If That’s Your Boyfriend…

“Justin didn’t come over last night. We made plans to get together earlier, but he didn’t show. No call, nothing. That’s just not like him. Well, it’s not like the way he used to be. I suppose I don’t know what he’s like now.” Miranda took a long drag on her cigarette, sucking in her cheeks. She paused a moment, then exhaled, staring off into the distance. She casually flicked half an inch of ash into the air with her French manicured hand. The black and white flecks scattered through the air like shrapnel. She stared at the window, rain coursing down in spidery rivers on the glass. It was dark. “Have you talked to him since you’ve been back?”

Stephen sat up and reseated himself on the couch. He leaned back, trying to escape the cloud of smoke slowly rising to the ceiling. It curled around the basement like a sea serpent, fusing its form with the cloud already gathered from the half pack Miranda had smoked in the last ten minutes. A naked light bulb hung crookedly in the center of the ceiling, shining a sickly yellow light through the fog. Stephen coughed. “Do you know what Alan is doing?” he asked, his eyes fixed to the door.

Miranda sighed. “His Nazi mother asked him to carry some shit out of her car or something lame like that. You know how she is. Crazy bitch.” She looks at Stephen’s face. It is pale. “Oh, man, I forget how sensitive you are.” She stubs the cigarette out and adds it to a collection of crumpled white cylinders in a in an overflowing ashtray. Tossing her hair back, she says, “It has been six months, Stephen. A lot’s changed.”

“Yeah. I get that. But some things stay the same. My allergies fall under the latter.”

“But I don’t get it. How did you deal with it when you were dating Alan? I know he rolls his own, but it’s still tobacco, right?”

“I hated it. At first, I wouldn’t kiss him if he smoked. Then I got sick of not being able to kiss him when I felt like it. It got old fast.” Stephen stared at the walls of the basement. He reread the familiar graffiti. “I don’t remember you smoking so much.”

“Don’t start, healthy boy. You must love California. No smoking in bars or anywhere, right?”

“Well, it beats living in tobacco land, USA.”

“Well, my daddy’s money comes from tobacco. I can’t knock it.” She laughs, fumbling in her Louis Vuitton bag for her compact.

“Yeah, I guess it helps pay for all that M.A.C. makeup you love so much, huh?”

“Don’t start Mr. Chanel.”

“I used to work for them, remember. I–”

“Stole it.” Miranda examines her painted face in her compact. “Employee’s privilege. Trust me, I know how that works.” She shuts her compact, places it back in the handbag. “I really miss the days when the four of us went out on double dates together. Justin and me. You and Alan. Skinny dipping in pools of rich people.”

Stephen smiles, crosses his legs. “Yeah, I don’t know how Alan talked us into that shit.”

“Alan’s certifiable. That’s why I trust him. You know, Justin and I broke up a week after you left. We hadn’t talked ’til this week. Then he does this shit after I call him. I just wanted to talk.” Miranda sighs, picks up a glass of water. “You seeing anyone in California?”

Stephen shifts again on the couch, slouches. “Just this one guy, but he was bi and liked this chick better. I didn’t feel like competing.”

Miranda gulps down three swallows of water. “Justin’s bi.”

“Yeah, I know.” Stephen looks away from Miranda to the door.

Miranda puts the glass down. The crumpled butts bounce like jumping beans. “What do you mean?” she asks, “Do you know or do you know know?”

The door of the basement opens and Alan walks in, finger combing his dreds. “Sorry, guys,” he says, “My mom’s fucking crazy. Let’s smoke a blunt.”

~STORM