12 October 2012

Tommy and Arlo [Writing Exercise]

I suffer, hey, says Arlo, look at that thing in the window. Have you ever seen one like it? Tommy says no, he hasn’t, and he doesn’t care, the gym is two blocks away and they have no money for the bus. You’re lazy, says Arlo, what we going to the gym for. For the ladies, says Tommy, and coughs up a fishbone. The woman next to them holds on to the lamppost as though it was an elbow, a gentleman, or a tree she built her nest in but has forgotten how to climb; her hair waves in the wind like the flag of some country whose outline doesn’t look like anything to you. Her hair is brown, but the streetlight puts some gratis highlights in, and she is grateful. Arlo says keep walking and so Tommy pulls the woman’s hair out of his nose and places it back onto the current of air that has been carrying it, and he follows Arlo around the corner like a sheepdog or a sheepish dog or something in a sheepskin. Hey man, says Tommy and points to his stomach growling, he can almost see the sound form bubbles under his skin. Fuck off, says Arlo, we ain’t got time for that. The gym is two blocks away, and God knows when closing time’ll be. It’s dark and the woman at the streetlight lets her head fall backwards and her lids fall shut. A half-eaten can of beans sits on the sidewalk, and Tommy kicks it and dripping beans rain all over the pavement, the walls, and Arlo’s back. Arlo doesn’t notice, his coat is thick as a wolf’s. Smells good, he says, smells hella good my stomach is aflame don’t you know? And Tommy nods and says the gym will take care of that. Nah, the gym’s not for eating at says Arlo and Tommy nods again, but this time he looks perturbed. Hey maybe a beer before we get there says Tommy and steps on the shoe of a bum. The bum says God will punish us all and Arlo says do you see any beer round here? The sign of the bar glows yellow and then blue and Tommy points at it and says it ain’t going to get no greener. The bar is empty and smells like dogfood, but food is food and they sit on stools half their size and stare into a candle in a glass and see the body of a moth coated in wax. What cann’eh getche? A beer says Arlo and looks up at the twitching moustache holding a towel. Yeah, says Tommy, a beer. The moustache disappears and reappears with bottles and pops the caps off them and says that’ll be five bucks. Money, you mean, says Arlo, and the moustache twitches again and the beefy knuckles choke the bottlenecks. Tommy slips off his stool. They leave the bar with growling stomachs and fiery lids and Arlo says nothing for a change. They walk through puddles of streetlight and Tommy’s nose swells up and deflates with the rushing by of low beams that cut through wet spots like a stone through a window. A woman staggers by and Arlo sucks in his stomach and says evenin’ mehdayme, and she peels open a halfway closed eyelid and a tear of drool rolls out the corner of her lips. Arlo releases his stomach and Tommy says hey, and grabs his elbow. Two blocks, says Arlo, and Tommy points there it is, and the sign is blue and says GYM and the next minute it is grey and the white light that floods through the glass doors is black as pitch. Tommy and Arlo stand on the sidewalk, the bags under their eyes carved deep by the streetlight. I need to sit says Arlo and keeps standing so Tommy sits down instead. A man in shiny silver shorts and a shiny silver shirt walks out of the glass door carrying a bag that looks like a pillow. Asshole, yells Arlo, and the man says fuck you and gets into his car. Then Arlo sits down too, and they lean their heavy foreheads against the streetlight and sit there for a while, until Tommy feels a bug crawl into his collar.

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