Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Studio

Isa sat on the old tan carpet, her back pressed against the worn and sagging double mattress. The bed took up nearly the entire studio, which was only about 200 square feet, smaller than some of the bedrooms she had lived in. There was one single wide window by the front door with a view of the grassy courtyard in front, which was green but still managed to exude an aura of abandonment with its yellow dandelions and overgrown patches.
Opposite the window was a small kitchenette just barely visible behind a wall of boxes. There were stacks and stacks of things in the crowded studio, a lifetime of stuff crammed between four walls. On top of the boxes were loose papers and dirty laundry, dust and dog hair, the smell of things left sitting too long. Below the thin glass window was a faded striped couch whose back was covered with an old gray blanket that looked coarse to the touch.
A narrow walkway had been created between all the boxes and trash bags filled with clothes, it wove around the bed and between the boxes and stacks of papers and cut back to the bathroom and kitchenette. The carpet, only visible because of the cleared path, was tan and covered in a thick layer of beige dog hair. The studio was one in a dozen of single-story Indian red cottages just off the intersection of Broadway and San Lorenzo, which ran parallel to the river. The cottages were easily accessible by a single flight of stairs (just ten steps) that led from the intersection down to Barson St, which marked the beginning of the beach flats, a neighborhood of immigrants, small-time prostitutes, street dealers and a handful of students.
Isa sat on the ground, her back pressed against the mattress and dirty box spring. Ray sat in front of her on the couch, his knees shaking, his jaw clenching over and over like he was chewing gum, his entire body a picture of anxiety. Mick was supposed to be back any minute with the score. Until the moment he came back, opening the door with a squeak, Ray would sit there uncomfortably, his eyes darting nervously without seeing anything.
Debbie was laying on the bed sipping on a large glass of water, the golden retriever curled up by her feet.
“When did you say he left Deb?” Ray asked.
“He left about thirty minutes ago, but you know how slow he walks, nothin’ he can really do to go faster- those legs-”
“Yeah-” Ray answered nervously.
Isa pictured Mick walking, a thin man with thinner twisted legs and a colostomy bag hanging by his hip. He looked like an old Bob Dylan, if Bob Dylan had been hit by a car and then left in a hole for ten years. His face was sunken and pock-marked and pale, his dirty curly hair was just a few inches long but looked withered and burnt. Debbie was over forty, had thick limbs and a torso covered in fat. She was in her pajamas sprawled out on the faded blue sheets, looking slightly less anxious than Ray, but she was waiting too, anxious to shoot up.
“He left like- thirty minutes ago Deb?”
“Man, I’d have given him a ride if I knew it was gonna be this long. I’m phenin,’ you know?”
“I know. We’re all hurtin’”
Isa was quiet sitting on the old tan carpet, her back pressed against the worn and sagging double mattress. She looked at Ray, her beautiful boyfriend who had turned into something she just couldn’t bare to admit, not now. Now she just wanted the drugs. Wanted him to find a vein, get some dope for tomorrow and then they could go home. Maybe he’d eat her out when he felt better, maybe they’d watch a movie, lay in bed. Then she could pretend things were ok.

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