eskimo bros

short story originally printed in reality hands issue #3


matthew looked at janet standing by the casement windows next to fred. matthew tried to remember what she said to him earlier about having to go, that she needed to be at work in the morning. he was tired of watching all the men in the room fawn over the two blondes sitting on the bowflex, nervously drinking vodka, one of them, clearly about to cry

matthew stood up and walked to the middle of the room. eric appeared from the bathroom and asked if matthew wanted more cocaine. matthew said sure, but kept glancing over at janet. he thought when eric offered that he would take a key out and offer matthew a bump but when he turned back to look, eric was holding the baggie in front of matthew, dancing a little, staring at the blondes. they were talking to afriik, eric's drug dealer, crouched on the floor between them

matthew took the baggie, did a bump, and handed it back to eric. eric lunged at matthew, violently hugging him. eric said 'i love you brother', let go of matthew and leapt toward the other side of the room, dancing, his arms and hips swaying with, matthew thought, inhuman enthusiasm and gesticulation

matthew started back toward janet and fred. as he approached, fred looked upset. 'i'm not telling you what to do,' he said, 'i'm just saying you're making things way more complicated than they need to be.' fred walked past matthew in a semi-hurried shuffle and matthew heard janet say 'it's my life' quietly as fred brushed past him

janet stood looking out the window at baltimore, the warehouse was high enough the the skyline appeared just over the adjacent building. it wasn't obvious from inside the warehouse but it was 3am and dark out. matthew walked up to janet and put his hand on her shoulder. 'don't you think you should go home soon,' said matthew. 'you said you had work in the morning, didn't you'

janet buried her head in matthew's chest. 'not until eleven though,' she said weakly. she looked up at his face. matthew felt afraid, 'she's going to kiss me', he thought, 'and i'm going to kiss her back'

in a cab on their way up charles street, janet offered matthew a baggie. he took it, finished it and put the empty bag in his pocket. 'i shouldn't be doing this, what am i doing,' said janet. 'what's wrong,' said matthew 'i don't get it, what's wrong'

'okay,' said janet, 'so if we're going to do this, it needs to be fast because i have work in the morning, and then i have to pick up my daughter at five, and she's a ball of energy so i can't be tired tomorrow, understand' matthew felt unsure but like he had already committed to something, something he felt sure he would either regret or have to confront in the morning, but he agreed to try amidst janet repeating 'i shouldn't be doing this' as they walked into her apartment

'we don't have to' said matthew. 'do you want a beer,' said janet, 'i have tons of beer, do you want one, here.' she handed him one from the fridge. he already felt very drunk and weird about everything. he already felt bad about janet seeming unsure but somehow committed to whatever was about to happen. he took the beer and walked into the back room sipping it while she frantically cleaned the living room 'this place is such a mess,' she said

'there is something weird about the brains of moms,' thought matthew, then asked if he could smoke a cigarette. 'i was just about to have one,' said janet in a frantic tone. she took a pack of american spirits from the coffee table, quickly removed one and handed it to matthew. 'you have a balcony,' said matthew, smiling. 'yea, do you want to smoke out there,' asked janet. 'sure'

on the bed, they lay next to each other silently, until matthew caressed and then grabbed janet's hip. she wrapped her arm around his neck, sliding her hand along his bare back

matthew held janet and kissed her face, he liked the way her nose protruded slightly at the tip and kissed it repeatedly. she didn't laugh, she seemed either enraptured or attempting to detach herself from the contact. 'you have good breasts,' said matthew. 'what,' said janet in a hushed, frenetic yelp. 'i'm surprised, i thought moms' breasts did weird things after nursing and never changed back, yours seem healthy and young'

janet smiled and kissed matthew and positioned him on top of her, he put on a condom from a bowl on her night stand, took a sip of beer, and gripped her tightly.

after a few minutes matthew's body felt exacerbated and his brain, dull, 'i'm bored,' he said. 'don't stop,' said janet, 'it's the condom,' 'yea—' said matthew. 'i don't know what to do.' 'are you clean?' 'yea, i just got tested.' 'i am too, except, well, herpes, but, like, it's mouth herpes, and it's not enflamed, so, you're fine.' 'goddamnit,' matthew thought, taking off the condom.

after they were done, janet seemed shocked and overtly aware of what had happened. she said 'ew', and ran to the bathroom. matthew chugged the rest of his beer, blacked out, and woke up with the sun against his back. he could see janet in the kitchen through the bedroom door.

matthew sat up and took a cigarette from her pack, sitting on the nightstand and lit it. he tried to remember the course of events the last night, and the first thing he thought of was the first time he and janet kissed. she said 'i've never kissed a person with lips bigger than mine,' and 'wow, i want you,' in a calm manner, and matthew realized that that gesture is probably what guided his semi-conscious mind to his present situation

matthew walked into the kitchen and took janet by the waist and tried to kiss her. she resisted. 'i should have known that wasn't going to happen,' he thought. 'um, yea, yea,' said janet, 'um, you're not really supposed to smoke in here.' 'oh,' said matthew, 'i'm sorry.' 'no no no no it's my fault, it's just, my daughter's going to be here today and i don't usually smoke inside, it's okay.' 'what happened with work,' matthew asked, walking to the balcony. 'i called in sick,' said janet. 'jesus christ.'

eventually janet came out to the balcony and sat down in a chair. she seemed nervous and earnestly attempting calm. 'you know,' she said, lighting a cigarette, 'i really shouldn't have done that last night.' 'yea you kept saying that, why?' 'well,' she started, exhaling smoke, 'i have a boyfriend in kansas, and he won't like that i slept with someone else unprotected'

'oh,' said matthew. 'do you want some oatmeal, and, like, coffee,' asked janet. 'sure,' said matthew putting out his cigarette. janet put hers out, only one-third finished, and bolted inside.

'is it good,' asked janet. 'the coffee's fine.' said matthew. 'the oatmeal's kind of bland,' 'yea i don't want bianca to get addicted to sugar, so i don't have sugar.' 'do you have raisins or something.'

they sat watching tv for about fifteen minutes while matthew finished. 'i don't even ever watch tv,' said janet. 'me either,' said matthew. he set the bowl down on the coffee table and stood. 'the apartment looks good,' he said, 'you cleaned it really fast.'

matthew kept standing a few seconds. he looked at janet's nose. she smiled. he walked to her and hugged her. 'come back again some time,' she said. matthew walked out of the apartment and caught the bus to station north.

when he walked into his apartment eric was sitting in his studio smiling with a handle of whiskey in his hand, blaring the mountain goats' song 'damn these vampires' as it played on his laptop. matthew sat down on the adjacent futon. 'how's it going brother,' said eric. 'i'm hungover as fuck,' said matthew. 'well, have some of this then.' matthew took the handle of whiskey and took a sip. 'so, you going to marry janet and adopt bianca?'

matthew almost spit. he grinned, then took another swig of whiskey. 'nope,' he said. 'aw, well that's too bad. but, well, the good news is—' matthew still had the handle to his mouth. 'we're eskimo brothers!'

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