Potluck

 

T H I S    W E E K

Poems by Jessie Janeshek

 

Jane

 


It was bad weather all morning. The kind of warm spring rain which doesn’t linger, but leaves everything soft and wet. I was at Jane’s house. We had just finished making love, and she decided to brew a pot of coffee and sit in bed.

    For a while, neither of us said a thing. I looked down at my naked legs. I stood up to stretch.

    “Sit,” she said, not touching me.

    “I was going to piss.”

    “Sit,” she said.

    I sat and the bed creaked. I stood and moved to the window. I was happy to see no more rain. I thought about rain, and remembered a time in which I was whacked out on brownie drugs me and Spitz picked up from a farmer he knew. I remembered feeling the heat of colors, watching the thin rain dance in the music of passing wind. It was a light, pleasant memory.

    I put a hand on Jane’s knee.

    “We should discuss these recent happenings,” she said.

    “Happenings?” I asked. “What’re we, news reporters?”

    She leaned over and opened her dresser. I tried to peek inside but all I could see were a few scattered pills and socks. Nothing of interest. She opened the next drawer and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

    “Sex,” she said, putting one between her lips.

    “Ok,” I said, sitting. “Let’s discuss it.”

    Jane lit the cigarette. She dragged and sank back into her pillows.

    “For starters,” she said. “And this is really important, so listen.”

    “I’m all hears, babe.”

    She shook her head and said the expression is “all ears.” She hated me for mistakes of language. I apologized but she didn’t laugh. She started talking again.

    “For starters,” she said. “Don’t ever drink our beer.”

    “Your beer?”

    “Yes.”

    “Why? Would anyone really know?”

    “Just don’t, ok? He drinks a few every night,” she said, taking a drag. “He’ll know, so don’t do it. Got that?”

    “Ok,” I said, shifting. “I’m all ears.”

    A bit later, we could smell the coffee. Jane stood, stubbed out her cigarette. She rummaged through her closet. She handed me a bathrobe to wear. It was too tight, but I didn’t say anything.

    



 

Jane left the bedroom naked. I followed her, watching her ass rise and fall like two moons. I remembered, just then, that there was a cat somewhere in her house, just as naked and soft-footed as her. His name was Midnight. He was black. I tried to whistle him out, but he was nowhere to be seen. He must have been hiding.

    Jane poured me coffee. I let my bathrobe drop.

    “Put it back on,” she said.

    “I want to be naked,” I said. “With you.”

    “This is my kitchen,” she said. “Don’t be a moron.”

    I pulled the robe back on. Jane handed me a mug of coffee, and I took a long sip. I looked at her body: the gentle curves of her face, her thin hands, the puff of hair between her legs. I felt myself getting hard again. I walked over and put an arm to her bare shoulder. This miraculous thing happened when I touched Jane. I could feel my blood. That’s the only way of describing it. I felt my blood rush to my cock, as if my body was reminding me that I’m alive.

    I told Jane this.

    “Jane,” I said. “I feel more alive when I touch you.”

    “I know,” she said. “I feel it too.”

    But feeling wasn’t good enough. I knew this. Science folks said even the dead could have orgasms. Feeling is worth shit.

    I tugged at Jane’s hand. “Let’s have another go then,” I said.

    “No,” she said, lovingly. “Your time is up.”

    “I suppose so,” I said.




 

Weeks later, I got the phone call.

    That’s the next time I saw Jane. I didn’t anticipate much, but I woke up and drove right over. She was pink-faced and dewy-eyed, reaching out for me before I could make it up the driveway.

    It was another wet morning.

    There’s a taxidermist in town named Mike O’Neil, good friend of mine, who did the cat. Midnight stood still on the mantle, glass eyed, looking ready to pounce at a bird. Jane and I spent the slow morning trying to fuck each other, but neither of us came.

    Afterwards we sat up in bed and split a glass of lemonade. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

    “Listen,” I said. “I better go.”

    Jane didn’t say anything. She slid closer, setting her head on my chest.

    “It’s half past my usual departure,” I said.

    Again: nothing.

    “Speak up, Jane” I said. “What are you thinking?”

    She crossed her arms. This was unusual behavior for her. I would often leave to her taking pills, smoking cigarettes, and petting Midnight with careful strokes.

    But that morning, everything had changed.

    I could sense it.

    

 

And then later:

    “Just don’t go,” she said. “Bill’s not coming back.”

    “Jane,” I said.

    “I’ll fry up some eggs,” she said. “Just for us.”

    “Jane,” I said.

    She shrugged. “Fine then,” she said.  “Leave.”

    I stood and got dressed. I paid attention because I knew it would be my last time doing it. I moved through her house to leave, same way as always, but everything felt off; then outside, I realized it was.

    Grass glistened in the wake of rain. Robust clouds chased the sun. Gnarled roots under foot.

    Life was moving on, but that little name rattled in my ribs.

 

 




Louis Raymond is the author of the chapbook Vacationland (2014). His poems and stories are published or forthcoming in DUM DUM ZINE, Poydras Review, Extract(s), Bartleby Snopes, Cheap Pop Lit, and elsewhere. He lives in Maine.