Might Have Forgot To Lock The Door
by Andrew Worthington
I have always hated Midtown but the bar was okay: pitchers of light beer were cheap and it had somehow managed to hold onto to its shitty Irish aura even as skyscrapers dwarfed it. I was staying at a YMCA in Spanish Harlem while I looked for an apartment. I ended up at the bar when I arrived in Grand Central. But it was Midtown. I’ve always found it completely overwhelming while also oddly void of actual entertainment.
I felt my phone vibrating. It was Laura, sending me a text, saying she was slightly lost. It was 8:45 and we had planned to meet earlier in the hour, but she and her friend had stayed longer at an exhibit at the MoMa and now they were lost. I texted the address again and gave her more specific directions, although I wished she had just called, because Midtown is extremely easy to navigate, at least geographically (of course, though, the endless crowds of ambiguously affluent professionals, tourists, and beggars have to be included in any trip through Midtown). I assumed she didn’t call because we hadn’t seen in each other in several years, and if when we had fairly frequently seen each other we were not remarkably close friends. I suppose mobile phones have increased the ease of communication, although they have also given greater solace to our respective tendencies towards social alienation. Words are easier to digest when they come as text than as voice, I guess.
Laura sent me a text back saying they would be there in five minutes. I asked the bartender if she could keep an eye on my bags and walked outside to smoke a cigarette. The bar had several floors of apartments above it. Down the street there was a skyscraper.
As I smudged the barely burning cigarette filter with my toe against the sidewalk, I saw Laura walking on the other side of the street with her friend. I waved at her, not that a wave has much significance in Midtown, but my wave is sturdy and direct, a signal that if it could be written in words would most likely use Helvetica type. They began looking at the numbers on the buildings. They must have realized they were on the wrong side, because they looked over towards my side of the street, a few buildings down. I waved as they began walking further from me, towards the crosswalk. When the light turned red they crossed the street. They headed towards me and recognized my wave.
When they had reached my post outside the bar I said Hi. My voice veered upward slightly from its normal baritone. She said Hi, and her voice rose almost to a falsetto, before dipping back down to a normal pitch as the syllable tappered off. We hugged.
“This is my friend Sheena.”
“Hey,” I said.
“Well, you guys want to get some drinks?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’d be great,” said Laura.
Upon walking into the bar I led them to my table. They put their purses down. We stood there for a second. I think they were waiting for me to say something.
“Um,” I said, “They have pitchers of Bud for 15 dollars, does that sound okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine with me,” said Laura.
I looked at Sheena.
“Oh,” she said. “I am going to get a cocktail, I don’t really like beer.”
“Do you know what kind you want?”
“No, I’ll just order myself.”
I returned to the table with the pitcher of beer. Once we each had full glasses I raised my glass in a silent toast and Laura did the same. Sheena stopped texting on her phone as our glasses clinked.
“What kind of drink do you think I should get?” she asked us.
“I don’t know,” I said. “They will probably fuck you over price-wise on mixed drinks.”
“You think so?” she said.
“So, how is everything?” I asked Laura, once Sheena had gotten up to order a drink.
“Do you like the city?”
“I do. I am sad that I will have to leave at the end of the summer.”
“Are you still taking classes?”
“No, we can only do the program at F.I.T. for two semesters. I have been doing an internship this summer.”
“Oh, nice. Where?”
“At this guy’s big store. It’s a boutique but he also designs a lot of his own material.”
“Are you looking forward to going back to Ohio?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“That’s good. I couldn’t be in Ohio anymore myself.”
“What are you hoping to do in the city?”
“I am just trying to find a place right now.”
I took a large sip from my beer. She smiled and took a small sip from hers.
“By the way,” I said, “Is it possible for me to crash at your place tonight, after all? I think my friend Shane—you know Shane right?”
“Anyways, I think he is going to bed about now. I should have just crashed at his place but I wanted to meet up with you, too,” I said. I thought the word “two” as I said “too.”
“No, that’s fine,” she said. “I mean, we have a couch. It is kind of small, though.”
“That will work great. I can sleep anywhere.”
Sheena returned to the table. Her drink looked like a smoothie.
“What kind of drink do you have there?” I asked.
“A strawberry daiquiri,” she said.
“How much was it?” I asked.
“Um, does that matter?”
“No, I guess not.”
“It was seven dollars,” she said.
“Shit,” I said.
“You like to curse a lot, don’t you?” she asked me.
I looked at Laura, who was smiling mechanical.
“Sorry,” I said.
“No, it’s fine. I just had noticed.”
“So, it is fine if I crash at your place tonight?” I asked. I looked at Laura but also passed my eyes towards Sheena, to avoid being rude.
“So he is staying with us?” Sheena said to Laura.
“Yeah, if that’s okay. I told him the apartment is pretty small.”
“And she might fall on you,” said Sheena.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“See this,” said Laura. She pointed to a small dried up gash on her forehead.
“Oh, shit,” I said. “Woops, sorry I said shit.”
“It’s okay, you just have a potty-mouth,” said Sheena.
“How’d you get that?” I asked Laura.
“I fell from my bed.”
“Yeah, it’s a loft bed.”
“I missed a step on the ladder and smacked my head against the corner of the couch.”
“Fuck,” I said. I cringed. Laura was wearing a black sleeveless shirt, not a t-shirt, and tight black jeans with brown boots. There was a tattoo on her containing the text of a Scripture.
“What does your tattoo say?”
“It’s a scripture,” she said. She leaned towards me so that I could have a better view, and I leaned towards her so that I could see it.
It was in Latin.
“Cool,” I said. “What does it mean?”
“I think it translates as: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”
“Damn,” I said. “That’s pretty Catholic.”
“You know it,” she said.
“So are you still into church and stuff?” I asked.
“I go to mass sometimes. I still consider myself Catholic.”
“Word,” I said.
“You don’t?” she asked.
“Well, no. I mean, I go on Christmas Eve with my family.”
“I have been going to church every Sunday since we have been in the city,” said Sheena.
“Yes. Of course, my dad is a minister, so my brothers and sisters and I were brought up on it, kind of.”
“Gotcha,” I said. “I was raised on it too. I just don’t go anymore.”
Sheena remarked how her boy back home was sending her horny texts. The street lamps had become illuminated outside the window of the bar.
“I always have wanted to get a tattoo,” I said, “but I haven’t gotten around to it.”
“What’s stopping you?” asked Laura.
“I guess mostly my parents don’t want me to have one. They always said that if I had money to spend on a tattoo then I shouldn’t expect their help. Of course, they also only pay for my cell phone at this point, but I guess I also was taught to fear the permanence of tattoos.”
I finished my second glass from the pitcher and poured more into mine and Laura’s, which was half-empty. There was less than a glass left in the pitcher, so I topped us both off.
We talked about fashion design for a while. Sheena went up and got another of the same. When I finished the beer in my glass, I made a remark about how we were out of beer. Laura didn’t say anything, but she smiled.
“Do you want to get some more?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said.
I looked in my wallet. I already knew that I had $15 in cash, but I wanted to make it look like I hadn’t realized it.
“The thing is I only have $15 left on me, and I will need to buy a metro card tomorrow. My last paycheck will be deposited in my account sometime tomorrow, though.”
“Oh, I guess I can pay for it,” said Laura.
“Oh, he’s holding back the bills,” said Sheena to Laura. “Letting the lady pay. Damn.”
Laura returned with another pitcher of Bud.
“Thanks,” I said.
She handed the pitcher to me, and I filled each of our glasses.
“You getting ready to be naughty, huh,” said Sheena.
Laura and I looked at each other and at her and smiled. Up to that point I had considered it only a remote possibility that I might just sleep with Laura, but now I realized I probably could if I wanted.
“Do you guys drink much?” I asked.
“Rarely,” she said.
“Yeah, we’re pretty busy most of the time,” said Laura. “Although we had a few drinks earlier this evening before we got here.”
“What time do you guys have to be up tomorrow?” I asked.
By the time we had finished the pitcher (Sheena had her second daiquiri in front of her), it was almost 10:30.
“Do you guys just walk home or is it easier to take the train?” I asked.
They looked at each other.
“The train, I guess,” said Laura.
“Yeah, the train,” said Sheena.
“Alright, so should we go to Grand Central?” I asked.
“We don’t really know this area too well,” said Laura. “We tried to walk here and it took longer than we expected.”
“Alright, sounds good,” I said.
We put on our coats. Laura’s was black leather and Sheena’s was brown fur. I put on my peacoat.
As we walked down the stairs to the subway in Grand Central, Laura put her arm inside mine. She looked up at me with a smile, albeit a somewhat drunk one. While we sat waiting for the shuttle to Times Square to leave, I put my arm around her.
“What street did you guys say you live on?” I asked.
“33rd,” said Laura.
“Oh, by Penn Station.”
A man passed us in a hallway in Times Square and he asked if we knew how to get to the Upper West Side. I had stayed up there once or twice. I told him to take the 1, 2, or 3. He thanked me.
Laura said, “Look at you, doling out directions.” She squeezed my arm.
“You guys don’t ride the trains much?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “Our school and work is in Chelsea, right below where we live.”
The streets were crowded as we walked down 12 blocks from Times Square. When we got to their building, I asked if they wanted me to buy some beer, and they responded as if I was joking.
The apartment was a sixth floor walk-up. Sheena said their neighbor’s apartment had gotten robbed a few weeks before, and that if I left after them in the morning I should make sure to lock the dead bolt.
It was smaller than I had expected. Sheena had a small room, which I didn’t enter but it looked narrow. There was a bathroom. The kitchen and lounge were one room. The couch had two separated parts, and the two parts seemed more like chairs. I imagined them each sitting there most nights, sewing and stitching. Even if the two parts were combined, the couch would have been big enough for only half of my body.
“This should work,” I said. I tried to connect the two parts, but there was still a gap.
“Yeah, it’s not really for sleeping,” said Sheena.
“I could just sleep in your bed,” I said to Laura.
“Alright, I’m going to bed,” said Sheena. “And to talk to my boy.”
“I will just pass out, don’t worry,” I said to Laura. “I won’t keep you awake.”
“It’s fine,” she said.
“Oh, Laura, you going to be naughty?” said Sheena.
“Alright, good night. Don’t make too much noise. I have to get up early.”
She went into her bedroom. We heard her talking loudly on the phone to her boyfriend. From what I could make out, she was telling him that he didn’t need to worry for much longer about not having his girl.
“Um, okay,” said Laura. “Be careful on the ladder.”
“As I have heard.”
“I’m going to go the bathroom really quick,” she said, “You can go on up.”
Her bed had about four feet between it and the ceiling.
When she came out of the bathroom, Sheena came out of her room and whispered something to her. Laura whispered something back. Sheena shut her door and Laura made her way up the ladder.
We started making out and I immediately began putting my hand up her shirt, stroking and squeezing her tits. She took off her shirt. She looked raw but cute. I took off my shirt.
After making out for a few more minutes, I began to kiss her down the chest. I tried to unzip her jeans with the plan of eating her out but she wiggled. She got on top of me and she played around with my beard. I got back on top of her and we dry humped. I put my hand under her panties, which was hard because she wouldn’t take her jeans off. I noticed she had a bush. She may have never shaved up to that point. I had never really dealt with all out bushes before. The hair was curly and seemed mangled maybe. I began fingering her. She started breathing more heavily but then she told me to stop.
“Eventually,” she said.
We made out and dry humped more. After a while I began to get tired, or bored. I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie before we went to bed. I realized I was extremely drunk and could probably just pass out. She said okay and tried to bring up Netflix on her computer. She kept complaining about how her wireless sucked. We both lay there, breathing.
In the morning her alarm went off at 9. She got up but I was still pretty much asleep. We made plans to meet up later that week, even though I knew I was going to be busy looking for a place and she was going to be busy with a final show she had to get ready for.
I didn’t have service in the apartment but when I came out into the Midtown sun a couple hours later I noticed I had a text from Laura, saying it was nice to see me and reminding me to close the door. I tried to remember if I had locked the door to her apartment. I was unsure if I had.
Andrew Worthington lives in Harlem, where he teaches at the City College of New York. He is the co-creator of a magazine called Keep This Bag Away From Children. He is currently editing his first novel, I, Um. A mostly complete list of his published work can be found at his site.
Art by Margarita Korol.