sidebrow

from The Fall

What have you got yourself into, she says, low to herself, but he can tell by her tone she wants him to hear her speak to herself like this.

The crosstown away from the suicide. The side street. The latch of the gate. The porch of a house he has told her is his. And how without fear she had fallen asleep, passed out on the bus, an afternoon of drinking, a morning of drinking, an all night from she didn’t know when before she had seen that man fall, had met him in the swim of the crowd, had left with him to take the bus, to be with him, to keep it going, her head on his shoulder as she rested in blackness, the slow burn of danger and excitation of losing herself and curling into his arm without even knowing him.

She is looking at the black plastic sheet covering the lone picture window from inside. Creases in the plastic, a black web of broken lines. The sun, behind them, setting. The black plastic flashing dark red. What she has seen today, what she is seeing now with him on a porch she has never been to sends a chill down through her she likes.

Inside, the house appears even smaller, even more claustrophobic than it had from outside. The living room adjacent to the foyer. The kitchenette; its short, dividing countertop. Black plastic duct-taped over every window. The dark mouth of the hallway to unknown rooms. The whole of it a sick sweetness and sweat, oozing glands, milk from a mother’s breast skinning in the ladle of a metal spoon. Except for the loveseat, the film projector, the metal shelf of film canisters along the wall, there is little to suggest that living occurs in this room.

She feels the skin kiss of her thighs beneath her skirt. Images of herself, any one of innumerable unknown men, the thrill of dissolving into the intimate suggestions of unfamiliar rooms. There is a sterility here that she likes. Dim light from the kitchenette. The film projector gleams like a knife.

Fucking creepy if you ask me, she says.

Her smile again. He could melt into it, lose himself in the dark slit she offers, the moistness of her lips in the light. He forgets the fear that has flashed hot along the curve of his skull at his having brought her here, of her seeing into him like this, knowing his life in the hints of this space as he watched her open the empty cabinets before finding the one beneath the sink where the vodka is.

Other people’s home movies are a mirror, he hears himself say despite his earlier vow to keep himself from laying it on too thick. It’s a way to reflect your own life without really seeing into it.

She takes him in, and it is as if she is suddenly waking from the blackness into something she will forever remember, such is the odd weight she feels of the bottle cradled in her arms. He has a face, the gauntness of which seems eroded. She feels for him suddenly, tingles with a fear that has not taken hold of her for some time. The way that he holds her so patiently in his eyes makes her long to feel herself whole deep within him, to turn him inside out, to rape the hard line he makes of his mouth with her tongue.

She unscrews the vodka and feels herself settling.

You’re one sick puppy, she says, peeping into other people’s lives without anything of your own on the line.

She is a nurturer, he thinks, reading beneath this line.

You’d be surprised at what you find.

They are standing in the kitchenette, she with the bottle of vodka in her hand, he with a film canister held against his chest with crossed arms. There is a feeling of domesticity to this. A hint of intimacy and comfort. A Bauhaus rendition of man and wife that he likes.