They gave her painkillers and said she couldn’t drink, but Lena was drinking when she texted she was drinking, just a little.
I went to work and put my feet up on the desk. I called her, and she didn’t pick up. I texted that I’d order something, some clothes or records or something, to be mailed to her. I asked if there’s anything she wanted from New York.
Lena said she wanted pizza. She was eating pickles, she said. She said she was high and her friend made edibles for her. I went online to order pickles from a pickle store in the Lower East Side and said I was getting her a gallon of pickles. She texted, yes, yes that’s exactly what i want. She texted, please remind me you did this later, i’ll be too stoned to remember
The gallon of mixed pickles was twenty-three dollars, and I navigated to the checkout menu, but when I put in my credit card and the address, shipping calculated to thirty-four dollars and ninety-eight cents.
I looked at $57.98 and texted Lena, it’s $35 shipping jesus fucking christ lol
how is it that much, she replied. that’s insane, no, no jesus thank you
I typed, what if i just send you money for the, deleted it and sent, we can get pickles next time you visit
that’s insane. so insane lol
My phone was showing an ellipsis on her side of the screen when I cancelled the transaction. It vibrated. thank you for sending them you have to remind me lol. you’re the best
The cat that was mine walked on top of my head, and I called out of work for the second day that week. My boss emailed, If you are still feeling severely not well, you will need to maybe bring in a note of referral from the doctor, as we are getting confused.
The cat sat on part of my hair for a while. I watched horror movies. There was no more whiskey. I took a shot of vodka from a bottle in the freezer and went outside waiting for something to happen.
I saw wetness in the air, the moon shimmering against the fog against the buildings.
I didn’t know what I was doing in Mami Grocery Corp.
I walked east, against the wind, in my shorts and a jacket, beginning to sweat. I had two hundred dollars in my pocket and moved along the traffic of Flushing Avenue, looking at the warehouses. The signs faded by the sun, blue and white, with pictures of Victorian style furniture, Chinese characters, and above them, the words, LUCKY YOU 123 INC.
I put the two hundred dollars in my sock. A man in a motorcycle helmet pulled up next to me. I turned right on Woodward and passed the cemetery gates.
Things from the movies didn’t happen. My phone died. I came across a bar called Paradise and tried to order a sandwich, but the kitchen was closed, and I watched the TV and drank a couple Krusovices.
I sat on the curb eating Mexican food from a cart. In the general direction of my apartment I could see a bar filled with couples, people sitting close together, talking into one another’s mouths.
I asked a girl sitting alone in a booth if I could charge my phone there, next to hers. She said nothing but indicated that it was a free country, within reason. Her eyes told me, within reason. And when it got to ten percent I struggled to slide away from her.
Outside. People looking at their hands, waiting for cars they’d ordered to come to them, touching their coats and their hair.
Someone drifted into a bar. A song I liked was playing, in my ears, through my headphones, and I followed her.
By the time I was at the door, she was with some guy in the back shooting pool. Lena texted, you there? I stepped through a gate, into a garden, waiting for the song to end.
People passed in the street, I could see through the gate, and as the songs went on I closed my eyes and saw a man laughing from a triangle shape far away.
When I opened them, my phone had died. The couple from the pool table was leaving. I rushed out, pursuing them, waited by a deli while they bought twenty-four ounce cans of malt liquor.
I stood against a fence as they drank, and when they got to the door, a different door, we all went inside.
They disappeared into the back. I ordered a whiskey and stood, ripping up a coaster by the bar. House music and house music people with their eyes squinted and the fog machine.
I sat at the table nearest the exit and a girl with a large delicate face sat down next to me and asked if I had a cigarette. I didn’t, but she introduced herself as Anastasia. She’d just moved from the Netherlands. She lived in the neighborhood where I used to, with Laura, years earlier.
I said, ―I lived in that neighborhood for years. I had, like, a small place on Bedford and Sterling.
―Oh yes, I know it. You were living there alone?
I didn’t pause to think about it, saying, ―Yeah.
―Where I live there is a ghost.
―Yeah, I said. ―Yeah, me too.
―No, she said. ―You have to listen. It was a story the woman I live with told me, and she said the woman she lived with before told her. There was an old family. You know where Fenimore and Flatbush is?
―There is a family that owned all of this area. The Lefferts family.
―They had a big family, and many of them stayed in the area even after their wealth went apart. She waited for me to react. Then continued, ―There was the building I live in, an old building that was built for them. It is Tudor on the outside, this is why it reminds me of my home. They were Dutch, the Lefferts family.
―Yeah I know.
―She killed herself in the building, set the whole thing ablaze. She haunts the building. She is in my dreams, I can see her.
I could see Anastasia wanted me to be surprised. She said, ―Don’t you want me to tell you how she become that way?
―My girlfriend in college had a roommate who set their apartment on fire, so I, like, pretty much know how it is.
―Don’t you wonder how a woman, beautiful and intelligent and from a family and with everything and anyone could become like that? And how she still haunts the space though it was entirely rebuilt, next to the others in the same form?
―But, like, how do you know she was beautiful or intelligent? I mean, you weren’t there. Nobody was, like nobody really knows what, like… I mean, actually, wait. Never mind, never mind. Tell me.
But she just went outside. And when I went outside, she wasn’t there. I sat on the curb and lay halfway down, then sat up. Back inside, there was a girl dancing in a Morrissey t-shirt. I imagined tapping her on the shoulder. ―Cool, I said.
She turned around in a circle, dancing, and I tried to dance. I couldn’t really tell. I needed to buy cat food.
And when I got my phone back on it was sometime later the following day, and Lena had texted to say she was on a plane to Mexico, and I responded, asking if she could get me a shark tooth necklace while she was there, that it would be my new look, that I needed something for myself, to distinguish myself, like, my summer look, since summer was coming, and I, like, needed something to distinguish myself, and she typed for a while, I could see the ellipses again, appearing, disappearing, and she was in the air, presumably in the air at speeds more obscene than any person should ever go, inside or out, and then they stopped entirely, the dots, and I waited a while longer, maybe longer than a while, distracting myself with what I could, lifting the cat that was mine over my head, until another day was done.
David Fishkind was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has worked as a farmhand, a librarian and a truck driver, among other things. He lives in New York and is currently seeking a publisher for his first novel, Cool Girls Hate Their Bodies.