November 23, 2017

The Bedroom Light: A Moment, in Two Pictures

Photo courtesy of Lightandwiregallery.com

by Jonathan Coppe, ’18

Portfolio Staff

 

Getting up for the graveyard shift is a bitch. Who wants to go to work at 10 at night? No, on second thought, it’s going to bed at dawn that’s the worst part. I hate lying down while the sun comes up and it only ever gets brighter. Well, bed at  6 a.m. was the worst part before I got my part-time stocking at the grocery. Now I mostly just want to sleep.

Ugh, where is the coffee scoop?? You know what, I can look for it later. I’ll just use a spoon.

Do you still get to call it the graveyard shift when you’re a stripper? I guess 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. is more like standard business hours. That’s kinda funny, isn’t it? We talk about the daytime shift like it’s weird.

And then the carafe is dirty, of course.

You know, it is weird. If you’re at a strip club at two in the afternoon—well, you’re a 2.0 GPA college student, a pervert sex-addict, or an actual bum. Or you’re a very wealthy businessman with an investor who’s a pervert sex-addict.

No businessmen around here, though. There isn’t anything out here. It’s lonely. Nothing happens. It makes me miss home.

The toast never comes out done the first time. Always have to put it back down again. I should get out the butter and jam.

No, I don’t really miss home; I just miss the city. I don’t miss home. The apartment just tastes like Mom’s ghost. And Dad’s been an ass ever since she died. What exactly is wrong with stripping, Dad? I bet you went to some clubs back in the day. Are you really worried about me? What’s the real concern? “Don’t do that, or else I’ll have to hate you.”

It’s 9:15?? Okay, I’ll come back for the toast. Better start the shower.

One day, I’ll write a book with rules for fathers. Number one, maybe: Don’t tell your daughter you could hate her. Or else she’ll have to hate you. Especially if you decide to tell her you might hate her after her mother’s funeral. Mom’s funeral, Dad.

Clothes are in the bedroom. Okay.

Whatever. I can’t hate him, really, though. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go back there sometime. Maybe he’ll finally say he’s sorry. He always loved me before. I don’t know.

Oh, good, the water’s warm.

***

Will she be able to see me if I stand here? I’m behind a bush, so I don’t think so. No, no. It’s after sunset and it’s rural. And she’s inside, with the lights on. She won’t see me.

She starts at 10—she has to be leaving soon. I’ll leave before that, and she won’t see me as she leaves. Car headlights, those could do it.

Not in the kitchen. I thought she was just in the kitchen. Her hair was wet that night. Maybe she takes a shower before she goes in.

Or maybe I stay? No, no, she won’t listen if she catches me. I need to be the one to approach her. I think she stocks some days at the A&P. No, no, I can’t go up to her like that. “Hi, Julia, I, umm, saw you dancing the other night. I know you probably don’t want be recognized here, but…” Right. That’ll work.

Can’t go up to her in the club either. “Hey there, Amber. Heard your real name is Julia. Can I just say you’re beautiful? I came here for the first time last week and you were the first one I saw…” Oh damn it all. Can’t think of anything worthwhile, can I? She just, she has that pretty, soft way—mysterious almost. I can’t measure up if I’m forward like that. Maybe leave her a flower?

Maybe Jimmy will have a suggestion. He brought me to the club. Maybe he knows the tricks and secrets. He knew a woman could make you feel different, which I didn’t know. Maybe he knows how to talk to them.

Oh my God, she’s in a towel. Don’t close the blinds. Please don’t close the blinds.

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Short Fiction