It is raining, not real hard, just hard enough to make it cold and humid. The kind of rain that makes you sit home and make coffee, catch up on reading and resting. Probably some left over cave man reflex, makes you wait out the rain, until better hunting and gathering weather.
I am expecting Karl. Have not seen him in a month or so, maybe more. Karl is never on time, and sometimes disappears for months on end. Karl is allowed to do this. Karl is an artist.
He called earlier tonight and asked if he could drop by. He must have some news or insight to share with me. Or maybe he is just lonely. You never really know what to expect. I guess that is what makes him an interesting friend.
He arrives, and I point him to the coffee in the kitchen, while I throw his sopping coat over the shower rail.
I grab him a towel for his wet hair, and sit down to talk.
“Where have you been? What’s new?”, I ask eager for his news. I push him a little off guard in case he has a prepared speech, that would end up with him asking for money. I’d loaned Karl in the past, and been paid back eventually. I just wanted a little entertainment value for my dollar, if that was what he was after.
“Sold some paintings, that part of my life is doing well, but then my inspiration got tired of me, and left while I was working.”
“Oh was she a dancer?”, Karl had a thing for dancers.
“Worse, she wanted to be a dancer.”
“So what did you do?”
“So I went running to my boo boo kitty and sat tight for a while..”, Karl pauses to light one of my cigarettes for himself. The cloud of smoke lingers around his head. His hair and beard are wild, for a moment he looks the primitive man staring into a cooking fire. Gathering his thoughts.
“What is a boo boo kitty?”
“A boo boo kitty is someone you go to when you stub your life. Like let’s say you are in a relationship, and things don’t go right. You go running to your boo boo kitty, stay with her for a while. Tell her all the things you have told her a thousand times before. All the little lies, all her favourite fables. Then you stay with her a while, maybe fix some stuff around the house, help her out a bit. You know like always. Then when you’ve got your self esteem back, and you remember why you left before, then it’s time to leave.”
“You don’t feel guilty about this?”
“No. Boo boo kitty’s are used to it. They know you are not going to stay the day you arrive, but they are willing to live the fantasy for a while.”
“Kind of a game.”
“Yeah, like Spot the Asshole.”
There was a long silence. Karl seemed to be pondering what he just said. He ran his fingers along my kitchen table tracing the grain in the wood.
“I think I would like to do a new study. Like creating out of the mundane. Like this kitchen table.”
“You would probably use her up, and then just leave her for some fancy scotch pine number.”
My joke just hung there in the air like the smoke. Karl was staring intently into the wood surface.
The phone woke me up. It was still dark. Disoriented I picked it up and mumbled a hello.
“Sorry, I know you were probably asleep.”, Allison had a way of reaching through the phone, like you could feel her arm on your shoulder when she said sorry. “I was in Europe with my family, can’t get back on a regular time schedule.’
She wanted to get together. It was two thirty in the morning. It was Alison. I told her I would take a shower while she was on her way over.
When she walked in she was sleek and tan. She hugged me tight and perfume ran down my nose and up my spine. Perfume was a very good sign.
We sat on the couch, and looked at pictures on her phone. Sunsets and oceans, cheerful little sailboats on bright blue water. I put my arm around her, and she yelped.
“I slipped on the seaweed in Greece, scraped up my back a little.” I pulled away, and she pulled my arm higher, over her shoulder and snuggled closer. We talked, about work, about family, got caught up and shared some wine.
I couldn’t help but notice her tan line, sometimes when she laughed you would see whiteness in her cleavage. She caught me looking, and turned, kissing me tenderly and then more passionately.
Making love to Alison was always a little intense. We would go long periods without seeing each other and then when she called we both knew how the evening would end up. From the moment she walked in the door there was a quiet anticipation. Yet at the same time it was comfortable.
We lay quietly in my bed, and soon fell asleep. I pulled the sheets back to visit the bathroom. Alison had a few scrapes on her back. On her leg she had a strange bruise, three lines. I pulled the sheets back a little more, and there was a fourth line. Four fingers? Did someone grab her? If it was a hand print, the hand was much bigger than mine.
Alison pulled the sheets back over herself but did not open her eyes.
I woke up in the morning, and I could hear her cooking. Making breakfast for the two of us.
“And bacon, give me a few minutes and we can have toast with it.”
Something silver caught my eye in the sink.
“What is that?”
“A new dish rack. Those plastic ones gather germs after a while, this one is metal.”
“It looks like it should have a Harley Davidson logo on it — it is chrome. Did you pick that up for me on your trip?”
“Italy. All the best kitchen stuff comes from Italy.”
Allison had a way of bringing me little treasures when she came, she always added a little woman’s touch to my apartment.
We ate, the food was good. Alison could cook, Alison seemed to be good at making me happy.
The next weekend Alison wanted to watch a movie. Some romantic comedy I had never heard of.
I told her my old DVD player had eaten my last DVD and spat out a plastic scratched up husk of a movie. You could hear her noise wrinkle on the other end of the phone.
“Then we need to go shopping, and then watch the movie.”
The electronics store was crowded. We walked hand in hand down the aisles. Uniformed clerks were helping customers carry out televisions that looked bigger than my apartment window.
They looked like some strange army in blue shirts and brown pants maneuvering boxes their sides boldly declaring 4K and other features.
“What about a blue-ray player?”
“Not all of us are jet setters that just fly off to Europe on a whim. I have a budget in mind.”
It was hard to find something that was just a DVD player, without surround sound, and a seemingly endless array of features.
Finally I found something in a tiny box. Looking like it really didn’t have the right to claim it was big enough to play a DVD.
“It will do, until I finally marry some rich jet setter to support me.”
I hadn’t expected to blurt that out, but she didn’t really react, just gave me that tired dreamy smile.