“Can I have another Xanax?” Reva asked.
“I can’t spare another, Reva. Sorry.”
She was quiet for a while. The air got tense.
“The only thing I can think to do to make Ken pay for the way he’s jerked me around is to keep it. But I won’t. Anyway, thanks for listening.” She leaned over me on the sofa, kissed my cheek, said, “I love you,” and left.
So I gathered that Reva was pregnant. I lay on the sofa contemplating that for a while. There was a tiny, living creature in her womb. The product of an accident. A side effect of delusion and sloppiness. I felt sorry for it, all alone, floating in the fluid of Reva’s womb, which I imagined to be full of diet soda, constantly jostled around in her hysterical aerobic workouts and pinched and prodded as she tensed her torso furiously in her Pilates classes. Maybe she should keep the baby, I thought. Maybe a baby would wake her up.
I got up and took a Solfoton and a Xanax. Now more than ever, a movie would have helped me relax. I turned the TV on—ABC7 news—and off. I didn’t want to hear about a shooting in the Bronx, a gas explosion on the Lower East Side, police cracking down on high school kids jumping the turnstiles in the subway, ice sculptures defaced at Columbus Circle. I got up and took another Nembutal.
I called Trevor again.
“It’s me,” is all he let me say before he started talking. It was the same speech he’d given me a dozen times: he’s involved now and can’t see me anymore.
“Not even as just friends,” he said. “Claudia doesn’t believe in platonic relationships between the sexes, and I’m starting to see that she’s right. And she’s going through a divorce, so it’s a sensitive time. And I really like this woman. She’s incredible. Her son is autistic.”
“I was just calling to ask if I could borrow some money,” I told him. “My VCR just broke. And I’m horny.”
I knew I sounded crazy. I could picture Trevor leaning back in his chair, loosening his tie, cock twitching in his lap despite his better judgment. I heard him sigh. “You need money? That’s why you’re calling?”
“I’m sick and can’t leave my apartment. Can you buy me a new VCR and bring it over? I really need it. I’m on all this medication. I can barely make it to the corner. I can hardly get out of bed.” I knew Trevor. He couldn’t resist me when I was weak. That was the fascinating irony about him. Most men were turned off by neediness, but in Trevor, lust and pity went hand in hand.
“Look, I can’t deal with you now. I’ve got to go,” he said and hung up.
That was fair. He could keep his flabby old vagina lady and her retarded kid. I knew how this new affair would play out for him. He’d win her over with a few months of honorable declarations—“I want to be there for you. Please, lean on me. I love you!”—but when something actually difficult happened—her ex-husband sued her for custody, for example— Trevor would start to have doubts. “You’re asking me to sacrifice my own needs for yours—don’t you see how selfish that is?” They’d argue. He’d bolt. He might even call me to apologize for “being cold on the phone the last time we talked. I was under a lot of pressure at the time. I hope we can move past it. Your friendship means a lot to me. I’d hate to lose you.” If he didn’t come over now, I thought, it was just a matter of days. I got up and took a few trazodones and lay back down.
I called Trevor again. This time when he answered, I didn’t let him say a word.
“If you’re not over here fucking me in the next forty-five minutes then you can call an ambulance because I’ll be here bleeding to death and I’m not gonna slit my wrists in the tub like a normal person. If you’re not here in forty-five minutes, I’m gonna slit my throat right here on the sofa. And in the meantime, I’m going to call my lawyer and tell him I’m leaving everything in the apartment to you, especially the sofa. So you can lean on Claudia or whoever when it comes time to deal with all that. She might know a good upholsterer.”
I hung up. I felt better. I called down to the doorman. “My friend Trevor is on his way. Let him up when he gets here.” I unlocked the door to my apartment, turned off my phone and sealed it in Tupperware with packing tape and slid it into the depths of the highest shelf in the cabinet over the sink. I took a few more Ambien, ate the pear, watched a commercial for ExxonMobil and tried not to think of Trevor.
While I waited, I ticked open a slat in the blinds and saw that it was the dead of night, black and cold and icy, and I thought of all the cruel people out there sleeping soundly, like newborn babes in blankets held to the bosoms of their loving mothers, and thought of my mother’s bony clavicles, the white lace of her bras and white lace of her silk camisoles and slip dresses that she wore under everything, and the white of her terry-cloth robe hanging on the back of her bathroom door, thick and luxurious like the ones at nice hotels, and the gray satin dressing gown whose belt slipped out of its loops because it was slippery silk satin, and it rippled like the water in a river in a Japanese painting, my mother’s taut, pale legs flashing like the white bellies of sun-flashed koi, their fanlike tails stirring the silt and clouding the pond water like a puff of smoke in a magic show, and my mother’s powdered foundation, how when she dipped her fat, rounded brush in it, then lifted it to her wan, sallow face shiny with moisturizer, it also made a puff of smoke, and I remembered watching her “put her face on,” as she called it, and wondering if one day I’d be like her, a beautiful fish in a man-made pool, circling and circling, surviving the tedium only because my memory can contain only what is imprinted on the last few minutes of my life, constantly forgetting my thoughts.
For a moment, a life like that didn’t sound bad at all, so I got up off the sofa and took an Infermiterol, brushed my teeth, went into my room, took off all my clothes, got into bed, pulled the duvet up over my head, and woke up sometime later—a few days, I guessed—gagging and coughing, Trevor’s testicles swinging in my face. “Jesus Christ,” he was mumbling. I was still adrift, dizzy. I closed my eyes and kept them closed, heard the crackling of his hand jerking his spit-covered penis, then felt him ejaculate on my breasts. A drop slid down a ridge between my ribs. I turned away, felt him sit on the edge of the bed, listened to his breathing.
“I should go,” he said after a minute. “I’ve been here too long again. Claudia will start to worry.”
I tried to lift my hand to give him the finger, but I couldn’t. I tried to speak but I groaned instead.
“VCRs are going to be obsolete in a year or two, you know,” he said. Then I heard him in the bathroom, the clink of the seat hitting the tank, a spattering of piss, a flush, then a long rush of water at the sink. He was probably washing off his dick. He came back in and got dressed, then lay down behind me on the bed, spooned me for about twenty seconds. His hands were cold on my breasts, his breath hot on my neck. “This was the last time,” he said, as though he’d been put out, as though he’d done me some huge favor. Then he lurched up off the bed, making my body bounce like a buoy on an empty sea. I heard the door slam.