.

 

Half-assed Homecoming

Returning for just a moment in the larger travels.

I just got off the bus and came back to the apartment for a quick visit. I walked in on Scott Rahin in my bed, with a girl hiding under the covers beside him. Scott sat up, his soft, broad chest dressed in the lines of light coming through the plastic blinds.

“Paul,” he said.

“Hey.”

“This is Melanie.”

From below the down comforter came a high voice. “Hello, Paul.”

“Hello,” I said. I burned with jealousy, which fast subsided into annoyance.

“We can leave,” said Scott. “If you want.”

“I'm going to check email,” I said, pulling the curtain between the sleeping nook and the rest of the room, sitting down at the computer.

A few quiet minutes later, after the modem had sung its song, I heard murmurs behind the curtain, and Scott emerged in a pair of boxer shorts. From the floor by my chair he gathered up a striped orange and brown shirt and a pair of jeans, with gray cotton panties nestled in the crotch; from next to the radiator he picked up a black bra. He handed the clothes back behind the curtain.

I am amazed at the smallness of women. The woman I am traveling to forget is 5'3", and my upper arms were the size of her thighs; even at my thinnest I would weigh twice as much as she does. I was amazed at the lightness of her dresses and shirts. They are light as leaves. Her loads of laundry were dwarfed by my giant black bags of jeans and 2XLT shirts. She weighed 120. My ideal weight, the doctor says - given my height and oxlike frame - is about 240.

I am a little rusty in my units of measure, and I can't remember how to do a cube root, but what that means, if pounds were a measurement of volume rather than mass, and if we were spheres, her radius would be roughly 3.060 pounds wide, while mine would be around 3.860 pounds wide, or tall. (4/3¶r 3 ). Yet our love was successful, in spite of our radii.

Scott stood behind me and massaged my shoulders. “How was the trip? You're getting thinner,” Scott said, his fingers working the muscles. “I'm glad you're back safe.”

I shouted, “Don't touch me with your filthy sex hands.” I was antsy from the trip, giddy to be back, broke. I leapt from the chair. “I'm opening the window to get the sex dirt out of my godforsaken apartment.”

Behind the curtain Melanie shifted in surprise. A loud bus went by as I opened the window, and the smell of exhaust from 9th street poured into the room.

I rose and began to whale on Scott's ribs. I pushed him to the floor and jumped on top of him. “You're my bitch, mine,” I said, over and over. We writhed across the carpet, giggling. “You said you would never do it again.”

“You're a piggy piggy piggy!” he cried. “Go ahead and do your worst.”

At that point, Melanie, who had stood up on the bed to put on her jeans, slipped, and fell into the middle of the apartment, pulling down the curtain and rod with a crash, ending up on her back with a few dozen books spilling with her. When you touch anything in my apartment, books fall.

Her panties and jeans were half on, her shirt and bra in her hands. She was beautiful, and mostly naked. Next to her on the floor, straddling Scott, I felt great shame. Scott began laughing.

I was at her side, looking down. “Are you hurt? How's your back?” I said. “Scott, shh.”

“I'm fine,” she said, pulling back from both of us, trying to get away. She covered her breasts with her hands. “I just lost my balance. You weren't really fighting?”

Scott's face exploded into a grin.

“No.”

She got up, in pain, and slid into her clothing in one pure, rapid motion. “Asshole. Asshole. Assholes,” she said. She looked at me. Pudgy cheeks and a cute nose, dyed black hair. “Scott told me you were his most mature friend,” she said.

“I am,” I said. “It gives you an idea.”

Then she found her purse and slammed the door, again in a single motion.

“Should I run?” asked Scott, with a sneer.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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