|The heroin of the 21st century is a tad less rock 'n' roll.|
Fatboy, still sprawled out on the couch as we had left him the previous night, caught me in mid-tiptoe.
"Dude," he says, "crazy night last night, huh? Good times."
"SShhhh!" I tell him and mime my way closer.
"Where's Girlfriend?" he wants to know, "I said I'd make breakfast."
I gesture wildly for silence as I collect his jeans and shoes, roll them into a ball and deposit them on his lap.
"Let's go," I whisper, "now."
"What, why?" And then he panics. "Fuck, did you do some weird shit last night? Is Girlfriend hanging from the ceiling with a crown of thorns around her head? I'll never understand your Jesus fetish."
"Worse," I say, "she's got the Grumps."
"The 'Grumps'?" he asks, "what's that, like a that-time-of-the-month scenario? Water turning to wine?"
"Ok one, you're going to hell," I say, "and secondly, no. It's her time of the day."
"Oh come on," he dismisses the notion,"she's not a morning person; big deal."
"SSSSSHHHHHHH!!" I shush, but I know the damage has already been done.
"Listen," I say and cock my ear bedroom-wards for signs of danger, "don't ever use that word around here."
"What, "morning"?" he says, "seriously, you're such a drama quee..."
The room changes before he can even complete the cliche. The smoke and the flatulence and the waft of leftover Peking Duck that permeated the atmosphere till moments ago have all made way for a terrifying, uncharacteristic wintry cold. There is a draft in the room, originating from under her bedroom door as far as I can tell. There are sounds of unrest, of bedsheets being flung in frustration, of thunder making its way up Girlfriend's body and quickly gaining momentum.
I look Fatboy in the eye and tell him I'm sorry I snogged Sara Markose in tenth grade.
"I knew you were into her," I say, "that was unsavory of me."
The draft has become a force of nature; there are icicles on top of the television, hail stones rain down from the ceiling. Her bedroom door appears to be vibrating on its hinges, threatening to be blown away. "SAVE YOURSELF, FATBOY!" I scream as I jump over the couch and rush to her door as fast as I can. Holding on to the door knob with all my strength, I fumble around in my pockets for the key. Fatboy, equally scared but just as loyal, jams a chair under the knob. I find the key, lock the door and collapse on the floor, exhausted. "Thanks bro," I say, "you're a good friend. Now, go."
Girlfriend has left the bed. We can hear her coming. Her footsteps echo down the hall and across children's parks and hospitals around Bombay, sending pigeons and Catholic nuns into defeatist rapture. Their wails (and coo-roo-ctoo-coos) of despair come boomeranging back to meet her footsteps, through the open window and into the living room, but timidly stopping short at her door, bouncing off her Warhol-tinted works of art like tweens at a #Belieber tweet-off.
"This is the end," I say as the room turns on its side. The chair Fatboy had jammed under the door hurtles forward and catches him in the jaw, sending him reeling. "FAAATBOOOY!" I scream as I push out a leg for him to grab on to, my hands still firmly wrapped around the door knob. "There must be something we can do," he sobs, "have you tried garlic? Or a stake through the heart?" I weep as I remember attempts past- padlocks and chainsaws and sugar donuts- all fated to failure. And pain. Oh, the pain.
"Go," I say, "just go."
"I can't, bro," he tells me, "I'm not leaving you behind."
There is a sarcastic knock on the door, almost a taunt, and a body crashes against it with a force that sends me flying across the room. "Run, Fatboy," I yell, "I didn't just kiss Sara Markose. I got some cheeky sideboob action too." "You BASTARD," he says and kicks me on his way out.
When I come to, it's midday-bright. I can hear Girlfriend in the bedroom, going about her business, humming an old song. "Girlfriend," I call out, "baby, are you okay?" "Yes," she shouts back, "open the door." I find a Cosmo magazine on the floor and slip it under her door, the key pressed between an article on what men want and an inforgraphic on the dangers of pandering to their needs. I take my spot on the couch, and await judgment.
"Is Fatboy gone?" asks Girlfriend as she steps out, all pinstriped and corporate-sexy and ready for work.
"Yes," I say, "and I don't feel good about this at all."
"Oh don't be a baby," says Girlfriend, and ruffles my hair, "you know this was the only way. He can't boil an egg to save his life."
Icy High's Music Recco: "Wake Up Everybody"- John Legend & The Roots
Image (up top) artwork: Black Betty