It’s Snowing

Scene: Claire is swiping her iPad, having just just read a blogpost titled “Hello, I’m Abby, and I’m an Umarried Millennial.” She sighs as Drew walks in from the bedroom.

“Let’s not get married.”

“Okay. Where’d that come from?”

“You are using more than one drawer. That makes me nervous.”

“You have Tagliatelle from last Wednesday at Moto turning into a biology specimen in my refrigerator.”

“Throw it out! You also never fold. I love you, No, actually, I don’t. I told you the first night, I wasn’t signing up for underpants. Especially underpants in the machine with my dishtowels. Who DOES that?”

“It wasn’t intentional. I used bleach. I told you I’m not looking for marriage, either. I have my career. Does this mean I can’t be on your data plan? Have you seen my pocket knife?”

“It’s behind the toaster oven.”

“Whatsit doing there?”

“Same thing your undies are doing with the dishtowels? You don’t have a career, you have a bass.”

“God, I love your wit.”

“I know. You need to call Sprint. I took you off the data plan, I meant to tell you yesterday.”

“WHAT? A little notice would have been nice. You really are serious about this, aren’t you?”

“Serious about what?”

“The marriage thing.”

“Oh, Drew. I can’t do this anymore.”

“You said on the way home from Heather and Gray’s wedding we’re a better couple than them!”

“It was summer and I was needy. Now I’m feeling pressured. Your socks are on my floor.”

“It’s your parents, isn’t it? They hate musicians.”

“It’s EVERYTHING! The fucking student loan! The credit cards! Explaining to my friends why you’re always somewhere else! The b-b-b-beard hair all over the sink! The catbox! You never clean the goddamn catbox! And when we stay at your house I feel like an afterthought, you never even change the sheets!”

“OK, ok. But… well, I might as well say it. I’ve been holding it in a while.”

“Holding in what?”

“You’re a little crazy.”

“WHAT?! GET THE FUCK OUT! You, you fucking Xbox-junkie PIG! God, I can’t believe I ever slept with you.”

“I need my router.”

“Take it! Wait! Will Netflix still work?”

“Nope. You can get one online for $19.”

“Can’t you just leave it here?”

“Claire, I told you, I’m a package deal. This is the exact kind of crazy I’m talking about. Is this my controller? What’s this sticky shit on it?”

“Jelly. It’s grape jelly. Is this really how it ends, you yanking out wires from a TV I can’t figure out how to turn on in the first place? I don’t understand my life! It’s too much, Drew. I need love, not a roommate.”

“So you’re saying you want to sleep with other people?”

“I’M SAYING YOU ARE AN EMOTIONALLY RETARDED, PERPETUALLY BROKE BASS PLAYER WHO’S TURNING ME INTO AN ANGRY CO-DEPENDENT.”

“Oh. OK, then. You can…you can keep the router.”

“I need my key.”

“OMIGOD YOU’RE REALLY KICKING ME OUT.”

“Here’s yours. Goodbye, Drew.”

“You know you’ll never see me again.”

“Goodbye, Drew.”

“You wanna watch some porn? Porn always works for us.”

“NO, you dick, get out!”

“Um, one more thing?”

“WHAT?”

“I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot lately.”

“Then here, take my iPod. Put it on that stupid fucking Dawes song, and go jump off the Shelby Bridge! Take a video! Put it on fucking Vine!”

“Claire, you don’t normally use the F-bomb this much. What’s into you? Besides, that’s stupid, I’ll be dead, how can I put it on Vine?”

“I”LL DO IT.”

“Then they’ll arrest you as an accomplice to a homicide. You’ll be famous, and I’ll just be a cold, waterlogged corpse, still second fiddle to your advanced emotional vulnerability and supreme self awareness.”

“Have you been reading my books again?”

“What books?”

“Wait. You’ve been on my computer, haven’t you? Reading my emails! No one else knows I read the Daily Vinyasa, that was the Tuesday Tao, the vulnerability one.”

“No kidding. Like that Brene Brown thing?”

“No, not like Brene—hey. How do you know about Brene Brown? You ARE reading my emails.”

“No, I’m not. Alan was watching TED videos the other day because he’s still not over Michelle. Man, they’re boring.”

“How’s he doing?”

“He’s kinda depressed.”

“GOOD, he treated her like shit. Go stay with him.”

“Alan has problems with commitment. And I have an apartment, Claire. I know you always hated driving over to East Nashville to stay there, but…”

“You don’t live in East Nashville, you’re in fucking Gallatin, and you have bugs!”

“I do not have bugs.”

“They’re all over your apartment! I almost threw up the last time I used the bathroom. Can we stop talking? I want you to go.”

“OK, yeah, sure. See you around. Sure you don’t wanna watch some porn?”

“Nooooo…. OMIGOD look, it’s snowing. Go get me some bourbon?”

“Um, okay. I need some money. Anything else?”

“Some lotion? I’m out of lotion.”

“That’s two stops.”

“You know what, Drew? Never mind. I’ll go get them. Go on.”

“Okay, okay! I’m gone. See you at the gig tomorrow night?

“Maybe.”

“I love you.”

Streetsweeper

“I heard you last night, I guess it was around 12:15. It was like the loneliest sound in the world, coming up, whoooozzzzshh then fading into the distance.”

Arty looked a little wild-eyed today. “Hmmm. Two coffees. You want Bailey’s in yours? What?”

The barista reiterated that it was a coffee shop, not a bar, and scratched his beard. Scruffy, Missy thought. Nasty. “The bar next door opens at noon.”

“OK, hellwithit, just two coffees. You got a paper?”

“I see one on the table over there some guy just left.”

A brief wrinkle of displeasure flickered across Missy’s face, and she wondered if Arty was still looking for a different job. Not that she cared; she was just about through with him. Missy believed that men were like a series of interesting occupations you experienced in your salad days, before life catches up and you discover you’ve been a street sweeper for 6 years. Like Arty.

“I started to go out and shout at you from the fire escape.”

“Wouldn’t have heard you, that thing’s noisy, I told you.”

“I like the wavy pattern it leaves on the street from going in and out of the parked cars. The first time I saw it one morning, it took me a few minutes to figure that out. That thing just moves the dust around. Why do they even bother?”

“Has a vacuum, but some of it just sticks. That’s what you’re seeing.”

They went over to the table where The Dromedary was open to the want ads just as Bill walked by. He looked woozy. Bill was another guy in Public Works with Arty, Backpack Bill everyone called him, but it was really a sleeping bag he carried around. “Sleeping Bag Bill” obviously didn’t have the same ring, Missy thought. She could relate: everyone called her “Spike,” a stupid nickname she’d never discouraged. Like giving plasma for coffee money or sleeping with Arty these last two weeks, having nicknames was another thing to experience, something for the journal she’d eventually get around to starting, the book she’d never write.

The door glass rattled violently as Arty bolted out after Bill. “Bastard owes me twenty dollars!”

Right then the thought flashed that maybe this was the time to just fade out the back. The barista had already turned away, and Bill was not going to have the twenty bucks. He’d obviously slept at the bar next door. Maybe he was onto something, wandering around with that sleeping bag. Except she liked showers, and a mirror to do her eye makeup in the morning. There were always public restrooms, though, and Arty wasn’t nearly as interesting as she’d thought he’d be. She’d imagined a lone wolf swirling dust under the streetlights of Salemtown, full of hard, gritty philosophies born while brushing curbs and polishing painted arrows. What she wound up with was a guy with dirt in the folds of his yellowed briefs who grumbled in his sleep. Yep. Time to go.

As she picked up the paper, she noticed two things: her nail polish on her left thumb was shot, and there was a magic marker circle around an ad for internet courses promising “exciting careers in technology, forensics, and municipal engineering. Financial assistance available.”

A teardrop gently tapped, and bled into the newsprint.

She dropped The Dromedary back onto the table, glanced up and said to no one in particular, “Guess I better go help poor Bill,” just as Arty slammed into him from behind.