He walks into the apartment, kicks the door shut behind him, drops the bag of groceries on the kitchen counter. He takes out pork chops, butterfly cut and thick. Fat rind. Her favorite. He puts the broccoli next to the chops, the mushrooms. She loves broccoli. He’s standing, looking at the food. Puts the butter in the refrigerator, but leaves the food out. Opens a beer instead.
Frankie stares at him. Seems to shrug. You knew it was coming, she tells him. He tells her to fuck off and takes deep pull from the beer. An India Pale Ale. Her favourite. He takes an ashtray from the cupboard. It’s dusty, hasn’t been used for a couple of years. He pulls a Marlboro from the pack and lights it, deep inhale. Pulls smog deep into his lungs. He watches the smoke, blue from the cigarette, grey from his mouth, curl up towards the ceiling. There’s a pang of guilt but it’s quickly and deliberately pushed back down where it belongs. There’s a lot of guilt inside and it should all be together. All the guilt. Safe, tucked into the darkness where it belongs. What had she called it? The black hole. Where all his darkness lived. It lived there breeding, fucking, growing, rutting on itself in the darkness. There’s going to be plenty of time to enjoy that guilt, a bad enjoyment, like using your tongue to pick at a sore and rotten tooth. It’s going to be painful, but you’re going to do it anyway. Might as wait and do it properly. Wait till you’re really alone and no one can see and really fucking make it hurt. You make it hurt because when you dig into that dirt and pain you think it’ll make it all better.
“She’s gone Frankie.” There might be tears pricking at his eyes, but might be the smoke. Frankie shrugs again. So what? I’ll miss her later. Did you bring food?
“Fuck you Frankie.” She shrugs again and smiles at him. “Will you miss her? I do. I think I do. Part of me is glad, but so much of me is just empty. I don’t know what to think right now.”
Frankie sighs, stretches, and looks at him. Looks him in the eye the way she sometimes does when he’s holding her front of the mirror. It's like those times when she stops looking around, enjoying the change of perspectives, and actually looks at him reflected the mirror. Not at his reflection, but at him. It had always made him wonder what was going on in her head.
“Why are you so concerned about thinking about what you think you should be thinking about?” Her voice is high pitched, but not squeaky like he thought it might be. Her accent is impossible to place and as he thinks of that he laughs, hard. Of all the stupid things to think about, you think about her fucking accent?
“Do you know why this happened? Do you know why she left? Do you understand what you did in this?”
Surprisingly anger flares, “Yes I fucking know!”
“I doubt it,” She laughs. “But you will. Eventually. You’re all so complicated with those big fucking brains. That whole neocortex, useless because everything is run by The Hind. The Hind. Heartbeat. Fighting. Fucking. Eating. You do all of that, and yet you have this big stupid useless mind that messes everything up.” She emphasizes the word ‘mind’, accenting it deeper, as if the word is alien to her, and laughable in it’s strangeness.
“What the fuck do you know about eating, fighting and fucking?” He demands it of her, but the words sound impotent as they leave his mouth.
“How much do you watch? How much do you know? How much do you listen to the silence of life? Everything with you is noise, rushing and doing and moving and motion.”
“Don’t avoid my question. What the fuck do you know of love and life?”
She laughs then. There's a high pitched, uncontrolled freedom in her laugh that makes him uneasy. There’s madness in there. Something waiting to be let loose, and the feeling that if it got loose it would a wonderful glorious freedom that might not want to stop.
“Fuck you,” She laughs again. “Oh, don’t look so hurt. Am I supposed to worship you and your Big Useless Brain? We are so alike. We eat, we drink. We love, We fuck. We shit. We mourn our losses and celebrate our victories. But you…you are so much weaker by your ‘gifts’. Supermarkets, processed foods, airplanes, cell phones, cures for cancer (for humans at least). You have all these wondrous gifts your Big Useless Brains have given you. But the only thing that really matters is each other, and you can’t do that, can you? You can’t even fucking talk to each other.” She laughs again, a genuine deep laugh. “You can’t even fucking fight without wanting to kill each other!”
“So what do I do?”
She stares at him. “How the fuck should I know. It’s your brain my friend. You’ll find a way. It’ll likely be much more complicated than it needs to be. It’ll take too long, and really, it probably won’t help. But you’ll do what you feel you should. All of you need to spend more time feeling, instead of thinking. Trust me. It works.”
He’s suddenly tired. The conversation is not only a surprise but seems to be going in the wrong direction. “I’m drunk. Fuck dinner. I’m going to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better.”
“No, it won’t, but at least it won’t be tonight. Go to sleep. I’ll sit here on the edge of the bed and keep watch. I’ll keep your demons away tonight. Just sleep.”
He lies down. The room is dark, the moon is a thin crescent on the horizon and the street lights can’t reach into the room. The beer bottle is empty and he drops it on the floor. He sleeps, glad she’s there to watch over him.
Frankie smiles to herself, curls up by his feet and falls asleep.