Prose: Terence Lane
You’re cold and you’re drunk. Right now you hate my guts and I hate yours. We find your Passat in the street, and not where I thought. I yell, “That’s not even the fucking car.”
You say, “The hell it isn’t! It’s right there, look. Look!”
We ate like gods tonight. Calamari with shiny soufflé cups of marinara and cheese. Linguine in a molten white clam sauce. The venison entrée. I got you the dessert special. I got you a piece of cake. I bought you that pineapple drink you wanted, with the fruit peel spiraling out of it. I bought you three. You shook off that shoe of yours and put your foot in my crotch, a cherry between your teeth. I gave the waiter forty-percent because you’ve shown me what true value really is.
We were supposed to meet our friends Keith and Cecilia tonight, but they canceled last minute. Cecilia and I have a natural rapport, something we’re aware of and keep to a minimum.
We’d both been drinking when I mentioned Cecilia’s name out of context. That steely gleam appeared in your eyes tonight, just after the check, that jealous mongrel thing within you came up for air because we’d already finished discussing Keith and Cecilia, and I’d managed somehow to dredge her up again. Your eyes looked like two Kalamata olives in their juice, and you removed your nesting foot from between my legs.
At the car you say, “You’re driving, as if that’s even a question.”
I shake my head and take a great big breath. I’m thinking of new ways to make you suffer, remarks to make you die inside. Grainy tongues of sleet slash the windshield. Wintry mix turning to ice later, just like they predicted. It’s supposed to drop into the teens later, according to God.
Back at the apartment I slam out of the car and into the mix. I go around to your side. “Are you coming?”
You don’t say anything. You’ve pulled your head down into your furry hood and I watch the beads of your eyes move in the street light.
“Fine!” I tramp off to the apartment. I take the first thing of yours I see—this big elephant-shaped pillow—and punt it into the wall. Then I put my jacket on and go back outside.
“I don’t get this shit,” I say. “Every time we go out! It feels like whenever me and you go out of this apartment we come back like this, no? And then we have to play the lovey-dovey.”
You laugh and it scares me. “The lovey-dovey! You’ve missed the point again. You stink. Fuck you.”
“Get out of this car it’s freezing.”
“Get out of the Passat.”
You shake your head. “Nope, my car.”
You put up your hood.
“Cunt!” I scream at the storm.
Inside I turn on my record player. I put on The Replacements. Our little living room swims with blue light from News 12 Long Island. A meteorologist is using her two hands to shove this nor’easter back and forth. She speaks with dire certainty. She promises we have yet to see the worst of it.
Slowly, like a snake reversing back into its skin, I put my arms into my jacket, shrug it up around my shoulders. I make my way to the door, drowsy, feeling hopeless to change your mind, so all I do is check to make sure I didn’t lock it. It’s open. You’ll find your way back to where it’s warm, won’t you? Like a snake?
I wake up on the couch. The record player’s crackling. Not just hungover, I feel totally melancholic, guilty, broken. I will cook you an egg. Fry you a piece of ham, cut a nice piece of bread, and cook it in the same pan. I’ll make your creamy instant mocha and I’ll put it in your cup. Hell, I’ll drink some too.
I peek into the bedroom, expecting to find you shipwrecked near the bottom of the bed, a little fight leftover in your face, but you’re not there. There’s not a scrape in the snow. I tramp through it to the car, the Passat—a white, sugar-blasted shape. I have to punch the handle several times to break off the crust. And then I pull, pull, pull, and it crunches open.
And there you are. You look shocked to see me. You’re dead and you look like I just told a good one. I climb into the car and push your face. I stay that way, on all fours, just sniffing at the air in disbelief. The whole car smells like pineapples.