I can’t find my Metropass, I can’t find my wallet. I had just assumed that it was in the same coat pocket I put it in when Karen dragged me to the bar last Friday night, but it’s not. I distinctly remember taking it out of my purse and putting it into my jacket pocket, thinking I won’t be taking my jacket off, it will be safe. I retrace my steps home, thinking maybe somehow, it jumped out of my pocket. I get home and call the temp agency and tell them I’ll be late. That bitch receptionist answers, the one who makes a point of putting me on hold before I can agree to it. Then I get shuffled to Pat who is in charge of the low level temps, the one who deals with not just the desperately unemployed but the desperately unskilled unemployed, the ones who take anything and are happy to get it. That’s me, happy to get it. She listens to me ramble and mumbles for me to just bring in my time sheet, they no longer need me for inventory. My body relaxes, just a bit as I hang up the phone. I can’t even make the rent this month, but somehow that seems less important than the missing wallet at the moment.
I call Karen to see if she will come down to the bar with me later, see if they found my wallet.
“Hello?” Karen always sounds like she just woke up, it doesn’t matter how long I wait in the morning to call, she always has the just got up sleep sound to her voice. I explain my wallet situation and she is happy to help…again. She then attaches an amendment, coffee, I fall for this every time, her willingness to help is always followed with a request. Something that sounds harmless, like coffee, but it’s a high price, since I will be sitting for at least two hours listening to her complain about her husband, her daughter. It might be three hours since I owe her big time for the hospital thing.
I put the phone down and start to feel the cold push its way through the balcony door. I have requested service on the door three times now, but I think the super hates me. There are a lot of reasons for him to hate me, most of them justified. The last time involved some yelling, it didn’t help that I was drunk, or for that matter, that he probably was too. He thinks my life is easier, and who knows, maybe it is. I get up and get some towels and roll them up, I stick them at the bottom of the door, but they no match for today’s freezing temperatures. I turn up the electric heat and watch what little moisture is left get sucked out of the air by this shitty fake warmth.
I decide on a bath to achieve warm and moisture at the same time. Half of the relaxation of a bath is the anticipation, the prep. I put the hot water on, pick my smell of the moment, pour the bath oil in, mix in some cold and sink into my liquid lover. Perfect, a day off, sort of, I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, it’s never helped me before, tomorrow, that lying fucking bastard, work hard, that’s all it takes…what a load of shit.
I was right, Karen is going to suck every ounce of my attention. This is a three hour session, minimum. She starts with the daughter and works her way around to her husband. This will be rounded off by a triumphed justification of her current cheating. I don’t know why she bothers, I don’t really care if she is sleeping with someone else, but then, she not really trying to convince me, she’s talking to herself. She pauses long enough to allow a snippet of someone else to enter her world, but she only testing, to see if I’m still listening. Finally we arrive at the club.
“This is it?” I look at the entrance, it just a door with no sign, there is no way to tell if it is even a club.
“Ya,” Says Karen, opening the door and walking in, “You’d hardly know it’s here, that’s why it’s so popular with the kids.
The word “kids” pops out of her mouth and hits me right between the eyes. I must have been drunk before I got here last night, it didn’t even dawn on me that it was a hangout for children.
“The kids call it the Sandbox.” Karen laughs.
I feel my stomach tighten.
There is only one person in the room. He is sitting at the bar, looking like he never left the night before.
“Excuse me.” Karen walks up to him.
He looks at us but doesn’t respond. He is around our age, but looks like he has managed to survive most of his adult life without bathing. He has teenage clothing on and appears to be stressing every stitch of it, including an ass crack that is managing to escape his low rise jeans.
“My friend here lost her wallet last night.” Karen ignores his lack of caring or communication. We stand and wait for a response, he’s all we’ve got. He lifts his elbows and moves them backward, then rests them on the bar. He is facing us with his gut fully protruding from his skater t-shirt.
“I was just thinking,” Karen moves closer, “Maybe you have a lost and found.”
He starts to smile, showing off a yellow grin hidden beneath a field of stubble that is suppose to look deliberate and masculine, but just looks filthy.
“Anything lost here, stays lost.”
“Oh, Ok.” Karen and I start to back away from him, and what we are assuming is the source of a rather sour fruity smell. “Well, thanks anyway.”
We leave, closing the outside door to the Sandbox.
“That’s ok.” I’m hoping it is lost and stays lost. The only other place it could be sends a chill down my soon to be arthritic and aging spine.
One drink turns into two… three…four…, I finally arrive home, happy it’s the weekend. I’ll start next week with a clean slate. I’ll have plan, maybe I can take a course or something, work my way through college, graduate and become a semi successful middle income middle aged wage earner. My fucking god, how low the bar has fallen, I can barely pick it up to crawl under it. I can’t think about it right now, getting into bed is the best I can do at the moment.
The phone wiggles its way into my dreams, letting me know the real world awaits, with all its teeth showing, perhaps a weapon. My arm reaches over and fumbles for my big clunky bed side phone. I can’t cope with cell phones, the numbers are too small, my eyes too weak, my fingers too fat. The machine picks up and I start to fall back asleep.
“Hello?” It’s a woman’s voice. “Is this…Donna Farmer’s voice box, oh, I mean, I guess you can’t answer back can you.” I can feel a sleepy grin try to form over my dry front teeth, a solicitation call, thank god I didn’t pick up. “I have your wallet.” This brings me into full consciousness, I sit up. “I found it.” A wave of relief washes over me, I won’t have to cancel my cards, redo my license and health card. I need to pick up the phone, thank this woman. “It was in my son’s bedroom.” Suddenly without warning the air in the room decides to take a holiday, not an ounce left, not one drop. I start to gasp and back away from the phone on the night stand like it somehow houses this woman deep in its circuitry. “I think I can read your address here, I’ll just stop by and drop it off.” She hangs the phone up, this isn’t a favour, it’s a warning, soon to be followed by an attack.
I can feel the cowardly air return. I start to think of ways to avoid this woman and perhaps still get my wallet back, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t care about the wallet anymore, in fact, death sounds good right about now. My feet land on the floor, sucking up the cold. I need to leave, I need to be gone for the day. She doesn’t know I’m home, she’ll just leave the wallet, push it through the mail slot on the door. In fact, an outing would be good, you know, a date with myself, I mean really, a girl needs a little time alone, preferably not incarcerated.
“One forty five.” The east Indian girl behind the cash slurs the price in my direction while holding out her hand and talking to her brother….sister…cousin, I can’t tell, hair nets and identical costumes make them all look alike. I am tempted to wait till she actually looks at me before I give her the money, but right now indifference to my existence is kind of what I want. I have pissed off the universe and I need to lay low, you know, till god or whoever runs this show forgets I am here, if they haven’t already. I hand over the money and wait for her to actually stop talking and realize she has to give me change. This takes an astonishingly long time, I try to chalk it up to cultural differences, perhaps she thinks she is doing me a favour, , standing there, giving me time alone to meditate and find my inner retail god, you know, the one who says, don’t get pissed, she’s barely making minimum wage. The change is delivered , placing her hand in the same location without looking to check if I’m even still there. I find a seat and prepare to nurse my double double till the cows come home… those crazy cows, how do they know?
One hour bleeds into another, forming a goopy kind of fused together clump of time. I try to think of a plan, I even take a pen out of my purse and write on a napkin. This is the height of my organizational abilities, scribbling on a recycled bit of tissue. “Leave town”, I write, then, “suicide?”, I scribble it out, not that it isn’t a viable option, I just know, well, I’d never do it, it requires a commitment, and besides, I’ll die anyway, probably soon, probably at the hands of an angry mother. Trevor’s face flashes before me and I try, like checking the toilet before flushing, to remember that night. Did we actually have sex? I then convince myself that if we did I would have remembered…something. I stare at my napkin again and write “school?”, but it seems as likely as suicide. My last venture to get help from my family to go back to school was met with a resounding “never”, then, if I’m not mistaken, a little bit of chuckling. Not that I blame them, how long can I stall this final descent into impoverished old age. Maybe I can squeak out enough social assistance to get by. I don’t need much, some alcohol, some cigarettes…a cat. There’s always something good on television, so my nights are taken care of. I’ll get a head start on my final chapter. There…done.
I feel better, a plan has been made, my future comes into view. Not so bad really, I’ll become that loveable old lady in apartment 4C. No one will really know where I started but everyone can see where I’ll end. One day, someone will say; “Hey, has anyone seen Donna? You know, that sweet old lady from 4C, the one who makes those really great cookies for the Christmas co-op?” Then someone with put together that odd smell on the fourth floor with my absence and there will be sad faces all around. I can feel my eyes start to water as I picture the emotional pain my death creates. I dab my eyes with my napkin and dampen the scribbles that outline my wobbly fate.
Time has decided to torture me with its insufferable habit of continuing at the same pace, barely two hours have passed. I only know one person who has any power over time, she can slow it down till each tick has its own personality, its own dreadful life sucking personality.