Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chapter 7

Back near my house, I stopped off for a video, a personal pizza from Pizza Slut, some wine, and cigarettes. I’d been trying to quit smoking because of the new job and its prestige and all, but screw it. I needed a lift that night and loved to smoke while I drank. Too many old black-and-white movies. The nostalgia would kill me. As I usually camped my ass outside with my TV, my house was never smoky. I opened the door to my condo to find Kashmew sitting on the mat. He sensed that I was pissed and moody. The whole situation that day had me unusually agitated. Normally, I could blow stuff off, but the current situation wasn’t settling with me. Course, I had fucked up something that could’ve really boosted my career. Naturally, it wouldn’t be sitting right with me. Two steps forward, four steps back seemed to be the story of my life. I couldn’t seem to catch a break. I couldn’t give up though. I wouldn’t go home.

Had I been hormonal that day? Could I use that as an excuse the following week? That would set the feminist movement back. What the hell. I was a femme fatale, fatal to her own self
with a size 6 in her mouth as an accessory. I was going to need all the excuses and stereotypes I could muster to get this job back. Although, as I’d gotten older, I’ve noticed (finally) how PMS has affected me more and more. Right now I was seriously wondering if I was having a PMS
episode? I didn’t usually really notice things that affected me physically. You know, define them and give them a name.

I had allergies for years, for example, and didn’t even know it until my doctor ran some tests when I was in for what I thought was a brain tumor. I just thought that sometimes my nose ran for a week, sometimes my eyes itched for a day, and other times I had really bad head colds in the summer. That time it had been so bad that I was convinced it was cancer and finally went to the clinic. The good doctor set me straight about the symptoms of allergies and I am alive today thanks to modern medicine. Not good at putting 2 and 2 together for myself; personally clueless. I was much more interested in other people’s details. I guess that was what made me a good designer. Professional objectivism, personal denial. Maybe that should be my mission statement. I think it was Ayn Rand’s actually.

So, did this general contractor, Trevor, and Faraday really piss me off as much as I thought they did or was I just feeling pissed, terrible, and stupid because of PMS? All I knew was that my anger toward Trevor had never before involved hormones. And Faraday hadn’t even been there so draw your own conclusions. Stupid Lois.

I pulled open the patio slider and made my way over to the couch with my pizza, wine, video and cigarettes. I nearly crapped my pants when I scared myself with a, yet again, couch-sleeping Brian.

He woke up after I whistled loudly into his ear. “What? What? Oh hey, I’m gone already. Peace.” His feet landed on the patio, and he was up before I could say anything to him.

“Hey, no, it’s OK,” I assured him. “I just didn’t expect you and didn’t see you ‘til I was right on top of you.”

Brian sat back down, leaving room for me on the couch, rubbing his ear.

“You can stay if you want. Pizza?” I offered.

Brian smiled and shrugged, “OK.”

“Fine, go in and help yourself,” I directed him, “but no wine.”

Sheepishly, Brian made his way into my kitchen and took a couple slices of pizza. He was eyeballing the wine when he caught me watching him. He smiled and I mouthed ‘no’. Shrugging his shoulders and grabbing some paper towels, he made his way back outside and sat in the recliner. I put the DVD in – “XXX” with Vin Diesel. I love that man. Maybe a little less than I love Josh Lucas, but that’s another story. Vin would do right by me for now.

Brian groaned. “Not again. Even before we met, I saw you always watched this movie. You killed me.”

“No, no,” I corrected him. “That was the ‘Fast and the Furious’. This is newer.”

Brian berated me with his eyes. “You’re as bad as my mom and her obsession with Steven Seagal.”

“At least Vin Diesel doesn’t run like a chicken and have a stupid, limp ponytail,” I retorted. “Besides I’m pissed and blue and need a quick pick-me-up so shut up.”

Brian did just that and we watched the movie. When it was almost over and I was on my second glass of wine and half way into my pack of cigarettes, my buzzer rang. I looked at my cell
phone – 9:30 PM. Who could that be? I looked over at Brian and the great shrugger did it again. Sighing, I got up and padded across the patio, through my living room, and to the front door. I looked through the peephole and my fists immediately curled. I opened up the door the width of my face, “What the hell are you doing here? And how’d you find out where I lived?”

Faraday’s general contractor scrunched his eyebrows and stepped back. “Sorry to bother you. I know this is unannounced.”

I waited, assuming my “duh” stance, watching him watching me. I had no patience for idiots.

He tried again. “After your exchange with Trevor, I called Mr. Faraday myself. I don’t much care for Trevor or Bruce, so I try to get all of my information from Mr. Faraday directly. That’s why Trevor was so pissed today. Faraday is never ‘incommunicado’ with me.” He looked at me for understanding and I stared right back. The situation was getting a tiny bit interesting. The guy seemed to be more than what met the eye. Opening the door wider, I crossed my arms and leaned on my own door frame. See, I can do it too, bucko.

The general contractor went on. “Mr. Faraday said that you were always still on the job and that I was to work with you. Trevor failed to tell me this.”

I shifted over to lean on the other side of the door frame and stared at my shoes, studying them for muck. He continued, “I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I’m here to apologize on behalf of myself and Mr. Faraday.”

“Not Trevor?” I asked with a tilt of my head, watching his eyes, which were like an oasis of water looming in the desert.

The general contractor eased into a smile so quick that it caught me off guard. He didn’t
notice the recovery of my poker face. He laughed a little and shook his head. “I will never apologize for that little prick.”

He looked at me. I couldn’t help, but smile myself. Those eyes were so bright and definitely a sea green. I could sail away in them for a month. I suddenly noticed that he was wearing glasses. Funny metal frames that made the lenses look like they had popped out and were hanging on by a wire. Very Picasso-esque. The general contractor looked at me questioningly and I realized that I was now staring.

“You have the most amazing eyes,” he said. “They’re like a Siamese cat's.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “You know a lot about cats then?”

“Not really,” he answered. “My sister has a Siamese and it has blue eyes.”

I looked at him, waiting for more. He looked back, saying nothing further.
“Are you finished then?”
The general contractor shifted and then looked over my shoulder. “Oh, I’m sorry, you have a date. Sorry to bother you.”

“A date?” I turned around, perplexed, and looked back into my condo. Brian was in the kitchen. I turned back around. “No, no, no date. Just Brian, my … (My what?)… neighbor. We watch DVDs and hang out.” Brian nodded his head, hip-hop style, my way. The general contractor was torn between watching me and looking at Brian.

“OK.” he said and made to leave. Then he suddenly turned around and extended his hand. “By the way, we never formally met. I’m Paul Atkinson.”

I grasped his hand like a real lady. It was strong and warm. “Lois Pushkin.”

“Thanks.” Paul smiled and he turned again to leave.

Impulsively, I called out after him, “Let’s have coffee some time? Since we’re working together now and all.”

Paul turned and stared at me again. “Yeah, coffee, sure.” He finally left and I watched him go. And go. And go.

I closed the door behind me after Paul got on the elevator. Brian stood at the island and looked at me with raised eyebrows. “Who was that?”

“That was the new general contractor for the job that I haven’t even finished designing.” I sighed. God, I was suddenly hot. I touched my hand to my forehead. It was a little moist, as was another place down south. I shuddered and got goose bumps. Brian’s voice interrupted my reverie.

“What is it that you do again?”

I stared him down to make sure he wanted to go down that path. I swore I told him the night after La Boehme. “Good grief, how many times do I have to explain this to you. I am an Interior Designer. I design interiors and do space planning.” I explained to his still blank expression. “I design and draw the pretty pictures that the contractor uses to build rooms.”

“Ha, ha! I know.” Brian laughed. “I just wanted to see you all pissed again. You’re hot when you’re pissed.”

“Aaaarrrggghhh! Men!” I yelled. But Brian was sweet for saying that even though he was a weird homeless guy. At least I knew he had liked my taste, choosing my condo to trespass at and that’s all a designer can ask for. We went back to the movie, which was almost over. By then Brian was ready to go home (wherever that was – I was too tired tonight to ask). I packed up the outdoors as we were expecting a little more LA spit (what the weather people here called

“See ya later, Lois.”

“See ya, Brian,” I yelled back as I toddled off to bed. I slept OK until the witching hour of 3:00 AM. Always, I awoke at this time and then lay in bed thinking about my projects, my clients, my personal life (briefly, as usual), or what other nagging issue that wouldn’t go away. So annoying. Especially when thinking about all of this in between dreamless sleep and under the wire of consciousness. I wish they had a drug to turn the brain off, so that you could get a decent restful sleep without the emotional baggage. Especially after bouts with my mother. Round and round her voice would screech in my head. Or the scathing E-mail would repeat itself in my minds eye, as I tried to discern if this was all really coming from someone who claimed to be my mother. Other times, I kept hearing my cell phone ring. It never rang.

That morning I woke up thinking about Paul. Was he really trying to apologize last night? How did he find me? Did Trevor give me away? How much does Paul know about me? What did he tell Faraday? Do I still have a project to go back to? Oh, why do I even care? Paul’s a boob. A gorgeous, sexy boob, but I’m sure that, like all men, an idiot. I wonder if he’s bald under that cap? Great teeth and strong jaw line. The way he swaggers around in those lovely, dirty, holey jeans with that tool belt– mmmm, delicious. I snuggled deeper into my comforter with my nether bits tingling at the thought of that annoying man who stilled curled my toes even when he wasn’t around. Hand must get busy – that always helped with the sleeping.

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