Posted by: chance47 | 07/26/2012

A Taste of Something…I don’t know what

Bug was at the door again.  A looming portent.
How did I wind up back here? he thought.  Down the hallway. On the first floor.   Through the kitchen.   Take a left after the parlor and there should be the front door.

But this wasn’t the front door.  This door was indefinable.  All other entrances and exits, means of egress within the house were open.  Even if they weren’t, they didn’t look like this door.  This door’s grain was much darker.  The knob larger.  No keyhole to be found.

Always back at this door.  But this isn’t what I want.  I have to get out of this house.  I have to find Joe.  I can’t keep-

From the other side of the door a thudding bang erupted.   The frame around the door bowed and the floorboards beneath Bug creaked.

“Oh!” escaped from Bug’s lips.  He turned and ran back through the parlor, tore into the kitchen, attacked the servant staircase two at a time.  Landing on the second floor he ran down the hallway back into the bedroom he had awakened from not six hours ago and threw himself onto the dusty twin bed.   He had no clue how he had ended up in that room.  Bug could barely remember where he was before.  The last thing he remembered was Joe.  Bug and Joe at the coffee shop.  It was raining.

Wait..was it raining?   No.  It had just stopped raining.  I was soaked.  Joe wasn’t.

Bug looked at Joe.  His shaved head, muddy eyes.   At the scar that followed the curve of his right eyebrow.  The way his arms were almost too large for his shirtsleeves but his neck wasn’t too big for the collar of the Threadless t-shirt he was wearing.  He looked at that mix of brown, both dark and light, and hint of green that filled Joe’s irises and the perma-stubble that Bug himself could never pull off.   Bug pulled his sleeves down over his hands.  Hunched his shoulders and looked to the plain of formica before him.   All of Joe made Bug self-conscious.  His uncut hair.  The bangs that hid his own dark brown eyes.  Made him nervous to be wearing such an oversized henley.  On top of that a hooded jacket.  Joe was displayed.   Bug in storage.

“Are you sleeping?”  Joe asked.
“Sure,”  Bug replied, throwing a third sugar packet into his black coffee.
“Are you?”
“Some.”  Joe leaned back in his chair, stretching, putting his hands behind his head.  Bug noticed that at the peak of his arch his t-shirt separated from the top of his jeans, exposing his stomach.  Thick, not big.  Hairy.  Dark and coarse.  Bug looked back at Formica-World.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be drinking coffee,” Joe offered,  “You need to sleep.”
“I am sleeping.   Just…busy,”  Bug counter offered.
Joe gave a sidelong glance.   “And the sleep-walking?”
Bug smiled.  “I’d have to be asleep to sleep walk, right?”
“When you do sleep.  Sleepwalking?”
Bug rolled down his sleeve, displaying a large bruise across his forearm.   “Exhibit A.”
“You need to get some sleep,”  Joe leaned back in trying to catch Bug’s eyes.  “David, you need to start taking care of your-”
“Who is she?”  Bug interrupted.
“What?”
“You only call me David when you are dating some new.  Distance.  Is she nice?”
“Yes David,”  Joe replied while Bug winced,  “She is.  She’s a pharmacist.  You should meet her.  I’d like that.  I’d like to hang out with you again.  We miss you.  All of us.”
Bug laid his arms on the table resting his head at its side on his shoulder.
“You can’t miss something that was never there,”  Bug choked, holding back something malignant.
“Fuck David, you can’t say things like that.”
Bug closed his eyes.  He could feel his heartbeat just inside his temples.
“Just answer me one thing,”  Bug asked.
“What?”  Joe replied.
“It could never have been me.   Could it?”
There are silences that come from a conversation stopping naturally.  Silences from confusion.  This silence sprang from the fear of going too far.  Breaking something completely.
Joe burned his eyes into the crown of Bug’s head.  His jaw clicked and clenched.  Joe popped his mouth open and popped his neck.  A great way to release the tension.
“David…Look at me.”
Bug opened his eyes but his head staid down.
“David, are you back in therapy?”
Bug said nothing.
“David?”

“Fine, whatever.”  Joe stood up grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair.  He began for the door.  “Call me when you decide to join the land of the living.”   Bug didn’t move.

Joe turned back.  Leveling his eyes directly with Bug’s.  Joe reached out, put one hand on top of his head.  Rubbed it back and forth, just a bit.

“I miss Bug.”   And Joe was gone.

Bug didn’t know how long he stayed, draped across his makeshift formica bed at Starbucks.  He must have dozed off.  When he awoke, he found himself tangled under a quilt older than his grandmother, looking at the second floor bedroom of the dustiest house in history.

“Joe?”  Bug called out.

From upstairs, in the attic Bug supposed, a vibrating thud coursed through the frame of the house.  Not thunder.  Not an overhead plane.  A warning.  To get out.

He swallowed, dust filling his sinuses.  “I miss Bug too.”

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