Here and Here and Here

Bob Thurber

Last time I saw Larry Baldwin was the night Sally -- she was Larry's third wife, a retired exotic dancer less than half his age  -- dropped the mirror and the cocaine went flying. For the next minute and a half the shag carpet became our entire focus. Larry came around from the bar to get a better view. He brought his drink, and the little razor blade on a chain that he'd used to cut the coke.

We weren't friends, Larry and I. Not really. He was an ex-neighbor, a retired Navy man the same age as my father, and he had a little money, and I think he genuinely liked me. So we gambled together, drank and ate, and snorted coke together. But beyond those things we had nothing in common, and very little to talk about.

Now we stood facing one another, Larry and me, with Sally on her knees between us. She was dragging her long fake fingernails through the carpet, clawing with both hands through the deep shag.

I think I see some of it, she said. Do you see? Right here, and here, and here. Do you see it, Larry, she said.

Barely ninety seconds had passed since the drop, the accident, the calamity. I really didn't know what to call it. I was in shock. Some of the coke on the mirror, one of the long thick neat lines that Larry always took great pains to prepare, was mine. There was plenty more in a cellophane bag on the bar, but Larry was a funny kind of guy, and when someone or something swung his mood to the gloomy side then the party was over and it was time to go home. And I didn't want to go home, not yet. And for reasons which I won't go into here I didn't want this party to be over -- not then. I wanted my line. I wanted nothing else. Not Larry's goodwill. Not his fake smile. Not even another more genuine smile from his sultry wife, whom later, long after Larry went to bed, clawed at my ass with her sharp nails, holding me in, making me cum inside of her, whispering, Don’t worry. It's all right, honey, it's fine, I want to make a baby, I do. My womb is a cold empty place and I need a human heart to warm it.

After she went to bed, I helped myself to another line, a long fat one. And as I snorted it up my nostrils I stared at the face of the man in the mirror looking up at me. He was smarter than me. I could tell by his eyes. He knew he should never have come here. And I knew he would never be back.