January and Jazz
The weight’s back across his shoulders the second he opens his eyes and swings his feet to the cold wooden floor, gentle so he doesn’t jostle the bed and wake up his wife piglet snoring next to him. A shower and comfortable shoes, an untucked workshirt and coffee that will wait for the bodega, it’s quieter that way in the cavernous Bushwick loft with holes in the walls big enough to peer through. Winter comes calling often. Before he leaves he looks down at her sleeping form, the big green eyes screwed shut that used to captivate him once upon a time but now it’s all January and jazz in his head. Jazz reminds him of being alone and January reminds him of love and he wonders if bad coffee can mute nostalgia.
When did the ring on his finger turn into forty evenly spaced iron bars and her cunt a shackle?
His day job is sorting mail for a big company in midtown. He comes in the servant’s, pardon, the service entrance. Fluorescent lights and more bad coffee, frustration and paper cuts.
“Have you seen my package?”
“FedEx delivers at the messenger center, sir.”
Darkness comes down at five o’clock without any art at all, just mugs the whole city into an alleyway and he longs for the gentle grift of summer twilight. He changes into steel-toed boots and a black sweatshirt under his leather jacket, gets dinner at a burger joint before the second job he took after…
“We’ve gotta move you back to the mailroom.”
“But I just got married, I got a wife…”
“That department doesn’t want you anymore.”
The bar is sunny and warm, fake frost in the corners of the windows and he wonders if that was her doing, finishes his cigarette as he peers in the window at her. Fragile arms and a laugh like a crow with a bullhorn, tattoos and too much eyeliner, all blond dishwater, pale-blue eyes and swinging hips above her motorcycle boots.
He smiles and remembers that night in the basement. Cigarette gone, he drops his stuff in the back and waves to her, on his way back outside to stand at the door.
“Yo, for real? I ain’t got mine.”
“Then find another bar.”
“Yo, you’re a dick.”
“Yeah. Have a good night.”
Bored and aching feet, he remembers the night he fucked her in the basement and how smooth her skin was, even across the tattoos. He doesn’t know why he’s surprised but that flickers fast as she closes her mouth around him.
So warm. The basement has the boiler in it. She kisses his wedding ring with a sticky mouth.
A bum leans against the lamppost, two pigeons perch and peer down at him from on the yellow traffic lights.
“You gotta get right with all that, youngster.”
“What?” He asks the bum.
“You gotta get right with life and with god.”
“I’ll get around to it.”
“You got a dollar.”
“I got a cigarette.”
He lights the bum’s cigarette and they puff in silence.
“You gotta get right with god, young man.”
He chuckles. “Maybe some day. Now, do me a favor and find another corner.”
The bum shuffles off, takes his winter-muted stink with him and the pigeons eventually follow. Eight hours later he hustles the last drunk out the door and gets his shift pay, his shift drink. She smiles at him and inclines her head toward the basement.
Why not? His shift fuck.
Fifteen minutes later he pulls out and cums on the empty Jack Daniels crate between her feet while she coos in his ear with what he can’t imagine and doesn’t try until after he’s put her in a cab without kissing her goodnight.
Grabbing a cab of his own, he unlocks the door of the loft and sees his wife as he left her as if the day had never happened. In the bathroom he washes his mouth and his dick, brushes his teeth and slips in bed next to her. She mumbles and he kisses her sleepy mouth.
“You brushed your teeth.”
“I was smoking.”
“Oh.” She settles back to sleep and as his head hits the pillow he thinks, yeah, I gotta get right with something, but I gotta get up in six hours.