moved along. Hand-on-shoulder, we journeyed to a bookstore and scoured the aisles for as many lewd novels as we could carry. We found many-a-great tale including: Bathing Beauties, A Long Romantic Walk On a Not So Romantic Shore, and Cattle Rancher’s Requiem: A New Breed. A rather pleasing haul.
By the end of our expedition we had quite the large load and unleashed it over the poor cashier evacuating a frothy spume of erotica in our wake. The cashier recovered and rang up our finds for $254.78, a distressingly large amount. I feigned to have forgotten my wallet and dashed off to my car only to find Kevin giraffing after me. We shoved in and shoved off ecstatic about our miraculous escape.
We drove around in search of something to eat. I initiated a discussion on molecular gastronomy of which he claimed expertise and learned what little I could of the immense subject. We pulled into a burger joint and reached for his hand. Clasping it at the same time, we apologized to each other and settled on a clutching order. We kissed, both grinning with expectation –
It was my favorite restaurant after all and him a tall order to impress.
We were sat at a booth and waited for the waiter.
– So what do you think?
– It’s nice.
– Not too nice I hope?
– No, it’s just right.
– What are you going to get?
– I’m not sure. What do you recommend?
I thought very hard.
– The one-two-punch-a-burger if you’re hungry —
– How about the cattle-king-cattle-express™?
- Delivered straight to your mouth in 90 seconds or less or your money back!
– Quite the mouthful…
– It’s really not as big as it looks.
He shrugged and ordered it anyway.
The yellow grease-sagged burger arrived piping hot.
Forty quarter pound patties
two slices of cheese between each
and twelve entire heads of lettuce;
my view of Kevin distorted by its enormity.
Sterile tile and pastel booths warping,
the entire restaurant gave way.
Jealousy rose in my stomach’s pit
filling quaked emptiness with toxic fumes.
One look at my measly mighty burger
And I knew Paradise Lost.
Kevin mounted the burger and climbed.
At peak, a state of undress,
food on food.
He unhinged his jaw to take a bite
but tumbled down when it bit him back.
A meaty scream!
His table knife had stabbed a fatal wound.
Vital grease erupted and drenched cowering patrons:
an aurous deluge.
From under the tallow-laminate table, I ran,
my burger delegated makeshift shield.
At the double doors I arrived unanointed,
hellish lard slip-and-slide aside,
and cast a final glance.
Kevin’s face a tableau vivant:
He collapsed upon the burger
sliding down its lubricated facade.
At the bottom he awoke,
swollen tongue uncontained,
his blistery lips a twisted, greedy snarl.
As he undertook his re-ascension,
I pushed past and left,
a thoughtless mask my greasy reflection.
One must imagine Kevin happy.
Later that year I became friends with my balding neighbor, Cyrus C, through a multitude of communal dinners and a mutual disinclination towards silverware. Although I was never fully attracted to him, I appreciated his companionship as a rule. It got to the point that I would leave my door unlocked so that, whenever he pleased, he could visit and enjoy my company in absentia.
This soon became a bother though; it began with the shower. Helpless as my body hydrated, he would step in and join me. Nothing sexual, it wasn’t like that, but I’d scrub his back and he would never scrub mine. Then he would leave me as if nothing happened, left to soak alone and forced to clean the clumps of hair he left hanging. I considered revoking his freedom of entry (F.O.E.) card but the house refused, his friendship ruled ratherish beneficial.
The intrusions escalated as he began waiting for me, naked, in bed. Votive candles lined the bedroom walls, wax dripping malice to carpet, and provided a low-lit path through rose petals and wood shavings. At its end lay Cyrus the Nude, well-pricked by rose thorns, his crown tarnished by bloody pus. I had no choice but to patch him up.
I’m not sure why he did it but I didn’t have the nerve to kick him out so we started sleeping together too. And on such a small bed!
I let it happen though, it was really all my fault.
When it came to food though, I finally felt the affront. A bucket of sauce, fine. A twice-baked potato casserole? I understand. But one time, I brought home seven sandwiches, 12 bags of chips, and one whole roast chicken from work. My sister ate three half-sandwiches and took three more and five bags of chips home: one and 10 chips per child. Cyrus, however, took three whole sandwiches and half the roasted chicken – the good half! I had just about had enough.
– Stop it!
– Stop what?
– Taking my food.
– But I’m hungry.
With that he left. If we were dating, fine, but we weren’t. Either I had to reneg the neighborship or we would have to make it official to formalize our affair. I decided to bring it to the bargaining table but remained unsure as to whether he would agree. This attempt my only chance, I prepared for the presentation of my life – likely a short one but assuredly well-conferred.
I dashed to the storage closet and hailed him when I arrived. We dragged a desk out, labeled it, and began the arbitration. I laid down my issues only to have a hundred more laid back. I didn’t know it at the time but later discovered his degree in advanced negotiation tactics – a program at the local University. And our problems? A textbook example and me the child with five cookies begging for more. I played my hand an APA citation but his MLA outcited me three to one. At this formal crossroads, I had run out of references. But most importantly: time.
– I need a breather.
– To gather my thoughts.
– 3 minutes, tops.
– I need 6!
– 2 minutes and I’ll let you pet my dog.
I could feel my crusade wilting: flower power sapped straight from my veins. In ravenous desperation, I removed a bowl of congealed pudding from my mini-fridge and brought it close. Around the edge, bits of citron and banana hung suspended in the gel, their fruity arms frozen and upraised; my shifting reflection their shrine. I jiggled the confection and watched as the fruit sank drawing down the image of my twisted grimace with it. The surface settled, glassy and perfect, an endless void. I took a spoonful and ate.
The pudding fell from my hands; I knew what to do! Key lost: our eyes locked: I exclaimed with a hoot –
– Together we dine. Cyrus C, you will be mine! Lest the ocean swells.
And awaited his response.
I had halted his anabasis and affirmed my ascendancy; the relationship mine! I rocked back and chuckled, no, howled, reveling in my domination of Cryus’ pith. He fell to his knees despondent, his impotence on full display: our formal courtship now legitimized. I vaulted the table and landed in his chair delicately perched. His head sank lower, subservient, until it hovered just above the ground. A deep, fruitful breath, I relished in his lamentation for freedom with zest.
That afternoon we held hands. Cyrus was never quite the same.
He became suddenly tumescent. An hour of foreplay later and I had finally figured out the secret – twice clockwise and once counterclockwise with a swirl for good measure. I experimented excessively to crack the code and felt terribly proud of myself once I did. My pride incandescent, we proceeded to consummate the relationship and commence in fulgent copulation.
We started, slow at first, his breathing already labored. I didn’t mind though; I found it surprisingly attractive and enjoyed his laboriousness as the intercourse progressed. His breath turned hoarse and aggression mounted, my enjoyment rising evermore. Taking my cue, I urged him on and prayed for a simultaneous climax. Harder! Better! Faster! Str–
Suddenly he ran out of breath. We had to take it easy again, walking, and in a different position.
Then it hit me: a body shot –
– Come on dude.
but also right in the face.
I wiped it off, globbing what I could in an attempt to avoid a heavy drizzle. His great shame realized, he scampered to a dark corner, donned his clothes, and oozed out never to be seen again. I wasn’t completely surprised nor was I particularly pleased. I didn’t mind cleaning up but why’d he have to make such a mess?
Beside the bed, the remains of my precious pudding and a dirty wood-shaving spoon. I leaned over and scraped what I could but gave up in disgust. Empty calories. I tossed the spoon back and returned upright. A long sigh: the sheets spotted custard white.
I rolled my eyes and sprung out of bed.
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