by Todd McKie
“Listen to me, Kate,” said Fiona. “Forget him. You should be out celebrating instead of moping around in this dump.”
“Dump?” said Kate. “You were the one who convinced me to buy it.”
Fiona swiveled her head back and forth, taking in the defeated atmosphere of her sister’s apartment. Six hundred square feet filled with crap. Greasy pizza boxes piled waist-high in a corner. Pants, blouses, tee shirts, underwear and socks everywhere. A stack of unopened mail, bills mostly, spilling off the coffee table onto a stained carpet. The place smelled, too: a sick, sweet smell.
“I mean, really, Kate, how can you live like this?”
“I just got so tired of housekeeping. One day I was cleaning the bathroom mirror and I said, ‘Screw this!’ I poured the Windex down the drain and threw the sponge in the waste basket.” Kate traced an arabesque in the air with one hand. “Ta da!” she said, laughing.
Fiona bit her lip, tried not to smile. She put her hand over her mouth, but soon she began to laugh too. They both rocked away, pounding the table, hooting, shrieking, their laughter waning, almost dying out, then bursting forth with renewed vigor.
Suddenly Kate was silent and tears rolled down her face.
“Oh, sweetie, don’t,” said Fiona. “You were the only one who couldn’t see it. I knew he was gay the minute I met him. Everybody did.”
“Well, why didn’t you tell me?” moaned Kate.
“I tried to.”
“You said he was too pretty. Those were your exact words. And you were wrong about this neighborhood.”
“What does the neighborhood have to do with it?”
“You said it was up-and-coming. You said once all the young professionals started moving in it would change, but it’s getting worse!”
“Well,” said Fiona, glancing at the tower of pizza boxes covered with drips of oily cheese, “this part of the neighborhood is getting worse.”
“No, be serious. I mean it. You said it was going to make Park Slope look like Calcutta. Don’t give me that big-sister look, that’s exactly what you said, but it’s just a bunch of losers like me who can’t afford anyplace else, old guys in bars, and car alarms going off all night long. You said it was great because it was right on the water. Did you ever actually look at the water? There’s human turds bobbing around in there and dead rats and condoms and medical waste. Medical waste! This is where you said I should get my foot in the door. Thanks for the wonderful advice.”
“Kate, I know you’re unhappy, but don’t blame me. What straight guy collects vintage fashion magazines?”
“It’s his hobby.”
“Precisely,” said Fiona.
Kate and Fiona listened to the whine of traffic on Belt Parkway, the thump of trailer trucks plunging down the ramp onto Neptune Avenue, horns, squealing brakes, a tugboat honking sadly out on the river. They watched the distant lights of Manhattan.
published 18 October 2013