Monday, January 23, 2006

Friday Night

Something crashes to the floor above you, forcing you to drift to the surface of your ocean of sleep. You look at the alarm clock: the giant red numbers speak their language of right angles. One : zero two. Bang, bang, bang, bang. A headboard directly above you slams repeatedly into the wall, a rhythmic drum beat for a tribal dance. Two voices drift to your ears like a bad porno, moaning in exaggerated ecstasy. You know the guy who lives up there. He moved in about a month ago, and you could read the emptiness left in his thirty-year-old eyes as plain as your digital clock. You didn’t need the landlord to tell you he’s getting a divorce. On the weekend he’s in and out of his apartment, his two young boys bearing the marks of the damage and loss of their parents’ schism like crimson letters branded in their foreheads. He leaves during the week for his work. But right now, up there, he’s trying to fill something inside him by filling up another person, one he’s probably never met before and he’ll soon hope he never has to see again. They feign life, playing charades, communicating the most intimate act of love. If they ever see each other again, her with friends in the bar acting tought and orating her hatred of men, him alone with a bottle, they won’t even be able to make eye contact.

A half hour passes of this bad porno and worse drama, heard only but not seen. Your wife finally goes out into the living room with a blanket to sleep on the couch, hoping that she can’t hear this desperately empty act. But she can. The dogs look to the ceiling, watching an audio shadow puppet show. You turn over in bed, bring the covers over your head and hope that the waves of dreams will drown out the late night softcore pornography. The drum keeps beating, the hollow instrument pounding the beat to an empty ritual.

You see him and his sons the next morning, but you can’t say anything. You pretend you didn’t hear anything as he pretends there was nothing to hear. He’s wearing sunglasses. His sons are there, eyes watching where they step.

[© 2006 Kelly Hoffart
Don't re-post this without permission.]

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