It was already hot enough when the power went out, so that’s when I really started swearin’ up a storm. I had been watching Key Largo. That Bogey. He reminds me of how blood gets twenty grit sandpaper tough to the touch. He made you feel it, that burn, whether it was for him or for the dame he was holding. Even if she wanted to rip his face off rough with thirty grit sandpaper. Ghastly stuff.
Kathy was with her People magazine and went to the bathroom with a flashlight to finish. The sky was like the light those film makers put gels in front of to make it look like fire. Or lightning, depending on the violence of the gel.
I spend most of the night by the window, and though the thermometer said it dropped ten degrees in ten minutes it was still hotter ‘n hell. I was foul. I waited five minutes and it was hotter ‘n hell, then held out for a longer five minutes and it was hotter ‘n hell, and then didn’t even look at my watch and, sure enough, five minutes later it was still hotter ‘n hell. My beer was sweatin’ and it felt like I was grabbing a hesitant and well-lotioned arm. My back was all sweaty and the couch told me to get up, so I did. I went to the fridge and found some apple juice that was still pretty cold and figured what the fuck and poured it into my beer. I figured what the heck. This doesn’t happen often and it happens more than once.
I nicked myself shaving. I decided yo shave because my shirt was already off and I noticed the left side hairs were a bit thicker than the right. Every morning the same face and I didn’t notice it. The blood beaded and seemed to fizz as it drooped down. Like I did anything in the morning. And it’s noticeable. I was probably drunk the last time I shaved, on account of the blood and the whiskers. I was getting good at that.
After I wanted some food from the kitchen. I wasn’t really hungry for food but it was there, and I was here, and these things don’t happen often. In the pantry there was peanut butter and crackers, and my mom used to make sandwiches from them and lay them on a plate in a circular fashion, saltines and peanut butter and a large glass of milk not in the middle of them, but of to the side. I’d meet lips with the giant mouth on the plate, part, and then drink that delicious cold milk. The milk ripples and the glass shakes when the bathroom door shuts. I shouted.
“You in or out, Kathy?” I realized she’d been in there the whole team. Reading People.
She said out, now and walked into the hall so that I couldn’t get a look at her. By then I had a candle and was pretty used to the darkness, but she just walked out of the doorway down the hall. As soon as I turned back to the pantry the milk and the crackers and the peanut butter were gone. Gone? Eaten.Kathy in the doorway, eye aye.
“Tom, hey.” I could tell what she wanted before I turned around. Then I did.
“Jeeze, Kath, you look like a ghoul.” Her make-up was all over. Smeared in most places. Really off. The sweat around her eyes blotted the make-up and hid her eyes in a shroud, her whites barely visible in all the cloud. She looked wild, unfinished. There was something in the heat that made her look hot. She pivoted, but not before looking into my eyes briefly. “Where you goin’,” I asked, as if I didn’t know. She could have been going to her grave, looking like that. I could’ve followed, looking like this.
“To water,” she said, and sauntered clumsily back up to me. Somebody was tipsy. Then past. I almost turned the wrong way looking. The apartment was new to us but really old, the wood floors squeaking like crazy. Like it needed work. Most things do.
“There she goes” played in my head, and I guess that’s how it went. “Don’t go,” I said to myself saying to her. The wind was blowing through the windows. I couldn’t tell if it was raining or not, it was that slow. I couldn’t tell how hot I was, I was so hot. I couldn’t plain tell. I couldn’t tell if–
She got up to me and got real close, kissin’ neck hair close, and licked my cheek. Straight licked the sweat off. Like the foam off espresso, the crisp back draft cutting downward. The candle had been out, from before, and looking at her, it seemed darker. Something burned, I could smell. The candle? Or else–.
She licked my other cheek. Wetter than the other. I licked hers. A well, well. Even as we dried I could feel our skin touch and dissolve. Lacking words, we left the kitchen, in search of water. We were thirsty.