[Writing prompt courtesy of textsfromlastnight.com; time = 15 minutes]
The number of times I’ve puked in the Walgreens bathroom is becoming way too much for my pride. Whatever’s left of it anyways. That girl ripped my balls off with volition, sprinkled with determination. My fault, really. The drinking is, well, a problem. The intersection of bars, liqour stores, this Walgreen’s and her house is too convenient. But you know what? Fuck her. We met on a bar crawl for fuck’s sake. She thought it was cute when I slurred my gangta words at her. She was cute too. Ahh, Kendra. With her blonde hair all long and pretty to one side, matted and sweaty to the other. She had to lean against the wall just to maintain eye contact.
Fine. I’m the irresponsible one. Maybe I shouldn’t have lit that cat on fire. Maybe I shouldn’t have cussed out the bouncer as he was throwing me out of the bar. But she’s no angel! Oh no, what about that one time, she took her shoes off, ran across the street and hit that random girl in the head with the heel of her pump, just because she didn’t say ‘Excuse me’ when she passed her from the washroom? There was blood involved, Kendra! But oh no, I’m the asshole. Oh oh, another round into the Porcelain King.
28 days. We’ve known each other for 28 days. Wasn’t that a zombie apocalypse movie? Yeah, same shit. She ripped my heart out and made me watch her eat it. I need help, she says. I have a problem, she says. You know what? You didn’t have a problem with me buying you drinks, buying all your whore girlfriends drinks, buying all their fuck buddies’ drinks! I went the extra mile to fit in. What does she do? NOTHING. I have to hang out with her friends, go to the bar she likes. I bought two silk shirts for her. For. HER. I even know what she likes to drink and how she likes it made. I know her drink.
I know she’s just like me. She’s probably in the women’s room right now barfing up a lung. Lemme check. Whoa! Sorry Miss. Have you seen a tall, hot, blonde chick? No? Hey, YOU fuck off. Meanie.
You know what? I’m gonna tell her about herself, right now. Her apartment is right over there. Hold on, think we’ve got one more contribution coming up. Wait. Nope. Alright, all clear. No, YOU watch where you’re going, you cocksucker! Fuck your mother! Kiss MY ass! You know what, I don’t have time for this, I’ma go. No, YOU’RE the pussy.
“Do you know that guy?”
“No! He’s some drunk talking shit. Oh fuck, his head’s bleeding. Whoa! That dude just took off! Hey man, you alright? You alright?”
“Bro. He ain’t movin’. He’s dead.”
The screen flashes my age: 26. Then a figure in a triangle shape, signifying female. After that it displays my height, five feet eight inches. The screen clears to zero, which is the digital scale’s signal for me to place the pads of my feet on top of the sensors. The screen momentarily goes blank, then returns 126.6 pounds. I look up at the fitness calendar from two weeks ago. I weighed 128.8.
Yep. I have AIDS.
I pick the darkest colored scarf from my hair accessories bucket and drape it over my head, symbolically representing the end of my full head of black hair, tying it tightly, to experience the last full rush of blood to my brain. For not only do I have AIDS, but I am dying of it, today.
Somebody should know about this. In my pajama shirt, baggy blue sweatpants, and canvas slip-ons I exit my building and walk over to the local drunkateria, Suds N Buds. Allyson, my MFA cohort studying claymation, is starting a load on the far left row of washers, the good washers. I tell her first.
“I have AIDS.”
Allyson pushes her wide blue eyeglass frames up on her face using her middle finger.
“Did you hear me? I have AIDS.”
“You don’t have AIDS.” She looks into my reddened eyes, scrutinizes my sallow skin, and flicks a bit of dried scale from my chapped lips. “You don’t have AIDS.”
“Buy me a beer.”
“You can’t just have AIDS, dude. There’s particular symptoms. You have to see a doctor. You can’t just self-diagnose.” The lid to the washer slaps down. Allyson scoops the rest of her quarters off the machine and shoves them in her front pocket. I counted them. She has enough to buy me a beer and run one dryer cycle.
Sensing I may become too frail to be useful, I carry the empty basket for her one last time to the booth alongside the serving area. Allyson buys two beers and brings them over. I stare into my mug.
“I might need a straw to drink this.”
Allyson slams her head against the back of her seat, rattling the booth behind her. She’s a massive girl.
“Shut up. Did you finish the book yet?”
I rub my temples. I believe a headache is forming. Discomfort is going to be the norm from here on out.
“That’s why you have AIDS. You’re never gonna finish the story.”
“The story’s finished. Inside. I just need to,” I gesture as if typing, “but the disease is getting in the way.” I lift my beer and sip. “Oh, Rolling Rock. I’ll never know your sweetness after I lose my sense of taste.”
Allyson has a laugh that moves only her chin and her boobs, it truly is a unique experience. She moves her bright red hair to one shoulder.
“Why do you have AIDS?”
“I weighed myself this morning, I’ve lost two pounds in two weeks.”
“Have you been eating?”
“For the most part.”
“Not since that one guy, many moons ago.” I treasure every sip of beer, as I am certain the doctors will tell me no alcohol or weed once I spiral.
“So then how can you contract AIDS? You’re not doing heroin, are ya?” Allyson reaches over and lifts my red-and-blue striped pajama sleeves to check the indents of my arms. “You’re a mess. You’d rather die of AIDS than finish your book.”
“I can’t finish my book, because I have AIDS.”
“Well ain’t that fuckin’ convenient.”
“I have AIDS, Allyson.” Shaquanna and Lorelei happen to pass as I reiterate my announcement. I hear Shaq deliver a full-bodied gasp, then watch as she collapses into the booth beside me. Lorelei kisses Allyson on the lips and sits beside her.
“When did you find out? Just now? Oh look at you,” Shaq strokes my solemn face, “you’re a wreck. Oh, honey. Oh, I’m so sorry.” I’m now enveloped in Shaq’s jiggly arms, and we sway together as she comforts me.
Allyson scoffs. “Oh, honey, puhleese. Don’t indulge her.”
“She ain’t got AIDS?”
“She ain’t got AIDS.”
“I’ve got AIDS,” I assure Shaq. I look over at Lorelei. “I’ve got AIDS.”
Allyson stands, grabs her laundry basket, and motions to move her washed clothes to the dryer. “What you’ve got is writer’s block. Eric, stop announcing you have AIDS. Or at least, go to the free clinic. Otherwise, shut the fuck up, and get back to work.”