chapter 14, something, 15, something: another reunion

I am not a bad girl. I missed a day because I typed this on another computer away from home and forgot to upload it last night before I left. Doing the best I can out here. This is draft zero, y’all. There’s no hard-drive harvesting going on.

Three days on the job as a dishwasher confirmed in Mikhail’s mind that he was right about work. Three days of being cursed out by the other kitchen workers, three days of broken oily dishes, blasts of water to the face, knife cuts to the hands. Soaked down to his underclothes even while wearing an apron. No matter how he tried, the grease smell never came off him. And management did not seem able to tell the difference between slowness and a bad attitude.

He slammed the door when he got home and was greeted by the sight of Chad sitting on the seat of his ten-in-one gym machine, drinking something out of a bottle. “Dude, you look like shit!”

Mikhail untied his dirty apron and threw it on the floor next to the door. “Well, my daddy doesn’t pay for me to do nothing all day like yours does.”

Chad lowered his bottle. “Fuck you! My dad’s not paying for me! And he just had his fortieth heart attack!”

“Yeah, whatever.” Mikhail went to the kitchen sink and ran water from the faucet into the least dirty glass he could find. He was certainly not going to wash one. Before, he wouldn’t have washed it on the principle that it did not matter if it were dirty or not; now it was simply that he would never wash anything in front of Chad. He turned around to look at Chad and leaned back against the counter, sipping his water. Despite his deep dislike of looking at Chad, he knew that Chad hated looking at him even more.

“By the way, some freak” Chad gestured with the mouth of his bottle towards the bathroom “moved in.”

He put the glass down behind him. “Who?” Wonderful. Someone new to be against him.

“Some chick. She can sleep out here.”

He glanced around the room and saw the suitcase and the cage. “But that’s—” He remembered the time his father kicked him out. Afraid of his father’s temper, his mother tried to split the difference by secretly giving him her money. Well, at least Chad was kind enough to allow the girl to sleep on the floor rather than on the street.

“Look. The more miserable she is, the quicker she’ll leave.” Chad scratched his upper arm. “And she is miserable.”

The cage, partially covered by a cloth, piqued Mikhail’s curiosity. He looked in to find a mouse poking its head out of a plastic house. Its beady eyes were fixed on his. Whoever she was, she must be the sentimental type. He felt a twinge in his chest and let the cloth drop back. “She can have my room. I’ll sleep in the other bed in yours.”

“Fuck that! No way are you sleeping in my room!”

“I don’t work and pay rent so I can sleep on the floor.” Nothing quite like hiding in the bathroom listening to two people arguing about where you should or shouldn’t be sleeping.

“Then sleep with her!”

A sniffle caught Mikhail’s attention and he turned his head.

Everything he had tried to suppress for the last five years flooded upward and culminated in the  living reality of a face that could not now be denied.

He knew immediately that Chad had not recognized Natalie, but that she knew who both of them were. And he knew that she could see on his face that he recognized her. Chad, unaware of the silent exchange, swung his leg back and forth, and ignored her.

Mikhail cleared his throat and said, “I made a mistake about the number of tenants.” Had she always been that thin? “I’ll clear my things out of the other room.” He took the handle of the suitcase and rolled it across the living room, while she picked up the cage and followed him.

Without saying a word, he stripped the bed and picked his clothes up off the floor. In the meantime, when she had finished opening her suitcase and unpacking her bed things, she stood in the doorway next to the mouse cage and looked down at her hands clasped on her chest.

Keeping his back to her, he took her bed sheet and started to make the bed. After a moment, she said, “How come you’re wearing that? Are you a chef?”

He laughed. “Yeah, I’m a chef.” He stopped pulling the sheet for a moment and looked at her over his shoulder. She was still clasping her hands. “No. I wash dishes.”

“Well, at least that’s a good start.” She looked down again and rubbed her forehead. “You never know, it could lead to something else. Everyone starts somewhere.”

“Sure.” He swept all of his belongings off the nightstand and rolled them up into his sheet. “Here. You can put the cage here.” He had forgotten what her natural hair color was. What was he supposed to say?

She carefully centered the cage on the nightstand. She glanced over and then up. “Oh my gosh, what is that!”

He looked up at his other roommate, the fat, shiny spider, which had taken up residence over the bed. By now, it had constructed a web in every corner of the room. He caught it once and put it on Chad’s bed in the middle of the night, but when he woke up the next morning, there it was, keeping watch on him again. “Him? That’s my only friend in the whole world.” He watched out of the corner of his eye to see her reaction.

She was still staring at the spider. “How can you sleep with that over your head?! What if it’s poisonous? Aren’t you afraid of it?”

“Not really.” Because he didn’t care if it killed him. “It just sits there.”

“I can’t sleep in here with that! What if it hurts Mr. Squeaks? I can’t leave him out there in the living room by himself, so maybe I better go back.”

She would get tired of living like that and leave. “I’ll just get rid of him. Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll go to heaven.” Why did he need to make that comment? He pulled off his shoe and climbed up onto the bed.
“No!” She rushed over and grabbed his sleeve. “No, don’t kill it! Just throw it out the window!” She released him and threw open the window sash. “Look! It’s not that far down!”

He scooped up the spider in the handful of sticky web and scraped it off his hands into the bushes below. She quickly shut the window and looked away. He wiped his hands on the front of his clothes to buy himself a few seconds; now that one diversion from the pressing issue had gone literally out the window, he had to think of another one..

She fell back on the edge of the bed and covered her face with both hands. “Oh my God, I never expected this…”

Neither did he.

15 thoughts on “chapter 14, something, 15, something: another reunion

  1. Because he didn’t care if it killed him. Go ahead and let him say it, not you. I get the draft mode thing. Great, and I mean it, move in/out scene. Since it’s always about me, I tried the lounge piano player thing, sucked mightily, gave it up. Three years later my estranged says I can make some cash money washing dishes at a place she waitresses drinks, a rich folks dive. I say yes. The (really good old guy) piano player keeled over off the piano bench. Manager comes back, says “I hear you can play piano.” Throws me starched white shirt like he wears that I could have put two of me in. “Do something about your hair and get out there.” Smelling like grease and smoke. Nobody noticed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Immersive, resonate, entertaining to the max. That’s my bloviation free take on the scene. I love the interaction between Natalie and Mikhail. Their quirkiness is a perfect match for a co- dependency love story. Chad is indeed a hanging Chad. But, they all three are cursed and it almost seems like we are slowly inching our way to the black magic blowout. I’m stoked. Enjoying last year’s story which really helps add depth to this year.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You do an excellent job of bring characters to life and then giving them depth through their personalities. Vanessa was a great antagonist and we almost forgot that she was operating out of a deep sense of betrayal and abandonment, something all too common for young women as they learn to harness their emotions and manage predators.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s