I’ve been examining the long waits between eye-twitches on Jan’s face. It’s winter and the doctor in the ER let her come home. Rain comes in spasms, outside the city is wet, cold and crappy, and we both hear the low sounds of damp pigeons roosting.
There is no tent over the light-well which is (we admit) pigeon suicide… all rustle and coo and bird eyes, circling for hawks, the occasional flap and return every few months and a new nest which will get flooded by rain.
Our apartment is where my friend and I hide away from the trot of time. We like it despite roaches and the miserable tenants above us. One of them stomps and the other wails… every other night or so.
Soon my Jan will be leaving the city to return home and help with the family business – a decision that hangs in the air between us and one that I feel will be ruinous. I don’t say it, but there it is.
We have our own arguments about whose turn it is to cook, though we splurge on ribs most Fridays after work.
Jan’s purse was taken and her shoulder broken. I notice that her hair has turned straw-dry just hours after the mugging, and when she talks she trembles. I bring her crackers and goat milk, the only kind she can drink. I say stuff like, “I will make you noodles and rice until you are all good again.”
Her mouth hurts and she says and she has canker sores everywhere and bloodshot eyes, not pretty for once and insisting her mother will castigate her for wearing a skirt, being in the subway.
She asks if I will call her parents and tell them she was only in the subway because she missed the bus and had a doctor’s appointment, was running late…
They’ll want her to come home sooner now, I’m guessing.
“You are not a periphery friend,” Jan says.
“That makes it sound like I AM one.”
She settles in with her humor book, and I pretend there is nothing better than a conference call with rude evangelicals – people who voted for Jesus in the last election and wear Jesus hats and slippers.
I dial the phone and watch the rain flow into the light-well.