Chapter 3


“Sweetheart, it happens to everyone and I still think you’re the bee’s knees,” Nora stroked Jackson’s blonde head as he lay in her lap.

She pushed a hair out of his eye and kissed his head. Uncrossing her legs, Nora climbed off of the bed.

“Where are you going?” Jackson spoke like a child.

Nora coddled him, “Just to the kitchen love, I thought I’d fix us a night cap. I’ll be right back.”

Grabbing a black cotton dress off of the floor, she stretched it over her head and whisked off to the kitchen.

“Oh, the floor is so cold. Baby, we should get heated floors,” she tried him.

Jackson was silent. Stretching his lanky body, he got off the bed and stood long in the mirror. He forced his small belly out then quickly brought it back in – in and out, in and out. He lifted his penis and then let it fall. Behind him, Nora clanked glasses and grappled with what sounded like 2,000 plastic bags.

“What the hell are you doing in there? I thought you were getting us drinks,” Jackson scolded from across the studio flat.

In the kitchen, Nora stopped what she was doing, rolled her black eyes and continued to pile pastrami and Swiss on rye. Walking on the balls of her feet she crossed back to the bedroom.

“Hey baby, you want me to heat up your sandwich or just leave it as is?” Nora asked looking for her slippers.

“Where are my pink fuzzies?” She cooed.

By now, Jackson had donned his plaid Tommy Hilfiger pj bottoms and resigned himself to watch men in black and grey suits and ties debate why their party was destined, as if by Zuess himself, to rescue the nation’s floundering economy. Bill O’Reilly attempted to play his role as mediator between the two opposing party members but was not able to resist calling his liberal guest a pinhead. Still in search of her pink fuzzies, Nora laughed at O’Reilly’s off handed comment.

“What you like him?” Jackson asked.

Nora shrugged, “I don’t know anything about him, I just like the word.”

Jackson propped himself up on his elbow and failed to make the bed his pulpit.

“Bill O’Reilly and all of these Fox News…uh…you know…uh…”

“Pinheads?” Nora offered.

“No! They’re the reason why our economy is in the shitter,” Jackson stated.

Nora slipped a wool lame shawl about her shoulders, slipped on her pink fuzzies, and hurried back to the kitchen. Too distracted to engage in political discourse, Jackson dragged himself out of bed and met Nora in the kitchen. He walked in and watched her as she lifted his meat and cheese pile from the small toaster oven then place it atop rye bread smothered in mustard and saurkraut. Finishing her deli masterpiece off with a firm whole dill pickle she offered it to him.

“How about that, eh?” She asked placing the sandwich into his face.

Jackson eyed his competition, then slapped it out of Nora’s hand. The white salad plate lost its balance causing spoonfuls of sauerkraut, now stained with mustard, black slices of bread, and the greasy meat and cheese pile to splatter senselessly onto the cold stone floor. Nora held her slight but long hands to her mouth. As if pulled by a tiny thread, the left corner of Jackson’s mouth lifted and although he tried to stifle it, Jackson hooted and hollered, revealing a loud Texan drawl.

“What is the matter with you?” She insisted angrily.

Jackson leaned down to clean up his mess but was shoved out of the way by Nora.

“Don’t bother, you don’t know how to clean up this type of mess,” Nora said while ripping a towel from the stove’s front door handle.

She tossed the towel over the mess and in one swipe the mess was gone. Spraying the counter and floor with blue green chemicals erased any evidence of the deli sandwich incident. Nora put away her cleaning supplies and returned to the bedroom where she removed her black dress and channel surfed in panties and pink fuzzies. Joining her, Jackson admired his fiancé in her underwear.

“I’m sorry. I’m so worried that I can’t please you,” Jackson admitted and stared at her.

“You’re spoiled Jacks,” she accused, “When things in your life get messy or difficult you crumble, you don’t know what to do.”

“And you’re cold,” he accused her.

“Wow!” Nora reacted.

“You do everything perfectly, you’re fucking perfect. I can’t fuck you so you build me a sandwich. And not just any sandwich my favorite sandwich, and its fucking perfect!”

“Then why did you smash it to the ground?” Nora asked confused.

“I wanted to ruin what you do well,” he said to the ground.

Nora climbed back into bed and pulled the blankets up to her neck and picked at her long painted nails. Jackson remained in the middle of the room scratching his head and glancing around the bedroom and out into the flat.

“So are you saying that I ruined fucking for you?” Nora tried to reason.

“What? No! It’s just that, you’re my perk not the other way around,” Jackson spoke like a child.

“My God Jacks, will you please speak plainly? I have no idea what you are trying to say,” Nora begged.

“I don’t know…never mind…I’m tired.”

Jackson rubbed his head then left the room. Nora listened for the slam of the bathroom door. From her nightstand she grabbed a pack of Virginia Slims and a Dove dark chocolate bar. She perked up and settled on America’s Next Top Model. Through the lazy plumes of cigarette smoke, Nora watched Tyra Banks loom over a diminutive cross-eyed girl, her tiny frame shaking in shame and disappointment. Tyra’s girl power inner beauty consolation pep talk failed to calm the second place winner.  Tyra, the too tall, too gawky kid never quit so why should she?

“Never give up on your dream, girl!” Ms. Banks challenged the loser.

Nora dragged on her Virginia Slim and turning down Tyra listened to Jackson’s battle. The medicine cabinet door creaked and slammed shut repeatedly. Every five minutes the shower would run for another 3 minutes then stop. Nora snubbed out her fag, threw the coverlet back and got out of the bed. The water in the bathroom had stopped about 4 minutes ago and Jackson was quiet.  Nora turned the show back up, loudly, then hurried across the cold flat to listen at the door. Behind the door, Nora could hear short choppy breaths and a constant slapping noise. A glass bottle slammed on the glass tiles silencing him.

Nora stood straight up then tip toed away from the door. From down the hall she heard him run the water for a few minutes. Sneaking back to the door, she attempted to knock. As she brought her fist to the door he started again with short choppy breaths and the constant slapping noise. Pressing her bare body to the door, she sighed heavily.

Climbing back into bed she turned off the TV, silencing the apartment. Lying on her back she stared at the dark ceiling and wiped away tears. The bathroom door thumped quickly for a few moments then suddenly stopped. Jackson creaked the floor on his way to the kitchen. In the kitchen he heated up left over’s and sang quietly to himself. Turning onto her side, Nora held back tears.

“Never give up on your dream, pinhead,” she tried to utter then sobbed into her pillow.