... (rintropy) wrote in apartment666,

the story that never really got finished...

Playlist: Track 04 -- SINNERMAN (Nina Simone)

Sinnerman, where you gonna run to
Sinnerman, where you gonna run to
Where you gonna run to
All on that day...

Three days back and already a quiz, a paper and now the standard Thursday lab. Fall, next year, I'll likely be running this part time. I've got the combination for the drawer from the Prof, but I'm called back up to the front to answer to the TA who shouldn't even be here since he doesn't have the knowledge-base to justify a baccalaureate in physical chem. Next year, things'll be different, and I'll be that much closer to grad school. I give the combination to Elizabeth--Bet as she likes to be called--and go up to answer Kevin's assinine question. Yes, I know your stupid Cyanide joke. Thank you very much. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not a Bio major. There's certainly more chicks there, yo. 22-9-17. She's twisted it out before I get back to the lab station. She's looking at a pie plate. I thought this was a titration lab.

"S'a pie tin for, yo," I say super-suave agent double-oh-sexy style.

"You really this marked up, Cyanide?"

"Que es," I drop back into Spanish. I don't have practice with this one. She's not on my list of people to impress. Yet.

"Huh," she asks. I shake my spiky head, clear of the maddening black eye and entropic E-string, though there's a bit of a cute mark below my eye.

"What's that," I translate. I thought they taught Español in high school.

"It's a picture of you," she says holding it up. Indeed, there is a picture of me, "in ink," and I'm, "half naked," she finishes, giggling. This isn't how I want to start the quarter. "Do you really have those tattoos," she asks.

"Yeah," I smirk, sexily, "I can show them to you, sometime." This is easier than it looks on TV.

"Do you always wear a leash?" She asks, I choke. The picture looks like Sharpie on Marie Callendar's. It's my torso from just above the naughty bits to the top of my head, wearing nothing but my jewelry and a collar with a leash attached. My hair isn't spiky, though, it's down, and my face is angular. Whoever it was what did this knows his stuff. Or her stuff. Could be either.

"No way, yo," which is as denied as it gets, "I'm in charge." Authoritatively. She laughs. Humor, good.

"You look like a bitch, here, *Cyanide*," she chuckles at me through raised eyebrows.

"We've got work to do, let's get on it," I dry up fast. Nice work, Torres.

Well I run to the rock
Please hide me I run to the rock
Please hide me I run to the rock
Please hide me lord
All on that day

"Kevin," I snag him before he disappears after the clean-up.

"Cyan, hey," he's nervous. I think I scare him.

"You know what this's about," I ask him holding up the pie-plate.

"Looks like you have hobbies. Congrats, man," he nods & winks at me.

"It was in my lab-drawer, yo," I explain to him. He doesn't understand...

"I don't care where you put it, Cyan," he shrugs me off, "I've gotta get to the library," and disappears. So I'm left with a pie plate and a backpack. I have to meet Skids for lunch. The pie plate fits in the backpack, and I'm off...

Well the rock cried out
I can' hide you the rock cried out
I can' hide you the rock cried out
I ain' gonna hide you god
All on that day

Skids sees me before I see him. I've always been easier to find with the pierced face, spiked hair, and unconventional good looks. I walk over with my bag of goodies and have a seat next to my best friend. I take out the pie plate

"You know where this came from, man," I ask him as he chews on a piece of cornbread.

"Um. Marie Callendar's?"

"The picture, numb-nuts."

"Not me, man," he says, authoritatively, "I use more color. Looks as if the love-child of Mondrian and Frank Lloyd Wright were doing Manga-style portraits on street corners for spare change." And he's an art-minor, kids.

"Okay," I'm confused, "what does that *mean*, Skids?"

"It's linear & kinky," he quirks a smile at me, "I didn't know you liked the leash."

"Neither does anyone else," I chew into a peanut butter sandwich with raspberry jam, "up to and including yours-truly."

"Whoever did it's good," Skids says over another bite of cornbread. "You look pretty."

"I'm not pretty," I protest. I do look pretty good in the drawing. Angular. Sharp.

"You should wear your hair down, more," Skids confesses. "Alot of folks take them literally," he says, pointing at my spikes. I shield them with my hands.

"I'm going to go ask BS&M who's been in the lab rooms," I stand up. Skids waves me goodbye.

I said rock
Whats a matter with you rock
Don' you see I need you rock
Don' let down
All on that day

"What," he says as he stares at me with vapid, empty eyes.

"Where did this come from?" A minute passes. A whole minute.

"Marie Callendar's?" I want to stab my pen through his ear, just to rid myself of this idiot. I breathe.

"I found it in a restricted area," I breathe. Breathing is good. "Mainly, my ChemLab."

"You let security know," he asks in a voice that can only be led by three-ring binders and a mutual love of donuts. I shake my head & slam the door on my way out to the other side of the building.

We have two security groups on campus, the campus police and campus security. Campus police are actual cops who work for the university under the auspices of the city. With twenty thousand students jammed into a little under a square mile, it's easy to see why. The campus security have cars, too, but no guns or vests. They're state employees who don't get to shoot back, mainly looking around at locks and wandering buildings late at night, making sure that nothing utterly wrong and evil is going on inside the rather normal & sedate campus. I look around me as I make the trek under the canopy of skeletal trees and white-grey skies along cobbled paths winding down to the entrance of the campus (the police are well inside the gates) to get at the maw of The Man, and I listen to the rhythm of my steps: the softening heel and flattened rubber of the sole falling on the cobbles. The chain holding my empty wallet to my worn belt taking the place of that Zildjian jungle ride I saw at Saul's shop, my keys in the left pocket of my threadbare wool overcoat bouncing against my leg playing the china bell, high, sharp, and tight. Thump-slap. Chingching. Thump-slap chingching, jingle. By the time I reach the glass door, i'm holding a pair of sticks on stage at the Hollywood Bowl and I'm about to lay it down.

But not here.

There's an attractive Brunette behind the counter and she smiles at me for a second. Before I can bother to smile back, she's launched off into her binder, "Can I help you, Sir?"

"Um," I start, "Hi, yeah. I need some help, see," I got this pie plate in m... I'm a fucking moron. "Where's Weimer Hall," I ask even though I know the answer because that's where I used to hide from Harley. He wouldn't go in there because of women's studies courses. I kinda smile like a Frosh all over again. She doesn't look pleased.

"Okay, It's real easy," she rolls her eyes, stands up & produces the Standard Campus Map and a Hi-Liter. "You're here," she says in a bored tone, marking a deep, felted circle in the map's security office. I want to check outside for the yellowing sky, but just as i'm going to twist my head she drones again and the marker squeals across the page. "Just go up the road, here, and make the fourth left," SQUEAK, "go about twenty meters, and you're there, it's on your left hand side at the head of the courtyard," and now it's covered in fluorescent yellow. I wonder what Skids would think of her artistic style? I take the map from her and bolt out the door in the wrong direction with perverse fantasies about security guards and arrests and violations for trespassing in restricted areas as the first drops fell....

So I run to the river
It was bleedin' I run to the sea
It was bleedin' I run to the sea
It was bleedin'
All on that day

The public transit system is both a blessing and a curse. Without it, the city streets would be clogged with automobiles, but the transit customers are fucked to wait for a bus that's stuck in a budgetary quagmire because the car people want more roads to fit their sport-utility monstrosities. The bus is hydroplaning out of the stop when I'm still a good thirty meters distant. I run to catch up, but it's too late, already and there's a good half-hour wait for the next #266 outbound to Highland. Fuckit. Soaked if I walk, soaked if I wait. And I can make it to Sky Terrace before the next bus gets here, might even be able to talk The Russian into driving me home.

Not even a mile from the campus, and Harley dropped out. I used to wonder if he dropped on his own or if The Russian made him do it, but Harley never liked school, much. It was always a social outing for him. Yeah, he's plenty bright but he doesn't work for it and then he wonders why he can't get what he wants, immediately. The Russian is only reinforcing this role by letting him run wild. A feral homosexual, running through the city, terrorizing anyone who can't remember the entire discography of the Sex Pistols. Still, he's my best friend and I love him. I don't understand what he does, but maybe he doesn't understand what I do, either.

I make the walk in about twenty minutes and sneak through the front doors as someone else is ditching out. My spikes have had it for the rain and now they hang in my face in thick gummy tendrils; dreadlocks that haven't locked, yet. That's another thing this place is good for. Styling products. That foofy-haired bastard has more mane-glue than I do. Meanwhile, I wait for the elevator since I don't much feel like trekking up six flights of stairs in wet shoes & rubber shoes squelching over linoleum with a sound that makes my teeth want to crawl out of my gums and hide in my gut. I resist the urge to play on the planters and furniture here in the lobby lest the demoness that runs this place come down and turn me out for a man-whore.

So I run to the river
It was boilin' I run to the sea
It was boilin' I run to the sea
It was boilin'
All on that day

The damned elevators in this place run like molasses. I've got my coat off and I'm going through some of my lab-notes when the door finally slides open and almost shuts again before I can get my ass over to it. The pie tin splashes out onto the short-pile carpet with a noise that's almost indistinguishable from a badly-tuned gong cymbal. I look like a moron in front of the security camera in the lobby (channel 166 on the building's closed-circuit system) with my foot in the elevator, my hair looking like i've been fucked with a cattle prod, and bent over like a bitch. I hope someone got a laugh out of it, anyway. The ride to the sixth floor is brief but steady enough. And there's no Russian to get stuck with.
I can't believe that he could jump to the conclusion that I want Skids from me saying I was concerned about his feelings and we kissed a few times. Skids relies on me and Harley as his friends to be there for him. Dating someone can screw that up as Harley has demonstrated. If I were to get a thing on with some person, Skids would be left in the cold. Well, not really, but still. He's mostly alone, now. The only family he has around is Harls and me & the Torres Family Zoo. Not much for family, there. Still, he manages. He must be sad, all alone, like that, but surrounded by people. I sometimes wonder if he deliberately isolates himself just to keep things constant.
Still, five floors come quickly and I'm facing #667. I knock and The Russian answers the door.

So I run to the lord
Please help me lord
don' you see me prayin'?
don't you see me down here prayin'?

I brush past him--he's wearing a flowered pink bathrobe splotched with earth-tone acrylics, the freak--and move to the kitchen where I can hear Harley making up a song about breakfast and singing it to his.... spiders. I hate those fuckin' things and letting them crawl on the countertops can't be sanitary. Nevermind that it's two in the afternoon and breakfast was over at least 4 hours ago by the rules at McDonald's. I slip into a chair at the kitchen table & drop my bag on the polished white maple floor. Harley is pouring coffee into mugs and he brings one over to me.

"Here you are," he says, pausing as he sees that I'm not Mikhail, "Cyanide?" I take the cup from his hand and sip it lightly. I can feel the caffeine hit my nerves hard and before the cup hits the table I'm twitchy.

"Thanks, Harls," is polite to say, "you shouldn't have!" Mikhail comes into the kitchen, the flowered & spattered monstrosity ditched in favor of khaki trousers and a tightly-knit cashmere sweater though the well-pressed look is diminished by the brooding sleep-muddled eyes. Harley rushes over to the cupboard to fetch another mug for coffee and brings the black steaming stimulant soup over to the table and sits between Rasputin and I. To keep us from glaring one another to death, I guess.

"To what," The Russian asks, "do we owe this pleasure, Cyanide?"

"Oh," I muse, "I was in the neighborhood." I lean back in my chair, draping one arm over the back, relaxing in my friends' kitchen. The heat in here is oppressive compared to the winter downpour outside. I can feel the plasticene masque of styling products begin to harden on my face.

"Nevermind that it's pouring down rain," Mikhail's eyes are wide awake the moment his lips touch the cup. Harley looks between the two of us uneasily as we joust with words across the kitschy kitchen table. I shrug and relax a bit more into the chair.

"Pragmatic to a fault," I confess with another sip of my coffee. If I drank coffee regularly I might come over more often just for this stuff--it's really good.

"Don't you have a class, Cy," Harley comes out of his peacekeeper haze and decides to make it into a three-way tourney.

"Nah," I say as I fish around in my bag for my brush. When you have a house full of younger sisters, you learn to hide your hair-care products. Particularly hardware. Of course it's at the bottom of my knapsack, now, so out comes my lab notebook, "I finished the lab," the ziploc bag streaked with peanut oil and raspberry seeds, "ate my sandwich," the pie plate, "then took care of some," my brush, "stuff at administration."
I start working the tangles out, and there's a metallic sliding sound of someone backing up in the chair, but it sounds too hollow to be a chair.

"Was Skids drawing on your lunch, Cy," Harley chimes in as I'm brushing.

"No, man, I just had a," brush. Pie Plate. "fuck."

"With Whom," the Russian slurped at me from behind his oversized mug.

"What," I ask, looking up not-guiltily, brush in hand, looking at Harley's wide eyes and the tin pie tin in front of him. With Cy Pie as the filling. This will hit like lead balloons. Or Zinc. I'm Zunk. "Oh, yeah. I," thought quickly, Torres, "found that with some," stunned "stuff in my lab-drawer, I think my partner's got a slicky for me." Harley dropped the plate on the table and it spun-spun-wobbled to a stop, face down. I made to pick it up with the rest of the garbage from my satchel but the Russian beat me to it.

But the Lord said
Go to the Devil
The Lord said
Go to the Devil
He said go to the Devil
All on that day

He's holding the pie-tin in his thick, hairy hand, scrutinizing it for what I have no idea. He tosses it on the table, laughing.

"What," I ask, defensively. He shrugs in reply.

"Nothing," he says as the corners of his scruffy mouth turn up. He and I could tie for overnight beard growth. He takes another moment to raise his eyebrows at the picture, the Latino, and the portrait again before tossing it down to wobble on the tabletop, drifting there and crashing into the salt cellar in a dull, flat, terminated roll & ride on glass. He huffs another chuckle as I scoop it into my backpack along with my beaten lab notebook, a few texts on the bad-ass battered side of the used scale, my peanut-buttery Ziploc, and my brush, now vaguely sticky with my excess of styling products. "Looks like you made friends, though," he finishes his coffee and stands up with another grunting laugh.

"What's that supposed to mean," Harley and I ask at the same time.

"Jinx," Harley chimes in, in the age-old sing-song of our grade-school days. "Owe me a Coke and something twisted!" The Russian, in the next room makes the dishes in the drain shake with his laughter. My nerves are made of glass and that laughter shatters them.

I walk to the sink and turn on the water, Harley leaves the kitchen without a word, but I hear the sweep of the swinging door and I know he's gone. The water runs hot after a moment, and I use that and some of the antibacterial hand-soap that moisturizes as well. Never mind that any soap is anti-bacterial enough and you're only breeding germs resistant to whatever it is they're putting in the soap. Never mind that evolution and speciation can take place inside of a hundred generations of the short-lived bacteria instead of the hundreds of thousands of years it takes for us and our exceptional lifespans. I wash the armored styling-gel off my face, roughly, snagging my labret on a ring or three. the tug is disturbing but doesn't hurt. and it's better than having a face covered in shiny polymer armor.

By the time my face was dry and my hair was rinsed and I'd soaked four dishtowels drying my mop, Harley and Mikhail were off in another room doing something I don't even want to think about. I let myself out.rin

So I ran to the devil
He was waiting
I ran to the devil he was waiting
I ran to the devil he was waiting
All on that day

I shut the door behind me, checking the knob to make sure it's locked by giving it a little twist. A sharp scratch behind me turns me around like a record.

"Make up your mind," she says to me. Evil Incarnate. Tabitha. I don't know if she has a name, though Harley refers to her exclusively as *That Cunt*. "In or out, Torres." How does she fuckin' do that?

"Out," I say and turn to go to the end of the hall where the elevators & safety awaits in the elevator. She's following me, I can hear her keys and cat's eyes and earrings and eyelashes all cacophanous behind me, spattering about like a broken box of thumbtacks spilling out on hardwood.

"You know where you're going," she asks emptily. I feel cautious. She scares the bejesus out of me.

"Out," I say, figuring if I don't talk, I can't be incriminated. We step into the elevator and the doors hiss shut. Three floors pass before there's any noise.

"I know where you're going," she titters.

"You do not," I shout, too loud for the elevator, turning to face her. The door slides open at the ground floor. I turn and march to the cascade of moisture eagerly anticipating my return to its frigid affections.

"He's waiting," she says, tapping my backpack. "You'd better hurry." I turn to shout at her, but she's gone. Just gone.

Oh Yeah.

I don't run. I'm not healthy. I'm not fit, I'm not in good shape. I don't look nearly as good as I do in that drawing. Public transit, missing public transit, and never having quite enough money to eat makes for Svelte Latino Sex Machines. Nonetheless by the time I'm a block away from Sky Terrace, I'm at-speed. I've tightened my backpack so the notebooks don't shake my frame apart as I gallop through the streets. I don't know where I'm running, but my feet have a destination thump-SPLAT on the wet pavement.

Oh, I run to the river,
it was boilin' I run to the sea,
it was boilin' I run to the sea,
it was boilin'
all on that day

Thirty blocks. I'm chilled to the bone. My feet squish in my socks. My notebooks are probably now shreds of swollen pulp hardening to papier mache in my backpack. The door is familiar, a welcome sight. My legs wobble as I mount the steps, a slap-swish in the convex surface of worn concrete. I feel like I've inhaled lye. My lungs are on fire. Sodium is igniting in the depths of my alveoli and I'm choking on phlegm that's made of my blood and maple syrup. I slip on the worn leather soles and I feel something pop in my ankle. The left one.

So I ran to the lord
I said
Lord hide me
Please hide me
Please help me
All on that day

The door opens easily enough, better than the first & last time I gave it a turn. Warm air fools my body into relaxing and I fold in two as my stomach rejects the coffee and dollar-loaf wheat bread on the gripfast tape covering the stooped landing making something that looks like one of Skids' finger paintings in earth tones with a shift of pink for sunset. I can feel the salt of tears running over the shallow cuts from the razor over my face earlier in the day. Iron lungs and hydrochloric acid taint every breath as I heave myself up the stairs. I need to cut down on the excess lunch, I think, because I weigh a ton and there's seven more stairs than strictly necessary. I reach the apartment and knock and knock and knock and there's nobody coming. Why am I here? Just let me sit for a moment, please.

Said God
where were you?
When you are old and prayin'

It's soft, here. I feel like I've been in a centrifuge and placed inside that floor-tom at Saul's, but there's an underside mute to it, and hopefully nobody's going to trade me in on a kick. I feel my head, and my hair is dry, but I didn't tie it up before I went to bed. It's going to be a mess when I get to the bathroom, but my sisters are already there and I can hear them clinking and clanking in the kitchen. I can hear myself groan out of my left ear as my right is glued to my shoulder. I dare not open my eyes for fear of the alarm clock and the hour. I didn't hear it and I know it's late if it's this loud in the house, already, and I'm going to have to rush for my bus to make it to class, although at least there's no lab, today, and there's weight next to me, suddenly and the clanking has stopped.

Lord Lord
hear me prayin'

My left hand covers my eyes as I hear the click of a lightswitch turned three stops and the throbbing in my head gets worse. Warm, soft fingers open my right hand and wrap my own around a hot glass with a handle. Something apple-scented brushes against my face and I smell the faint traces of smoke and Farenheit on a rough cotton against my face and the dull thunk of glass on wood.

"Sit up, Precious," he tells me. I can't move. He takes the cup from my hand and stands up. I recognize the voice. How did I end up here? He pulls my left hand away from my eyes and eases me up. His fingers are warm from the mug but the palms are like ice. I tense, ramrod straight into the back of the couch. This couch probably runs more than my whole drum set, even with the Goldman Memorial Cymbals. He sits next to me but not too close. He picks up a blue glass coffee cup with the name of a bank etched on the side to advertise to those who drink coffee and bring their own mugs. This he hands to me, and my eyes water from chamomile and wintergreen.

"Drink," he commands, all the tenderness in his earlier ministrations gone in a voice that could facet gems. The cup is halfway to my lips before I even stop to think about where I am.

"What is it," I ask because I don't trust this red-haired demon nine inches away from me.

"Chamomile and wintergreen with valerian, bicarb, and sugar," he recites as if reading the ingredients off a box. There's nothing natural about him, at all. I take a sip and it's nectar. It scalds my shredded esophagus in three swallows.

Lord, Lord hear me prayin'

"It's not going anywhere," he laughs and smiles as I cough and splutter, choking on the bittersweet warmth spreading through me. He refills my cup from a cerulean teapot on the floor between our feet. It's got the same sugary, salty mix to it. We sit, together in uncomfortable silence and the only thing I can think about is drumming to the beat of this hammer in my skull. The cup shakes in my hand as my body is racked with shivers. I drink more and I feel its heat wash through me in a wave from my shoulders to my knees and back up through my thighs to rest at the base of my spine. The cup is empty and he takes it from me. He disappears with it and the teapot somewhere and there's the sounds of running water and a lightswitch and he's back in the room with a glass of water which he hands to me and then he sits not next to me but in a battered ocean-blue recliner. In the aenemic & jaundiced light of the room his eyes are a lambent copper chloride, almost too vibrant along with that jagged smile and his too-sharp teeth. Everything about him is like a real person turned up to eleven.

Lord, Lord
Hear me prayin'

"Are you potassium or sodium," he asks me out of the corner of his mouth, closing his eyes against the butane flare of a disposable lighter and the smoke of a cigarette. I try to cough but mostly I choke on it and just swallow hard instead--the smoke doesn't really bother me.

"Huh," I ask in retort. He leans forward and I shrink back against the sofa.

"Are you potassium or sodium," he asks again. I understand, now, he's being Clever.

"Potassium," I say, knowledgable and proud.

"And what were you doing on my front step, Kay See En," he pronounces words so carefully, the way I work to vanish the Hispanol from my voice, only his is slick and refined and crystal clear where mine's just a barrel of crude.

"I," started out okay, but "I don't," know what I'm doing here. He stands and drops the cigarette into an ashtray and "I," I start, again as he takes the three steps that stretch out into seven tenths of forever in the texas two-step straight to straddle me on the couch. He takes the glass from me and holds it in his right hand, his wrists resting on the back of the sofa on either side of my neck.

"Tell me, Cyanide," he purrs as he sinks onto my lap and I stiffen under him as he sinks onto me, purring into my ear with Envy and smoke and chamomile and wintergreen and honey and sweat washing off him in time to his heart, beating far too slowly to be human. Wait. The sweat is mine, I can feel it dripping down my sides because it's so warm in here and I feel a little damp still. "Do I kiss you," he hopes on me and I move my arms to his hips to push him off of me. This has to stop. His hands and short, sharp nails scratch my scalp and I feel like a cat stretching to meet his fingers which lock on my locks and tear my head back and a short "AI!" comes from deep inside.

"Or do I punch you," he says with his face directly above mine, his mouth practlcally covering my face, his eyes glowing expectantly green like the alarm clock just before it rings to wake you up.

Sinnerman, you oughtta be prayin'

"I'd be likelier to sodomize," he's sinking down, "myself," he moves slowly, but with a long-limbed grace that's indefinable. His movements follow an organic rhythm, "with." No sentence should take this long to get out. No natural creature should move like this. His knees are on either side of my own, and twin wisps of iron oxide hair fall from his temples and brush the sides of my face. His strawberry lips, still actinic-smelling from the inhaler I saw sitting on the table with a broken-spine paperback copy of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, are lowering to mine, and I can't move, until I finish this sentence.

oughtta be prayin Sinnerman,

"Harley's," and as my lips close on the sibilant posessive his lips are on mine. His fingers trace intimate, knowing curves through my hair, over my scalp as his body sinks onto mine, our faces meeting like they were two weeks ago, but this time I have no choice and our eyebrows aren't singed, and I'm pushing against him but my arms are weak. And I fight him to get up and I'm still weak, and his tongue is powdery and bitter and tastes vaguely of clove and cinnamon and marlboro, and his lips are velvet petals against my own chapped sausages haphazardly sewn to my face, and I can't breathe. I can't... why didn't anyone tell me he could kiss like this. I'm lost in a swirl of sinking into the couch as his lips come away from mine, stealing the last of my breath as I manage to grind the word "Stratocaster," from my larynx, still arcing myself toward him. And there he is with that smile.

oughtta be prayin' All on that day
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