“What are you listening to?” asked Jeremy. “This dude. He’s called Fashawn”answered Kevin, and was somewhat coy. “Uh-huh, I see. Weird album art” said Jeremy.
Kevin said nothing to this, and put his buds back in his ears. The album artwork of Fashawn’s stayed alit, and was illuminating from the screen on Kevin’s iPod, glowing from the square of four inches of beaming LEDs that was sat rested on Kevin’s jean lap — and difficult it was for Jeremy to ignore, as he sat there next to Kevin on the dark and quiet bus. As Jeremy sat next to him, alone to himself, away from conversation, he stared curiously at the two-inch miniature Fashawn — the black Bart Simpson that was, the album artwork that is. that of Fashawn’s — and a black Bart Simpson that was, and was so as clear as day — standing in the foreground with his feet crossed over — he had his elbow dug onto the lip of a skateboard — standing, in that exact way, positioned, in that exact classic pose — and he was wearing a small t-shirt, too, and had jean shorts on, and wore Converse-like sneakers, and even was sporting the exact, classic, care-free mischievous smile. It was that ball-shaped round gut, the same look and all; Bart Simpson it was and, in the flesh, well, cartoon flesh, actually — and black flesh at that, not yellow flesh — and tattoos had been carved into his fists, as well — a quite notable touch of an addition to the classic look. Black Bart Simpson. with tattoos carved onto his fists. That’s basically exactly what this was. Jeremy looked briefly away up at Kevin — as Kevin stared out the window — staring out with a blank face and no emotion; as apparently, he was lost deep inside his thoughts. Jeremy then looked back down — to stare again at the black Bart Simpson, but as he did this, black Bart Simpson had already gone — a new song was playing on Kevin’s iPod, and though it was still by the rapper Fashawn, it was from a different album than the black Bart Simpson; the artwork was not as interesting to Jeremy as the former. The artwork in this one consisted in some basic parts: a gold colored background, with a very clear, quality photographing of young black boy superimposed in the center; several large, translucent bubbles were also therein added—animated—added therein to seem as if floating in front of the young boy in the center; at a far right angle — beneath album’s bottom-top brim — as close as possible to the album’s actual, physical top edge (physical, if you will; this was, after all, an image), the words, “Boy Meets World” was therein inscribed — colored-in with bright, fluorescent purple. Jeremy gazed at the words — scrunching his lower jaw, he’d grown bored with his eavesdropping of Kevin’s iPod — he turned himself over and onto his side opposite of Kevin; he stared out aimlessly into the black rubber flooring of the bus center aisle, and began to fall deeper inside his own thoughts, as well.
Kevin often listened to a wide range of music. Often he’d switch off in and out of different phases, cycling through many different genres. He could listen to virtually anything and appreciate it to some significant amount, and could do so (at least in earnest) at any given time, but his natural preference was to cycle. And every time that he’d turn in that cycle, he’d dig into each spot deeper and deeper each time that did. In some good sense he was a hipster god. He’d at times say whimsical things, even douche-ish things, some might say, things such as like, “Different tunes for moods,” and he’d meant it, too. He wasn’t a musician, though, not unless playing Hot Cross Buns on a plastic recorder counts, but he did just truly enjoy listening to music. He’d listen to music for at least some or more of the hours of any and every day, and oftentimes he’d listen to music for several hours in a single day. Kevin relished diversity, and he did whatever that he possibly could, whether conscious or not, or subconscious or not, or whatever else there is or not, to ensure that his taste had reflected that. But, maybe Kevin was genuine, though, but who knew. Hipster god he was, but interestingly and conflicting enough, he wasn’t a hipster. At least, he’d not self-identify as one. Just the mere thought of self-identifying as being as anything perhaps terrified Kevin. Kevin was a weird bird, uh, and even many might say that, that Kevin was a weird bird. But he was a likable weird bird, though, not a serial killer weird bird, but still he was definitely a weird bird.
The crudest summation of a modern hipster, as according the Internet, is as the epitome of counter-culture, but many hipsters do tend to be quite cultured, actually, which perhaps is why they tend to piss some people off. Kevin, though, was really more of a conglomerate of sorts. Well, maybe. He didn’t hang out with many hipsters, and he couldn’t be filed in with any one scene or click, really. Jeremy was one of Kevin’s best friends. And Jeremy himself wasn’t identifiable with any one thing or scene, either, but so because for different reasons. Jeremy was an average Joe, so to say, as that he’s well rounded, as are many people, maybe even as are most people. But Kevin, though, on the other hand, was not so well rounded. In fact, Kevin was the ultimate monstrosity of geometry. A real head scratcher that guy, and for reasons well beyond just his revolving taste in music—way, way beyond.
The ride for Kevin and Jeremy was nearing its end as the bus approached 5th and 11th, the intersection of the apartment building where Kevin and Jeremy both lived, though not as roommates, or even on the same floor as each other, but in separate studio apartments of the small building named The Glory. The building a unique sight to see; plain in shape and three stories tall, essentially it was an inverted shoebox coated in thick stucco and painted blue like a birthday cake, and adorned on all sides of the exterior was grid-like arrangements of perfectly circular windows of which all were framed in crimson red steel. At the front façade and above the front doors hanged and mounted was a large and bright blue electric neon sign that bore two words for all to see, the mysterious name of the building, the name The Glory. As the spectacle it was, especially in relative to the simple cookie-cut architecture and picket fence ideals invoked by most of all the other buildings in town, The Glory quickly and easily had become as one the most recognizable structures by locals, and although the rent to live at The Glory was certainly cheep, leasing was always competitive as that occupants rarely would leave unless they’d needed to relocate out of town altogether. Some of its occupants have lived in its studios for more than decades. The Glory had earned and maintained a great and strong charm in that sense. People who lived there enjoyed a simple privilege in just being able to say that they lived there.
Kevin and Jeremy exited the bus. It was raining which was not unusual, not for there, and not for any time of year there; but thunder had begun banging, and lightning was striking, and responding Kevin and Jeremy kept onward picking up pace as they’d went, shuffling through wading the shallow collections of fallen water. The rain was falling steady and heavy like it was pouring from the end of a big hose, and felt like lead goblets falling that disintegrate on impact but with enough force to mark on human flesh visible welts. It wasn’t hail that was falling, but just rain, violent, heavy tropical rain. Kevin and Jeremy needed marching through it for a distance of two city blocks to reach The Glory, which was not so torturous for them to do but more so just extremely uncomfortable to endure. Along that way marching they’d pass by the Wonder Flea, a Wal-Mart sized outdoor flea market that for long had been rendered in literal shambles and ruins but still was running strong as a legitimate place of business on all Saturdays and Sundays of every week of every year, and had been running strong like that for more than six decades in fact; but as rumor would have it as of days more recent the flea market was facing a real threat of being terminated, and was threatened as so by the government of the city itself, and mainly so as for being an eyesore and for no reasons further. Jeremy tested himself against the strength of the rainfall as they’d reached the flea market, and raised his head upward to brave his bare eyes against the rain’s full wrath all just so just that he could stare at the flea market’s sign; something about its sign always seemed to fascinate Jeremy; it was an ugly sign of needlessly tremendous size, and was rusted to shit in and of its entirety, and affixed atop it stood the most jarring aspect of all, a 12-foot tall plywood cutout of an anthropomorphic flea flexing all six of stubby muscular arms: the mascot of the Wonder Flea.
Passing the flea and some few buildings farther they’d arrived at The Glory. Exhausted, they cut to cross a portion of the manicured front lawn of The Glory, knowing all full well that Melinda would be angered by their doing so, but, and not because of this but because the flowers they’d encountered midway were too tall for them to walk over they’d cut back towards center and walk to and onto the proper pathway. The rain was still pouring hard, and the sky still showed no sign yet that the storm was relenting. Jeremy stared down at the pathway as they’d walked the remaining fifty-feet to the front doors of The Glory. While walking Jeremy noticed differences in the colorations of the cement on the pathway, and how it had changed in the saturation from the rainfall, changing from its normal matte powder pink to the rich velvet red it had become in wetness. They’d arrived at the front doors. James, a fellow tenant of The Glory, walked outside from within as they’d stepped to enter, and spared both Jeremy and Kevin of the need to locate their own keys. They walked inside. Melinda was sitting behind a large brown desk in the main foyer, which was most often where she’d be. Melinda was pissed off, angry about something involving one of the tenants on the second floor, a college girl named Meredith, the youngest tenant in the building. Kevin had known the details of it already, but felt no need to share them with Jeremy, even after Jeremy’s curiosity was struck from observing Melinda’s apparent anger, but Kevin did know the reason why Melinda was angry, and had seen her anger coming before it began. “Don’t talk bad about her dog,” Kevin said to Jeremy as they walked up the stairway up to second floor. “Why would I talk bad about her dog?” Jeremy asked, “I’ve never even talked to her before,” he added. “Some people are kind of protective of their dogs, you know, as like they’re their children. That’s all I mean by that,” Kevin said in reply. Meredith’s dog was barking, and Kevin and Jeremy could hear it in the hallways. Meredith was at work, and she’d work nearly every day, and in those hours she was gone her dog would bark until she’d return. “You talk to her?” Jeremy asked, “she’s hot,” he added. “Just in the hallway sometimes,” Kevin said, “She’s nice, but she’s dumb, just mad young. I don’t know,” he said.
“Word. I gotta go,” Jeremy said and turned, and walked away to return to his studio. “Later,” Kevin said back at him, like tossing the word at him, underhand, hoping that his word would hit Jeremy on the back while Jeremy kept on walking farther and farther away, but he wouldn’t hear it. After Jeremy was gone, Kevin as well returned to his own studio, which was on the second floor where he was standing. Kevin had a notable habit of leaving his door unlocked, but his habit bothered others more than it bothered himself. As he opened his door he found a manila envelope that had been slipped underneath it, some time in the time he’d been out somewhere elsewhere. He picked up the envelope from off the ground. It was from Meredith. Meredith, he read, inside his mind, as it was Meredith that was wrote bold and large in black sharpie on the face of the envelope’s jacket. Kevin walked inside and shut the door behind him, and left it unlocked, and placed the manila envelope on his bookshelf alongside with his keys, and went to his couch to rest.
By then the storm had ended, and as Kevin glanced, at the one circular, submarine-styled, esque, crimson steel framed window of the far wall of his studio, he could see that the sun was outside and that it was shining — but his clothes, though, remained damp from the storm that was there before it, and his legs — he noticed had gotten dirty — covered and splattered with bits of sand, soil, and mud, among the various other sediments and grime that collected, caking to his flesh and body from walking through the deep puddles that were on the then-flooded streets; and as tired as he’d become from thats labor, he’d found himself in more need of a shower than rest — or, so he was, at least for his couch’s sake, as he determined this — that he was in some critical need of taking a shower. But before he could so much as rotate the nobs to the faucet of his bathtub, a series’ of loud rapid knocks began coming from the hall’s view face of his apartment’s front door — interrupt his process. And so, and, begrudgingly, Kevin obliged to the knocking demands — forgoing his shower, he re-dressed, and returned to the main room and walked to the front door, to entertain his “obnoxious” visitor. It was Melinda. As he opened his door he could see immediately that she was still angry. Melinda let herself inside Kevin’s apartment, pushing Kevin aside without touching him, and straight-lined for his couch, taking a seat for herself on its middle cushion. This did not please Kevin, and he forced out a loud cough as he shut the door to close it, and stared, at the door’s flat green face for a long quick moment before turning to address Melinda. “What’s up?” he asked her, as he walked towards a pair of collapsed collapsible chairs he’d pre-positioned to be there, which he’d arranged there in such a way that both chairs faced his couch and that his couch faced both chairs; and set between them, as he had placed them, was an old, wiring spool that was turned on its side, and that was made of wood, which Kevin had jacked away from a construction site, and had used in his studio for his coffee table. “It’s that girl,” Melinda answered, “that college girl,” she said continuing, “you know who I’m talking about. She’s a bitch,” Melinda said bitterly.
“College girl?” Kevin asked Melinda with emphasis, hoping to avoid giving her any hints of his personal alliances, whether accurate or otherwise. “Yeah, college girl. You know, that college girl you talk to daily, that college girl your friend Jeremy gawks at like the pervert that he probably is, that college girl, the only college girl we have here at the glory!” Melinda said nearly shouting, apparently having seen straight through Kevin’s façade. Melinda had known quite more already than what Kevin knew she knew, and in this regard, Melinda earned more credit from Kevin in that very moment. “Oh, Meredith you mean, of course,” Kevin said responding, “I did not know she’s the only college girl,” he added, although he was lying. “She’s nice to me, why is she a bitch to you?” Kevin asked her. Melinda began unwinding as she explained, taking her time in venting her anger at the expense of Kevin’s hygienic comfort. Melinda did not live at The Glory, she was not a tenant there, but its property manger, and in charge of most anything pertaining to there, from financial matters to interpersonal relations amongst its tenants. Almost like an RA at college dormitory at time. But Melinda would even perform maintenance at times, from time-to-time, or as often as much as which she reasonably could. But despite this, Melinda was not too very close with most tenants, and especially not on any actual, real personal basis, and in fact, by most tenants Melinda was not well liked at all, and probably so mainly because of her strictly business-first-and-only demeanor; but Melinda did trust Kevin, and was indebted to Kevin much emotionally. Melinda suffered from the unfortunate reality of having a stalker, and for much of the past year or, as far as which she knows it for the past year at least. Kevin happened eventually to become involved himself, and had so purely by chance, and on the night that Melinda had finally confirmed for herself that her stalker exists. During weeks prior, leading up to that incident, Melinda already had become more than suspicious that a person was stalking her, but she’d not yet enough evidence on it to seem as anything else but abnormally paranoid, and so as such, Melinda kept the entirety of that paralyzing fear strictly to herself. She’d confided in no one on it for more than some months. Jeffrey, Melinda’s stalker, a 46-year-old man whom she’s never actually met, had become obsessed with Melinda the very first moment he saw her, and would since forth invest much of his own time to make himself be as in places where he’s as physically close to Melinda as he can without her knowing. Much of this time he spends is on Melinda’s porch outside her bedroom in late hours of the night while Melinda sleeps. One night, Melinda awoke to a terrible sight, that of Jeffrey’s silhouette in the blinds on her bedroom porch French doors. She responded to scream, and as Jeffrey’s shadow had promptly disappeared, Melinda blamed the occurrence on her own mind, and even went back to sleep, but Jeffery would be back on her porch in only three nights.
“Now she hates me for it,” Melinda said, “She’s an immature winey little bitch,” she said, “she’s worse even than her stupid fucking little dog,” she added. Kevin said nothing, as he could think of nothing to say to her, that neither honest nor less-than-honest, would be as both relevant to her comments and appease his own sense of personal integrity. Melinda grimaced at his silence, and continued on ranting, “If you can’t take care of a dog,” she said, “you shouldn’t own a dog,” she added, and to this Kevin nodded but remained silent.
“Would you like some coffee, Melinda?” Kevin asked, and somewhat anxiously, and was searching for a distraction from their conversation. “Yes, please, thank you” Melinda said graciously. Kevin gave her a slight a nod and bit his left cheek, and closed his eyes shut as he stood from his metal chair, and went to across the room to the small, stainless steel counter that was bolted, at one-to-two of four-quarters high, onto the far left wall of Kevin’s studio, the focal component of Kevin’s kitchenette, the entirety of which consisted in some parts: the stainless steel bench-like counter which, installed on the plain of it, centered was a small stainless steel sink, the piping of which was visible in plain sight, exposed from beneath, and installed, up higher, above the counter on that wall was three horizontally stacked rows of wooden planks that functioned as shelving, and located, at the right side-ends of both the stainless steel counter and the three planks used for shelving, walled up against had stood a big, vomit-green refrigerator.
Kevin liked his kitchenette, meager as it was, and he as well liked his apartment. Kevin was proud to live there at The Glory. But Kevin had come from decent wealth. Both Kevin’s parents were dentists, as were both his sisters. Kevin left his family five years ago, leaving them and his hometown of Westbury, Long Island (a wealthy town, even by Long Island standards), and had found rent, and with good luck at that having found it at The Glory upon his arrival.
“You think she’s jealous of me?” Melinda asked. “Why would she be jealous of you?” Kevin asked her back with quick response. “Because I’m successful,” Melinda said answering, “she has trouble paying her rent on time, and she works all the time, too.”
“Yeah, well, she’s a college student, you know,” Kevin said reasoning, “She’s not focused on that kind of competing, you know, and certainly not with you,” he said emphatically, “She has her peers to deal with, her fellow students, people her own age, her own little things, and her own little world,” he said.
“I’m not sure what competition has to do with it,” Melinda said, “I think she jealous,” she confirmed. “I think you’re flattering yourself,” Kevin said. Melinda laughed, “So, who are you jealous of?” she asked playfully. Kevin paused to think, “James Briscoe,” he answered. “Who’s he?” Melinda asked. “Guy I knew in the first grade,” Kevin said. Melinda howled. “You’re jealous of a first-grader!” Melinda said laughing, “So, what does this James Briscoe do to make you so jealous for all these years,” she asked smiling. “Briscoe,” Kevin said correcting Melinda’s error, “and I’m not jealous of him anymore.”
Melinda groaned, “Awe, come on, Kevin, that’s shit. Who makes you jealous—these decades?” she asked. “I can’t think of any names if I’m honest,” Kevin answered. “You mean if you’re dishonest,” Melinda quipped. “Why is it so hard for you to believe that I’m not jealous of someone,” Kevin asked her, and was a bit struck from her response. Melinda smiled, and looked away thinking. They were both sitting on the couch. “Is that coffee ready?” Melinda asked. Kevin looked across the room of all its fifteen feet, “yeah,” he said, and got up to go get it.
Melinda watched him as he did. “Actually,” Melinda said, as Kevin grabbed a second mug to pour, “I just remembered something, I actually need to go. I’m sorry, Kevin, but thank you anyway,” she said standing up. “Oh, alright, Melinda, I’ll see you later.”
Kevin walked Melinda to the door, and again after shutting it he left it unlocked. Kevin had forgotten about having decided that he needed a shower, and walked to the pair of collapsible metal chairs to sit down, and not to his couch—but not because he was dirty. Kevin was confused. Melinda was confusing, to Kevin.
As Kevin sat there on his metal chair, he looked around at his apartment, and set his eyes on a large crack in the ceiling that’d been there since before he’d moved in, and he thought about Melinda, and how she’d left so abruptly, and had been so sly in doing it, and how she’d refused to believe him that he was not jealous of someone. It crossed his mind that perhaps she was falling for him, but more crossing was Jeffry, and how Jeffry factors in, and what then would equate without him, and in this regard, Kevin was failing math miserably. He couldn’t resolve it. He wondered even whether Jeffry was real or not. Kevin had seen Jeffry on that one night, yes, and with his own eyes, but it was possible Kevin speculated, at least, just possible, that the whole event was to some extent fabricated, a rouse by Melinda, Kevin thought. But why would she do that, Kevin wondered. What would be Melinda’s gain from that, and how could she have played it off for so long, and have been so consistent as she has Kevin wondered. Kevin still was staring at the crack in his celling. Melinda, the property’s property manager, has not even yet noticed the crack Kevin thought, reflecting on that, that at least she’s not mentioned it to him, or has bothered speaking on it. But doing that was not necessarily Melinda’s job, not unless Kevin made mention of it, and even if then, whether Melinda would need fixing it is grayer than black or than white.
Kevin flirts with Melinda, and does whether he considers it or not. But Kevin would flirt with a toaster if a toaster would flirt with Kevin, and not because Kevin’s a flirt by nature, and not because he’s desperate to flirt, either, but truly because, that Kevin does not act, he reacts.
Kevin stood up. He was tired of thinking, and it had brought him nowhere. He walked to his bookshelf, and grabbed the manila envelope that Meredith had sent. He returned to his chair to open it. It was raining, again, and he could it hear it as it poured. Reading the contents of the envelope, Kevin felt then a bit different, a bit out of tune, not bad, but not something with which he’s much familiar; something not comfortable but not uncomfortable, and something too nuanced to both know it and say it. But he’d felt it, and whatever it was, whether it was good or was bad was not say-able, and whether it was from or was for Meredith is not knowable, but what it was it was, with the windows left open, the rainfall sounds just like a shower.
Fog like Brownies
The air was dense, and was difficult to see. Sea fogs had gotten bad lately. Accidents were happening more often, and especially near the bridges. Jeremy breathed in the air as he sat on his inverted five-gallon bucket near the edge of dock on the old Coffee Pot Bay. He was there fishing for hammerheads. Babies. The air was cool, and was cooled by its fogs in the early morning, sitting there near the tropics near winds over salted waters in winter. Breathing it in was like inhaling albuterol, and it was cleansing, and seemed healthful but for why Jeremy had not known. It was maybe past six in that morning, but the Sun or, its lack thereof had made the time seem more like five. And the clouds that morning, or as much of them that could be seen through the dense, heavy fog were all gray with black patches, and in corners showed deep purple hues hinting the Sun’s presence. The dock Jeremy sat on was old and was small, and was slowly being eaten by sea barnacles, and was privately owned, and Jeremy was without permission to be there and be using it. He felt paranoid, but not because that he was on a private dock without permission. Whomever had owned the dock had not used it for more than some years, and whomever that rightful owner was, be they he or, possibly she as Jeremy had allowed himself to reason was possibly dead. But it was spooky to just be there on that morning, alone in the fog, and in silence, and lack of natural sunlight.
The night before, Jeremy had watched a disturbing documentary on human cannibalism, and a handful of the images he’d seen from it had remained with Jeremy on that morning. Jeremy thought, briefly but clearly, and for more than one moment of the Miami Cannibal, an apparently crazed homeless man, whom, in presumably enacting extreme mal effects of an incredible overdose on bath salts, among many other type things, had lost all grip on his own mind, and proceeded, to attack the flesh of an other man, consuming the eyes, nose, and complete top portion of the face of an elderly homeless man, whom, less-than-conscious in a deep sleep prior to the onset of his attacker’s attack was rendered completely defenseless, and most surely would have died had not two nearby police officers shot the drug-induced cannibal and thereby kill him dead. The image of the poor, homeless, cannibal attack survivor was burned into Jeremy’s memory on that night; the sight of the man’s face was beyond grotesque, un-human, like the product of something imagined by Rob Zombie on his A-game, but was far much more worse as that it was real. Jeremy had felt absolutely terrible for the man, and anyone would, and many did, and in fact, it was that which was why the man could afford the exponentially expensive surgeries required to help repair his horribly mangled, mutilated face; peoples’ sympathies, as it was drawn from, and on the exponentially large scale that it was, had ultimately rendered in huge financial donations from out of those peoples’ own pockets.
Headlights appeared in the distance. The light from its beams would catch Jeremy’s eye, even with him sitting far from its source, and facing as well away from its path; the hitting point of its light had reached just far enough to catch his peripheral. It gave him goose bumps. Jeremy had been on the dock for more than a full hour and still had caught nothing.