“Does your cousin have any allergies?” I ask.
Garrett looks at me for a moment, his eyes digging into my face and mouth, searching for some trace of a punchline.
“Um, carrots. And eggplant.” The briefest of pauses.
“And some nuts.”
My face cracks into a huge grin. “You’re too easy man, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel,” I tell him.
“What? You’re gonna say ‘but not deez nuts’, right?” His voice drips with a comical irritation. It grows in pitch, sharp and pointed towards me.
“I would have told him ’your words, not mine’” Tom tells me, laughing.
He asks if Garrett is coming to dinner. “I mean, if he is, you want me to clean up around the apartment, bro?”
Maybe…if Olivia comes too…then let’s roll out the red carpet.
But I’d be too ashamed if a woman came by. Four seats in the entire apartment, the accumulated mismatched ensemble of countless residents, coming and going over the years.
I keep telling myself that I’ll buy furniture. But then other things pop up. And those other things seem to deserve more attention and money.
Maybe when you die, you realize it. You realize, “I died”. And everything else after that is just fighting sleep. Maybe you could spend five years fighting that feeling, the feeling of being right on the edge, and drifting off.
Other times, the feeling of just too much to do before the lights go out.
Days of work, and days of errands, duties, obligations. Days of commitments, engagements, and obsessions.
Late nights listening to sad songs. Smoking and drinking in the moonlight. Alone. All along.
Everyone is the victim in a love story.
Leaves have fallen. Snow comes now. On the other side, the green tidings of spring and another year.
Conversations of Getting Better, conversations that mean nothing. Tell a joke to laugh, to slip away from the seriousness for a minute. But that’s what people always come back to. The progressive march towards a towering gate, torches blazing there on either side. On the arch above, the word: Success.
I feel sorry for so many people, but mostly my friends and lovers. And the people I know who might be interesting if they weren’t so busy trying to gain an inch of ground.
Miss Rich by a few minutes, maybe. Already gone to physical therapy. An empty bed and a window looking down on cold streets.
“Tell him Carroll stopped by,” I instruct the nurse, after she asks if I want to leave a message.
She peers over the top of her glasses as she writes it down, incorrectly spelling it.
“C-A-R-R-O-L-L” I spell it out for a customer on the phone.
“Like the masculine spelling…” the man says.
For some reason, I can’t sleep. Not ready yet, maybe. Not slipping off the edge of consciousness. Not sinking into the dark.
My eyelids just won’t close.
I think, and the thoughts dredge up emotions, and from there it all goes to Hell in a handbasket.
A breadcrumb trail, back to a place full of creaking floorboards and cobwebbed clocks.
It’s my own laughter that I can hear.
It’s what you do that comes back to hurt you.
Soaking in the feeling, of another book coming to an end. The flutter of pages, the whisper of a closed cover, the silence of finality.