“I’ve had some time to mull it over, and I’m okay with it – providing it doesn’t happen tomorrow.”
The apartment door hasn’t even had time to swing open far enough to collide with the entryway closet. Fat sits just far enough away the pendulum swing of the door so it barely misses her. The solemn-faced feline appears to have been anticipating my arrival.
“Huh?” I’m too paralyzed by the greeting to even step into the apartment. The doorway that separates my world from the real world makes me feel strange, like I’m an outsider looking into somebody else’s apartment.
“That whole you wanting to procreate thing. I say as long as you’re sure it’s what you want. And if I may use one of your standby quotes: ‘why the hell not?’”
My grip loosens on the strap of the purse slung over my shoulder. “Of course I’m not having babies tomorrow, Fat. I’ve got an IUD that serves a dual purpose; it’s also a No Vacancy sign.”
“That’s probably a good thing since you have a previous record of losing children.”
The tightness in my shoulders releases and I feel a foreign sense of comfort in talking with the feline. It’s nice that we’re back to normal. “That’s funny; I was literally telling the story about losing my nephew in a grocery store not a half hour ago. The lad was practically grown when I lost him; it wasn’t a huge deal.”
“Boss, the kid wasn’t yet three.”
“He could walk, talk and feed himself. I’ve met grown men who don’t have as much going for them. He was ready to take on the world.”
Fat licks her chops as though giving herself a moment to try and avoid something not bitchy, “How much longer do you have with that IUD?”
I don my thinking face, “Long time, just under four years.”
Fat nods, “That’s probably a good thing.”
The conversation stops as we hear the tinny sounds of empty beer cans knocking against each other. The good doctor and I exchange knowing looks – the sound serves as theme music of the guy around the corner, Fat calls him the Hobo Tenant. Nice guy. At least he seems to be, I can’t understand a word he says, but he’s always smiling. The aluminum sound comes closer, way too close. It appears the Hobo Tenant is on tour. Fat pops her head around the corner, as curious as I am as to where he’s headed.
The rustling rounds the corner.
My only tolerable neighbour rounds the corner and beams.
“I totally thought you were…” I point in the direction of the Hobo Tenant’s apartment and he laughs with me.
“Kind of sounds like it, eh?” He shakes the plastic bags of empty cans and bottles. “Saving them for my niece’s – I want to say dance club or karate – bottle drive. Fundraiser for something anyway.” He looks thoughtfully at the bags in his hand, “I don’t know. But how great is it that I can say that I’m drinking for the children?” He wrinkles his nose, “That sounds bad.”
“He seems like your kind of co-parent. Still admitting you’re not hittin’ that?” Fat hums a porn-sounding tune. Her neck and shoulders jostle as she moves along to the music.
I throw my bag close enough to the feline that surprise stuns her into silence.
I point at Jesse’s summer makeover. “Haircut.”
As most people will do when you mention their hair, Jesse runs his fingers through his locks unconsciously. “Thanks, yeah. I hear it makes me look like a soccer player.” He’s had the sides and back cropped really short, and the top remains long and kind of sticks up like it’s been teased – even though it hasn’t.
“I totally see that.” In reality, I’m as ignorant about soccer as I am with most things, so I totally don’t see that. I want to say it makes him look taller, but I get the feeling that’s not the right thing to say.
Thankfully, Jesse abandons the current conversation for something different. “Oh, hey. Check this out!”
Unprepared for what ensues, I watch Jesse drop the bags of empties and pull of his t-shirt.
“He’s harrier than I am.” Fat gawks from beside my heels.
“Shut up, Fat,” I speak out of the corner of my mouth as Jesse turns to show off his back. His skin looks as though it’s some kind of pop art in the medium of molten lava and skin grafts from the burn ward. The sunburn I had a few weeks ago played in the minors compared to this monster. “What in the hell happened to you? That’s disgusting, dude. Seriously, it’s vomit-inducing.”
The friendly neighbour smiles, “Not the first time I’ve heard that from a girl. Canada Day,” Jesse smirks and playfully kicks the empties, “after several of these, sunscreen doesn’t matter at all.”
Fat leans back in an attempt to increase distance from Jesse’s scarlet man-hide. “Your skin looks like Pompeii. That’s not hair; it’s the villagers that were scorched in the disaster.” Fat looks disgusted. I can’t help but notice that she hasn’t harassed me to feed her. I get the feeling that she’s not going to for a while. “You’ll need a wax when that heals. Put your shirt back on.”
I parrot the feline. “Put your shirt back on.”
Jesse just laughs and covers his man nipples as well as the eyesore with his cotton shirt.
“Get out of here, kid. You disgust me.” I point down the hall to Jesse’s apartment door. He salutes, grabs his bags of cans and saunters away. Such a weirdo.
I finally get into my apartment and shut the door behind me. When I turn, Fat is sitting casually by the hall table with her tail curled around her body; it flicks playfully.
She alters her voice to what I suppose she thinks I sound like, “Get out of here, kid. You disgust me.” Her grey head shakes dismissively as Fat chuckles to herself. “I don’t know what I spent the last two days worrying about.”