Love and Assassins
Chapter One – Part two
I pulled the covers off and stood up, reaching for my pack of cigarettes. Tilting it upside down, a fine dusting of tobacco shreds powdered my feet, but no cigarettes came out. I sighed, looking around. A dirty bathrobe, unwashed since I moved in lay on the floor beside me. A mirror hung from the door and I stood there for a moment staring at my reflection, crystal clear in the fifteen dollar frame.
I was fat. No, that’s not the right word, no paunch or anything, but… flabby. That was it. Sagging pecs and small inner tube around the waste. If I flexed my arms I’d probably make a u-bend. The cream of high school athletics was long gone.
“Whatever,” I said to myself. A man can walk naked in his own house no matter what he looks like.
I opened the door and walked into my living room. Boxes littered the floor, my only possessions after six years of marriage. And of what? Old CDs I hadn’t played since I was a kid, a year book full of forgotten faces. It was pathetic.
“Pathetic, you hear me?” I said to the box nearest me. “Pathetic.” I kicked it, the pain that suddenly stabbed through my foot reminding me that this was the box with my old weights from when I used to work out after school.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Grimacing, I hobbled over to the little kitchenette and opened the fridge, pulling out a very weightless bag of coffee and looking inside. I took a deep breath and let it out. There was only enough for half a cup.
Putting it in the little coffee maker I pressed the “ON” button and went back to the fridge to get the cream.
I looked around my apartment in despair. No cream. No cigarettes. Barely any coffee and my fucking foot hurts!
I was on the verge of a mental breakdown and I didn’t have any support in the matter. I rummaged through my things, pulling up boxes and dirty clothes, finally finding another pack of cigarettes.
Empty. I almost cried.
I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. No. I had a job to do. I grabbed my bathrobe, wrapping it around my naked body, and found my sandals under a heap of dirty clothes in the bedroom. “I’ll be back,” I told the refuse littering my floor. “I mean it.” Then I left.
I made my way down the stairs of my apartment building, my sandals flopping loudly against the floor on each step. Five flights of filth and unpainted walls passed me by as societal rejects, outcasts from the “good life”, roamed freely in their natural habitat.
Outside the sounds of morning traffic assaulted my ears, once again reminding me how much I hated this world. I made my way down the street, avoiding bums looking for handouts and the occasional psycho cabby.
Ten minutes later I was in line at the drug store, cream in hand, Doritos on the counter along with a six pack of cheap beer. A kid half my age sat behind the register reading a magazine and intermittently sucking loudly from a slurpee. Tattoos covered his arms and a faded black t-shirt proclaimed, “The end is near… Just up the block and to your left.”
I placed the cream on the counter. “Can I get some cigarettes, too?” I asked pointing to a pack behind him.
He picked up the pack I was pointing at without looking and put it on the counter.
“Ten seventy nine,” he said, still reading his magazine.
I put eleven bucks on the counter and turned to go.
“You know those are going to kill you.”
I turned around to see an old man in a hat and sunglasses staring up at me, the lines of his face a study in map making.
I nodded gravely. “I only wish it didn’t take so long.”
He gave me a queer look and I walked out. All about me was the noise of traffic and passersby gossiping about pathetic things in their pathetic, little lives.
Why did they even bother? Probably low IQ. They just hadn’t noticed yet how meaningless they were along with everything else.
Ahead of me a little girl was drawing a flower on the sidewalk with colored chalk. Bright orange petals sprung from a green stalk.
I stopped beside her, looking down at her creation. “It’s gonna fade.”
“What?” She asked, shading her eyes against the sun as she looked up at me.
“It’s gonna fade. No matter how much you try. People are gonna walk on it, Rain’s gonna come, Gum. It’ll be gone.”
I stopped talking. The little girl had started to cry.
“Hey, look, I was just saying-”
I turned to see a bowling ball sized purse flying at my head and, out of focus behind it, the face of an angry hyena woman. I assume she was the one directing it.
A couple minutes later I picked myself up off the sidewalk, my head feeling slightly worse than before. Beside me an old man the color and consistency of over baked chicken was spitting something in my general direction.
Wearing tattered jeans and a t-shirt which hadn’t seen a washer in at least a year he was squatted against the side of a sandwich shop letting the world know how I’d just made a little girl cry and asking, with many guttural outbursts, what kind of person would want to make a cute, little, innocent girl cry.
I picked up my things, which had fallen out of my bag, and looked around. The girl was gone now. So was the chalk drawing. In its place were the scribbled words, “fuck you a-hole.”
Yeah, cute, little girl.