Rhetoric’s apartment was in a block between a no-name bodega, (that’s what he called it) and a small laundromat. The locals were a mix of college students in trendy non-prescription glasses and folks with crunchy hair and meth teeth. I was there because he asked me to be there. It was quick, he called me and said, “Stop doing that coffee shop bullshit and come live with me.”
In the morning, he’d wake me with a donut with a tall glass of orange juice and sit on the edge of my bed and talk to me. At night, we’d watch a movie. On weekends we’d lay in bed as something would cook in the crockpot. I was happy.
By the month’s end, I started working at the local Starbucks. Rhetoric had begun teaching art classes at an elementary school. When the leaves changed colors, he arrived home with a bottle of Banker’s Club, and drank it all in less than an hour.
Three months later, we were broke. Rhetoric didn’t have enough for his half of the groceries, and I had resorted to breaking packages of ramen noodles in half.
One night, I asked, “What happened to us?”
“We’re not in college anymore Augustine. We don’t have the luxury of sitting around and talking about our feelings.” He rolled over and remained silent.
It was November when Rhetoric told me that the hot water heater was being replaced and wouldn’t be working for a few days. I had begun washing up in the kitchen. While the large pot of water simmered, I laughed to myself about how the both of us had college degrees, yet I was washing up in a dirty kitchen.
I squeezed body wash into the basin and swirled my hand in the cold water to make bubbles and ladled some of the boiling water in. Rhetoric walked into the room and sat down, watching me.
“You look sexy like that.” He whispered. Rhetoric came over to me and took the washcloth from my hands and rubbed the soapy water over my back. The cloth glided slowly down my spine.
“You’ll end up with some pussy named Simon. He’ll be a lawyer or banker and move you to the suburbs with other bougie folks, where you’ll spend time comparing credit card interest rates.”
The washcloth traveled up my back and over my shoulders.
“You’ll go out and eat in fancy places, do pretentious things like antiquing and wine tastings. You’ll forget about me.”