Kane and Kerri
“Every time I smile… I puke,” says Kane from somewhere far behind his fringe. He cowers, coughing miserably, flung on the floor where he’s hunched above his beer soaked notebook filled with tiny Pikachus and Dragonballs and naked school girls with blue hair and big eyes and all kinds of other sick shit that, he tells me, he could show me if I really wanted, but, like, afterwards, I’d have to die.
We’re sitting in the living room of my old squat that Kerri and her boyfriend’s band have just broken back into, and Kane, the band’s bassist, typically too fucked to find the bus stop, has turned it once again into his accidental bedroom. “So show me,” I say, bored as I wait for that last tab my tongue soaked up to spread out, wild inside me. Kane looks up from a scribbled page in his sketchpad of stupid secrets, eyes gone narrow like two lines slashed across his face, masked by the mascara that he’s smashed onto his lashes and the purple bruises seeping out from underneath. He contorts his chapped lips into a grimace that unfurls slowly, painfully, into a smile. His mouth drips spit as he opens up, showing me his fucked up teeth, until his body buckles, lungs start heaving, coughing psychotic with violent seizured spasms until he belches bloody bile up everywhere and lets it dribble down onto his doodles.
“Cool,” I say, “but kind of gross… you should get that checked,” and I leave him, head pressed to the pukey page, shaking on the floor.
I next find Hannah, who, now, like me, is a visitor, inside the bathroom, picking at her ripped up tights on the toilet, tears streaking sharply down her face. “He doesn’t even–” she barely says between her hiccuped breaths that smell like Cider, “He doesn’t even remember who I am,” and just before I can say “Who?” she points at our old cat William in the hallway, sitting crippled in a cage, having been run over by a car. “He doesn’t care at all,” she gasps, breaking down, rinsing her cheeks with water from the sink. I bend down to peek at William, looking languid as he licks his little orange paws and when he sees me, staring in, he stops mid-lick and yawns. “I think maybe he’s just tired, Hannah,” I say sincerely, “Maybe, just… we all are.”
In the upstairs kitchen Kerri cooks the ketamine and I come in to join her. We both take too many taste tests to make sure that it’s just right. As we do, she tells me all about the college course she’s hoping to sign up for, an intro class to Sociology that starts sometime in Spring. “I wanna make a change,” she tells me as she tampers with the stovetop knobs and checks the crystals as they start sprouting into powder, “And going to school and shit is what I’ve always dreamed of.” I tell her it’s a good idea, and bite my lip as I remember how I myself have school today, have work today, and suddenly, have bills to pay, a doctor to see, a bank to go to and how, unbelievably, I swore I’d call my mother.
As I go out, I glance into my old room, and it’s empty now except a futon and some passed out girl I’ve never met, I guess she’s dead or sleeping or whatever. I poke at her with my left foot and she grumbles something, sounds like Swedish, and then turns to face the wall. Things feel different here now, weird, like I’ve become a stranger, and part of me thinks No Don’t Change, This Was The Best Time, Here, Forever, but still, another part of me is saying louder something else I can’t quite hear but I’m trying to, I’m listening.
I walk home, passing through the park beside my house and as I stumble on, still drunk, succumbed to all that shit I’ve got stirred up inside me, I stop and search the sky. Today is my twenty-second birthday, I remind myself, and I’ve never felt so full of this, so full of something, waiting, standing here as if I’m saying, foolish: Hey, Please Show Me What It All Means, I Don’t Care If I’m A Loser, Saying This, Just Show Me, Show Me Anything, A Sign, Just Show Me Anything and then, my eyes, they open wide, I look around and watch the wind move through the grass, just like a whisper, like a wave.