Katie 4

12 Sep

Katie and her roommates lived in a large house around the corner from one of my old apartments. Before moving to Columbus, I’d lived in Dayton for a couple of years during graduate school. In this neighborhood, stray cats outnumbered people. The neighborhood itself had been posh until sometime around 1930, but now litter and cat shit covered most of the lawns. The city had tried to build and rebuild the neighborhood to preserve its historical character, with uneven results. A semi-antique mansion, rebuilt in the 70s with tan bricks, failed to qualify as historical, but the iron fence surrounding it claimed state protection. Across the street loomed Ohio’s biggest, pinkest funeral home. A block or so down the street, Katie roomed with maybe seven or eight miscellaneous hipsters in a tall ramshackle house with endless porches, windows, and Corinthian columns.

By virtue of her nearly painful physical beauty, a girl named Hadley reigned over the warren as queen of the eusocial hipster hierarchy. She seemed nice enough, benignly wandering the after party with her consort, a dimly lit bulb named Timothy, who followed her, forlornly attempting various gestures of physical courtship. Below her the social order scrambled. Dylan, a frustrated vegan lumberjack of a man, torqued a wrench on a fixed gear bike while watching Kim, the nymphomaniacal pixie object of his affections, compound his agony by rubbing herself mercilessly against every man present not named Dylan. He had calves like overinflated footballs. Kim, a drunk and pajamaed sophomore who’d only lately realized she was hot, had not yet worked her way through the novelty of unlimited available and willing penises. Siobhan, the token non-white girl at the party, offered me a beer from the fridge and asked me my name. Everyone else looked at me incuriously or ignored me completely, milling slowly about me, pursuing individual goals. Some of them had paired off; everyone had a drink. Gradually, I realized that the after party wasn’t a party in the classic sense. Everyone just lived there, and this happened more or less every night.

Katie pulled me to an overstuffed couch. Someone had a guitar, much in the way that someone always has a guitar. As male props go, a guitar approaches perfection. It is phallic, suggesting virility; expensive, suggesting wealth; and artistic, suggesting sensitivity. Katie asked to borrow it and began to strum an indie-rock sea shanty about sex and revenge. We had a sing-along. I sang. I don’t usually sing. She threw her legs across my lap and nuzzled my shoulder. As soon as she’d made sure everyone had seen us together, she led me upstairs to her room.

A large, frameless double bed strewn with afghans dominated a room otherwise bare of furniture. Gentle drifts of laundry pushed up against the large bay window of the far wall. Ambient outdoor light lit the room in a way that struck me as romantic. She invited me to sit on the bed, and I sat. We talked to each other. We talked about our childhoods. We talked about high school. We talked each other out of our shirts and spent the long hours of the evening making out in a groping, adolescent way. Our thighs and hips pressed together with slow, needy friction. We drifted into semi-sleep, occasionally rousing enough to wake each other with fretful kisses. Downstairs, half a dozen people who knew that Katie had a boyfriend fell to beer-soaked sleep on easy chairs and beds. When I woke the next morning, Katie had already left.

Late the next evening, my phone rang with an unfamiliar number.


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