The Next(5)

By: Rafe Haze

The Dominican delivery guy from Yum Yum’s was fuming with one raised, thick, dark eyebrow and pursed white lips. He stiffly shoved the receipt through the eight-inch crack I’d conceded. I handed him a Ziploc bag containing nine dollars and twenty cents of coins and reached for the white plastic bag of Pad Thai Plop and Kung Crap Soup. He defiantly backed up twenty feet and placed the bag on the floor. He shot me a bitchy look and strode to the stairs.

Yappity yap yap.

Fuckity fuck fuck.

I guess I was eating the last of the Quaker oats tonight.

Chapter Four

December eighth turned to March eighth.

If there was a Next, it was hardly making an effort to seep its way into this hole of dazzling vitality. The utility bills now were underscored with red. Un-watered songs died in the drought. No more phone service. No more internet service. Johanna couldn’t contact me even if she wanted to, and it was more than plain she did not want to.

Disconnected. Totally disconnected.

I hadn’t heard the thumping music upstairs…since…God, I had no idea. A month? Six months? A year? I guess tweaking twinkie twat moved out. He probably hooked up with some Rockefeller Hilton Koch brother and was now living rent-free in a sparkling new loft west of the High Line in return for wearing twelve-hundred dollar distressed Boss jeans with a Velcro ass-flap for easy access by Daddy any time Daddy could get away from Wifey. Hoo-fucking-ray for Twinky Twat.

Tweaking Twinky Twat had a name...Nate…eh…something…

Roach in the sink.

Let it live or blend it into the disposal? I ran the water and flipped on the disposal. I let it run, growling furiously. On impulse, I took a shot glass and shoved it down the disposal just to hear the sound of it darting and banging, trapped within the metal walls, then resigning itself to being shaved with violent shrieking into slivers by the savage spinning metal blades, ground back into the sand it once was before someone melted it into hard fragile smoothness. Miraculously, the fucking roach climbed out of the disposal unscathed. With my bare palm…crack…squish.

I don’t feel anything.

The disposal continued to growl. My eye was caught by the light trying to pry into my cave between the cracks of the leveler blind in front of the sink. When was the last time any of the curtains or blinds had been opened? Since I moved in three years ago, I’d close them only when I was working simply to contain the banging on my piano keys and prevent my warbling from leaking to the courtyard or the neighbors. Then half a year ago, I kept them closed simply because opening and closing them every day became a hassle.

Neighbors. Curious word. It implies more than just proximity. Certainly the connotation of neighborly assumes some degree of watchfulness, friendliness, and interaction. But this was New York City. Those folks across the courtyard were the puppets who occupied the apartments of whatever windows you can see from yours. No more. Nobody cared for more, apart from entertainment. I don’t think the occupants I could see from my window across the courtyard were any more or less entertaining than any other apartment’s view.

In the building to the left at the top were the Couch Potatoes—a gay couple who did nothing every single evening of their smashingly glamorous life but plop their plump selves onto the couch with a plate of pasta and watch The Walking X Glee Revenge Dead Factor.

Underneath them lived Schlongzilla, a half black, half Brazilian, six-foot three, thirty-something guy perpetually dressing to go out to somewhere where one sees and is seen. His indispensable contribution to society could be reduced to one Saturday last summer when he spent no less than an hour and forty-five minutes in front of the mirror deliberating on whether or not to wear the distressed low-cut jeans, the boat-collared ribbed sweater, the paper-thin sky-blue hoodie that draped off his gigantic pecs and rear deltoid boulders with just the right waterfall fluidity, the kicky printed Airforce-sort-of T, or the metallic silver gangsta hightops. Then he grabbed his laundry bag and box of Tide detergent and headed out the door. An hour and forty-five minutes! For Christ’s sake, when you’ve got shoulders and hips that are broad and narrow enough to essentially give you the proportions of a six-foot three crucifix, everything hangs well on you.

To be fair, Schlongzilla served more purpose in this world than being one of New York’s walking coat hangers. He was, in fact, hung to his knee and didn’t care two shits which neighbors took notice. Every time Schongzilla received a phone call and then hurriedly bolted out the door with his collapsible massage table in tow, some Upper East Side wife could count on some major migraine alleviation. If you’re hung like Saddlebred, you practically have a social obligation to prance like one too. That’s what Johanna used to say anyway.

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