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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Saturday
Apr282012

« In Which We Are Knocked Out Completely »

You can enjoy the Saturday fiction archive here at your own leisure.

Seventh

by ANDREW DAVIS

He woke with the faintest memory of a good time, the half-addled recollection of something pleasant in the ether. Beside the bed were two comely ovals, and when he scraped his fingernail against them not even the faintest trace lodged underneath. His sigh of relief that they were likely potent elongated his desire for the morning. Light was only beginning to drift through the curtains.

She said, "Do you think it's valid if I just ask her to tell me what happened?"

No glass of water was in evidence, so the first pill slipped dry down his throat, lodging briefly in the deep south of his esophagus before absorbing directly into his cerebrum.

She said, "I don't want it to remain a mystery. If I ask -" she had been wearing sandals (to bed?) and one of them dangled from the end of her foot - "later it will be obvious, so evident that's it's something I had been thinking about for awhile."

He turned to her and nodded and noticed a Sprite hovering on a guitar case. He did not know she played, but he should have known, really, so he did not want to say, but found himself saying, "You play the guitar?" He walked over to the Sprite and washed down the second pill with it. What kind of name was that, Sprite. If an object has the identical name as something else...there should ideally be a law, that no two things could have the same name.

She said, "My ex-boyfriend did. He gave me the case to keep my trombone in." She laughed, but he was not entirely sure if that was a joke or if she actually played the trombone. "She walked in when we were, you know. It was so awkward."

Her hair was bright blonde, sandy at the ends. It might have been intentional. The thought of the style as so calculatedly haphazard should have roused something in him, so he waited to feel it.

She said, "She doesn't care for other people's feelings. She regards pity as a weakness. Not pity, empathy."

She said, "She'll be here any minute. You have to help me figure out what to say." She took the can from him and sipped on it, at first hesitantly, but then greedily. He felt he better understood why things were called what they were.

She said, "If I speak to her. On occasion I find myself talking to her as if she's a child. Not just any child that you might correct for eating something she shouldn't, or taking something that did not belong to her, but the way you might reprimand your own child for doing so."

He said, "I would never just give a kid sugar." She nodded sympathetically. He followed this up by saying, "The only way to raise one of them is in isolation. That way they have nothing at all to compare their lives to."

There was a commotion outside in the street, and while his attention was thus directed, she sat up in bed and wrapped her legs around his arm. He mock-pounced on her and tasted the leftover Sprite, shuddering inwardly. It was like sampling himself. Her limbs were hairer than he could have imagined.

She said, "She's never had a roommate before. I think people learn, given time. They can improve. She would have a chance."

He ran his tongue along her neck. There was the faint residual sweetness from the exertion of sleep, but it possessed no odor, no scent. If all secretions were voluntary, he would have sought no other, and truth be told, preferred it as a method of communication. There was no mistaking it. Then again, perhaps all her secretions were by choice, or simply guided by an external force beyond his capacity to understand.

In his head arose that light burning sensation, and then another, more intellectual pleasure at its recognition, knowing for sure he had not merely swallowed someone's leftover rejected vitamins.

She said, "I just hate when there are all these unsaid ghosts. Its drive me insane to know I have to hold back. I don't know if that's something I'm capable of."

"You've done it before," he said. She laughed lightly at first, and then giggles took over like a seizure. It was all he could do to keep her in his arms.

She said, "She's been seeing a therapist. When she first told me, I thought, great...well I didn't just think that, I told her that was wonderful. And she said I showed too much emotion in my reaction." He nodded. "Because this wasn't an eventuality to be happy about, is what she told me."

"Imagine that," he said, pressing himself against her. "I could listen to you talk like this for hours." With his foot he slid the guitar case under the bed. The mere touch of it brought intense pleasure, like a discrete, painful scrape on the underside of his testicles. As suddenly he drifted out of his reverie. He said, "What you ought to do is, say what you need to say. Don't make it sound like an apology."

"Why?"

"People hate being apologized to. Inside every person," he said, pressing on his rear tooth with his tongue in misguided curiosity about what excitement it might bring, "is this mostly dormant but everpresent sense they are completely in the wrong. It's what separates us from the animals." He coughed. "Make it sound like a compliment." She asked who had told him this. Then she said she thought she heard voices, and a doorbell rang, the sound settling in the air.

When he opened the door standing before him was a salty, short man between the age of 17 and 21, featuring a beggar's haircut. Raindrops issued from his forehead. In the individual's left hand was a vase, probably not a nice one if the accompanying clothes were any evidence. The idea of matching everything to the particular tenor of a vase, of letting things revolve entirely around a craft to hold flowers, struck him as an eminently desirable approach.

"Who are you?" the figure said.

"Terence," he replied. He felt it would unwise to give his real name.

"Okay Terence, is Marla there?"

"Is she about 5'5" with blonde hair and a tattoo of a eucharist?"

"No," the figure said. Terence stepped wide of the door and said, "Marla will be here soon. I invite you to wait indoors. I understand it's raining."

The girl in the apartment - Marla's roommate, he had concluded - took one look at this vase-bearing phenomenon and shrieked, "Where the fuck is Marla, Greg?", picked up a small blanket, and stomped into the bathroom. Greg at first moved as if to follow her but instead he sheepishly set the vase on a coffee table shaped like a machete.

"Greg," Terence said, "you may be having a rough morning. I don't know this for a fact."

Greg grunted.

"Do you have any cigarettes?" Terence asked. Greg just looked at him. Terence fished in the pocket of a woman's robe. "Here. You may require it more urgently than I do."

"I don't take x," Greg said.

"It's 8:30 on a Sunday and I'm appalled by your insinuation. Happiness, you will eventually decide, is the least of your desires. Does that hurt?" Greg's left ear, he had noticed, featured a small silver hoop that looked borderline infected.

"It's not what it looks like," Greg said, accepted the pill and reached into his jacket pocket for what Terence hoped very much was not a weapon. It was a joint. They both swallowed.

The door to the apartment opened and in walked Marla. Had he seen her in the flesh before he would surely have paid more attention to the talk. It made a great deal of sense in retrospect. Her very skin shone, her brunette hair lingered at her hips, a magnificent ballpoint pen extruded from her mouth. People were always talking fervently about what they desired most. As soon as she saw the intimate gathering in her living room, Marla grabbed the vase. Greg opened his mouth, saying, "I was waiting" - but this was all he said. Marla let the vase fly right toward his face. It struck Greg directly on his right temple. Terence was shocked it did not knock the man out completely, but he simply writhed around on the ground like a phantom was inhabiting his body, and sobbed. The girl with the tattoo of the eucharist came out of the bathroom, and seeing what had happened, the two women hugged and touched the tips of their fingers together, as if they had newly discovered a way of conducting electricity. He placed the joint on the table, dragged the guitar case from under the bed, and let himself out.

Andrew Davis is a writer living in New York.

"Let Her Go" - Eyas (mp3)

"Unfold In Dreams" - Eyas (mp3)

The new album from Eyas is entiteld It Will Become, and it was released on March 20th.

Reader Comments (1)

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May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdidas jeremy scott

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