Saturday, March 22, 2014

bien sûr, por supuesto, obviously

"Listen, if we're friends, please, please just come over. I'll text you my address. Text me, yeah. I'm serious."

Hector stared at his hands, the snakeskin of his dry knuckles. the dried blood from the cracked joints. The hair he didn't remember getting so thick. "Thank-you." He said.

He texted his friend, Bertha (everyone called her Bea) his address, including his full name on the first line. Sure, they chatted. Sure, Bea gave him her number and offered to cook him dinner, or buy him a ("Just one, I'm pretty broke." She sighed.) a drink. Sure. But this was the first time either of them had called the other, and it was late.

"What a first time to call someone." Hector said to himself. The mass of butterflies flittering around in his stomach were hiding the pit, covering the dank opening, though it growled, hungrily.

Hector stood in his small kitchen, looking anywhere but at Bea as she bent down and unstrapped her summer sandals. Under her red hooded sweater --a zip up, that wasn't-- Bea wore:
  • a black t-shirt skirt with a rough cut V decolletage that she made herself. The seams stemmed from knots of thread by her kidneys
  • An pair of lacy black boy-shorts panties
  • A black, full cup bra with spaghetti straps
Hector wasn't blushing, but only because Hector didn't blush. Hector didn't smile much, either. Polite acquaintances called him: The Supreme Poker Face. Bullies in high school his freshman year called him Frankenstein. After a brawl in his junior year, Hector didn't have trouble for a solid three years, but now.

Bea stood up. Her t-shirt skirt had the impossible to read logo of a Swedish Black Metal band on it. She smiled at him. She smelled like baby powder. She wasn't wearing make up.

"Drink?" Hector asked.

"I'm hungry, actually. What do you have to eat?" Bea replied. She looked around Hector's apartment. She asked, "Got enough couches?"

"There's three more in the other room, if you're concerned." Hector said. He opened his fridge.

"Where do you sleep?" Bea asked.

"On a couch."

"Just any couch?"

"I've got a lot of couches."

"But not a favorite?" 

Hector did some math,  counted on his fingers, then mentally chopped some vegetables. "I could make us some vegetable and egg stir fry, and rice." he said. he added, "If you don't mind sharing food."

"I would share a drink with you too, if you offered." Bea said. She smiled at him, hands in her hooded sweater's pockets. She rocked on her heels, a sly grin curled a corner of Bea's mouth.

"Let me show you my favorite couch." Hector said.

(earlier that day. . .)
Hector Tanner stood tall and thick. From the ground up he wore:

  • Thick black gunner's boots, with reinforced toes.
  • Thick grey socks, with anti-smell heels and toes.
  • Black, boot cut, work jeans with knees his mother turned inside out and reinforced.
  • A black t-shirt
  • A dark grey, short sleeve, work shirt with a name tag sewn on. The name tag said, "William."
Hector Tanner held the splintered remains of a baseball bat. He stood tall and thick and hairy over the abject, broken, bodies of three college students. At least, they looked like college students. One of them moaned. Hector dropped the useless half-a-baseball bat and stooped. He gathered his library books and tablet computer and his backpack and carefully put everything back where it belonged. Hector sighed. The one with his wallet had run off while he dealt with the one who had the gun. 

The gun.

Hector looked around in the darkness. He found the gun and emptied the remaining four bullets from their chambers. He put the bullets two each in the breast pockets of his shirt. Hector put the gun in his backpack.

Hector Tanner slowly, quietly, finished the dark, over grown path between the gas station where he worked and his apartment building.

There were three people sitting on the stairs of Hector's apartment building. Three white boys, all younger than him, but not by much. One of them had a black eye and a split lip and a gashed open cheek, he stood up and pointed at Hector. "That's him." He said.

Hector stopped under the orange street light on the edge between the husk of one apartment building and the parking lot. Hector's hands gripped the straps of his back pack. "Hello again." Hector said.

The other two men stood up. One of them seemed almost as tall and stocky as Hector. This big one cracked his knuckles and a smile. "That so?" The big one said. "Well, Jon." He patted the pointing guy on the shoulder. "At least this one looks the part."

The three young men were all wearing identical, mottled grey hooded sweaters --zip ups that weren't-- and blue jeans that looked new under the parking lot light.

"Pardon?" Hector said. "May I pass?"

"May I pass?" Jon asked.

"Hector J Tanner, I a regret to inform you that you are to be evicted. Due to violations in the sub clause of your lease, you have forty-eight hours to vacate your apartment. On Monday at eight o'clock, the cleaning crew will arrive at your apartment. Anything still in the apartment at that time will be removed. Do you have any questions?" The biggest guy, hand still on Jon's shoulder, looked at Hector. He said, "I'm sorry Hector. You crossed the wrong guy."

"Really?" Hector asked.

"Really. Forty eight hours. I'm sorry."

"Well then." Hector said, "Excuse me." He strolled through the trio of men on his apartment building stoop. Through the two doors --his keys still worked. Up the backless stairs, through the mustard and dirt smelling cold spot on the stairs.

The key to his apartment also worked. "Huh." Hector said.

In the aloe scented darkness of his apartment, Hector sighed. He did some math, counted on his fingers, then mentally unpacked and started filling the dozen plastic totes in the bedroom closet. He stood there for a few moments, visualizing. He said, "I should probably actually do that."


(earlier that year. . . )
Hector tilted his head. "Thank-you." he said.

"Sure. Hi." 

* * *

The gas station doesn't have a regularly mopped floor. The gas station is also a mechanic's shop. The mechanics are young, dirty, honest. They laugh and most of them smoke. This is where Hector works. Hector does not smoke, he does oil changes, brake pad changes. Tire rotations. Tire changes. On his lunch breaks, Hector reads a book, or listens to an audio book.

Hector eats five apples a day. He is loosing weight, according to his plan.

Hector is twenty-five years old, and is not in college. He does not need college. He likes learning --is an autodidact. Eventually he will be the owner of