Endres held my hand as we ascended the stairs to the front door. The palm of his hand was cool and soothing. The street smelled like dirt and piss. It needed to rain. We sat on the stone sill of the basement window and listened to the roars from the Norwegians and what sounded like the turning over of furniture.
“Ahh Annnnnna this is so nice.”
I thought it was okay. I was drunk, it smelled like piss, and I was tired. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t go home with Marco. I supposed that I must have liked Endres, but I was starting to want my bed more than this young man. I rested my head in Endres’ lap as he played with my hair. I could go to sleep right there looking at the world from a Dutch angle. The night was a beautiful cerulean blanket waiting for me to close my eyes.
“Did you wash your hair today Annnnna?”
“No.” I said. My eyelids were starting to feel heavy, “I’m afraid of the shower.” I mumbled.
I could smell raspberries the scent was so strong I felt like I could taste them. I was certain that the scent was coming from Endres. People stumbled out of the bar laughing and holding one another up. They looked over at us and said something then stumble away like they were conjoined. Cash clumped out soon after the couple, and stepped into my frame of view. He bent at his waist his hair cascading to the ground as the tangled ends brushed the dirty cobblestones. He was eye level to me, his face side ways, his torso twisted. He looked into my face and then with his finger he traced my eyebrow. “Look how it arches so perfectly above za ie.”
He stepped back to look at me as if he was getting a better view of a painting. “Beautiful.” Then he turned and clumped away into the dark street.
“You are beautiful Annnnnna.” Endres said.
“Thanks Endres.” I said with a heavy sigh. I used his knee to push myself up as straight as I could sit. I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt dirty and like shit. I felt like I needed a cleansing.
“Would you maybe meet me at the park tomorrow?”
I climbed and pulled myself to a standing position, using the brick-stone wall. That sounded like an amazing idea to me. I hadn’t gone to the park since the first day I had arrived.
“I would love to.” I said with a nod of my head.
“I think if I would need to find you I would. I think that I would be out walking and maybe run into you in the park. There is a place where you can see the castle; it is very nice. I find I spend a lot of time in the park. It is a very nice place.”
“I would like to meet you tomorrow.” I said imitating his cadence.
I leaned down to kiss him. It was our first kiss, and I had intended it to be sweet and short like a peck as if we were fourteen and trying out love for the first time. He grabbed me in a feverish embrace pulling me to my knees, and scrapping them against the sidewalk. I tried to cry out, but Endres had his mouth on mine, and the only sound that escaped was a high-pitched mew. He kissed at my ear.
“I want you so badly Anna. I want to be with you.” He whispered.
“Yes. I’m getting that,” I said, repressing a laugh. I climbed back up the side of the building scurrying and clawing like a rodent. I jumped to my feet and then rubbed at my knees. I immediately thought about sex with Endres. I imagined having zippers get stuck, and hitting a nail that happens to be sticking out of a wall or falling out of a window to my death because of some farcical stumbling while trying to get busy.
“I need to go. I’m tired and want my bed.” I said.
He stood up and grabbed my shoulders. “You need to go.” He said pushing me.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said holding my hand up in a wave.
He smiled and I spun around and ran down the street toward home.
I slammed the door behind me and cringed. “Sorry sorry.” I said to no one in particular. Using the walls as my guide I slid into the kitchen. Koontz was sitting in the easy chair. He looked up at me without a smile.
“Did you get rid of him?” He asked.
“Yes. I threw him away.”
“Good. Stupid Norwegians.”
I walked toward my room, and as I did Koontz jumped up to hold me, but I shoved him back down into his seat. The momentum of my push caused me to stumbled back against the doorway. I was sick of people grabbing and pulling at me. Marco walked into the kitchen from the front door.
“Hungry?” He asked.
“Yes.” I said at the mention of food. My now drunken reptilian brain completely forgot about Koontz. “Where’d you go?”
“To the gas station.” He pulled out a wrapped sandwich and placed it on the table in front of Koontz.
“Oh no. I can not eat.” He said.
“Are you sure?” Asked Marco.
Marco and I exchange concerned glances, and we both look back to Koontz.
“You sure, you’re sure?” I asked.
“Oh yes.” He answered.
Marco and I sat down at the table as Marco pulled out two other sandwiches taking one and giving another to me.
I unwrapped the saran and opened the sandwich that looked like ham with tomatoes and lettuce, “Are those eggs and pickles on the sandwich?”
“Yep.” Said Marco eating.
“Weird.” I said before taking a bite.
Without a word Koontz got up and walked into Francisco’s room.
“Where’s Francisco?” I asked with my mouth full.
“Didn’t your momma teach you no manners? Don’t talk wit-chor mouth full.” Said Marco.
“Sorry. I’m drunk.” I let out a loud, ha, and took another bite.
“I saw him stumbling toward the A-Krop.” Marco said.
“He was very drunk,” Yelled Koontz from the other room.
“He’s fucked up. I think he’s getting drunk easily because of the stuff with the doctors.” Said Marco.
“Ahww yeah.” I chewed my food with thoughtful machinations then swallowed. I took a deep breath then blew the air threw my lips in a drunk bored manner. “Or,” I said, “ maybe it’s because we started drinking hard liquor when the crow started and now it’s the next day. Technically the next day.”
“Yeah. Maybe.” Marco said as he rose and then stumbled into our plutonic room.
“Hey Annabelle.” He said as if a thought just hit him, “Will you do me a favor and listen for the door for Francisco? Because I know I wont be able to hear it to let him in.”
“Yeah sure.” I said. Then I sat alone in the kitchen, just staring, and chewing my sandwich, thinking of nothing.
A repetitive buzzing pulled me from my dreams. It was persistent and aggravating like a horsefly biting into my mind and eating my REM. I opened my eyes. It was still dark in the room. I craned my head back and saw Marco in a deep sleep. I heard the buzzing again. I rolled out of bed feeling groggy, and swayed one way to the other as if I was walking on a ship deck. I shifted like this till my equilibrium balanced out. I was supposed to do something, but I couldn’t remember what. I looked into Francisco’s room and saw Koontz asleep and snoring loudly on the couch, but no Francisco. The buzz came again in rapid succession like gunfire. I turned and picked up the receiver of the phone.
“Hello? Hello?” My voice was hoarse with the dust of sleep.
I knew I was walking around, but I had a hard time pulling myself into my waking life. No one answered on the other side of the line. The buzz started again, this time long and deep. I looked dumbly at the phone in my hand then around the foyer as if some clue where the noise was coming from would jump out at me. I hung up, and the buzz came again. Suddenly, from the muck of my brain, I remembered that Marco had asked me to listen for Francisco, and Francisco was not in his bed, so through a painfully slow deduction, I figured the buzz was from Francisco at the building door. I should never try detective work. I hit the button that unlocked the building and pulled open the front door.
There was the sound of someone clomping up the stairs slow heavy clomps, like an elephant or a drunk. I left the door ajar and then ran into my room and jumped into bed so I could avoid getting into a conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, I didn’t know him yet, really, but the real issue was that I figured by now he would be so inebriated that he would try to talk to me as he half hung out the window, something I noticed that he liked to do. This hanging out the window of a five-story building caused me a minor amount of stress especially when he was so drunk he could barely stand. He must have had a death wish; he’s tempted it more than once. There was a crashing sound from the kitchen. I threw the covers over my head and fell asleep to the sound of glass breaking.
There was a long loud moaning sound. I rolled over to face the door, and stared directly at Franscisco’s crotch. He was prostrate and spread eagle on the floor wearing his ridiculously tiny boxers and using a beer bottle for a pillow. I could have sworn I had shut the door before falling asleep. He moaned again. I looked toward the window. It was still dark outside, but I wasn’t sure what time it was.
“Francisco.” Marco yelled from under his covers. “I have to wake up in an hour.”
It must have been around five in the morning. Marco had to work early. I had no idea how he kept time. He had some sort of internal working clock.
Francisco answered Marco’s request with another longer moan. Marco threw his covers off his head, and reached over to the door and slammed it shut. I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.
I awoke to yelling. The kitchen door was open, Marco’s bed was empty and made, and Francisco and Koontz were spitting out the kitchen window and laughing. I was not ready to face those two animals. If this was how it was going to be every night and day now that Francisco had returned I needed to find a new place. I thought about the English girls, and pictured myself trying to become an amateur drug dealer. I remembered that Francisco had screwed them over and took all their money as payment for “helping” them sell. I pulled my covers up over my head, and turned away and managed to fall back asleep even to their screaming.
The next time I woke up, anxiety grasped my sternum and sent a shutter of nerves to my brain, and I sat up holding my hand to my chest. My breaths where thick and rapid. I felt panic like I did before I first left for Prague. I looked around the room. The flat was quiet. It was possible that my freak-out before I left for Prague may have been a premonition. I didn’t want to be a drug addict or an alcoholic. I climbed out of bed and tiptoed to look into Francisco’s room. Koontz and Francisco were passed out. I had to get out of the apartment. I ran on tiptoes into the shower room stepping over ear swabs, gel, and towels. I brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face, and then walked back through the kitchen that looked as if an earthquake shook it to pieces. Francisco’s beer pillow was still on the floor. I dressed and rushed to the park to meet with Endres.