Stevie and Six—Elaine Bonow
Stevie and Six
Justin woke before it was light right before his alarm rang at 6:06 AM. He waited, quietly naked, under the weight of his covers until the sky shimmered grey; the color it would stay throughout the short day. He put his left foot on the cold linoleum square and then the right. And so began the first of the many routines he had to perform each day. His hairless body didn’t flinch in the cool air. First thing every the morning he walked exactly six steps forward and then six steps back, lay down and repeated these steps, six times.
Once he was up he was anxious to get the apartment clean. He spent four hours every day, seven days a week, naked, scrubbing every inch of the five hundred square foot studio. His baldhead gleamed with sweat as he hummed old Motown hits to himself while getting his sheets, towels and all of his clothes from yesterday ironed, folded and put away in neat piles of six.
A breath of relief escaped his lips at getting over this first hurdle. At ten Justin headed deliberately to the shower. His morning grooming regimen took the best part of two hours. Then he dressed in his uniform: white jockeys, white tee shirt, white button down Oxford shirt, jeans, white socks and brown penny loafers. He had been up now for six hours. Six was his personal mantra and his nickname on the street.
One floor down directly underneath was the apartment of Stevie Ford who has seen this same morning sunrise for the past five days and the rest of the past five days and nights. He rolled over on the clothes strewn mattress and lit a cigarette butt that he fished from the top of the Pepsi can. “Oh hell yeah.” He said to the wall. “Stevie, old chap you need a beer and a wake-up.” His mouth was so dry the almost cold beer he got from the refrigerator gave him the shivers. He dragged himself back to the mattress and pulled the upside-down, cardboard-box, bedside table closer.
Stevie always had drugs. His doctors thought it better that he self medicate so they wouldn’t have to see him. His stutter was so bad the doctors would just renew his meds instead of having to listen to him. He had an unending supply of legal speed in the form of Adderall, an acceptable solution to boys with his problems. His parents paid his rent so they never have to see him. He had been on his own for a few years now.
He crushed four of the Adderalls and lit the glass pipe. He needed a few extra pills today to stay up as long as possible. He was going to crash really hard sooner than later. He ducked his head under the crooked dusty blinds and got spaced out looking at the action on the street. “I wonder if I will see her today.” Stevie took a drag off his beer and yesterday came back at him.
He had seen her for the past month or more going or coming from the old house on the corner. He finally decided to talk to her, “Hey girl are you new to the neighborhood?” He was only able to do this because when he was high he didn’t stutter as much. She looked right through him and kept on walking.
Stevie thought that she thought he was just a bum, a dirty bum. “Even back when I was straight girls always shunned me,” he mumbled. “She doesn’t look that hot herself. Who does she think she is? Why does she think she’s so special anyway?”
He peeked again under the shade, pulled it up about three inches, got another beer, perched on the folding chair, leaned on the windowsill and waited. He thought about her and what he would like her to do to him and the fantasy made him excited. He dropped off the chair onto his knees, reached into the front of his baggy jeans and gave himself some well-practiced strokes, the only sex he’d ever had. He remembered why he had gone out yesterday and he grinned. He rolled across the mattress and grabbed his coat from a pile of clothes and found the reason for his newfound joy.
Justin’s afternoon had as much ritual as the morning. He ate a simple meal, fruit yogurt, a banana, and a cup of instant espresso. That was all he could manage most days. If he got hungry and weak he would microwave a Meals On Wheels frozen lasagna. After his Spartan meal he slugged down the meds prescribed by the public health nurse for his various obsessions and his deepening depression.
He was lonely and feeling sorry for himself hating this prison he’d made for himself when his cell phone rang. “ Six, Six man it’s me your pa-a-a-l S-s-s-s-e-e-e-vie.”
“Yeah, it’s me doufus. What’s up? What do you want?” Six was the only person who could call Stevie names. Everyone knew that Stevie had problems.
“I just thought you might be up for a little smokelahoma.”
“Sure man. In fact I just got my delivery from the dispensary. They hooked me up with a new strain. Get this; they call it Thrift Store just like that Macklemore song on KEXP. Can you dig that? It smells all musty like old clothes and shit. Come up and I’ll fire up the pipe.”
“Great, I have something to do first and then I’ll come up.”
“Ok, man but remember our bargain.”
“Yeah, I know I have to shower and wear that kimono you gave me so I don’t contaminate your bat shit crazy house.”
“Thanks man, I know someone as kooky as you gets me.”
Stevie loved Six and Justin actually thought Stevie was funny. He didn’t seem to judge him like everyone else in the whole world did. Stevie respected Justin’s particular madness and actually respected his various obsessions. A mutual respect for their extreme behaviors bonded these two outcasts and their love of smoking weed and talking about how the world was so different for them kept these bonds tight.
Stevie took his prized new possession back to his window perch this time carefully opening the window a few inches and aiming the pistol towards the street. “Hells Yeah, now those bitches will remember me.” He put the gun down crushed four more Addralls added some crystal for an extra buzz and lit the pipe. He fell back on the mattress in the throes of the drugs and alcohol eyes wide opened he dreamed of the results of the carnage he could create.
Justin smoked another bowl of Thrift Store sitting in full lotus on his very clean linoleum floor. “I wonder what the hell happed to my little buddy Stevie. He never misses a chance to smoke a bowl. I better call him.”
Justin reached for his phone. Just as he was dialing he heard a pop like a gunshot and then a scream from what seemed like downstairs. His phone rang. “Six, Six you have to help me.”
“What the hell happened?”
“I shot myself. The fucking gun accidently went off.” Stevie started crying. “The pain is killing me. Call 911. No don’t call yet. You have to come down. Oh God, I think I’m bleeding to death. Help me Six, help me.”
Six froze. He hadn’t left his apartment for anyone these past two years. He thought about all the mayhem that would be created: the cops, the emergency guys, the questions the stares, the blood. Then he started pacing six steps forward and six steps back. He did this six times. He dialed Stevie’s number. Stevie answered. Justin said “Hold on little buddy, I’m coming down. I’ll call 911. Don’t worry. Six will save you.”
Justin stripped off all of his clothes folded each item neatly and went out the door.