“You still up?” asks a tired voice from the kitchen door.

Travis rolls over onto his back, kicking his legs up over the arm rests. “Yeah.”

“Eh. I can’t sleep either.” The figure steps from out of the shadows of the darkened kitchen into the flickering bands of the satori machine, sitting himself on the couch wearily. It is John, and he wipes sleep from his eyes, and then wipes the optic goo off his hand on the arm of the couch. Smiling, he looks at Travis, his teeth a wonderland purple in the television’s light.

“I’m pissed off.”

Travis smiles knowingly, his grin half-buried beneath the seat cushion. “Sorry, lover, I just couldn’t get it up tonight—it wasn’t you—“

“Fuck you.”

Travis laughs to himself, and then says more seriously, “Rachel?”

“I can’t sleep when I’m pissed off,” John complains.

“Le’me have a cigarette.”

“I don’t have any.”

Digging into the seat of the armchair, Travis pulls out an empty cigarette pack and checks it for the third time since sitting down to rest. It is still empty. “Ah, my sweet, little friends. I knew ye well.”

“Let me get some clothes on. We’ll go get some.”

“Right on.” Travis sits up in the armchair again, the springs squeaking gleefully.

John stands and shuffles back into his room, turning lights on as he passes. “God damn it!” he yells from his bedroom at the back of the apartment.

Standing and stretching, Travis reaches out for the television set and starts flipping through the channels. John was fun when he was mad—mostly because he was never actually mad. He just acted like it. That or he was really angry and liked it. It was always hard to tell.

“I can’t sleep when I’m pissed off!” John yells at the top of his lungs.

Travis calls back, “I think the TV’s broken, man!”

“Really?” comes the curious reply, floating through the kitchen, bouncing off dirty metal appliances.

Watching the channels flip by, too quickly to discern their content, Travis absently hollers, “Yeah! There’s nothin’ but crap on!” He pauses momentarily to watch a news anchorman ramble on with a picture-in-picture of O.J. Simpson trying on a black glove. The lack of a practiced monotone voice flowing from the TV amuses Travis. Silence from this crap is a blessing. Travis speaks in his best baritone, “Today, more crap happened. Some things fell apart due to a complete lack of foresight, and a number of people you’ve never heard of or met killed each other or died pointlessly. My wife left me because of my toupee and I’m quite sad about that.”

Stumbling back into the room wearing the same jeans from the day before, John replies, “That’s right, Travis.” Holding his hand up to his ear, pressing a nonexistent earpiece, John continues the on-location report. “After thirteen terror-stricken hours, rescue searchers are still unearthing corpses. Luckily for the American public, we’re here to jam our cameras into every rescue workers’ orifice to catch a glimpse of the gore and horror.” Then he slides a wrinkled white t-shirt over his torso.

“That’s horrifying, John. And an important story… for us to gawk at. Stay tuned. More after this reality break,” Travis turns the television off, and darkness encompasses the room. Only a dim flare of blue light filters in from the parking lot, setting a glow to everything in the room before John turns the lights on. Travis winces, shutting his eyes.

“Sorry,” John says.

“That’s all right.”

“Where’s Nick?”

“He never came in.”

John raises his eyebrows, looking surprised. “I thought he didn’t really like what’s-her-face?” He sits back down on the couch and pulls his leather loafers out from underneath it, putting them on without socks.

“So. You can have sex with people you don’t like.” Travis grabs a pair of black engineer’s boots next to the armchair and pulls them on.

John looks at his good friend, shaking his head like a kindergarten teacher scolding a child, “You’re not supposed to.”

“Tell me about it,” Travis complains, throwing his arms limply in the air. “I’ve pissed off more women that way.”

John looks thoughtful for a moment, rolling his bottom lip outward, as he pulls the heel of his shoe up over his foot with a pronounced effort. “I’m pissed off.”

“You’re not pissed off at me, and besides: I don’t like you. There’s an important difference there.”

“Did your show go all right?”

“Eh. Nothing went wrong.”

Travis just sits and stares as the horses linger in his head—in their circular journey. He’s not ready to go, but he’s not ready not to go either. Still, decision seems a necessary inconvenience, and judging from some arbitrary internal clock Travis figures it to be three-thirty in the morning. He is glad that John is up. At this point he is running on pure, unadulterated stupidity, and he stares blankly at John who has begun to ponder his own gut, sitting on the couch. “I think I gained weight while I was sleeping,” remarks John.

“Only you could do that.”

John pretends not to hear Travis as he sticks his stomach out, stretching it into a sphere, stroking it lovingly. Looking at Travis after a moment, he smiles brightly. “It’s so beautiful,” he says, truly awed.

Travis just stares in a three-thirty-in-the-morning way.

“Touch it.” John rubs his hands across his middle seductively.


“Come over here and touch it.”

“Burn in hell. Let’s go,” Travis says, though not impatiently. He has too much time on his hands for impatience.

“Not until you touch it.” John grins like a panting cat.

Travis stands up, steps to the front door, opens it, steps out and shuts it with a thump.