Saturday, August 26, 2006

Practical Junkie

She sat on the sofa, watching tv. There wasn't anything good on, and the smell built into the sofa repulsed even her. Had it smelled like that when they hauled it in off the street? She didn't remember.

There wasn't anywhere else to sit in the apartment except the floor, and if she sat on the floor she always found fleas in her underpants later. She picked up the bong, stared at the tv.

She was still watching the same show, or a show much like the show she'd been watching, or maybe it was the same show but a different episode running back to back, or it was already Tuesday again, and she heard the front door locks turning and the slam as the door hit the wall in the hall. Keys jingled, and in came HapE, and the jingling keys whizzed past her head as the bong bubbled below her lips.


"Fuckin' A, Lena! An eviction notice? What the fuck is this!"

"HapE, wha'—"

HapE was anything but. He stomped over to the sofa, grabbed the back and yanked it away from the wall, sending Lena and the bong tumbling to the carpet. He fished around back for his keys, stuffed them in his pocket. "How many times have I told you, pay the rent then buy the heroin! Fuck! What are we going to do? No, fuck you. What am I going to do?" He stomped into the back room.

Lena followed, holding the upside-down bong by the base. "No! No, I paid the rent. I'm sure. Perry probably just didn't turn the money in. He bought crack with our rent money!" She unbuttoned her pants. "Hey, wha'...HapE, what are you doing?"

HapE flung the boot in his hand at Lena. Like the keys, it missed her head but managed to hit the wall. "I'm packing! They are kicking us out because you bought smack with the rent money."

"No! Perry, he—"

"Perry didn't smoke our rent money. He's got a government pension for that! Shit." He stuffed an angry armload of paisley thrift-store shirts, the other boot, black jeans, a shearling vest with a vinyl easter-bunny head glued to the back. All into the duffel. "I'm out of here. And I'm taking the tv!"

"NOOOO!" Now Lena took her turn and chucked the bong at the wall. "It's mine!"

"Like hell it is! I found it, I hauled it home, it's mine and I'm taking it."

This was a tv show Lena was very, very familiar with, and she sat watching it as another part of her brain reached behind the dresser and laid her hand on the bat HapE kept there "just in case." She started swinging, and she admired the girl on tv who could swing a bat so hard with such skinny arms. Major league, sister!

HapE was still bouncing on the bed trying to avoid the bat when she found herself pushed to the floor, a knee in her back. Uh-oh, she thought, time for a new episide.

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