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Everything’s Everything

-by Mike Yaremko

I turned the faucet off and walked back into the bedroom. I hit the light and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark, only being able to make out the glowing blue ‘1:35’ of the digital clock on the bedside table. We had both dozed off after we finished, but now I was ready for another go. The edge of the bed went down as I sat on it and she rolled towards me. I flipped the sheet off her and she spread her legs a little as I put my hand on her calf. She smiled as I moved up between her legs. God, don’t women shave their legs anymore?

I stood up suddenly but couldn’t move right away, momentarily startled by how fast I lost my erection. Of course, she was a bit taken aback, too. I’d have to convince myself it was just because I got up so fast, so as not to be too embarrassed if I wanted to call her again. A few clumsily put on pieces of clothing and mumbled apologizes later, I was out the door. I didn’t want to wait for the elevator, so I ducked into the stairwell. I heard a door open above when I stopped to put on my socks and shoes a couple of stories down. Not wanted to take any chances, I jumped a half a flight at a time until I got to the ground floor. I glanced down at my watch, but only saw the white band around my wrist made by a tan. I looked up at the windows on the seventh floor, not really having any idea which apartment might be hers. It didn’t take long to decide not to go back up.

I kept looking back up as I walked down the block, kind of expecting to see her silhouette in one of the windows. Actually, I was pretty sure her place was around the corner, but I wanted to go for the more dramatic: her looking down forlornly as I got into my car and drove away. But, by the time I got into my car, I really didn’t want to have to see her, so I fumbled with my keys, trying to feel the right one for the door, instead of holding them up to the light and maybe accidentally catching a glimpse of her.

I turned the headlights on and pounded on the dash until the dash lights followed suit. I glanced at the clock: almost ten ‘till one. I didn’t think it had taken that long. I really needed some alcohol to fill the pit in my stomach, but knowing the ten bucks I had on me wasn’t going to be enough to make me feel better, just made it deeper.

I put the car into park at a flashing red light and flipped the switch for the overhead light a couple of times, but this wasn’t one of the times it decided to heed my call. I dug around in the glove box until I found the receipt and held it out the window to try and make out the map in the street light. Jamie had scratched it out in a few seconds and his handwriting was pretty bad to begin with, so all I could make out before the old hag behind me started honking and flashing her brights was ‘Linden Street’, so I made a left and headed across town.

Most of the houses had their porch lights off by then, but it didn’t matter since I couldn’t make out the address Jamie had written, anyway. I just drove down the street until I saw a house with lots of lights on and cars out in front. The light above the door showed it very well, but it left the rest of the porch totally black.

Jamie saw me as soon as I walked through the door. He came over to me and stuck a cigarette in my mouth and a beer in my hand. He led me into the kitchen where a bunch of people were sitting around a table, forgetting to light my smoke.

I leaned against the counter and cracked the can open as Jamie introduced the troupe, but I didn’t pay any attention. All I wanted to do was finish that beer and get started on another to kill some more time.

The chirping of a cuckoo brought me back to reality as a clock in another room hit three o’clock. My mind had wandered off (screaming, actually) after hearing so much about the oppression of the masses by the military industrial complex, the wasteland that is public education, and the nature of God. I finished my tenth (or twelfth) beer and stumbled out of the room. All the faces stared at me in disgust as I bounced from room to room trying to find the pisser. There were plenty of people making bigger messes than I was: knocking things over, breaking everything they touched. I guess they just didn’t like the fact that it was a stranger doing it.

  The guy passed out on the floor looked slightly familiar, but the florescent light’s vain attempt to completely turn on kept me from getting a good look. He was in the fetal position in front of the toilet, shivering with the last of the paper around him like he thought it would keep him warm. I leaned over to get a closer look, but he kept kicking his leg out straight so all I got was a whiff of the vomit his head was lying in. I tried to position myself so I could piss over him, but before I could finish, out came his leg again; this time he hit my leg. I didn’t want the others to be even angrier with me, but I got lucky, most of it got on him and not much on the floor, so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning it up. He lifted his head, probably wishing he had brought and umbrella outside with him, but then just plopped his head back into his sick.

When I got back to the kitchen, Jamie was yelling at one of the guys sitting with him. I was surprised that it had taken so long. Jamie stood up and (almost as an after thought) knocked his chair over for emphasis. He grabbed a Rhinelander bottle from the counter, not seeming to notice the beer pouring down his arm. He waved it in the air a little and hit it on the table a couple of times, but it wouldn’t break. Jamie stopped and stared at it, and started laughing.

  The guy at the table had gotten up and was coming toward Jamie. I grabbed him by the collar and pushed him toward the living room. He just stared at the bottle in his hand (‘You see that? You see that?’). I suppose the guy just needed something to go after because he punched me in the back and I fell into Jamie. He steadied himself on a lamp by the front door. Then he picked it up and threw it toward people gathered in the kitchen doorway.

With both of us drunk, I was worried about how we were going to leave. But then I realized that he wasn’t. He had done that completely sober. I supported myself on Jamie as we went down the porch steps.

Jamie went right into the driver’s side. He reached through the window, unlocked the door and just sat with his hands on the wheel. I leaned against the car and slide down as I searched my pockets for my keys. By the time I hit the ground, my hands were stuck. Jamie got out, walked around the car and got the keys out of my shirt pocket. He got back in and started ‘er up.

  He grabbed the lighter as soon as it popped out. I watched the small orange circle move  toward Jamie’s face and part of it stay as he replaced the lighter in the dash.

He smiled down at me and turned the volume of the radio up. I moved the bottle to the floor and put my head on the seat.

“What was that about?”

“Huh? Oh. I told his girlfriend to shut the fuck up and he got nuts.”

“You don’t think your friends are going to be a little upset? Fighting…the lamp?”

“They’re not my friends. I don’t know any of them.” He explained that he overheard some people talking about the party and thought it sounded good. I sunk back down and closed my eyes, the light from the passing street lights lulling me barefoot and had been walking through the field for quite some time. The sun was using the big bales of cotton in the sky to play hide and seek with the trees that had scattered themselves around me. The sun was directly above, but I didn’t break a sweat no matter how far I would go or how long it took me. The coolness beneath me and the breeze from the ocean behind me kept me strong. When I got to the top of the Grand Canyon and did a dive into the gorge. My stomach tightened as I fell, but I was able to catch the gusts of air from all the bird swooping around me with my arms and began an upward spiral; higher and door slammed and Jamie stuck his head through a window to tell me to get out. I would probably have taken off again if not for the light flooding in through the windshield. I lifted my head and saw that we were at Oliver’s.

  Jamie was holding the door open for me. I looked at the clock above the cash register as I walked past him. The last thing I needed was one of their greasy hamburgers at 3:30 in the morning, but there we were. The woman at the register glanced up as we walked in, but put her head right back down and asked her magazine if we wanted the smoking or the non-smoking section. Jamie removed his cigarette and blew a stream of smoke in her face. I tried to give an apologetic grin and followed Jamie as we walked to a booth.

  He grabbed a menu, quickly looked it over, and put it back down. I was not feeling well at this point and just sipped from the glass of water the waitress brought. But when she came back, I ordered a cheeseburger and fries anyway, out of habit, I guess.

  I lifted my head from the table to find Jamie taking fries off my plate, all of his gone already. Annoyed that I kept falling asleep (passing out), I rubbed my eyes to clear them. It worried me a bit that Jamie could not seem to contain his laughter. He took a drag from his cigarette and blew it up toward the ceiling. We both watched it waft up; I had to squint to keep an eye on it because of the light. It was caught by a blast from a vent and blown behind Jamie.

  At first I wasn’t sure why this amused him so much, but Jamie silenced me with a finger in the air before I could ask. The ‘goddammits’ came in pretty short order from the man sitting in the booth behind him. He leaned across the table towards me. “It would appear the line between smoking and non is directly behind me,” he gestured to his back. He leaned back, blew more smoke, and leaned forward again, looking around at the empty tables and booths scattered around the place: “I guess he’s the stubborn sort.”

Copyright©2000 Mike Yaremko