Boogers are a lot like love. That's all there is to say about that.
So anyway, there I was, miserable, lying on the couch when Kevin came to the door. My snot had turned thick and green and voluminous. I was crouched over, hair splayed, luminescent nose, and I felt so bad that I didn't even look out the peephole first to see who it might be in the hopes that it might be a murderer. I opened the door to find him standing there.
"I thought you died," I said, and seeing he was alive, I decided I would have to kill him.
"You look half dead," he said.
"Thanks, it's great to see you, too."
I invited him in, but only so I could figure out a way to kill him before he got away again. He had roses - a dozen of them - red and long stemmed. Even though I couldn't smell them through my blocked sinuses, I could almost see the fragrance wafting, disbursing, trying to make my apartment believe it had wakened from a dream and suddenly become a quaint English garden. I did a Morticia Adams and cut off all the heavy-with-potential heads, then arranged the stems in a vase. They didn't satisfy me, lacking as they were in thorns.
"Glad you like my peace offering," he said.
"I didn't say I liked it," I clarified.
"Look, Bev, I know. . . "
I held up my hand. "No. Don't even. Really."
"You look like hell," he said, and it stung. I looked like hell, and I felt almost as bad, but not bad enough to keep me from caring that I looked like hell. I felt a need to redeem myself, so I showed him my nails. I had just gotten them done two days before with sparkly glittery crimson tips and neutral beds, and they looked hot.
He took them, the fingers of both of my hands, in his and tried to kiss them. I jerked them back in the nick of time.
"Look, Bev, I want to tell you about it," he said.
"I don't want you to tell me about it. The only reason I let you in was so I could figure a way to kill you. Would you mind going to the deli and getting me some chicken soup before you die?"
While he was gone I got dressed and brushed my hair. I was too sick to do any more than that.
"I want you," he said when he got back. He'd always been the direct sort, except when he lied. I eyed him, then blew a gallon of green snot into the napkin that came with the chicken soup.
He smiled, unfazed. "I had to get away, because it was just too fucked up and I was too fucked up. You don't know how it is, because you never had to fight that shit."
I slurped my soup.
"I'm clean now. I've been out of rehab for six months. My therapist warned me not to come back until I was sure. And I'm sure."
"You didn't even call."
"I was in rehab. They don't let you call. And you didn't call, either."
"How would you know that? You were in rehab. They don't allow calls."
Kevin looked at me with that prickly, annoyed face he sometimes adopted. "Because I know you," he said, as if that explained everything.
Well, I guess he did know me because he was right, but I hadn't felt it incumbent on me to do the calling. "You said you got out of rehab six months ago."
"I did. Then we went out on tour to make up for all the shows we canceled, and like I said, my therapist told me to wait until I was sure I could handle you before I came back."
"Handle me? Like I'm a bad influence, or something?"
"So I'm the reason you're a junkie?"
"No. Yes. No. Yes," he said, at first like he couldn't decide which it was, and then like it was both, equally.
"I'm the only one you know who doesn't stick a needle in her arm."
"Yeah, but you. . . ."
I made a show of slurping so loudly that he stopped, but then I wanted to know what he was going to say. "I what?"
"You're the only human being in the world who can scare the shit out of me."
I tried to snort/laugh, but my nose was so clogged that I made a creaky, gurgly sound in my throat. It was humiliating.
"Because I love you," he said.
"I have another boyfriend," I lied.
"You're lying," he said.
"I'm not," I lied.
"You are," he insisted.
"You think I can't get another man?"
"I think you've probably got about three dozen of them circling around this apartment building and wishing they had the balls to come up here and make you theirs. But they don't. And if they did, you'd bust those presumptuous balls and send them slinking away, crying like girls. Know why?"
I slurped my soup again.
"Know why, Bev?"
"Because you love me, too."
I thought of blowing my nose again, or slurping my soup again, but instead I looked at him there, all badass and tattooed and everything my daddy warned me against, and I felt a jumble of emotion. Partly I needed to kill him because he was right, and partly I wanted him to stay forever. I weighed the options.
"I'm thinking of making some rat poison meat loaf for dinner. Want to stay and have some?" I said.
He smiled, that devastating smile, that gorgeous smile, and I blew my nose again. "I have some special sauce to top it with."
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