The sun set hours ago, but it was still light near the bay. Zooey sat on the balcony hugging her knees and sniffing the air. Strawberries, she thought, another migraine aura to start off the evening. The wind that blew in with the tides became brisk, curling around Zooey’s slouched posture as she shrugged it off. She gazed out over the buildings and onto the never ending bustle of the streets below, and she felt safe.
Her roomate Fritz never returned from what she thought had been a long day of uninspired writing in a run down coffee shop. Zooey tried what she could to help his creativity, be it feng sui, or constantly tending to the ever productive coffee makers that were convieniently placed in every room of the apartment…just in case.
From the balcony, Zooey could hear the key in the lock. By the time she entered the hall, she could see Fritz had a smile on his face. This can’t be good, she thought.
Zooey noticed that Fritz wasn’t carrying his notebook, and he appeared more disheveled than usual, yet that smile was still chiseled onto his face. He panted momentarily before exclaiming, “I got a job!” He ran to the small kitchen to fill the largest mug (his inspirational cup as he called it) with the coffee she had made hours ago.
He drank it without any thought and paced between the balcony and back to the coffee pot, refilling every time he felt a surge of emotion coming on. All Zooey could do was look at him with the usual gaze of amusement, sitting in her undergarments on the yellow daisy patterned sofa, waiting for Fritz to explain.
After finishing the entire pot of coffee, which equalled around ten cups, Fritz sat across from Zooey on the violet velvet covered armchair and fidgeted with his hands. “Well,” he started, “I didn’t technically get a job…”
“Well,” Zooey prodded, “what did you do?”
“Let’s just say, we are now the proud owners of a coffee shop that has been abandoned for some time…” Fritz took a breath before looking up from the floor to meet Zooey’s gaze.
“I can’t do it by myself, plus this has been our dream since we became flatmates,” Fritz defended.
“That place must be boss,” Zooey said enthusiastically.
“That’s what I thought,” Fritz said cheerfully, “Everything was left in it, its a real mess but I’m sure we could have some fun with it.”
“Where is it?” Zooey asked excitedly. “Oh, I could really use a ciggarette, let’s go buy some coffee and celebrate, we can talk as we walk.” She jumped up towards the door, her messy dark hair trailing behind her. Fritz controlled himself from breaking into a smile.
“Shouldn’t you put on some clothes first?”
Zooey spun around on her toes, her feet making annoying squeeking sounds on the hardwood flooring as she twisted. She looked down at herself and smiled broadly at her bare feet, polka dotted underwear and Fritz’s Cat Steven’s tshirt that hung loosely on her shoulders.
Fritz scratched at his unshaven chin as he watched Zooey excitedly pace around from room to room, her shadow dancing behind her in the candlelit hallway as if she were part of an entertaining vaudville act.
She returned to the couch still in Fritz’s tshirt with an African print skirt she had purchased at the Haight Ashbury street fair two summer’s ago, and one turqouise suede boot on her left foot.
“It’s so great that I’m unorganized,” she gasped as she hopped about on one foot, adjusting the boot, “or else I’d never get any excercise…”
She ducked down under the daisy printed sofa, lifting up Fritz’s feet, and crawling underneath. He could hear her muffled voice from under the sofa.
“I found it!”
Zooey emerged from under the sofa on her hands and knees with the missing boot dangling from her mouth in a comical fashion.
“God Fritz, do we ever clean? It’s like the Salvation Army down there.”
Fritz dipped his head under the couch curiously, “I wonder if that’s where my John Water’s films are…”
“Hardly,” Zooey scoffed, “I thought you hawked those to buy a year’s worth of tickets for the midnight screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“I would never,” Fritz started as he reached his arm under the couch, “besides, this is useless, we should save digging under the couch for more important occassions. Like…when we have a party or something. Just think, we get other people to clean under our couch and find our useless junk and make them think they’re doing some kitschy retro party game. It’s genius.”
“People aren’t that gullible, Fritz,” Zooey said as she braced herself against the cluttered coffee table to stand up.
“Fine, but remember…it was my idea,” he said.
Zooey dusted off her skirt as Fritz opted to empty the coffee pot in the hallway where they hung their coats and sometimes the organic vegetables.
“Zooey,” Fritz called, “do we have any clean coffee mugs?”
Zooey looked around the organized clutter. There were possibly hundreds of used coffee mugs everywhere, in every shape and colour imaginable. The majority of them were half full of coffee from possibly months ago, some were full of pencils or toxic water used for watercolour painting.
“Not one,” she said disdainfully.
“Did you check the bedrooms? Or the closet? I keep some under the bathroom sink, you know.”
“Face it Fritz, they’re all dirty, its hopeless…let’s just buy some clean ones on our walk.”
“Good idea,” Fritz said hopefully, and continued to drink the coffee straight from the pot.
They grabbed their bags from the hooks next to the door in silence and Zooey followed Fritz out into the dimly lit landing.