It is Friday and I am waiting with blood-red fingernails and matching heels by the elevator of Dave’s apartment complex. I am supposed to be outside waiting in my car, but I want to surprise him. And secretly, I am hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Junior.
There is a list of tenants posted next to the elevator. I look for Dave’s. Dave and Marisa Sutter it reads. Apartment # 2A. I finger the buzzer lightly, wondering if I should, and before I can decide, I do it anyway. BUZZ . A woman’s voice on the other end, the same voice that sometimes answers when I call and ask for Dave. Always without suspicion, suspiciously cheerful.
The words begin to form in my mouth but stay there. Frozen. I cannot speak, I feel my voice trapped somewhere in my throat. Instead of words, bile rises into my mouth and I feel the uncontrollable urge to retch.
“Hello? Hello? Anybody there?” The same voice and the same nausea filling my stomach. I begin to gag. I run outside and with trembling hands I light a cigarette. Halfway through the cigarette, I feel better. I stay there for about fifteen minutes, just smoking, waiting for I don’t know what. Then I hear the ding! of the elevator from within and quickly avert my face as the people start to come out. All of a sudden, I can hear Dave’s voice.
“Oh come on! The movie wasn’t that bad.”
“Yes, it was! Half the audience was asleep, didn’t you notice?” The woman’s laughing voice answers him, and I know who that voice belongs to. Marisa. I wait and listen for any sounds of a child, some whining whimper from Junior. But all I can hear are their voices playing back and forth, and then the bark of a dog.
They continue to walk down the path leading to a park across the street, and I can see them more clearly from where I am now cravenly hiding, behind a tree.
She wears a red sweater and her dark hair is tied at the nape of her neck. He is wearing a gray cardigan and both of them are smiling. A golden retriever bounds between them joyfully, barking whenever she laughs out loud.
Their voices grow fainter and I cock my ears to try and catch their disappearing words. I watch as the dog streaks across the street running after a squirrel and narrowing missing a gray station wagon that whizzes past, and Dave’s wife shrieks, “Junior, bad dog, come back!” And I start to laugh hysterically in large, wheezing fits, like a mad woman, not caring if they hear me. Not caring at all. And it is as if the world falls to splinters around me, as if everything suddenly uncoils itself and unravels to nothing.