off-ramp, seven

Now that we are at the boarding house Sunny is a not-Sunny. He leaves often and never takes me and pre-dawn comes back to a heavy sleep from which he can’t be woken.

“Who are you?” I whisper to his hulking form when I am sure it has reached its slumberdepths. “Tell me what you did with Sunny Jethro.”

I try to envision scenarios of what is happening, where Sunny goes when he leaves and what transpires. But it doesn’t matter to do that because I really can’t begin to imagine even a thing. It’s all just darkness when I try to think about it.

After I finish my hushed interrogation of the deadweight imposter, I pretty much just wait for the sun to come up. Sit by the radiator until I hear the downstairs coffee noises.

The woman who runs this place is always with curlers in her hair in the morning. The first morning here I stood in the shadows at the bottom of the stairs and watched her for a while, wondering how I knew I didn’t like her.

When she noticed me she recoiled.

“Oh goodness! You gave me a fright!” she said, shuffling back on her pillowed feet.

She tried to smile, but the way she looked at me was as a wild animal escaped from the zoo.

And for some reason, I bared my teeth.

Not only that, I liked doing it.

But it got us off to a bad start, and now I don’t feel like I can ask her for how many nights we’ve reserved the room. Sunny says the money is coming. It’s on its way. I don’t know from where it’s on its way and I don’t care. I just want to GO.

I never know what to do with myself while I wait hours for Sunny to wake up and share a few words with me. Today I wander the town with his car keys in my pocket.

Wander to the old brick library with a sign on the front that says what days it is open, what times.

I don’t know today’s day, time. What I know is that the doors won’t open.

But there is a bin on the side for returning books through which my skinny arm fits. I pull out six books before I find one that might be okay. It’s a romance book. I can tell by the cover.

A man is unlocking the doors to the library when I head back around front, so I take the book in and lie down on the dusty floor behind the encyclopedias.

I want to be entertained, distracted. I want hours to pass without my knowing it. But I can’t get my mind to follow. I read the same page three times before I give up, get up, grab a stubby yellow library pencil and scribble in the margin, “I want Sunny Jethro back.”

Then I drop the book in the stupid fishless fish tank and head back to the boarding house.


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