Archive for April, 2011

Amanda, Part 4

25 Apr

Mike answered. The roar of another party pulsed out of the phone. She jammed a finger into her other ear and shouted into her phone, and also into the empty street.

“Hello? Mike, Hello?”

“Amanda?” He was hard to hear over the party, but his voice sounded pleased. And confused. And embarrassed. She slowed down, trying to focus on what it meant. Elsewhere in Columbus, Mike Downey moved into a different room and closed the door. The noise diminished.

“Yeah, hi, it’s me. Um, happy new year!” She responded. The new year had been twenty seven minutes ago and counting. Still, she supposed, it was close enough. Probably. “What are you doing? Are you busy?”

He laughed. His voice sounded easier, pleased and more relaxed. “Well, there’s this party. But I can talk.”

“I’ve missed you,” Amanda said. This was not strictly true, but as fabrications go, it was not egregious. She missed having sex with him. Well, really, she missed having sex. Her eyes closed, and a flash of all the potential sex she’d recently passed up for Johnny passed behind her eyes, followed by a flash of Johnny’s stupid grin. Last month, Liz had invited her to come and play naked games with her and whoever Liz’s current arm candy had been. Then, as now, the memory of Johnny’s face had been unavoidable. She bit her tongue. “What are you doing now? Can you come pick me up?” Somewhere, a part of her that was sober, warm, and sexually fulfilled screamed at her to stop.

“Well,” Mike began, and then the thudding bass of the party returned for a moment, swallowing whatever it was he had begun to say. The sound faded, replaced by a faint but clearly audible female voice. Oh, Amanda thought. Of course.

“Oh, there you are,” Amanda heard someone say. “I wondered what happened to you. Don’t be too long, okay?” Mike’s voice responded, muffled now by what was undoubtedly his palm over the mouthpiece. The noise of the party swelled again and receded.

Mike returned. “You know, I’d love to, but I don’t think I should drive anywhere just now. Are you busy later in the week? Maybe—”

Amanda scrubbed her fingerless gloves over her phone. “What was that?” She said. “I think the reception’s bad. What did you—” She snapped the phone shut and jammed it into her pocket. She walked, waiting for it to buzz again with Mike’s number. It refused.

Her house was dark. Neither of her roommates seemed to be home, but Grim and Bruce Wayne waited for her just inside the doorway.

Grim was an aging black lab. Bruce Wayne was a neurotic rat terrier. He yipped and ran off into the unlit house, his nails scrabbling excitedly up the wooden stairs. Grim came slowly forward and nuzzled Amanda’s hand. “Hey buddy,” she told him. Absently, she checked the time on her phone. It was late, and it didn’t matter. No one would be coming home that night but her. She walked to the back of the house and up the stairs, flipping through the history on her phone, pausing slightly to linger over this number or that one. Somehow her hands were full of beer and cigarettes.

She leaned out the window of her bedroom, resting her elbows on the roof. She blew tobacco smoke out over the street below and, she hoped, away from the house, where, by unanimous agreement of the roommates, there was to be no smoking indoors. Each of them, however, knew the quickest and most efficient way to remove the screens from their bedroom windows. It was not a topic of discussion.

Later, there would be cookie dough squares. Later than that, she would fall asleep on the couch while spooning Grim, watching Elf, and hating Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel just the tiniest little bit. Later still, she’d have to stop by Johnny’s and drop off all the shit he’d left in her room. But for the moment, she drank, tipping herself back off the edge of sobriety where she’d arrived after the long walk home, and, smoking, she listened to people stumble and laugh home from the bars.



Amanda’s Story, Part 3

11 Apr

“Why the fuck did you even invite me?” Amanda squinted at Johnny. He had a really, really stupid face. She couldn’t understand why she’d never noticed before. It was a slab of boyish, angular gristle poking hatefully out from beneath his spiked hair. She wanted to punch it. Behind him, the ball reached the bottom of the pole. Its numbers lit in bright, garish curves. The crowd on TV and the crowd at the bar roared. In both places, people who liked each other moved together and kissed. “Seriously. You fucking fuck.”

Johnny stepped back and took a pull from his beer, turning his face away to scan the bar. Drunkenly and without thinking, Amanda followed his gaze until it buried itself in a bouncing ass sheathed by an unseasonable miniskirt. She thought she saw sequins. “What do you mean? I didn’t really invite you.” Johnny tipped the beer back, swallowing a vast, conversation-stalling gulp. “I just told you that this is where I would be and that you could come out if you want.” A few of the drunker or more enthusiastic couples mashed their faces together with furious, aggressive lust. In an hour or two, those people would be fucking. Amanda felt blind, vicious hate for them burn in her chest. “Why the fuck didn’t you say something earlier?” She shouted at him. “Instead of being here, I could be having sex. I could be having sex right now!

Amanda slid off her bar stool, groping for her keys. She took a step toward the door and stopped. Her car was parked three miles away. In her driveway. Where she’d left it. Liz, her other roommate, had dropped her off on her way out. Two hours earlier, both of them had believed that Amanda wouldn’t need the ride home. Liz was blocks away at Surly Girl, too drunk to remember the names of colors. A barfly slid onto her ass-warm stool and began ordering a drink. Glaring, Amanda drank from her beer.

Johnny moved closer to her. He bent down to her ear, speaking in a slurred crowd-shout. His breath was thick with the smell of used beer. “You’re making me feel like an asshole. I want to be friends. Let’s talk when I’m not fucked up.” He swayed slightly. “Look, can I give you a ride home?” With some vague intent of paying his tab, he turned and tried to wave down the bartender.

“That will not be necessary.” Already digging her phone out of her purse, Amanda spat the words at him and shoved her way toward the door. If ever there were a moment for drunk dialing, this was it. Many things can be said about Amanda. One of them is that she knows her moments. She burst out the front door of Byrne’s, full of rage, beer, and momentary forgetfulness that the walk between Grandview and the Short North is really, really far. Her thumb flicked through her contacts list. She pulled her coat tighter around herself and began to realize that she’d spent all her cash at the bar. None was left over for cab fare. Shivering, she started walking.

She called me. I think I mentioned that. I expressed outrage and sympathy in sincere, appropriate ways.

She called her ex. No one knows why she did that. Amanda didn’t tell me at the time, and now she doesn’t remember. Still, he is a nice guy, as guys go. Probably it was okay.

She called Mike Downey.