Number 601

I show up late, half-bottle drunk on Maker’s Mark with a skinny girl in a flowing strapless dinner dress. On the porch, she twists first left, then right while pleats flips out, then back, exposing pale ankles, deep purple slingbacks.

I knock.

Inside, the constant hum of conversation intertwines with the distinctive warble of Roy Orbison. I wait, looking at shadows behind heavy curtains. Then you are there, all smiles at the door in a pressed white blouse and dark gray, linen trousers. A new 20’s era crop peaking out under a navy cloche hat wrapped in a baby blue ribbon.

“Welcome,” you say, the crooked bottom teeth you always try to hide making an appearance, then stand sideways, stretching one hand into the house, the other holding the door open. “Come in. I am so glad you could come.”

Everyone is ten years too young and I instantly regret this. Bad fedoras worn by boys in skinny jeans, thin ties and too short button down shirts with tails peaking out, wrinkled and worn. Girls in overdone make-up, retro dresses, loud voices and cackle laughs. Cheap drug store colognes and various liquors permeate the room and I am almost too drunk, which brings an edgy nervousness. Someone I do not know says something I do not understand and coming around in the middle of a sentence I hear myself saying- “my sister, Chelsea,” see my hand on her elbow. Chelsea nods, talks and nods some more.

I escape, wandering off to the wall, feeling the uneven plaster as I press my back into it. A pleasant coolness follows, relaxing.

Scanning the room I find you quickly, animated and talking with your slender fingers, waving an unlit cigarette up near sublime lips. You laugh, look up and then at me, a little wink, which puts us back in your bedroom, weeks before when you lay facing the ceiling, legs crossed right over left, shoes cast off, clanking to the floor. Self portraits on the wall. Elaborate, delicate backgrounds surrounding crudely created stick figures, stringy hair, exaggerated breasts, pointy shoes, all black, telling stories. “This one is me at seven.” and there is fear, blue skies and intricate trees where you would hide when he came home angry, fists ready, fighting. “This is me, now” but I am no longer looking at your wall, what you have created.

Your hands are behind your head and I see the rise, fall of your chest. From my place on the carpet, I crawl up on the bed, your lips finding mine before I can change or swallow, before I can think to say no.

I have crossed the room, followed you out to the patio. A few others, sitting on wicker chairs, summer sun faded cushions, green and yellow, seem wax-worked, set up-film-like staged and easy to ignore. Smoking now, you lean against concrete and stucco, “the moon is small tonight. It wants to hide.”

I could take your hand. You would let me. It would be easy. I could press together our heavy hearts. My forehead could rest against yours, our eyes downward, staring at excellent shoes and gray painted floorboards. I could take in the smell of you, sharp and sweet, whiskey and trendy American Spirits. It would be effortless. I might even be able to say I was sorry, which would be surprising, but not unexpected. I could do a great many things. Instead I walk up next to you, leaning forward and gaze into the night, finding the fading moon, its distance growing more complete.


About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

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