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by Will Radke

Allie doesn’t kiss him. She puts her hand on his shoulder and shakes while she says, “Carter.”

“Carter,” she says louder this time. “Carter, wake up.”

Opening his eyes he sees her standing over him.

“Why didn’t you sleep in bed with me?”

“What?”

“Why’d you sleep out here?”

“I don’t know.” Disoriented, he looks around and realizes he’s on the couch in the living room. Everything’s blurry. He can barely keep his eyes open. “I don’t remember. What time is it?”

“Almost eleven.”

He sits up, scratches himself. Noticing the stale taste of whiskey in his mouth, and seeing the other bottle on the coffee table and the TV on with the volume turned low, he starts to remember. And now he’s here.

But all he does is ask if she’s hungry.

“Starving.”

“I’m going to smoke,” he says, “then let’s get breakfast.”

“Let me take a shower first.”

What does she think, he thinks, taking the last stale hit of a bowl he packed late last night but forgot to finish.

The shower water starts to run. He packs a bowl and listens to the water and tries to remember.

He remembers some of the day. Writing in the morning. Going over one of Jones’s stories in the afternoon. That, like always, turns into an excuse to tear through a bottle of Jim Beam. And for Jones to yell about whatever needs yelling about. So everything. Out for dinner later with Allie and her friends. Stella and the others and the shy one’s forty-year-old boyfriend. Italian food for dinner. Red wine for the table and beer, not liquor, for him. A shot of Montezuma at the bar both on the way to and back from the bathroom. “Have one ready when I come back,” he told the bartender all three times.

The water starts hitting the tub differently. Off the table, he grabs the bottle of Canadian Mist and has a drink and remembers buying it on the way back to their apartment, and then he remembers her yelling outside the restaurant.

He has another drink and takes a hit, and now he’s thinking about her — right there in the shower — and how lazy he’s become.

***

“Do you have plans today?”

“Yeah,” he says, drying himself off with a towel.

“Oh.”

“With you.”

“What are we doing?” she asks.

“While you make breakfast, I’m going out to buy a bottle of Grey Goose.”

“My favorite!”

“And after we eat we’re spending the rest of the day drinking in bed.”

“That sounds perfect,” she says, hugging him. “I don’t want to see anyone else today.”

“Me neither,” Carter says as he looks over at the steamed up bathroom mirror.


Will Radke is from Oak Park, Illinois. He has an MA in History from DePaul University and works in a law firm in Chicago. His fiction has appeared in Knee-Jerk.

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