The Informers

7,613
07.03.2019

“Don’t mock me, man,” he says, getting up, going over to the mirror. He scratches at an imaginary mark on his chin, turns away.

“It’s no use,” I say suddenly.

“I’m too young,” he says. “Duh.”

“I can’t even remember when I met you,” I say, quietly, then I look up at him.

“What?” he asks, surprised. “You expect me to remember?” He drops the sheet and, nude, walks back to the toilet and sits down and takes a swig from the bottle of white wine. I notice a scar on the inside of his thigh and I reach out and touch his leg. He pulls back, takes a drag on the joint. My hand stays there, in space, and I bring it back, embarrassed.

“Would a smart person make fun of me for asking you what you’re thinking?”

“I have—” He stops, then slowly continues. “I have been thinking about how awful it was, losing my virginity.” He pauses. “I have been thinking about that all day.”

“It usually is when you lose it to a truck driver.” A long, hateful pause. I turn away. “That was stupid.” I want to touch him again but sip Chardonnay instead.

“What makes you so f**king perfect?” His eyes narrow, the jaw sets. He gets up, bends over, picks up the sheet, walks back into the bedroom. I get up out of the tub and dry off and, a little drunk, walk into the room, naked, holding the bottle of wine and my glass, and I get under the sheet with him. He turns channels. I do not know why he is here or where we met and he’s lying next to me, naked, gazing at videos.

“Does your husband know about this?” he asks, a tone of false amusement. “He says the divorce isn’t finalized. He says he’s not your ex.”

I don’t move, don’t answer, for a moment I don’t see Danny or anything else in the room.

“Well?”

I need another glass of wine but I force myself to wait a few minutes before I pour it. Another video. Danny hums along with it. I remember sitting in a car in the parking lot of the Galleria and William holding my hand.

“Does it matter?” I say once the video ends. I close my eyes, easily pretend that I’m not here. When I open them it’s darker in the room and I look over at Danny and he’s still staring at the TV. A photograph of L.A. at night is on the screen. A red streak flies over the neon landscape. The name of a local radio station appears.

“Do you like him?” Danny asks.

“No. I really don’t.” I sip the wine, easing toward tired. “Do you like … him?”

“Who? Your husband?”

“No,” I say. “Biff, Boff, Buff, whatever.”

“What?”

“Do you like him?” I ask again. “More than me?”

Danny doesn’t say anything.

“You don’t have to answer immediately.” I could say this stronger but don’t. “As if you’re capable.”

“Don’t ask me this,” he says, his eyes a dull gray-blue, blank, half closed. “Just don’t ask me this. Don’t do this.”

“It’s just all so typical.” I’m giggling.

“What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill?” he asks, yawning.

“What?” I’m still giggling, my eyes closed.

“Here come the elephants over the hill.”

“I think I’ve heard this one before.” I’m picturing Danny’s long tan fingers and then, less appealing, where his tan line stops, starts again, the thick unsmiling lips.

“What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants come over the hill with raincoats on?” he asks.

I finish the wine and set the glass on the nightstand, next to an empty bottle. “What?”

“Here come the elephants over the hill wearing raincoats.” He waits for my response.

“He … did?” I ask, finally.

“What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants come over the hill with sunglasses on?”

“I don’t think I really want to know this, Danny,” I say, my tongue thick, closing my eyes again, things clogged.

“Nothing,” Danny says lifelessly. “He didn’t recognize them.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I don’t know.” Pause. “To keep me amused maybe.”

“What?” I say, drifting. “What did you say?”

“To keep me amused?”

I fall asleep next to him for a minute, then wake up but don’t open my eyes. My breathing steady, I feel the touch of two dry fingers trailing up my leg. I lie perfectly still, eyes closed, and he touches me, no heat in the touch, and then he climbs gently on top of me and I lie perfectly still but soon I have to open my eyes because I’m breathing too hard. The instant I do, he softens, rolls off. When I wake up in the middle of the night, he’s gone. His lighter, which looks like a small gold handgun, is on the nightstand next to the empty bottle of wine and the large glass and I remember that when he first showed it to me I thought he was actually going to fire it and when he didn’t I felt my life become an anticlimax and looking into his eyes, his gaze rendering everything inconsequential, pools incapable of remembering anything, I moved deeper into them until I was comfortable.

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