“Not again.” I’m in the hallway of my apartment building. Something is jammed behind the door. A laundry bag? A pile of severed heads? Debris from a UFO?
My right hand still in a cast, I shove the door with my ass.
Books smack the floor. I squeeze through the tight space and lift the bookcase Jesse wedged behind the door. I pick up the books, put them back on the shelves, and then I slide the bookcase up against the wall where it usually lives.
The faint crackling sound of a record at its end comes from the living room. Three pizza boxes are stacked on the coffee table surrounded by an entourage of beer cans. An odor of stale beer and wet tobacco fills the windowless room. Everything with eyes has been turned to face the wall — the painting of Henry VIII, the charcoal drawing of Tom Waits, the bookend busts of Socrates and Plato, even the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Too many eyes in this place. Too many fuckin’ eyes.
I remove the needle from the record, and in the silence, I’m startled by the sound of a page turning in the bathroom. I peek in to find Jesse reading People magazine, fully clothed, in an unfilled bathtub. Her blonde bangs shield her eyes. Her hand with red-chipped fingernails chewed raw around the cuticles grabs at the hammer in her lap as I open the door. “I thought you were a chupacabra!”
I sit on the sink. “Why’d you lock me out again?”
“Unsolved Mysteries marathon. You know what that does to me.” She pauses. “Do you believe in the chupacabra?”
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
Do you believe in–“
“Can you sleep with me tonight?” She stands up and puts the hammer on the back of the toilet.
We climb over the piles of clothes, the unpacked boxes, and the nameless tchotchkes littering every inch of her bedroom floor. My mother flashes into my mind, her high-pitched voice nagging, tidy house, tidy mind as Jesse and me climb into bed. She moves over to the wall so I can block the chupacabras when they come at three am. I turn out the light.
Later that night, Robert Stack climbs through the window again wearing a brown trench coat. He holds his hand out for a dance. We sway in the cold light of the moon tripping over Jesse’s crap on the floor.
This is how I broke my wrist.
The next morning, or more like afternoon, we get up, fry some eggs, and then go out for coffee. The day is gray. A throwaway. Later, we head home and put on our Unsolved Mysteries box set. All eyes in the room still face the wall. We hold each other when Robert Stack utters the words spontaneous combustion in that voice like a zombie corpse. Inside my cast, my wrist is throbbing.