Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From a new short story- 'Chasing the Ants'

I’ve learned things about bugs since I’ve moved here. I’m like the Loren fucking Green of urban vermin. For example, they like blood. Weird, I know. I get frequent nosebleeds and wadded up tissues blossom in the trash like deep red peonies. That’s when the bugs get frantic, rushing right over my bare toes to get at it. Goddamn vampires.

I forgot to get light bulbs from the 7-Eleven last night so the lamp on the table is dead. Instead I have to put on the milky yellow overhead. It reminds me of phlegm, makes the whole apartment look like its been sneezed on. Makes all my brown pants and worn sweaters seem dusty.

Just enough time to cut my jaw three times with a dull razorblade, put clothes on (brown pants, lint covered sweater I’ll pick clean later, light blue jockies with a rip at the waistband, black socks of different height) and get fixed up for the morning.

I have a real bad habit of being disorganized and messy, which is probably why I have so many goddamn bugs- there are at least a thousand great hiding spots for them in this one room apartment. I have more bugs than dishes, more dust bunnies than forks. Oh well. Fuck it. I only eat cereal here anyways, sometimes with milk, sometimes with water. It doesn’t really matter as long as the marshmallows are hydrated so they don’t disintegrate to powder between my teeth. And now that I have my sweater on, salt-stained shoes laced up, that’s where I go, to the cupboard to the cereal box, the Lucky Charms.

There is ultimately something cathartic about Bachelor Apartments. First of all, their very name brings to mind a quiet kind of personal failure, a soft yet biting inability to check off the top box on life’s most primal list. The shame in the address gets it all out of that immobile stage of silent denial, releases the mobilizing hope that just maybe you’re on the right track. Because if you are old enough to be living on your own, and indeed have been for six long years, and you still only need and/or can afford a Bachelor Apartment, there is something inherently wrong with you, my friend. Secondly, it can bring the most hideous of your beasts to dinner. There is not much space in which to hide bad habits, dirty tendencies or the congealed shame that lives in corners and under beds. There is something poignantly revealing about eating in the same room you sleep in.

I take down two boxes; one goes on the table beside a clean placemat, the other in between my knees as I sit on the wobbly vinyl covered chair. I eat out of the one on my lap. I take my junk out of the one on the table, carefully laying the baggie, blade, lighter, straw (cut in half) and a small shard of mirror on the placemat- a vinyl jobbie stolen from a Ponderosa Steakhouse years ago when the Ponderosa seemed like a sophisticated way to spend a Saturday night. There are brown rings burnt into it from overly hot cups of coffee served by overweight waitresses with nothing to look forward too; their arm flab swinging slowly above their elbows like fleshy white flags signaling surrender.

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