I came home from work and sat in the sofa we had dragged off the curb a few weeks earlier. I say ‘in’, rather than ‘on’, because I would sink into it. It was way too big for one person, but not big enough for two. The sofa cradled me like a hammock.
I spilled beer and it pooled under me and soaked into my jeans, in an area whose center was the small of my back. I put a towel under me—even though the sofa absorbed the beer within fifteen seconds—and did nothing else about it. I did nothing about it and drank five more beers while watching old sitcoms on Netflix. I had bought a six-pack of craft beers—pretty much the only alcohol I drank was IPAs.
My roommate came home and went into his room.
I slept in my bedroom, which had never aspired to be anything more than a mattress and the boxes I moved in with. I had put a crucifix I’d bought for a dollar at a thrift store on the wall as an ironic nod to its sparseness.
When I walked around the next day, in the cold, wet early December, the spot at the back of my jeans seemed perpetually damp from the humidity. It agitated my anal fissure—which I had gotten after some bathroom trouble following a week where I ate a cheeseburger every day.
It felt like a colony of termites eating away at my foundation. One minute it would be fine and in another I would be using all of my willpower—nearly crying from the irritation—not to scratch and pull at my ass through my jeans.
Jean buzzed me into her apartment. I thought we were going to hang out. Have a drink or two at her apartment then maybe go to a bar later. I arrived with a six-pack of hoppy, seasonal beer. She said she couldn’t actually hang out because she had too much schoolwork to do. I cracked open a beer and thought to linger for a minute anyway.
I was standing up. She was on her laptop at her coffee table on her sofa.
I looked at the framed picture of her and her mother on the wall. I walked in a little circle again. I looked towards her, at the long couch she sat on. I felt myself feel very tired. I lifted up the brown bottle to my mouth—resisted the irritation in the seat of my pants.
“Last night I spilled some beer on the sofa, and it pooled around me, and then I was just sitting in it,” I said. “I’ve smelled like dried-up beer all day today.”
She looked at me with revulsion or bewilderment.
“Why would you tell me that?” she asked.
“Because it’s funny, I guess.”
She looked at me. I made a little shrugging motion with my body.
“I thought it was funny,” I said.
I smiled. She looked at my mouth.
My mouth tasted like burnt.
RJC Smith is from New Jersey and lives in New York. He has work published in X-R-A-Y and forthcoming in Post Road.