Living in the city


I came back and sat at the table.  I nodded to the empty table where the couples were.       “Cops take off?”                                                                                                                                Dave smiled, “You caught that.”                                                                                                           “It’s that snarky vibe, also the tension of never being fully relaxed.  The haircuts didn’t help.”                                                                                                                                                    Tom shook his head, “Suburban cops.  Brain-dead and blissful.  But even those dullards have to hit the city once in a while, have a night out like everyone else.  They left a ten spot on the table.  Gave it to Mikey.”

“You scored, Mikey,” I said.  He was lost in The Matrix.  He’d seen it in the theater something like 18 times.  Mikey obsessed like that, though.  Dave once told me that Mikey had read Blade Runner repeatedly for a year, after he’d seen the movie, which Tom had on VHS, but that Tom got pissed when they watched Apocalypse Now together at the shop, because Mikey didn’t get the brilliance of it, the perfection.

Christine woke me up with my cock in her mouth.  I stiffened my torso and shot.  She came up and kissed me on the neck.  I took her out for breakfast, we came back, ran Lucy around the park, and I wrote Rick a check.  Rick was alright.  He was supposed to be an apartment manager, the way a P.E. coach was born for the job and no other.  Rick had a short haircut and an angular face, round wire glasses and a thin build.  Nasally and reasonably intelligent, he would probably own his one building one day.  He was a perfect warden for the free.  He stood on my stoop and held the check at his side.                     “Fuck, man.  I’m sorry.  Roger’s a huge dildo.”                                                                                 “Don’t worry about it.”                                                                                                                     “But it’s not like you’ve been any kind of trouble.  I told his ass that you’re quiet, no mess or problems whatsoever making rent.  In fact you’re the only one here who hasn’t incurred a late fee.”                                                                                                                                                “Rick, it’s honestly no big deal”                                                                                                         He shook his head at the ground, histrionic yet sincere.  He lingered there and threw some gossip around about the other tenants, like the old crazy fucker across the courtyard and upstairs who tried to fake a nervous breakdown to avoid a late fee.  Then there were the ones he called Lethal Weapon, black and white roommates in their mid-twenties who left their empties scattered on their stoop and blasted rap at 4 a.m. until the cops had to show up and squash it, the cute Japanese student across the courtyard and to the left who works out naked, not that he’d meant to see it, and if I’d heard some banging above me late last night it was because he’d met a girl and brought her home.  I hadn’t heard anything.  My phone rang.  Christine held it up in the window.  I said later to Rick and stepped in.  She hung it up.                                                                                                                                     “Called from my cell.  I could tell you were getting lost at sea.”                                                  “I was in the seductive throes of schizophrenia, interracial cohabitation, voyeurism, and Rick’s red hot night of silent fucking.”          “Awesome.”                                                                                                                                               I sat on the couch next to her.  Lucy barked at the sound of people on the porch.  Billy and Amanda.  I waved them in.  Lucy ran up and met them.  He had a six pack of Becks.  He handed me a bottle.                                                                                                                            “Thought we’d drop by and hang out.  Sorry I didn’t call first, but−”                                    “But you’re not gay?” I took the bottle.  He laughed.  Amanda sat next to Christine.  Billy took the loveseat.  Christine drank her beer, “Wait, who’s at The Alley?”


−Excerpt from Flotsam for Jetsam, out this winter.

About Jeff Stewart

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