Within a Second

“Enlist the cat in the impending class-war.”
-The Weakerthans
 

“Fuck off,” she said to me as the fridge door slammed shut behind her.

Fuck off? What did I do to deserve this? absolutely nothing the last time I checked. she was always telling me that I could never understand her problems; that there was a lot more to everything than I couldcomprehend.

It’s a problem of complexity and her track record must be a lot tighter than mine.

“You are too simple to make sense of it all,” she would tell me time after time.

There are all of these levels and dimensions to thought that her mind could make sense of while I struggled with the third dimension.

“Well, are you just going to sit there and stare at me or are you going to say something?”

“What difference does it make? You’re just going to tell me to fuck off again, right?”

“You think you’re so god damned smart,” she snarled. “Look at you sitting behind that note pad, pencil in hand with those glasses drooping off of your nose. Well, you’re not. Give it up, asshole. In five years with you, you have not proven your worth once. Maybe if you just lifted the weight of the world off of your shoulders, you would get somewhere.’

“Deep down you find that irresistible. Admit it.”

“Deep down I am frightened of what my family would say if we got divorced.”

“Prissy catholic school girl bitch.”

Was she serious? She never once said those words to me before. Divorce. Di-vorce. Today: a twenty-four hour blight on my life.

“Fuck off.”

She tossed the longneck across the room. It splattered on the wall behind me and showered down on my head. Our conversation came full circle.

The door slammed shut. I knew she wanted my head to be against the frame. She was gone. I was disarmed on the couch, covered in beer, with a pencil in my hand.

My problem was with her, dripping amber down the white dry wall. Her problem was with my problem, gone out the door with four bald tires screaching from the parking lot.

She was going to Logan’s. That was where she went when she had a problem. It is a little hide and seek game of which she was fond. It proved her worth to see someone go out of his or her way to find her. That’s where I came in. She always throws that god-damned tantrum about my “loafing around the house for the past three years.” Then, she usually runs out and continues getting drunk. Dormally, I would go out and find her. then, it would all blow over.

Well, that’s not going to happen this time. If she wants back in, she is going to have to knock on a locked door first. My arms can remain extended only so long before the blood rushes out of them. Lord knows she is not worth my dying skin. That bitch. She could have killed me with that fucking bottle. Whatever. Fucking whatever. It’s just not worth it anymore.

I once read in a magazine that people have a tendency to get too comfortable with each other. They always end up fighting or breaking up as a result of this. There was a chart in the book, I think it was one of Brienne’s Vogue magazines, that said most relationships end because the couple becomes too comfortable and they don’t know how to fix that. It’s a damn shame. Poor bastards
don’t even see it coming half the time.

Brienne and I may fight every once and a while, but we are above all of that petty bullshit. We love each other too much. I just don’t understand her. That’s all. She gets so pissy over nothing most of the times. Like today, for example, why did she have to throw that bottle at me? What the fuck was up her ass? She doesn’t even give me a chance to do anything wrong anymore. Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s all she does anymore.

This was such an amazing piece of work that she could have ruined. O must remember as much of it as I can, “the essence of our collective mind is locked up in a dream somewhere, somewhere in the subconscious, a wharehouse of thoughts, feelings, and traits networked throughout humanity and connecting us all together in one.”

Loafing around the house? What’s wrong with her? She could have killed me. Damned women.

I can’t write now. My mind is in too many different places. The pages; Oh, fuck. The pages are all soaked. Two months worth of work drenched in hops and barley. I’m useless because she is the ruin of me.

The news is on. I can feel the bile in the back of my throat. The bitter culmination of five wasted years sitting in a lump on the back of my tongue. I cheer for the firestarters and the murderers and the politicians. Fuck them all. I deserve it. Another secret lost in myself.

My hands fill the textures of empty cloth pockets. My pants sag and I crack my neck. A commercial is on, filling another void in the space-time continuum. It’s an Abbey Ale commercial, Brienne’s favorite. What sacrilege. For the first time, I am slightly lured in by the sense of commercialism.

Beyond it all, she really is a good girl. Lord knows she is patient and tolerant for having married me. She is a free thinker that, for some reason, never misses mass. She also doubles as the sweetest person and biggest bitch I ever met in my life. One soft voice singing me rain and sunshine over years.

The ironic thing about it all is that we met in a bar. It was a Friday night downtown as clear as conscience in the back of my mind. Her favorite band, Stone’s Water, filled the decadent atmosphere with acoustic driven sound waves pushing themselves through our deafening bodies. The vibrating sounds, that’s what made us dance. It was the music.

Those were our crazy college days. Youth provided us with a veil of innocence; a free pass for forbidden days. The whites of her eyes were practically invisible. Later on, I found out that she had the same impression of me too. We had no choice but to fall in love and ecstasy.

I forget the actual details about introductions and exchanging information but I will never forget seeing the reflection of her eyes
fading. I let her in. The rest was up to chance, a blissful blur of smiles and kisses. My first clear memory after that is of us fighting our way downhill. I should have never removed my lips from hers.

I can’t get her. I have to stick by my guns. She will come back to me. I know it. We’ve been together for too long for her to just up and leave. There’s nothing to worry about. I’m too good for her. We’re too perfect for each other.

What the hell am I talking about? If she wants to go, she can go. I don’t care. She is just a woman. There are plenty of women who would fill her space and she knows it too. It’s a good think she walked out. How stupid.

Wait,what if she doesn’t come back? Does it really matter to me? I’m not sure right now. She has long lost the key to the spirit I forgot that I had locked up inside of me. My lips are dry and cracking, incontinent and useless. They are unsure why they help sustain this endless agony of empty days. It must be that little green glass ring that keeps her fresh and moving. Mine push further downwards to escape the sagging from my jaw.

Since our marriage, the only thing that has kept us together was the television. Whenever we feel a fight coming on, we turn on some sitcom and try not to talk to each other until the urge has passed. In all honesty, it has been a real lifesaver. We know we don’t want to fight at heart. It is physically and emotionally draining. Deep down, we do undertand each other but sometimes that doesn’t show. I think that may be the root of our problems. Friends saves us.

The television is in one of those entertainment centers from the ’50s. There is a thirteen inch black and white monitor surrounded by thick oakwood cabinets that resemble a bureau. The damned thing is over four feet high and six feet wide with a turntable and radio under a false top. It sucks you in. There are very few still around built with such purpose and craftsmanship. The cabinet was handcrafted and has celtic knotwork designs all around it. The top is sturdier than our front door.

Brienne’s father gave the entertainment center to us as a wedding present. He said it should be worth a fortune someday. It was his first television. Of course, none of its intricacies suck you in. It is the fact that it encompases our entire back wall of the living/dining room. You would have to get up and move outside to do anything else. After a while, you learn that it is really not worth the effort and will never actually be worth a dime, either.

The cable system in this neighborhood has a pretty sweet deal. The basic package includes two premium channels and twelve free hours of pay-per-view each month. The black and white monitor gives it a different feel. I’d much rather watch one of those new flatscreens but this is all we can afford right now. It’s different. It’s original.

Two

“So what does it mean, this disillusionment and fear?”

He shouted from the couch, another wedding present from Brienne’s family. The echo faded quickly and he could hear his sobbing clearly. No matter how long he waited, he knew he would never get an answer. No one was ever waiting around the corner to guide him in the right direction or at home with supper waiting on the table.

Brienne was the closest thing Jack ever had to a sense of completion. Although it was never actually acheived, this what he would consider being whole. As long as there was nothing better to compare it to, this was as good as it would get.

That’s when Jack knew he had to go on looking for her. He was sure that their physical absence was only temporary but the Brienne he first fell in love with continued to slip away. If he did not move fast, he might never be able to get her back. this was a goal he has promised himself to acheive for three years now, ever since she first noticed his loafing around.

Three

The VCR remote dropped through the cushions of the couch as Jack lifted himself off of it. The front door stood ten feet away and he knew walking through it meant giving her the upper-hand in this round of the endless game of marriage.

“She is always much stronger and more stubborn than I am,” he thought as the door shut behind him. She is better at playing these stupid games.”

It wasn’t long befor Jack re-entered the apartment. He was in search of loose change. As he walked by the empty parking lot, he remembered that she took the car with her. The bar was too far away to walk and it wasn’t the safest of walks, either. The next bus left in six minutes. So, he had to move fast.

“Next stop Pike and Ridge,” blasted the machine over the loudspeaker.

This is the Logan’s stop. No one got off here but whinos and alchies. The neighborhood was extremely run down and the bar was the epitemy of the neighborhood. The term “hole in the wall” did not even come close to describing it.

Upon walking through the front door, he could not miss the sight of what was left of powdery white lines left on the table and countless people lining up for the bathrooms. to the unsuspecting onlooker, it didn’t make any sense. There were five tables and three bathrooms in the entire bar. The air was foggy from all the smoke and all you could hear was the synthetic music and mechanical voice repeating “hit” and “score.” Irony at its finest. People didn’t come here to socialize. They considered this home. He could only hope that Brienne was not truly one of them at heart.

Across the hall, Jack spotted Jeremy, Melissa, and Rachel. They were three of Brienne’s friends from the restaurant that helped her make her way through college. They lived at Logan’s and he knew that she used to be one of them.

“I’ve grown out of that lifestyle,” she said to reassure him. “It just helped me to ease the pressured of school.”

He had no reason not to believe her. He was sure, though, that they would be the first people to know her whereabouts right now.

“Hey buddy, what’s going on,” asked Jeremy as his hand flew into the air for the proper salutation. He could remember so much about Jack except his name.

“Not much, man,” he said, afraid to call Jeremy on this. “How ’bout you?”

“Shit. I’ve just been doing the same old same old. And yourself? Are you still doing that, umm, writing shit?”

“Sometimes,” he started. “It takes up a lot of my time actually. That’s why I’m never around at all.

He never admitted how much he despised this place and all the excess baggage it made him carry around in the back of his mind.

“It’s cool. How about the old lady? We haven’t seen her in a while. How has she been doing?”

“All right. You mean she hasn’t been here tonight? Where could she be?”

“Nope. Haven’t seen her in weeks.”

“Shit.”

His attention was quickly diverted and his mind leftthe conversation well before his body.

“How are things going with that, anyway? it’s been a long time now, hasn’t it?” Melissa chimed in to no avail.

“All right, I guess,” he said as his eyes scoped out the room and the lines to and from and in the bathrooms. “Huh?”

There was no trace of her in sight. As he ran around the block, he realized that her car was nowhere to be found either. So, he sat on the front steps for what he thought might become the rest of his life. Every fifteen minutes or so, he would walk back inside the bar to call home and check for messages. Dave, the bartender, hadn’t seen her. Michelle and Angela, two old suite mates, lost contact with her after graduation. Jeremy agreed to keep an eye out for her in exchange for a round of drinks. it was agreed upon that the round would be given in exchange for the girl. so, Jeremy sat and looked around patiently from his bar stool. All he ever saw was the fog and the lines. That’s what he had grown accustomed to seeing. He blocked the unfamiliar out.

It was obvious now that she was not coming. So, Jack decided to check his messages one last time before heading home. Upon hearing nothing but the three hollow beeps of the answering machine echoing in his ear, he realized that he jumped the gun and was probably too aggressive in seeking her out.

“Chances are”that she’s probably at home and not answering the phone,” he said to himself. “She knows that I would call. Or, she came home and saw that I wasn’t there. she knew she already won. Now she just plans on torturing me. that bitch.”

No other thought about her occupied his mind at this point in time.

It was 2:30 a.m. and no buses were running near Logan’s or his house. The walk would take a good 35 minutes and he really didn’t feel up to it. Still, he had to do it. He had to do it quickly, too, just in case she was on her way back home. In addition to that, he felt his safety in constant jeopardy with every step through this neighborhood. A little change jingling too loosely or a stare given a bit too long might cost him his life.