Friday, March 24, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Richard

The two-bedroom apartment was in a decidedly “gritty” section in town where the underemployed and overeducated moved in because of affordable rents.  The new area residents in this “transitional neighborhood” pretended that they loved the area because it was “real” as if periodically getting your car broken into was somehow a badge of honor.  Soon the gourmet coffee shops would outnumber the used appliance stores and order would be restored.  He walked up the stairs to Apartment 4F.  He could hear the music and murmur of conversation as he ascended.  He held a bottle of Bordeaux which he had carefully selected that afternoon.  He didn’t get invited to parties very often and he wanted to make a good impression.

He had been invited by one of his new co-workers, though he suspected it was only because not inviting him would have been a glaring omission.  It was just easier to pretend he was one of the gang.  He was new to the job, new to the city.  He had impulsively moved out of his old life two months ago in spectacular fashion.  Most of his possessions were now in several boxes in his old garage.  His soon-to-be-ex-wife had already moved in his replacement who had efficiently boxed up his life.  He hadn’t noticed needing any of the things he had left behind.  Each passing day decreased his likelihood of going through the hassle of arranging them to be shipped to him.  Sweatshirts, LPs, trophies, and books.  Fuck it.

He knocked on the door.  His palms were damp.  He thought about just turning around and going back.  The door swung open and a man he had never seen before greeted him.  Uh… Hi… Um..  Is this Cindy’s place?  The man bowed dramatically to allow him entry.  Heads in the crowded apartment turned briefly to note his arrival and turned quickly back to their original position after deciding on a lack of general interest in him.  “Cindy is around here somewhere my good man…  Let me take that from you.  Help yourself to a drink.  It’s all in the kitchen.”  The man took the wine and placed it on the kitchen counter with several others.  The careful selection of his gift bottle of Bordeaux would be for naught as it unceremoniously joined a group of five other bottles, the total retail value of all five being around $20.  

The open wine was something Bulgarian.  Bulgarian?  Jesus.  He opened a small cooler looking for beer.  Of course.  There were only cans of ironic cheap beer.  At least they were somewhat cold.  He opened it and drank the bitter malty liquid.  It was awful.  Music he had never heard before urged him to “Rip it up” to an electronic trance beat, though he couldn’t be sure what exactly “it” was that he needed to rip up.  He quickly scanned the room for anyone familiar in the room.  Strangers were all in pairs or threes in animated conversations.  He walked slowly around the room pretending to be fascinated by the cheap Impressionist poster prints on the walls hoping for an entrance into a conversation.  He drank quickly so he could have the task of heading back to the kitchen for another beer.  His eyes met a small blonde woman’s.  He smiled as to communicate “aren’t we both good sports being at this type of thing?”.  She frowned and quickly looked away from him.

He walked into the kitchen towards the cooler.  People moved their shoulders to allow him snug passage.  A high-pitched voice came from behind him.  “OMIGOD!  I can’t believe you came!”  It was Cindy from the office with her other almost indistinguishable friend, both mid-twenties girls in tight dresses that showed their admirable figures.  They were out of his league and they all knew it.  The girls both had sloppy grins that showed the party had started early for them.  Cindy grabbed her friend’s arm and shared a conspiratorial glance.  “This is Richard.  He just started at my office.  He’s from OooooHiiiiiiiOoooooooo!” They both started laughing uncontrollably at the hilarity of not only the idea of Ohio but the drawing out of the word in an exaggerated hick accent.  Nervous, he smiled, eager to be in on the joke.  He leaned in as the girls kept laughing.

“My name isn’t Richard.”    


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