NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 8

fiction / excerpt Iraq Etcetera By Louise Meriwether “Maybe it shouldn’t be,” Laurie suggested. She passed the weed back to Anne, who smiled. “I used to love flying in that vastness above the clouds. It was so peaceful and elemental. So eternal. I used to feel that if I stepped out of the plane I could float on top of the clouds and be eternal also. Flying was the love of my life. That’s what David said, that I loved flying more than him. I reminded the motherfucker that I moved to New York to live with him but that didn’t cut any ice.” “Do you miss him?” They were in Laurie’s room. Neither she nor Anne could sleep, as usual, so they were complaining about their prescription drugs, while smoking a joint passed back and forth between them. A midnight moon, sneaking past the Venetian blinds on the window, lit up the room with a pale glow and cast linear shadows on the floor. “This pot is cool but some crack cocaine would be even better,” Anne suggested. She was sitting in the solitary chair the room afforded, her long blonde hair falling forward to cover part of her pale face. She swept her hair back with a practiced hand and glanced around, ignoring the shawl covering the mirror on the bureau. No need to ask Laurie about it, they were both on the loony side. Laurie, sitting tailor fashion on the bed, holding her prescription bottle, shook it as though to make the few pills in it multiply. “Dream on, cokehead,” she said mildly,” and get our butts thrown the fuck out of here.” There was no curfew. They were both in their late twenties and could come and go as they pleased, but doing drugs was against the rules. Anne complained, “What I need is some damn sleep tonight.” She took a drag of the smoke and passed the butt to Laurie. “They should prescribe this instead of their stupid pills.” “Yeah,” Laurie agreed. Stretching her legs, which were cramping, she stood up, tall and ebony, a short bushy Afro framing her head like a halo. Pulling her tee shirt down over her jeans, she eyed the reefer critically for a moment, then took a hit and sat back down. Anne said, “I heard from Deborah today. “It’s okay. I can stay with her until I find a job. She sends you her love.” Laurie nodded. “I knew there would be no problem.” Anne lowered her head to contemplate the floor. “I miss something illusive but not David. It was enlisting in the Air Force that ended our marriage. I didn’t tell him about it, until it was a fait accompli. He was furious and weargued about it. He accused me of being too controlling. Of manipulating my parents to enroll me in flight school as a kid, but he was of sterner stuff. Actually, he was a fucking control freak himself. I guess we both were.” She shrugged and then moaned, “If I could just get some sleep tonight. I’ve run out of my damn pills.” Laurie dumped the prazosin in her prescription bottle onto her palm. She stared at the six anti-depressants for a moment, and for some inane reason thought of Jesus stumbling up to Calvary carrying a cross on his back. She handed three of the pills to Anne. “Maybe this will help.” “Thanks.” The butt was burning Anne’s fingers. Ignoring the fact that it would also burn her lips, she took a last drag and then dropped it in the ashtray beside her. She looked at Laurie and grinned. “This is some dumb shit we’re doing, right?” Laurie smiled. “It gets shittier every day.” Anne stood up and headed towards the door. “Later, kid,” she said and eased out of the room. Sighing at the inevitable, Laurie swallowed one of the pills and undressed quickly. Throwing her clothes on the back of the chair, she donned a short nightgown, similar to one she wore as a child, knees bent, saying her prayers as Mamarita had taught her. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep.” Laurie was not conversing with the Lord now, as she climbed into bed and closed her eyes. It didn’t really matter, eyes open or shut, because the shit was in her brain, terror waiting around the bend. Sleep finally came after twisting and turning for hours, but no peace for the wicked, a brutal nightmare tracked her down. Laurie jerked awake, gasping for breath. When her heart finally stopped pounding, she closed her eyes again but opened them immediately. The horror was still there waiting to claim her. “Get up,” she told herself, irritated and depressed. Stumbling out of bed, she opened the Venetian blinds at the window. Let some damn sunshine in. The beaming sun turned everything in the room into cheery gold, the yellow bedspread, the matching curtains, the little oak desk, the wooden floorboards, everything cheery, except Laurie. In the bathroom she brushed her teeth, staring down at the basin instead of the mirror above it that was covered with a towel. The full length mirror on the bathroom door was also draped over with a sheet. Back in the bedroom, Laurie dressed quickly in her usual blue jeans. In the closet she selected a belt as thin as a rope and draped it around her waist, which accented her high breasts. On the floor of the closet were four volumes of world history that she had used in junior college. Next to them in a corner was a knapsack containing her army uniforms and pistol. Desperately, she wanted to dispose of the knapsack, but it refused to be discarded, clinging to her like a second skin. Laurie gave it a cursory frown as she ran her hand through her hair, patting down her Afro instead of using the pick, deciding that she was presentable enough. She made up her bed, tucking in the sheet army style, and quit the room, walking briskly past the shawl draped over the mirror on the dresser. In the hallway Laurie glanced at the bulletin board tacked on the wall with the Weekly Schedule for Westchester House. The inn had been renovated by a veterans association as a temporary shelter for female veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The schedule was an oasis, reminding Laurie that help was imminent. But damnit, was today Tuesday or Wednesday? Group therapy was every day, but the shrink was on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You have to remember, fool. You an idiot or something? Not yet, thank God. Not yet. “My problem is the only job I can find is related to flying,” Anne said morosely, “and that’s definitely out.” A Novel In Progress