Read This Is What Happens Next Online

Authors: Daniel MacIovr

This Is What Happens Next (2 page)

Okay so, apparently there needs to be a story. And apparently that's become my job. Well that's easy. Just tell the truth. All you have to do is adjust some facts, alter some names, change a sex, make some substitutions: like hot tub for waterbed, that kind of thing, and add a “once upon a time.” So… Once upon a time there was… Warren. Warren: forty-five, looks it, trim, works at it, gay, comes off mincier than he thinks, a bit of a blamer, but overall not a bad guy. Warren wants something… He wants… He wants to get his stuff back. Bad breakup. Left in a hurry. The ex kept the house. Time has passed. The ex has moved on. Warren's a little pissed. He's got some stuff still at the house he wants. His… sneakers, his windbreaker, a book, his tax stuff, a… a
CD
… a John Denver
cd
. Sure let's bring him into the mix. Why not, just because he has bad taste doesn't mean he's not a good person. He's got a weak spot for John Denver, so what. It's his stuff. It's your stuff, Warren. You want your stuff back. This is bullshit. You go and get your stuff.

WARREN
's phone rings.

And don't answer that phone!

Light shift.

WARREN

This is bullshit! This is bullshit! Okay. I call him last week and tell him that I want to come and get my stuff today, Saturday, and he says: “Saturday might not be the best day for me.” Oh really? Well Saturday is the best day for me. I'm fine. I'm fine. I've got an apartment. I've got a job. I make money. I made the divorce trip to Ikea for carpets and can openers and tea lights and hangers. I've got parking. I've got a permit. Fifty dollars a month I park on the street no problem. Just outside my place. Around the corner. Past the market. Past the liquor store, the pastry place, the smoke shop, the bookstore and just beside the Italian bistro, it's very convenient. Have the whole driveway now, have the whole thing. Get a couple of junkers and park them in the yard. I'm fine. I'm so fine I'm thinking about taking a tai chi class. How's that okay? I've even been talking to someone about taking private lessons because I'm better one-on-one. Well he would say I suck at one-on-one but let me rephrase that. I'm better one-on-one with
SANE
people who don't have these arbitrary
INSANE
rules like: “Don't kiss me like that” or “Always ask me how was my day” or “Come to bed when I say so.” That's just… Look, I just want my stuff, okay. My my my my sneakers and my my windbreaker; I'm not going out and buying a new windbreaker when I have a perfectly good windbreaker sitting in my closet.
HIS
closet. Yeah fine. Have the closet. Have the house. Have the pool I paid for. Yeah yeah he dug the hole, well you know what if nobody
pays
for the
pool
all you've got there is a
HOLE
in the
GROUND
. Fill it with water, then you've got
MUD
. But he doesn't have
MUD
he has a
POOL
. Enjoy the pool but I want my windbreaker. And my sneakers, they're not just sneakers they're Cole Haan. And that book I was reading, that philosophy book, I'm thinking about taking a class. And my tax stuff. I want my tax stuff. And I don't want my stuff tomorrow I want my tax stuff today. Because today is Saturday which means that tomorrow is Sunday and my week starts on Sunday and I don't want my new start to start next week, I don't want my new start to start in the middle of the week, I want my new start to start tomorrow, which is Sunday so I want my stuff today which is Saturday. Oh but he's having a barbecue today. Oh really? How nice for him. Well I have something to do today too. I'm meeting Susan today. She's my lawyer. And my friend. I'm meeting my friend and lawyer Susan today. So there. Good for me. But I don't want to meet Susan today. And I don't even want to take her phone calls to tell her I don't want to meet today because all Susan will say is don't you go to that barbecue. She told me that as my lawyer. And my friend. “Don't you go to that goddamn barbecue!” A barbecue. How nice for him. Him and all his new himbo friends in their mankinis sipping their Sea Breezes around the pool I paid for. Hey boys enjoy the pool! And don't forget to put plastic sheets down on the new sofa before the piss party. Okay, that was unnecessary. I'm not trying to say I wasn't there, okay. I'm not saying I'm perfect and don't have my flaws. But try living with his stridency. And his opinions. And his repetition. Oh my God. The same stories over and over and over again. Da da da da da da da da da da da Norway da da da da da da da da hot tub da da da da da da da leather chaps. And no sense of occasion. No sense of appropriateness. It doesn't matter who's in the room. These are not the people for this story. The sex party story is not for these people. Save the sex party story for the sex party people. The sex party story is not for my mother. My mother doesn't get it the sex party story. I don't get the sex party story. Well that's not entirely true but… I just want my stuff. Oh and “Ask me how was my day, ask me how was my day, why don't you ever ask me how was my day?” Oh I don't know, maybe because I'm a narcissist and I don't think of it, okay. Or maybe because I don't need to because you tell me anyway all he does is complain and complain and complain and complain and complain and complain and finally one night I innocently say, innocently I say: “Well why don't you quit your job.” And so he does and I might as well have gotten a tattoo on my forehead or shot myself in the face because boy oh boy do I really have to eat that for dinner for the rest of my life. “I should never have let you make me quit my job.” I should never have let you make me quit my job? You “
let me
” “
make you
” quit your job? How does that work? What personality type is that, “Victim” or “Controlling”? My head explodes. No it doesn't. I'm fine. Oh oh oh oh and “The Chest of Drawers.” The Chest of Drawers. We don't need another chest of drawers we have four chests of drawers. We've had this conversation, just because there's space doesn't mean there's room. Nevertheless, one morning I wake up and I walk into the living room—hungover like a bull in a G-string—and I look out the window and what's sitting on the front step? A chest of drawers. Now I don't think that chest of drawers was walking down the street and decided it wanted to live with us. I don't think it's a stray. I think somebody told somebody to drop off that chest of drawers, and that somebody wasn't me. And we've had this conversation. Just because there's space doesn't mean there's
ROOM
. Empty space is doing something. It's being empty. That's not me being controlling that's me having an aesthetic. And I don't want to have this conversation again so I get in the car and I start driving to Delaware, but I can't find the ferry because I took the wrong road and I don't have my wallet or my passport anyway. And so I go home and he's ironing. And he should never iron because he thinks too much when he's ironing. But I try to reason with him and I say, “You think it's about the Chest of Drawers but it's not about the Chest of Drawers.” But all he hears is “You're wrong.” And he comes at me, the iron high over his head, knuckles white on the handle. I scream like a girl and run backwards down the stairs and lock myself in the bathroom. After about an hour I come out and he's sorry, you can see that he's sorry, his eyes are full of sorry. But I think yeah well that's the same sorry you're going to see in his eyes in the prisoners dock when he's on trial for my murder. He'll be sorry then too. But we talk it out and make up, as it were, and he decides he's going to go and get some coke. There's a solution! And what about that rule? The rule that when one of us says “I'm going to get some coke” the other one is supposed to say “Maybe you shouldn't.” So I try and enact that rule and he says, “I'm going to get some coke,” and I say, “Maybe you shouldn't,” and he says, “Fuck you.” And what does that do but give me licence to fuck him too. And it wasn't just him okay I know I know. I was there. I was part of it too. Some nights I'd get the coke and I'd hide a bit of it away, and we'd do it all and he'd say, “Is there any more,” and I'd say, “No it's all gone,” and I'd wait until we started to get sketchy then I'd “ta da!” the stash out and be the hero but then that would be gone—because at some point it's always going to be gone—and he says, “There's more isn't there.” And I say, “No that's it.” And he says, “No you're hiding some.” And I say, “No really it's done it's all gone.” And he says, “Well I'm going to get some more.” And I say, “It's six o'clock in the morning.” And he says, “So what?” And I say, “Okay here's a hundred bucks get two.” I was there I know. But a kitten? A kitten? A kitten? And without a conversation? I'm out of town—making money—and he's on the phone saying, “Guess what I got?” And I'm hoping it's a urinary tract infection… But he's not on the phone telling me he's got a urinary tract infection he's telling me he got a kitten. A kitten? Without a conversation? A kitten is not a plant. You don't just put it in a pot of dirt and water it. It's a kitten, it might live for twenty years. I don't feel we've got twenty years left at this point. I don't feel like we've got two years left at this point. And so no I'm not over the moon about the kitten. And two days later when he calls to tell me that the kitten died of leukemia, no I don't sound upset because I'm not upset because we don't need a kitten right now. Oh and “I can't do anything right.” Well no not if you keep bringing home kittens. A kitten without a conversation does not go in the “right” column. I should have listened to Susan. My lawyer. My friend. She's going to be calling any minute and tell me not to go to the barbecue. But she's wrong. She's right but she's wrong. She's right as a lawyer but she's wrong as a friend. She's not usually wrong as a friend. As a friend about us she was so right. She said we were a bad match. And I knew we were a bad match but I'd always had good matches before and they never worked out so I thought a bad match might be just the ticket. I'd learn to be the quiet one, I'd learn to listen, I'd be kinder, gentler. Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh but “come to bed, come to bed, come to bed.” The more he'd ask me to come to bed the less I'd come to bed. If you don't stop asking me to come to bed I'm never coming to bed. “Come to bed, come to bed, come to bed, come to bed.”

“Come to bed.”

“In a minute.”

“You said that an hour ago.”

“Then this came on.”

“What is it?”

“I don't know.”

“You don't know what you're watching?”

“It's a movie.”

“Hey isn't that guy who's married to Hilary Swank?”

“They're divorced.”

“But that's him?”

“Was him.”

“He's not dead. Is he dead?”

“No.”

“Well it's still him, whoever he is.”

“Chad Lowe.”

“Right. Chad Lowe. Isn't he—”

“Yes.”

“You don't know what I was going to say.”

“Yes he's Rob Lowe's brother.”

“Oh. Right. I thought so. Come to bed.”

“In a minute.”

“Chad and Hilary are divorced?”

“Years ago.”

“They seemed so happy.”

“Not to me.”

“Come to bed.”

“In a minute.”

“Why's he wearing that terrible wig?”

“He's playing John Denver. It's the John Denver story.”

“Wow. Everything from Schopenhauer to John Denver.”

“What?”

“You like John Denver?”

“No. Yes. Why? I'm indifferent.”

“You're indifferent?”

“Yes.”

“You'd rather watch a movie about someone you're indifferent to than come to bed with me.”

“It's drawn me in.”

“Past indifference?”

“I'm curious.”

“You're curious about it.”

“It's a curious thing.”

“The story of John Denver?”

“It's a curious movie.”

“Why?”

“Let me watch it and I'll analyze it later.”


DVR
it.”

“What?”


DVR
it. Or
PVR
it. Whatever they call it. The thing we pay for.”


We
pay for.”

“What?”

“Just let me watch the movie.”

“No. Come to bed.”

“Not right now.”

“You like Chad Lowe? You're a Chad Lowe fan?”

“I'll be up in a minute.”

“He's a wonderful actor Chad Lowe?”

“Leave me alone.”

“Leave you alone?”

“Yes.”

“Leave you alone?”

“Jesus. Yes.”

“Leave. You. Alone.”

“Yes.”

“Do you not love me?”

“Do I not—?”

“Love me.”

“Do I not love you?”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

“I do.”

“Do what?”

“Not love you. Not love you. Not not not love you. I do not love you I cannot stand you. I would rather be anywhere than where you are; I'd rather be dead than where you are. And if it came down to me dead or you dead I'd pick me dead because if you were dead I'd be left alive with the memory of how much I cannot stand and do not love you. Do you have any more questions?”

And yes I like John Denver. So what? No he's not Miles Davis. No he's not Arcade Fire. So what? It's not like I own the oeuvre, okay. I just like a couple of songs. I only have one
CD
. And that's another thing I want back. I want my John Denver
cd
and I want it today.

And okay yes maybe I should have come to bed. But if I was going to come to bed I should have done that weeks ago, months ago. Just bit the bullet and came to bed. But it was too late now. But he thought everything was fine. He thought Chad and Hilary were happy? She didn't even thank him when she won an Oscar. You have to thank your husband when you win an Oscar. That's not love. Okay there's the word. Love. Love. I don't even know what that is. What is it? Compromise? Companionship? It sounds like something to be sentenced to: “Twenty years of hard companionship!” Love. I can't find the hook. It's too simple or too complicated. It's like a foreign language everybody's speaking but I don't understand. It's like a word everybody uses but nobody knows what it really means. Like “presently”! Presently does not mean “now,” presently does not mean “currently.” Presently means “soon.” Presently means “in the near future.” Use it in a sentence? Okay. “Presently I will be getting my stuff.” “Presently I will be happy I left you.” And yes it was me yes I left. And of course I did that badly. But what was I supposed to do? I'm in another city and it's the somethingth of December and we're on the phone and he's asking me if we should get a Christmas tree. And I know. I know at this point.

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