jack said things like, i asked you to go mono with me, but you went stereo, with sub woofers, he always said the thing that was two steps further than what the last person just said, if he ever spoke at all. he won every argument, every bet and he never made the first move, always the last. he was the first grandson of a family that had squandered all their inheritance and the last of his friends to graduate college.
mary had the type of smile that no one could lie to, no one wanted to break her heart. she danced in discount stores, picked fights when she was bored and said things like, you are my affirmation of life in other universes, always dramatically and with impromptu gesticulations and sound effects. she’d been in seven car crashes, had five older sisters and Jack was her one and only.
the first time jack saw mary was under a sky of polystyrene planets and plastic moons that glowed pink and paper stars. she was selling textbooks and old books and booklets of poems printed by the art institute students in the atrium. he ran the auditorium of the planetarium, he liked the solitude of his job, he started coming in earlier to watch her. If she skipped over the neon galaxies on the floor, she’d had a good day. this was speculative on his part, but he was sure. the logic fit. she noticed him too. If he was twirling his keys, he was in a good mood, twirling denotes happiness, she was sure.
on his days off, jack walked all over the city, he liked the tourist spots best. They were always empty. he liked bridges from which he could sit on in peace and watch the city roll on, rolling an empty beer can along his thigh and back, high on his thigh and back. he was a regular at the lunch house in front of his rented room, he loved a home cooked meal.
on their first date, he drank all her scotch, puked at her feet and passed out with his mouth open. she sniffed at it and decided she liked it. Every morning after that day, she’d sniff his mouth, his neck and his armpits. Every fight they had and she dumped him, he would build up a sweat and tell her he loved her. he would sprint to her house, do fifty pushups and climb up to her window, reeking of sweat. She caved in, she always did, he was all persuasion in leaves of hemp soaked in soap.
mary kept a suitcase in her car, she had bras over the backseat, heels on the floor, sometimes they got stuck under the brakes. she found dresses and masks and trinkets in flea markets and garage sales and she blew all her money on beautiful clothes that she could never take care of. they’d begin to tear and she’d sell them to friends from the trunk of her car. she could sell water to a well, she sold it all except her soul, yet she was such a bad client at the local bank, it took her three months to realize her bank account had been shut down.
the second time they met, she had her period, she felt primal. It hurt her, but as he fucked her, she fell in love with him through the blood, sweat and tears. he kept one hand on her ass with a thumb down the crack and one hand kneaded the flesh of her lower belly, and he came and saw God. He wanted to build a house for her, carry her like a child through deserts, storms and jungles. She loved him, she was adamant, they were how she imagined epicureans to be.
when they were broke, they’d drive through maccas, not order and at the next window, claim the order of the car behind. They never went hungry. they went to every free gig and used mosquito repellent to transfer entry stamps from people leaving to get into the rest. he had his silver flask, she had her tenaciousness, they never went thirsty. the times they had money, they took off. neither could hold a job for more than a month as a consequence. It was always a month of good, free living, then a month of tedious, cheap living. but it was okay, love was enough.
jack got a job at a dog pound. the dogs were all vicious and mangy. he hated when people came in looking to adopt one, they never did, they always got scared off and left but before that jack would have to sit through five minutes of ruckus, the barking, howling and growling drowning out the portable tv. he liked cooking shows. he liked the process of preparation to make something that to taste with lips, taste is really important, he loved the way mary tasted, sometimes he'd make her sit still with her underwear on while he sniffed at her crotch.
people always shared their drugs with jack and mary. jack because his aura was calming, a lot of acid junkies and day trippers loved jack, and mary because she knew the most obscure shit, pretentious rich kids who did grass, pills, snow and blow loved mary. She was quaintly bohemian, he was quaintly beatnik, they both had their labels, their validations, their square boxes. It was well rehearsed, well acted, they played it out every night to different crowds.mary started getting baked every day. she'd flick through the channels on the tv. everyday from lunch to four in afternoon there'd be 157 sinetrons, she played this game where she'd wait at the right moment before she flicked the remote and the storyline never broke up.
she liked making up stories. when they fought and he dumped her, she’d dress up, get drunk and go out dancing. On those nights, he knew one of her girlfriends would call him at 3 am to tell him they’d lost her. one night, he found her in a hotel playground, swinging and singing fiona apple, something about being bad, he didn’t know it, he didn’t listen, she was a terrible singer. another night, her car was parked outside her house, she had fallen asleep mid pee by a tree, her white cotton panties still around her ankles. one time, he found her in a different city. when he asked her what the fuck she was doing, she replied, I just wanted to drive.
eventually, he stopped dumping her, she had one foot in and one foot out the door, always, he never knew where she was at. Like hell he’d follow her to another country.
eventually, he stopped looking for her.