Deciding I’d rather deal with the wrath of Geoff when I showed up unannounced at his air-conditioned house than walk the mile back to my three room oven, I headed towards his house. I found him sitting on his front steps with a cup of coffee next to him and a notebook resting on his lap. He was watching his neighbor pace the sidewalk with a fussy baby and didn’t notice me as I approached.
He snapped his head around to look at me. “Hey,” he said, obviously surprised to see me. “You’re kind of far from home, aren’t you?”
“I am,” I said as I kissed him hello. “It’s hotter than hell in my apartment and I knew you’d be awake. What are you doing out here?”
“I like to see people sometimes,” he replied, shrugging.
I nodded, understanding.
He closed the notebook that was sitting on his lap and stood up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind him as he went into the house. Once inside, he put the notebook down on the table next to the front door. I eyed it suspiciously.
“Please tell me you didn’t bring work home,” I said.
I was surprised. “You keep a journal? Do you say bad stuff about people in it?”
“I say bad stuff about people to people,” he said. “The journal is for other stuff.”
He pulled it from the table and opened it to the page he’d been writing in earlier. He held it up and showed me what he’d written.
I wonder if it’s too late to call Lemony.
He closed the notebook and put it back on the table. I looked up at him and frowned at the sudden sadness in his eyes.“Never wonder that,” I said.
I swallowed hard and squeezed three words from my constricted throat. “I’m leaving now.”
“You don’t have to hurry. Just come by tomorrow.”
“I’m leaving now.”
I dropped the phone and ran about my apartment without rhyme or reason; a broken wind-up toy spinning in drunken circles. “The cats…feed the cats…windows…lock the windows…” I raced around frantically, trying to remember everything at once, knowing I wouldn’t.
I grabbed a fistful of quarters and subway tokens from the candy dish on the small red table next to the door. I flung the door open and raced through, pulling it closed behind me. As soon as I heard the latch click I knew I’d forgotten my keys, my coat, my wallet.
“FUCK!” I shrieked as I threw my fistful of quarters and subway tokens against the locked steel door. They scattered across the floor and I sank to my knees, weeping.
I heard a door open somewhere behind me, and a timid voice asked, “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know yet,” I said.
“How do you know?”
“I’m terrified,” I replied.
“This guy…from the train…”
“Brian,” I said.
“He's not worthy,” he said, and this time the silence after the breath lasted forever.