I’ve only slept an hour, but I’m wide awake.
I creep into the bathroom to watch porn, but after 20 minutes I realize it’s not going to happen. There’s an image of the trash can that keeps flashing through my head. Someone splashed spaghetti sauce on the outside of it last night, so I grab bleach and a sponge and that’s where my girlfriend finds me when she leaves for work.
Another meeting about our client’s angst over ATM addresses. I’m wearing the pants that were tailored for my sister’s wedding, the wedding that never happened. I was using heroin when they fitted me, so I don’t have the top button done, using a belt to keep them closed. I can see my Supervisor looking at the Ralph Lauren boxers peeking out the top. When the meeting ends I gesture towards the men’s room and he follows me inside.
Back at my desk, my head is clear, and I can breathe again. I start writing the essay due for my Business Ethics course that night. There’s dust crammed into the corner of my computer monitor, and I’m tempted to get out my Q-tips and Lysol. Instead, I take a beta blocker and a gaba-agonist, best not to get into any compulsive behaviors today.
I meet my Mom near her office after work for dinner. I list my latest set of accomplishments, and she smiles as she pays the check.
“You seem really centered,” she says, as I light a cigarette and she gets in her SUV.
A girl with greasy blonde hair and smudged mascara slides into the seat next to me on the 54 to class. She’s in grad school, and she can’t stop talking about her roommate and her parents. I kiss her, and she shuts up. She tries to give me her number when I get off, but I pretend not to notice.
Halfway through the ethic’s lecture my girlfriend texts me and tells me the Consultant is coming over tonight, the one we met at the bar. I can’t stop thinking about the first time, which is always the best time. I can smell his Prada cologne and the Dewar’s scotch.
I find my bathroom on the second floor of the University, and I hang my bag off the door in a stall near the back. I see his red shoes as I sit down, the guy that’s always here, the guy that followed me to the bus one night. I was mad at him for breaking the rules, this is supposed to be anonymous.
The doorman stops me as I’m walking in my building, the woman in the leasing office is looking for me again. That’s the last time I promise someone drinks after hooking up.
“You look tired Nick,” he says with a concerned look on his face.
“You really shouldn’t say that to people, it’s code for ‘you look like shit’. Tell her I’m on vacation”
Back in the sky, my girlfriend makes me dinner while I change the sheets.
The Consultant leaves me a pack of Marlboro lights. I still haven’t gotten off and my girlfriend is asleep, so I stand outside near the parking garage and smoke. The taste reminds me of the guy from the beach I dated for way too long. I wonder what his life is like now, how mine would look if I’d chosen convention over hedonism.
I put the cigarette out and head inside to watch HBO.
Tomorrow is another busy day.