more than life

I am not feeling funny today, which is not like me. It is probably kind of like Jemaine Clements not feeling sexy.

I have no reason to be in a foul mood. Nothing particular even happened. It just seems that for every long stretch of senseless glee, I then somehow owe back. I don’t remember conceding to this agreement. Maybe the stakes were lower when I originally made it, and it didn’t seem like anything deserving of my attention.

But now it’s pretty fucking jarring. These days I will be having the time of my life when suddenly, out of nowhere, this bad-ass loan shark Louie Depression shows up and is like, “Time to pay back, woman. BIG TIME.”

And I’m all shocked and stupid. Just like those ridiculous characters in the movies, who are all, “Oh yeah, I completely forgot about that 3 mill I owe you, even though you are a terrifying-as-shit thug.” Duh, right? Wrong. I can’t explain the psychology there, but it is so possible. It happens to me every single time.

Which is how I am so caught off guard this morning, when I wake up to Louie standing over my bed, lead pipe in his hand.

“Oh shit,” I say, peeing a little. Then I try for casual, “Hey, Louie. You scared me. How’s it going, man?”

“Looks like someone’s been having a lot of fun,” Louie intones.

And it’s true, you know. I have. I’ve somehow been having so much fun that it seemed totally credible that I could just keep rolling with it indefinitely.

I always do this. I’m notorious for it. No matter how many times I get that lead pipe shoved up my ass, I keep doing it.

“Listen, Louie…” I start, and we both know I am only stalling for time but Louie lives for that kind of tension.

I back up against the pillows and rub my eyes, trying to think. I know that I can live through whatever Louie doles out. I’ve been through it before. It’s just that it’s so damn unpleasant afterwards, to schlepp yourself around feeling all sad and hopeless.

Louie cracks his pudgy knuckles. Very loudly. I look up and he’s grinning at me in that hideous way he has, where only half of his mouth is raised.

He lifts back my bed sheets with his lead pipe.

“Over, Toots.”

I pull my knees up into my chest and make pleading hands at Louie. “Just let me make a few phone calls, Louie? Please?”

Louie picks up the phone from my nightstand and gallantly hands it to me.

“Thank you,” I croak.

When the kind of despair from which I periodically suffer hits, it’s fucking nasty. And there’s only one way out. Which is to drag someone else down in my place and come up fighting.

I know this sounds ruthless. But Louie has to take someone. It’s part of the order. And in a dire situation, I can always reason that there are some who might deserve to go down a little more than I do.

This is where being friends with all of my exes comes in handy. This is why I always live by the credo: “Keep those exes close.” Because when Louie or Knuckles or The Viper shows up, someone is going to get it good. And I promise, you don’t want it to be you.

I call my longest-term ex first.

I kind of feel bad doing it. He’s taken the fall for me more times than I can count. If I’m honest, I started throwing him under the bus long before we even broke up. He did catch on eventually. I’d come out of the bedroom with something of the scamp about me and right away he’d say, “Uh uh. No. No way. I’m leaving.”

But leaving would mean having to make it to the door, first, and Louie and I were usually through with him before he even had a fair shot.

Today when I call he is totally unsuspecting. “Hey!” he says, “I was just thinking of you!”

“Oh yeah?”

Louie raises his eyebrow at me in devious anticipation.

“Yeah. Last night I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Have you seen it?”

I’m not liking where this is going. “No.”

“Kate Winslet’s character totally reminds me of you.”

“Oh yeah?” I say, deflated. “You’re the second person to tell me that…”

Shit. The comparison might be an insult, for all I know. But I’ve got a weakness for Kate Winslet, and now I’ve lost my momentum. I shake my head at Louie and end the call.

As I’m dialing the second number, I pretend not to see Louie making lewd gestures with the pipe.

No answer. I can’t believe it.

“Just a quick text…” I tell Louie. And I’m trembling as I type out the words, “Feeling like you might be a total douche. Please call and let me know?”

It’s desperate, but it’s all I’ve got.

The phone rings almost instantly.

I answer without a hello and just start mouthing off the first shit that comes to my head. I’m so nervous I can’t even tell what I’m saying. But it must be good because Louie straightens his tie and heads for the door.

I’m still shrieking into the phone when he turns and tips his hat at me. I nod enthusiastically and inwardly breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I gave Louie the slip.

This time.

But he’ll be back.

Just when I completely forget about him again, Louie will be back.

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