"I'm gonna rip that fucking thing off your face when you pass out", says Kym looking down on me with disgust. "You look like a baby cop."
"Well I like it" says Jason who hands me the bong and lighter. I balance it on my leg cast and take a rip.
"Of course you do. You're an idiot. Babe shave it off!"
"No Kym. The mustache stays. You go!" yells Jason.
He holds his hand out to high-five me but I ignore him. When Kym turns her head I high five him. This is entertainment because I'm going insane from cabin fever. The leg cast is on for another month. I had to sign out of my lab classes but still continue undergrad work with Vince bringing me notes and materials. Besides that, these norco 10's are nice. But I share them and keep running out.
The sound of my hand slapping Jason's causes Kym to glare back at us malevolently.
Two weeks ago Jason drove the car that Kym stole from her sister POW! right into the back of a semi-truck parked on the side of Highway 17. He spent two days in Santa Cruz County Jail on a DUI. Kym lost her left canine tooth and got a black eye. I fractured my right leg, cracked three ribs, got a lot of stitches, some whiplash and I was kept under observation for internal bleeding in my skull. They think I pin-balled off the dashboard and exited the vehicle through the closed passenger window. But is brain my all good.
Kym is on a dental implant waiting list and already back to work. She feels a little self-conscious about the tooth (Jason) and it has changed the way she smiles but on the plus side, she dresses more provocatively for some reason. San Francisco is not a comfortable climate to show off your tube top and belly chain but that and a black leather jacket is her look for the work commute.
Jason has problems. His dad bailed him out and paid for the car. Kym's sister Iona was so stoked on the new car that she gave Kym the car she was using. A red Acura Integra that once belonged to their brother Malek. Jason got out of jail and was put in rehab. He checked himself out the same day. Then he failed to show up to the DUI Arraignment. His dad was disappointed and Jason's magical bank account that refills itself monthly started bouncing checks. So now Jase has a warrant, no license and supports himself by moving Schedule II narcotics between suppliers and club dealers. Mostly coke and MDMA.
Jason throws his arm around my shoulder. "I'm gonna grow one too. A show of solidarity."
He laughs as he takes bong and rams the ash through the stem with a plunger he made from half of a coat hanger. I use the other half to scratch myself. Jason wrapped the end with duct tape so I won't give myself tetanus or lockjaw. I insert it into my cast and rub...Ahhhh. It is a fifth tier pleasure in the Forbidden Zone. Kym hides it when I take too many opiates and draw blood. A sensible move but have I yet to find that piece of pepperoni I lost last week. I'm terrified it's inside the cast melding with my skin.
"Cool!" says Kym taking the bong. "You guys'll fit in Castro. They love mustaches. Babe you can take me to Club Uranus. The DJ there is supposed be the shit!"
"I'm a citizen of the world Kym. I travel anywhere. Especially if I'm dosed. Which I am."
"That's a gay bar dude" explains Jason.
I think about that for a second. "Well, I am not a very good dancer."
The doorbell rings. We all pause.
"Oh yeah" I remember, "It's Mikey!"
I've known St. Michael since the dorms. He does not drink and is always the designated driver, hence the name. He called me last week. Said he had a favor to ask before he went off to Peru. He'll be there as a field assistant for a few months. They comb through river runoff areas to study tetra fish.
Jason opens the door. "St. Michael my BROTHER!" and gives Mike a bearhug.
Jason's strong and when he likes you he crushes you with his hugs. Skinny stoner Mike is easily lifted off the ground. He looks the same as always. Long, stringy blond hair, John Lennon glasses and still wearing the same jeans jacket with the Pink Floyd patch. From his Slayer t-shirt to his bashful, humble disposition, it is indeed St. Michael. And now Mikey's off the the jungle to count tiny fish in an environmental push to keep corporations from cutting down the rainforests. FuckingA Mikey.
"Dude!" he says when he see's me. "You didn't mention this...What happened?"
"Oh you know. Jason. Car. Fuck it Mike. How are you?"
I am tired of telling the tale. So are my roommates. These obvious badges we wear are annoying to repeat. Mike takes it in stride. Hands in pocket, laughing and Yes he'll have a bong hit. Glory to St. Michael. He pulls out a bag of his own personal stash. This man can grow. His third generation female clones from Humboldt are mind bending.
I don't know what he wants, but the answer is already Yes.
"Mike this is my girlfriend Kym."
"Oh. Hey. Hi!" he says awkwardly shaking her hand while blushing.
"Hey! Nice to meet ya" smiles Kym. "Don't mind me. I'm getting ready for work."
Kym walks back down the hall to get her bag. Mike looks at me like Wow. When Kym disappears into the bathroom he turns to me. "Damn dude! She looks like a model! But what happened with uhh what's her name?"
"Mary?" says Jason sucking in a bong hit and squinting as the smoke fills him from lung to nostril. Then he ganja Godzilla blasts me. "He dumped her. Good riddance! She was too...whats the word I'm looking for here?"
"Dude shut up and pass that shit over."
"No that wasn't it. Abominable? Horrific? Anyways, this one is a looker Mike, but fuck! She acts like she escaped from a mental instit-"
I stab Jason's in the side with a crutch and turn back to Mike.
"So Mike. Your internship sounds amazing. Living in the jungle. Documenting tiny fucking fish..." I pause as the weed PINGS my brain. When my skull stops vibrating, I catch the loose thought with a net and continue, "You're doing it man! Your dream. Science!"
"Yeah. I'm excited."
"How can I help?" I ask.
"Oh shit!" says Mike. "Hold on."
He goes back outside. I look at Jason who shrugs. Mike comes back with a plastic cage.
"I was hoping you could keep an eye on him while I'm gone."
I look into the cage and see a frumpy gray cat.
"Mitch?" I ask. "Mitch Kramer?"
"Yeah. It's Mitch Kramer" says Mike opening the cage and letting the cat out.
A large, storm gray cat hops out of the cage and looks around uncertainly. It see's Mike and hops into his lap and starts cleaning himself like he's cool and at ease in the new surroundings.
"A kitty!" says Kym from the hallway. "What a cute cat! I love cats! Aww!"
Jason shoots me a look that Mike misses because he is scratching Mitch Kramer's chin as Kym comes over and pets him. Jason's not into this. And I'm allergic to cats.
But it's Mitch Kramer. That cat is not only my friend but he saved my life. Me and Mitch go way back.
"Of course" I say before Jason can plot anything.
I can feel Jason staring at me as I look at the cat. I can feel his thoughts. First I let a crazy girl that escaped rehab live here. Now a large, gray cat.
Mike tries to give us money but I know Mitch. That's why Mike picked me. Mitch only eats Safeway brand dry cat food and tuna fish canned in spring water. Maybe ham or turkey but not much else. He shits in a box put prefers to be let out. Give him a door, feed him and he basically keeps to himself unlike my other roommates.
"Thanks man" says Mike as he hugs me before he leaves. "I knew we could count on you."
After he leaves Mitch Kramer meows at the door for a while but eventually gives up. He walk across our filthy carpet, scratches his nails on the couch and hops up onto the back. Mitch kneads his claws into the fabric and settles down like a sphinx.
Turns out Mike has left Mitch behind before. All academic journeys. Usually with his mom but she's on a Caribbean cruise. Kym loves Mitch instantly but he ignores her, for that is his way. She sets up his food and water bowls in the kitchen. The litter box in the bathroom. Kym shows Mitch the kitchen windows. The middle arched window is painted shut but the side windows work. Both are cracked open all the time because we smoke. A thief would need ninja claws to scale up three stories to come inside but a cat can hop out and travel along the Victorian-style eaves. Mitch hops out to explore.
Kym brings me a beer and kisses me deeply and runs her hands through my hair. Though I am more or less immobile, my sex life continues through her eager, athletic creativity. At first I thought it was pity sex. But then again, she'll give me a cigarette and then throw the lighter across the room so I have to hobble over on my crutches to get it. Says I need exercise. Kym is not into pity.
So I ask her. She gives me a wide smile, puts her bag down and sits next to me on the couch.
"In the hospital babe" she begins as she arches her eyebrows at me and grabs my hands, "when you were attached to all the machines and drugged out, you told me something beautiful!"
"Yeah babe. Maybe you don't remember but I do. I ALWAYS will."
"Can you give me a hint?"
At the hospital I was on drugs like fentanyl and dilaudid. I had a button I clicked all day because every few hours it gave me morphine. Now I have prescription painkillers, the oxy from Ari and we are not shy about snorting and smoking a little H now and then. Oh and I enjoy LSD and weed. My short term memory is warm and fuzzy at best.
"Maui" she smiles mysteriously squeezing my hands and drawing me towards her.
Kym kisses me deeply and suddenly pulls back leaving me wanting more. I try and she leans back teasing me. Then lunges in and bites my lip with a smile. I look at her angelic face. In her blue eyes I see joy. Almost enough to bring tears.
Man. Whatever I said must have been good. But I don't remember. Maui? Nice vacation and great surf but...?
"Maui babe..." She touches my cheek and smiles. "I am you. You are me. Love me..."
She pauses and looks at me for a moment. You usually see this look on people's faces when they are staring at heroin or a pile of money. Joy. Desire. Pleasure. I love it when Kym looks at me like this. Makes me feel greater than any man on Earth. Then she smiles, grabs her bag and disappears out the door.
Days go by. Mitch slips into our lives and melts into our scene. Kym buys him a bed he never sleeps in, toys he never plays with and a brush that makes him jump out the window.
"Why won't he love me?" she asks with a hurt expression on her face as Mitch Kramer leaps out the window.
It's just not Mitch, I try and explain. He is a moody, fat bastard. He sits on me because I do not move much. But mostly he sits on me because I don't want him to.
We are watching X-Files which is our Friday night ritual. Jason preps the foil, sponsors the session, I pass out some pills and Kym makes popcorn. Jason points out all the characters that have mustaches for Kym's benefit as he strokes his sprouting fuzz. It's worse than mine. Like a crushed caterpillar on his lip. And Mitch comes home. I hear him land on the kitchen floor followed by the munching and crunching of a late dinner. He saunters up to the doorframe and pauses dramatically like the smug, fat bastard he is. I ignore him. Jason ignores him.
"Ooooh! Pick me! Pick me!" shrieks Kym as she slaps her thighs.
Jason harrumphs and turns up the TV.
"Mitchy Mitchy Mitchy!", cooes Kym.
The cat strolls in.
The room is dark except for the TV. The humans are sprawled out like careless prey. Dumber than pigeons on the roof at sundown. Male Closed Door sits on the carpet, back against the table and stares at the glowing box. Yes, your door is closed right now friend but I have been inside your lair fool! And I will return to scratch your bed and sleep on your pillow! Oh yeah!
Male Old Friend is on the couch. The prime sleeping spot he claims daily for he is injured. His weakness disgusts me but he does provides the food and water. And he makes a good nap lap. I respect this.
Next to him is his annoying mate. Female Shrieker Grabber. This one...ugh. Always with the grabbing! Until the warning swipe I gave her, she was all hands. No one interrupts the selection process for my resting spot! Hell, I love a good chinny-chin scratch as much as any cat but no one dictates where I sit.
"Look babe!" points Kym excitedly. "Mitch Kramer is coming over! He's gonna pick me!"
"Shhh!" shushes Jason.
Two possibilities. Male Old Friend looks perfect. He's stunned as usual. Glazed expression, mouth partly open and barely moving. But his annoying mate is beside him. She is slapping herself for unknown reasons. Sigh. Hmm. Male Closed Door also looks stunned. His legs are stretched out creating a perfect resting spot. This one ignores me and wants nothing to do with me. He will do.
"Look! Look! Babe!" says Kym.
Mitch Kramer looks up at the couch, his body is tensed. Ready to spring and then...he abruptly sits up, lifts a leg and licks his butthole. Then Mitch turns and casually walks over to Jason who is staring slack jawed at X-Files. He doesn't realize what's happening until Mitch Kramer is on his lap kneading into his shorts.
"Wha-?" Jason says looking down.
"Aww what?!" exclaims Kym. "You're picking him? You gotta be kidding!"
Jason watches the cat do a happy dance on his lap, turn two times, drop and curl into a big ball of fur. He looks up at Kym who pouts at the cat. Tentatively, Jason rubs the cats head. Mitch Kramer leans into his hand and stretches his neck until Jason in scratching his chin. An enormous PURRRRR begins.
"Hi cat!" says Jason looking up at Kym with a grin. "Aww did that gap-toothed hillbilly girl on the couch scare you Mitch? She takes some getting used to but she does make good microwaveable popcorn. Such a good sweet kitty!"
"Dumb cat" huffs Kym.