*by someone who gets creative*
(frankie leone, just a man)
*i always feel like a dirt bag drifting towards unconsciousness post sex. they’re awake and very aware i’m falling asleep moments after.
i know what they’re thinking:
“he’s such a man.”*
*daylight and nudity betray my body’s been a few places. exhaustion pulls back curtains around my belief i’m the center of the universe.
i’ve dealt with a myriad of dysfunctional personalities working since sunrise in three different boroughs (biking nearly twenty miles) and still made half the money i think i deserve. tonight’s self pity feels justified.
it’s nearing eight in the evening and i’ve been at her place on caton ave and east 18th st about forty minutes. our plans for an informal hang out were made days ago.
the bitter-sweet apple’s been rough on her recently. i heard it in her voice on the phone. her room reflects the same. clothes litter the floor. sheets are balled up at the foot of her bed. there’s a broken open capsule of m.d.m.a. on the bedstand.
it hurts seeing her eyes look so beaten.*
*our skinny bodies screw.
i start to fall asleep. a wounded voice says, “baby, it’s only eight thirty.”
i’m consciously fucking up. i feel her disgusted green eyes while i fade out of reality.*
*i wake up at six and remember what went down. she’s still checked out. watching her sleep usually makes me happier about where i am. this morning guilt vibrates appropriately through my brain.
seems like a good time to clean up.
she doesn’t own a laundry bag so i fold clothes cluttering the floor and pile them. i move onto collecting delivery food bags and cans next. she wakes up to the percussion of cans and bottles being thrown into a plastic bag.
“what’re you doing? don’t worry about that, i’ll take care of it later.”
i ignore her and collect some scattered papers into a stack. she repeats herself.
“seriously, stop. i can clean my own room.”
i gesture to the drug paraphernalia on her bedstand, “need this empty capsule of molly?”
“what’s your problem?”
i don’t respond, just stare blankly.
she answers, “ugh, you’re so stubborn. no.”
i throw it in the trash bag. a blanket stretched across the floor begins to fold in my arms. she gives up and returns to her dreams.*
*breakfast is two egg sandwiches i buy from the bodega by the q stop. the panamanian woman who made them doesn’t speak english so both our orders are wrong. we’re used to this. after unwrapping them on her bedroom floor we’re pleased they’re right enough to be palatable.
she asks, “working this morning?”
i see disappointment in her expression. her face is beautiful. it has a unique round shape. her skin’s pale and clear. i don’t like to smudge it with unhappiness.
“what’re you doing?”
she responds, “probably hanging out here. i don’t work until twelve.”
“you mean you’re going to sleep the morning away in this windowless room? no way. walk with me through prospect park. i’ll walk to the g instead of taking the q.”
“you’re not my father. plus, it’ll take you twice the time.”
“i’m ok with that.”*
*the air in the park smells slow and safe. the emotion saturating the ground feels breathable. her shoulders look less weighted outside her bedroom.
she speaks to me.
“you used to fight a lot when you were younger right?”
“i’ve been in one or two,” i say smirking.
“right. well, right now i’m outmatched. i feel like i’m a little girl who’s never been in a fight and a much bigger older guy’s kicking my ass.”
“who’s the guy?”
she pauses to think.
“life i guess.”
it’s my turn to think.
eventually i say, “sounds like you need to change up your fighting style.”
her face smudges in a frown.
“everything seems insurmountable. i feel like i couldn’t ever hit hard or fast enough.”
“find a way to pull a knife.”
this sharpens her frown into a smile.
“what if i don’t have one?”
“then don’t wait for one to drop out of the sky. get creative. pick up a chair or bottle.”
it feels good to hear her laugh again. we’re reaching the edge of the park. the g train’s not far.
“thanks for cleaning my room,” she tells me after some silence.
“‘course baby. once a bartender told me a clean room makes for a cleaner mind.”
she doesn’t say anything back for a little while.
“thanks for forcing me out of my apartment.”
“didn’t mean to be forceful. just felt like i had to make an executive decision.”
we’re at the edge of the park and almost at goodbye.
“could you do me a favor?”
“sure thing. what do you want,” she asks.
“look around the park for a blade a little before going home?”*
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