Home of an Angel
by George Gad Economou
She woke up hungover at one in the afternoon. Drinking half a bottle of rotgut after work had not been a bright idea, but it was the only way she had to cope with her cruel routine.
She brewed some coffee using her last bottle of water and lit a cigarette. In the cloud of blue smoke that escaped her lips, she encountered childhood dreams and youthful aspirations. The smoke vanished, just like what she saw in it had years ago. She turned on the small, old tv sitting on the counter opposite the hard couch of the trailer and flung herself on the couch.
She sipped the steaming coffee and lit yet another cigarette, losing herself in the universe of the old tv-show playing and which she struggled to follow amidst the hangover and the blurry image of the tv-set. Another plume of blue smoke rose in the air, and more sorrowful memories resurfacedit lasted a fleeting second and her attention returned to the doctors and nurses caught in the middle of the Korean War.
She put in the microwave the pre-cooked dinner and in three minutes the small piece of steak with potatoes and gravy sauce was hot and ready. She forced each bite down, her eyes fixed on the tv. The tight-fitting shades kept the bright sunlight out of the trailer. Sounds of children laughing and playing reached her ears, but she had learned to block the annoying noise and maintain her focus where it mattered.
She was desperate for even a couple of hours without contemplating the non-existent future. She finished her dinner, drained the now-cold coffee, and lit another cigarette. Each new drag hurt her dry throat, but there was no water left in the refrigerator and the tap had been dry for five days.
She drank some bourbon, which, in spite of subduing the headache and exhaustion tormenting her body, only worsened her thirst. She leaped to her feet following an abrupt knock on the door and rushed to answer. A sigh of disappointment quivered her lips when she met the longhaired, bearded visitor in fancy clothes.
What do you want? She demanded.
I guess, you don't remember me, but... Peter cleared his throat. I just had to see you again.
Yes, I do remember you. That doesn't mean you're who I wanted to see right now.
I know, I just...
How did you find me?
I asked around last night at the club.
And why did you come here? What do you want?
To talk to you, to...don't you think itd be better to have this conversation seated?
No, the conversation wont last that long.
Look, I realize I may have overstepped some boundaries by showing up at your door like that, I just... he paused and stared down at his muddy boots. I just can't stop thinking about you and I...had to see you. To talk to you. That's all.
Great. You saw me, you talked to me. Are we done?
He chuckled dryly, still staring at his scuffing feet.
Let me save you the trouble, all right? You're going to tell me you're in love with me, that you want to save me from my life, from myself, and that you are going to provide me with everything I've ever desired, and then some. Am I right so far?
No, not really, he shook his head, refusing to lift his eyes and meet her glare.
Then, you're slightly more original than my usual visitors. That does not mean we're going to have a long chat about the purpose of life, or whatever you thought wed discuss. If you have something to say to me, just come to the club tonight. I'll be there.
Yes, to pretend to listen, to pretend to care. It's not what I'm looking for.
Then, go to some other bar; find someone that will give a damn.
That's not an option, either.
Keep this up and youll be eligible for the weirdest visitor of the month award.
He sniggered and finally raised his eyes. Believe it or not, that's the sweetest thing anyone has said to me in quite a while.
You actually mean it, don't you? Her eyes bulged and she took a step back.
The eyes are the mirror to the soul, isnt that what people say?
Well, yours are a mirror to some very dark place. She stared almost mesmerized into his hazel eyes. You can leave now.
Aren't you even in the slightest curious to know why I came?
You'll tell me tonight. That much is obvious.
No, I won't.
So, you won't come to the club tonight?
I will. I just won't talk to you.
Well, that ruined my day.
Yeah, I bet. Look, all I want is five-ten minutes of your time. Is that too much to ask?
He reached inside his leather jacket and her hand went for the steak knife sitting on the counter right behind the door.
That's all I have to offer as a bribe, he lifted a fifth of scotch and a pack of Lucky Strikes.
You'll have to do better; I have my own booze and smoke.
Be that as it may, this is good, aged whisky; from Scotland. Quite expensive too. I promise, it tastes like Heaven. Maybe even better.
All right, fine. Five minutes. She released the knifes handle and took a step back, her alert glance glued on Peter who took a cautious step inside the trailer.
Nice, cozy place you've got here, he said and sat on the couch.
Don't care for cheap compliments.
Fair enough. Wow, he chuckled, when he noticed the tv, it's been years since I watched this show. It's pretty good, isn't it?
Yes, she sat opposite him and slammed two dirty waterglasses on the table. They have it on reruns quite often and I try to catch it whenever I can. Helps with forgetting reality.
He nodded and poured scotch. They both had a sip.
Okay, it is quite good, she smacked her lips. I'll give you that much.
I wasn't lying, was I?
Not for the scotch. So, why did you come?
Right, his smile vanished and he sank the rest of his scotch. As I said, I can't stop thinking about you. And the reason is that I want you to be my muse.
You said it wasn't about how you fell head over heels in love with me and the rest of the horseshit I've heard at least a thousand times before.
Then, what in the hell does muse mean?
I honestly believe you can inspire me. I just need to be around you. Learn about you. About your life.
Then, you're a stalker?
Call it that, if you want, but I'm not gonna camp outside your trailer with binoculars following your every move. I want to be around you, experience your life, breathe the same air as you, eat the same food as you; do what you do.
You're some special kind of psycho, aint ya?
No, just an artist.
Oh, she scoffed and had another sip. She lit a cigarette and he mimicked her.
Yeah, I know. Nowadays, almost everyone is an artist. It makes it real hard to tell real from fake. I know that. I face the same problem every single day of my life. Sometimes, I'm not even sure whether I'm real or fake. Its a fucked-up world we live in, but that's not the point.
My problem is, I've run out of inspiration. My life is on a dead-end, I have nowhere to go, nothing to look forward to. And that has consequently drained out all inspiration from my soul. I'm just an empty vessel walking around with no purpose, no reason, no meaning. And I'm sick and tired of it.
That sucks; for you. What does it have to do with me?
I told you already. I believe you can be my muse, the spark to reignite the flames of inspiration.
I don't know...I really don't. It's just...I just saw something in you. The way you moved, the way you danced, the way you talked and pretended to listen. Even the way you sat at the bar when you were not busy. There's something in the air around you.
Now I remember! She snapped her fingers and her face lit up. You're the one that requested Cooper's Novocaine for the private dance.
I suppose that was a first, huh?
Well, yeah, she bit the corner of her lips. Most guys want cheery songs, something happy.
Makes sense, he shrugged and topped the glasses. Not many people see the beauty residing in misery.
There's not much to be found there in the first place.
What it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Everyone can admire a majestic sunset, few can discern the beauty concealed in a disaster.
True; it takes a special kind of moron or psycho to see beauty in something horrible.
Perhaps; it also requires the ability to see things under different filters.
Can we just agree to disagree? Your five minutes are up and you're still here.
Okay, yes. But, that's the point I was trying to make from the beginning.
I'm sorry, what?
Her gaze moved to the door when a demanding knock blared inside the confined space. Cursing under her breath, she rushed to answer.
Hey babe, a tall, robust man said in a rusty voice. Ready?
No, not now, she whispered while her body seized, I'm sorry, but I have a visitor and can't pay you right now. Can you come back in five minutes? Please?
Nope. Sorry, babe. It's either now, or tomorrow. You oughta know I hate diversions to my schedule.
All I'm asking for is five lousy minutes. Please! We've known each other for years.
I don't mix friendship with business, doll.
Yes, I know, I'm just...I didn't expect please, give me two minutes!
Now, or tomorrow. Take your pick and be quick about it.
She glared at Peter; her eyes bulged when he approached them, his hand buried in his pocket.
Can I be of assistance?
Who's the fucker? The man barked.
Just a friend, she was quick to apologize. Nobody, really.
Look, I can pay for her; I don't mind, Peter addressed both, but his cold stare remained fixed on the man.
No, you won't. Just get out of here.
I don't mind.
Look, doll, the man said sternly, make up your mind. I'm not going to fight this weird-ass cat for your sake, so, either you shoo him away and pay me the usual way, or you let him do it for you since you've found a guardian angel.
Look, Peter cleared his throat, just name the price and what I'm paying for, and go back to whatever it is that you do, okay?
Why do you have to get mixed into this?
How much? Peter insisted.
Fine by me, the man shrugged. Hundred and fifty will do.
What the fuck am I paying for? Dope?
Close enough, he winked and pulled a plastic bag with two grams of blow out of his pocket.
All right, I didn't see that coming, Peter whispered, mostly to himself, while he counted the bills and handed them to the pusher.
Pleasure doing business with you, the man gave him a small, ironic bow and strutted away.
What did you do that for? She erupted the moment she slammed the door shut.
I just wanted to help, that's all, he shrugged and handed her the blow.
I never asked for your help, did I?
No; just thought I should act nice.
Next time, consider whether the other person wants you to be nice before jumping in.
All right, fair enough.
Want some? She asked as she poured some blow on the table.
Now, thats an offer I cant refuse.
What do you do for a living?
You were cool like a cucumber when you dealt with Travis. I'd assume his build would terrify most people. Besides, you dont look tough, or anything.
I'm just used in dealing with people like him, that's all. So, what's the regular price for this?
Oh, come on. It was obvious he didnt expect to be paid in cash.
None of your damn business.
Fair enough. It's pretty decent, though.
Best you can find in these parts. You do coke often?
No, not so much. I don't like being fully awake.
Whats your poison, then?
Well, I mostly stick to booze. Its served me well since I was fourteen, I don't want to ruin the special relationship I and the bottle have. But, I've had my run-in with smack.
You've been to rehab?
No; unless you call poverty rehab. I just...quit. Went cold turkey.
Isn't that lethal?
Sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones. Or unlucky ones; depends on how you view it.
Right, beauty in misery.
Something like that.
So, are you gonna stay around all day?
If you don't kick me out.
Well see how it goes.
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