The Future Rests on a Cloud

by Tim Walters

Time was swiftly moving along but Bill was not, he had a story to hand in. He had been typing all day to meet the deadline. He had put it off for so long and now he had to work vigorously to finish it. He slammed the keys so furiously that people walking down the halls stopped and looked at him. He didn't seem to notice that the keys had become faded. He had to hand in the story to his editor before 5:00 and it was now twenty to five. The story consisted of a man trying to find reason in the geographical area in which he existed. He was almost complete with the story, he just had to put it to an end. He thought one way to end it would be with the man realizing that reason could be obtained by all but used by few, but that didn't excite him enough to end it that fashion. He thought it more pleasant that the man learned nothing. He didn't find it necessary that the young man in the story had to do something in the end. For most people including himself, don't know the beginning from the end.

He was finally finished with the story and was now ready to bring it to the editor. The editor's office was just down the hall from Bill's office, they had often conversed with one another on how close their offices where and how they should probably have better communication with each other because they were often on the wrong page. As Bill moved down the hall, he felt his legs becoming heavier and his arms losing their form. He desperately wanted to knock on his door and there to be no answer and he could just slide the story under the door but he knew that there was little chance for this. His hand almost slipped off the doorknob when he tried to open it, but he regained form and the door unfortunately opened.

He greeted Mr. Katt's secretary with a half-smile and asked if Mr. Katt was in. Jenna greeted him with an affectionate smile and told him that Mr. Katt was on the phone and would see him in a few minutes. Jenna was a very ordinary woman who was in her mid-twenties. She had very short brown hair and a small unnoticeable face, the kind that would be lost in a crowd. She wore a brown dress that had floral patterns sewn on. Jenna had always fancied Bill, she had fallen in love with him through his stories. She had often asked him to go out with her but he always refused on the grounds that he was too tired or he had too much work or that simply he had other plans. In any case Bill was the arrow through her heart and he was barely aware of it. "So what are you going to do for the weekend, Bill?" He was slow to answer as if he didn't comprehend the question. "I'm not entirely sure. I think I will start work on my next story.'' This was a complete lye because in fact he wanted nothing to do with writing for a few days much less a weekend. "I would love to read it before it goes into print. I have always loved your writing. I only wish I could write with as much insight as you but I guess only a few people can be called writers." Bill's face had turned crimson, he was very uncomfortable with complements. He very much hated when someone complemented him on his work or if someone told him that they wanted to write just like him. It was hard not to be liked when you wrote stories for the leading literary magazine in the town where you live. Bill never grew accustom to all the praise that followed his stories, most of which were about himself. Most people in the Hawk Valley knew who Bill Watson was and they all rather enjoyed his stories, even though they were mostly about despair and loneliness. He just couldn't understand why so many people took interest in his writings.

Mr. Katt finally entered the waiting area and saved Bill from the unpleasantness that followed him whenever he had to wait and make idle chit-chat with Jenna. "Hello, old sport. How long have you been out here for?" Bill was barely audible, "Oh not that long, I didn't even notice I was waiting." In fact he knew just how long he had been there. "Well come on into my office and lets see your new story. Jenna would you bring us some coffee, please." Mr. Katt closed the door behind them and sat down behind his desk, where he was most comfortable. "So let's see this story, I want to put it into this month's issue. It's finished right because I wouldn't want to put out the magazine without you in it. You know how the readers just love your work. Hell this magazine wouldn't even be so good if it wasn't for you." This last comment made Bill's stomach hurt. "Well Robert, I just finished the story today, not to long ago actually. I think it came out alright but I can never achieve the conceptual idea that I started out with. You see, I start out by seeing the whole story in my head from the first word to the last. I see it as if it was a motion picture, a movie." Mr. Katt just looked at Bill as if he had heard nothing and in fact he didn't he was reading the story Bill had just handed him. "I'm sorry Bill, I wasn't listening. What was it that you were saying?" "Oh, it was nothing I was talking about nonsense anyways."

It took Mr. Katt about 15 minutes to read Bill's story, he just sat behind his desk and had nothing to say it seemed to Bill. This couldn't have been a good thing thought Bill. When Mr. Katt was done, he lifted up his head and said something that Bill did not expect him to say. "By golly this is the best stuff you have ever written. I can't believe how well you connect and articulate all the characters. This is awesome stuff. I just know it will make a killing in this month's issue." Bill had nothing to say. He cracked a smile but there was nothing holding it up. Mr. Katt who had been looking out his office window, which over looked downtown, "Listen this is really great stuff, I really want you to know that." Bill said only what someone in his position would say, "Thank you Robert that means a lot to me." With that the whole ordeal was over, Mr. Katt got up and walked over to Bill to shake his hand and to escort him to the front door.

As they walked out the office, Mr. Katt walked up to Jenna's desk and in an inaudible voice told her something. He then walked towards Bill to give his final goodbye. "Bill I've told Jenna to write you out a check for your story. I hope 5,000 dollars is enough, I know you have been having some financial difficultly so I raised your salary. Your stories have been so good as of late, you deserve it." He then turned and walked back into his office. Bill could only slip in a thank you as Mr. Katt was walking away. He then walked over to Jenna and collected his check. He was almost out the door when she said, "Hey do you want to go out for a drink tonight, I know it is on short notice but I would really like it if we could talk about your new story." Bill turned around and for some unknown reason to him said, "Sure, but I don't really want to talk about writing, if that is ok." Jenna said that was completely fine and told him to come back to get here in half an hour and they would go to the bar that was just around the corner, O'Rourke's.

As the door closed behind him, the realization of what just happened, hit him hard. He began to feel sick and his hands began to shake just a little. He had really gotten himself into something unpleasant, it was unavoidable. He realized that really any situation was uncomfortable and unpleasant for him, so it didn't much matter how time elapsed. He made his way back to his office and sat down in front of his computer. He just sat there and thought about what would happen in the next few hours. He tried to prepare himself for what would occur, all the possible scenarios. He couldn't imagine all that could happen so he gave up thinking for a bit. The half hour had passed and now it was time to make that walk to get Jenna. His only comfort lay in the idea that he would be drunk in a few moments. The idea that a woman who very much fancied him would be there with him, barely crept into his thoughts.

Bill had gotten Jenna and they were now heading down the street towards O'Rourke's. Bill realized that he had to go cash his check for he had no money. So he told Jenna to go to the bar and he would be along in a few moments. He made his way to the bank that was across the street from the bar and got on line to cash his check. The line moved quickly to Bill's surprise, for he had stood in line for twenty minutes last time he was there. He got his money with little hassle and made his way across the street to O'Rourke's. Before he entered the bar, he became a little light headed and he decided to smoke a cigarette before he went in. He thought maybe the cigarette would calm him down, but it did little to help. He reasoned out that he needed to get in there and drink quickly at first and then cool off. He reluctantly entered the bar.

O'Rourke's was the sort of bar where people came to die or at least to get a cheap drink. It was always very dimly lit and the air was usually heavy with drunken slander. It was located at the bottom of the hill in town, past all the college bars. The different between O'Rourke's and those other bars was that at those bars, young men and women tried to socialize and eventually go home with each other. There was no need for that at O'Rourke's. It almost never happened.

Bill's legs grew terribly weak upon entering the dark, lonely bar. He looked around for Jenna. He eventually spotted her at the end of the bar with a young man who also worked at the literary magazine. He was the magazine's resident artist. Bill had much respect for James because he felt that painting and drawing was art not writing. He felt a bit better that James was there. Jenna spoke first, "What the hell took you so long?" The first thing that came to Bill's mind was, "I got stuck behind some old people trying to cash their weekly checks. They didn't move very quickly and asked many questions. It was awful." It seemed to Bill as if they were already drunk, they were. James took a long sip from his glass of beer and turned towards Bill, "I hate those old fuckers. Their always slowin' shit up." Bill was a bit startled by James's comment but agreed none the less. He didn't want to talk about old people any longer, there was no sense in talking about them. He rested both his elbows on the bar, put a twenty on the bar and called over the bartender. The bartender was a young woman, no older than he was. "I'll have a rum and coke. Not that much coke, please." It didn't take long for the bartender to make Bill's drink. She came over and laid it in front of him. He took the glass to his lips and almost drank it all. He then turned to James and Jenna, "Do you guys want to step outside for a cigarette?" James nodded his head but Jenna said that she wanted to stay in and drink more. "Ok let's go Bill." James had taken the lead and was headed towards the back entrance of the bar. Bill thought this strange but followed him nonetheless.

It was very sunny and cool outside, a perfect autumn day. The sounds of nature greeted them. To Bill's delight there was no one out there, it was often the case that small chit-chat occurred there. At any rate language was absurd to him. Bill had pulled a crumbled cigarette from his crushed pack, but before he could raise the cigarette James told him to put it back because he had a joint. Bill looked up at the trees where the sun shown through the leaves and thought it marvelous. James lit the joint which was rather large and handed it to Bill. James spoke very confidently upon passing the joint, "This is good shit man. It's going to get us real fucked up." After a few passes James asked Bill about his new story, Jenna had told him that Mr. Katt had thought greatly of it. Bill spoke with a cracked smile, "I don't know. Its alright, I don't really want to talk about it. Why do people like my writing so much anyways? All I do is give a different perspective. It's nothing great, anyone could do what I do." James handed the joint back to Bill, "Well you see we give ordinary people a chance. Me as an artist, if you will and yourself as a writer." "I still don't get it, I'm just as ordinary as them." After Bill's comment they didn't speak to one another for some time, they just passed the joint back and forth. Bill noticed an old man walking down the street very slowly, he seemed to be removed from time to Bill. He couldn't help but comment to James about the old man. By this time they were both very high and laughing, not at themselves but at time and space. "Do they even exist? I mean isn't just our perspective?" Bill laughed as he never laughed before after this statement. James coughed and said, "The hell if I know. Let's go back in."

They walked in a very relaxed manner towards the bar. Jenna was sitting there with a few empty glasses in front of her. "What the hell where you guys doing out there?" Bill was glad that James answered for the both of them. "We were enjoying a joint." They all laughed at that moment, this would never happen again. Bill was feeling very good and so he put some money on the bar and called the waitress over. "Three shots of whiskey." The bartender placed a shot in front of each of them. Bill picked up his shot, some of it spilled on his sleeve but he didn't notice it. Jenna and James followed suit and raised their shot glasses. Bill looked at them and said, "Here is to consciousness, no...rather suffering." They drank their shots. Bill raised his finger to the bartender for three more.

Bill woke up the next morning in a room that was very much unknown to him. He looked around to see if he noticed anything familiar but nothing was. There wasn't much furniture in the room, just a night table, a chair, a dresser and the bed he was laying in. Bill push off the blanket that was covering his half naked body and swung his legs around so that he was sitting on the side of the bed. The windows where open and the shades were drawn half way up. The sun shone through so brilliantly, a prism appeared in front of him. Upon sitting up he noticed a tremendous throbbing pain that was coming from his head and his side hurt for a reason that was unknown to him. He looked around the room once again just in case he missed anything. Everything looked as it did before. He took a cigarette from a pack that had been resting on the night table and struck a match to light it. He rose to his feet and walked over to the window and sat on the sill. He looked out the window for an incalculable sum of time, he was bringing the people walking down the street into existence.

He finished the cigarette and lit another. He looked down on the street and noticed that it was Duzine Avenue, this didn't make too much sense to him because he lived on the very street. "Is it possible that I forgot my own apartment? No, no this is not my apartment...maybe it is. Is it possible that I went into the wrong apartment last night and the people inside were just too nice to turn me away...no that wouldn't make much sense." He decided it was best to get dressed and leave, regardless if it was his apartment or not. He saw a pile of clothes at the foot of the bed. He saw his long sleeve shirt, his socks and shoes, his pants and also a brown dress and a pair of high heels. "No, this can't be. I didn't go to bed with Jenna, did I? No, no this isn't her dress." He looked at the dress more closely and saw the floral pattern, the very same pattern he noted early yesterday. "No, I would have never gone home with her. There is no way. But how else can this be explained?" He deduced that this was indeed Jenna's apartment but where was she. He walked to the closed door and with a quivering hand opened the door. No one was there. He closed the door and walked back to the bed and sat down near the night table. He picked up the pack of cigarettes and took out another. Upon putting the pack back, he noticed a folded piece of paper with his name on it. "Where did this come from? It couldn't have been there a few minutes ago." He tentatively picked up the folded piece of paper and unfolded it.

My Dear Bill,

I am sorry that I couldn't be there right now but I had to see my

sister in the city today. Please don't take any discomfort in my

absence cause I had a great time last night. I hope you are

feeling alright this morning. I had a splendid time last night, I'm

sorry I can't help but saying that. I hope you feel the same way.

I would like for you to stop by and see me tonight or tomorrow

night. I am not sure when I am coming home, if you knock

tonight and there is no answer please come back tomorrow

night and we will go out. Please stay as long as you want.

Just please lock the door behind you when you leave.

Jenna

Bill re-folded the piece of paper and placed it back on the night table. He lit the cigarette he had pulled out earlier before he had noticed the piece of paper. He put on his shirt and then his pants, he had some trouble with his shoes but he eventually put them on. He walked towards the door and opened in the same fashion as before. He walked to the front door and opened it. As he closed the door he looked at the number, 928. He got on the elevator. He pressed the button for the lobby and left the 9th floor. He found his way through the lobby which was heavily laden with people and walked out the front door. He walked gingerly down the street as to not been seen just in case Jenna came home early. He had no idea what time it was. The sun was up but there was nothing that indicated time to him. "I have to go see James. He will surely know what happened last night."

James lived in the basement of a three story house which was converted to a two bedroom apartment. He had one roommate that Bill knew about, he hoped that James would be alone due to the embarrassing nature of his visit. Bill walked very clumsily through the front yard and made his way to the cellar steps which led to the apartment. His head was swimming so much that he neglected to notice the low entry way of the cellar steps and hit his head rather hard, this caused him to rethink his coming there. He decided that he had come to far to just turn around now or rather it would seem too ridiculous to walk down the steps and then walk right back up. He stood in front of the white door that resembled a picnic table and attempt to catch his breathe. He was still breathing quite heavy when he knocked. There was no answer so he knock one more time but he knocked in a way so that if someone had heard it they wouldn't think that someone was at the front door but would rather think it was the house making sounds or just some other random noise that occurs without explanation. "I still have time to run away before anyone would answer. I wouldn't make it that far though," he thought. After a few more moments without an answer, Bill decided to give up and make that walk back up the cellar stairs. It was moments like these that Bill reflected on his good luck. "I'll just come back later today. I'll never mention I was here already. What if he saw me through a window as I was walking away? Would he have come running after me? Maybe...No, no I don't think so."

Bill walked down Waverly Avenue towards Main Street, he wanted to get a cup of coffee at his favorite eating establishment, the Oak Tree. He thought that a cup of coffee might calm him down a bit or at least allow him to regain some form of clarity. He lit a cigarette as he was approaching his destination, this would allow him to stop and see who was inside and if anything wasn't to his liking he could just continue on walking, nobody would notice him. He stopped in front of the Oak Tree and looked inside, everything seemed to be in order so he flicked his cigarette into the street and entered.

A woman of about 25 greeted Bill and showed him to his table. She looked familiar to him but he wasn't sure if he knew her. He realized that his was the same woman who greeted him almost everyday he went there. The woman looked at him in a motherly, loving way and said, "The usual, Bill?" He spoke with whatever strength he had, "Yes." The woman smiled warmly and spoke again, "Is everything alright this morning? You look a bit out of it. I hope your writing isn't the root of it. The printed word has broken down many men. I don't want to see that happen to you." "No, I'm quite alright. I'm just a little tired this morning. You know, a rough night is all." She nodded and moved towards the kitchen to give the cook the order. She then went behind the counter and poured a cup of coffee. Bill watched her intently, she moved quite gracefully. He kept his head in the direction of the front window but moved his eyes with her. She came back with his coffee and set it down in front of him. He thanked her and she went back behind the counter. "How could I forget all of this? I didn't even know who she was upon entering and I'm still not entirely sure. Although I am glad that she knew who I was because I don't know if I would have had the strength or desire to order."

Bill liked the Oak Tree best because it was quiet and there were mainly only older people in attendance. Bill sat in silence for awhile dividing his time between looking out the front window and studying the woman who was serving him along with the other patrons. Besides him there was only two other people there, an old woman and a man of about 35. The woman came back with his plate and set it down. He thanked her and she went back to the counter. He looked at the plate to see what his usual was. Two eggs scrambled, a side of sausage, home fries and rye toast. He began to eat the eggs when he realized he still didn't have any idea as to what time it was. He looked behind the counter at the clock. It was a quarter past ten. That made him feel a bit better, he had plenty of time before tonight. He ate his breakfast rather quickly because he wanted to get back to the comfort of his own apartment. He paid the bill and left.

Bill's apartment was located, as he discovered earlier today, not to far from Jenna's apartment on Duzine Street. If there was any comfort in this it was that they didn't live in the same apartment complex. Bill feared that short walk. He lived on the fourth floor of the La Bon Vie Commons. La Bon Vie had many residents so most of them didn't know one another too well but there were small groups that would assemble in the courtyards and converse about the day's happenings. These small groups interested Bill very much, he would often look out his window and watch them. They would sit on benches and feed the pigeons or smoke cigarettes or just look out into the lake and watch the gracefully motion of swans. Although he knew he could never be involved with such groups, he wondered about them anyways. The largeness of the complex was what first attracted Bill to La Bon Vie. He very much liked being in areas of mass population, he just didn't like or couldn't interact with people and La Bon Vie offered him this luxury.

The Oak Tree was only a short walk from Bill's apartment, so barring any unforeseen circumstances it didn't take him that long to get home. He was nonetheless usually tired when he made it to his front door. The keys to the door didn't work so well in the lock, he had often thought about getting it fixed but he was too timid to ask the maintenance guy to fix it. He always locked the front door whether he was home or not, it made him feel a bit better knowing that the door was secure. Whenever he got home he always peered out his kitchen window to see if anyone was around, he felt better when he saw people doing the things he could never. He also liked to gaze at the clouds because he felt the future rested on them as they floated along. It was a rather good sized apartment. It consisted of one bedroom, a large space where conceivably a living room would go and a kitchen area. Instead of a traditional living room setup, Bill had an old wooden desk and matching chair in front of a large window that over looked a courtyard. He also had a small coffee table and a reclining chair. He didn't own a television or a phone. He didn't have a place where one would keep framed pictures of loved ones. His walls were bare except for a clock and an abstract pastel looking painting of a sailboat. He once had gone into a doctor's office to find out if he should worry about high blood pressure because it ran in his family, the doctor said maybe and ran a few tests and gave him a bill for a hundred and eighty dollars. Afterwards, as he was walking down the corridor to the front door, he noticed that walls were full of very nicely painted pictures of sailboats. He decided to take one not because he was mad at the amount of money he would have to pay but because he rather fancied it and thought that whoever owned them wouldn't miss one painting, it wouldn't kill them. The bedroom didn't offer much either except for a well worn king sized bed, a dresser he had gotten from his grandfather, a night table and a wicker chair that had a cushion on it. There was a guitar that rested in the corner but he didn't play it that much anymore. Clothing was strewn about. He never got into a habit of putting clothing away where it belonged. He very much liked the emptiness of his apartment. It was a rather dull apartment for a very uninteresting man, he reasoned.

Bill entered into his apartment rather easily given the difficulty that the door lock sometimes proposed. He closed the door behind him and locked the door in a most natural way. He turned the knob for the padlock and put the chain in. He walked over to his kitchen window and looked out into the courtyard to see if any old woman were sitting on the benches indulging themselves in the latest gossip. There weren't so he walk over to his desk and emptied out his pockets. He lit a cigarette and moved towards his bedroom. He opened the window so as to let the smoke drift out. He sat in his wicker chair which despite its appearance was a quite comfortable chair and smoked his cigarette. He began to contemplate what he would do later tonight. He got up and walked into the anteroom to see what time it was, five after eleven. He put out his cigarette in an ashtray that rested on his desk. He picked up the pack of cigarettes off the desk and walked back into the bedroom. He sat back down into the wicker chair and lit another cigarette.

"What am I going to do later tonight?" he thought to himself. "Can I go over there and interact with this woman that a barely even know? I don't know, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe this whole thing can work out for me. Maybe she would like to have a romantic relationship with me, she always seems to be very interested in me and the note. I wouldn't oppose having a lover by my side. I've longed to share a tragic life with a woman. But still I don't know if I can even go through with it." He put out his cigarette and moved towards the bed and sat on it. "No, I will go there tonight. If nothing else but to see what occurs, good or bad. It would be a good study to undertake. I will go then and see what happens." These were the kind of moments when Bill wished he had a close friend who could tell him that he was a good guy and that it was perfectly normal and ok to go see this woman, that he would do fine and to act nicely towards her and that everything would turn out alright. He laid down on his bed and closed his eyes.

Bill woke up from his sleep and reached over to the night table to get a cigarette. Before he could strike a match, he noticed that it was dark outside. "Is it possible that a slept away the afternoon?" He got up and hurried to the anteroom to look at the clock. He was relieved to find out that it was only half past two. He then walked back to the bedroom and sat down on his bed. He picked up the book of matches and lit a cigarette. "I'll change out of these clothes and go see James. I won't bother him about the details of what happened between Jenna and me. I'll just see how he's doing and if he enjoyed himself last night." Bill felt it would be alright to visit James because they had seen each other last night but under most other circumstances it probably wouldn't be called for.

Bill made his way out of his apartment and started to head towards Main Street. He thought, "This time I will knock loud enough. I will speak with him unless he isn't home." He rounded the corner and was now on Waverly Avenue, he could see the house where James lived. He wondered how it was funny that someone could see an object and know exactly what it was. He envisioned what James's apartment might look like. He halted his vision realizing that he could never accurately picture his apartment. He walked through the front yard but this time he was a bit more confident, not with confidence but not with nervousness. He walked down the cellar steps and knocked on the door. This time James answered. James greeted Bill and let him inside. He welcomed Bill to sit anywhere he liked. Bill sat on a second hand couch and James sat across from him in a reclining chair, a make shift coffee table sat between them.

"How's it going pal?" James greeted Bill as a friend would. Bill noted this and felt that coming here wasn't going to be so bad. Bill answered back, "It's going well. That was a pretty interesting night. How are you holding up this morning?" James took some time with answering the question, he was busy packing a water bong. Bill saw this and felt very easy, he had thought that they might smoke marijuana. "I'm doing good this morning. I can't complain. I had a lot to drink last night and I don't really remember much of what took place." Bill spoke up quickly, "Yeah, I don't remember shit." They both laughed and there was no tension or awkwardness in the room. Bill felt quite comfortable. When James was finished packing the water bong he passed it to Bill and told him to give it a go. Bill had no reservations so he picked up a nearby lighter from the table and lit the water bong. He took in whatever smoke he could handle but there was too much for him to take it all. Bill exhaled a big cloud of grey smoke and felt extremely light headed immediately. He could barely gather the strength to pass it to James. James took a hit but with more composure than Bill. Bill began to cough from the smoke, he was prone to coughing due to all of the cigarettes he consumed. Bill was instantly high and was feeling like he could answer all possible questions that existed. Bill leaned back on the couch and sank into it. He had a habit of sitting on the edge of couches and chairs.

James put on some music and smoked a cigarette. Bill saw him smoking a cigarette and felt it was time to do the same. They didn't talk very much because they were both very stoned. Bill had completely lost track of time. He looked up at the clock and it was four. Time had moved by so quickly, he had already been there for an hour. He couldn't help think how strange it was that the less one perceives, the more they enjoy. He thought that maybe that was why he was felt so miserable and depressed all the time. He was once again conscious of time. James got up and went into his room and came back. He had changed clothing. "Hey I'm going to go out to the bar. Do you want to go with me?" Bill who was still stoned, looked up and said, "No, I can't. I'm supposed to meet Jenna later. But if we don't get together, I will stop by the bar." James nodded, "I guess you guys really hit it off last night. Well if you find yourself looking for company I'll be at O'Rourke's." They got themselves together and walked out together. The way Bill was going, back to his apartment, and way James was going, to the bar, was in opposite directions. They said their goodbyes in front of James's house and walked away from each other. Bill felt good about the night as he was walking down Waverly Avenue. "I'll go back to my apartment and get myself something to eat and then I will go to Jenna's apartment." He lit a cigarette when he reached Main Street. He wasn't out of breathe.

Bill arrived at Jenna's apartment building around seven o'clock. He was very much excited, he hadn't felt this way in quite some time. Well, he had but it usually was because he was worried. He walked through the lobby and made his way to the elevator. Everything was how it should be he thought. He got off at the ninth floor and walked very carelessly towards her door. "I have probably never wanted anyone so badly to answer their door, as I want Jenna to now. I will swoop her up in my arms and kiss her on her mouth and her cheeks and her nose. I'll go for all of this right off the bat because I don't know if I can handle idleness right now especially with her." He knocked on the door rather vigorously. He was just waiting for her to let him in. He knocked again, sadly no answer. He didn't worry too much. "Maybe she didn't hear my knocks. She could be getting dressed with the door of her room closed or she could be in the shower or maybe she is asleep." He knocked louder than the first two times but still no answer. He put his hand on the door knob and tried to turn it. It was locked. This signaled defeat. Bill turned around and walked back down the dimly light hallway to the elevator. He hung his head and looked at his shoes as he walked. The elevator ride seemed fairly short to him, he hadn't been paying much attention and he got off. He just stepped out of the elevator and started walking he didn't notice that he had gotten off on the fifth floor. He was just walking down the hallway as sad as could be. He looked up finally and realized he was on the wrong floor. He didn't care very much because he had nowhere to go, so why not exist on the fifth floor of a rather obscure apartment building. He got back on the elevator and this time got off at the lobby. He walked through rather slowly. He walked into a woman who was waiting for someone to help her with her bags. He didn't even acknowledge that he had just walked into someone. He pushed his way through the revolving doors that separate the apartment from the street. The cool air greeted him outside. He took out a cigarette and lit it. He walked down Duzine Avenue, not towards his own apartment but rather towards Main Street.

He was feeling quite depressed now. His eyes were barely open and he wanted to portray the idea that if someone were to look into his eyes they would understand his sorrows or at least notice he had some. His head had begun to hurt, he first noticed the sensation after he had turned from Jenna's door. He didn't know what the root of this pain was but he didn't care too much about it because he often felt it, he didn't feel like modern medicine would help him, maybe it could but he didn't want any help. His stomach hurt as well, this he knew was from worrying. He was so lost in thought that he didn't even realize that he had walked right by O'Rourke's. He only looked up because he heard voices. Just then he remembered that James was going to be there and so he decided to go in.

James was seated towards the middle of the long bar, he was flanked on both sides by two girls. Normally Bill would have shied away and sat off to the side or simply would have walked out but he was feeling, well nothing tonight. He walked over to James and said hello. James greeted him and introduced the two girls, "Hey Bill. This is Amy and this is Catherine." Bill greeted both of the girls. "Bill, they are really big fans of your work. When I told them that Bill Watkins maybe was going to join me for a drink, they got all excited. They have wanted to meet you for sometime. In fact what were you saying earlier Catherine?" Catherine caught Bill's eye right away. Maybe it was how he was feeling just then or maybe it was her weathered down-trodden face or maybe it was just that she was a female. He couldn't make up his mind but they were all fairly good answers to him. "I was saying that Bill was one my favorite writers of all time. Everything that I have every read by you is quite splendid." Bill fancied the girl even more so now. Not because she was going on and on about how he was her favorite, maybe that had a little to do with it but he was really attracted to her because she had used the word "splendid." He was very much attracted to women sometimes based solely on their rhetoric. He rather fancied mispronunciations best. He sat down next to Catherine and smiled at her. "What are you drinking, my dear?" Catherine, whose face just lit up, it was as if she was talking to some phony celebrity and maybe she was, "I'm drinking whiskey and coke." Bill smiled and turned to the bartender, it was the same one as last night, "Two whiskey and cokes. And also whatever these two fine people are having." James and Amy laughed and ordered.

Upon his jovial act of ordering drinks he realized something profound or at least was quite profound to him at this very moment. He couldn't help but think about the nature of females and what they do to their male counterparts. For he had completely forgotten the feelings he had just had no more than five minutes ago. He thought to himself, "I have seen in the place where I work, a cleaning woman who is quite attractive and young. She is coveted by all of the men who work there. They all look and stare at her and make small talk just to be part of her in some small way. They all make much more money than her but still that doesn't matter much. They would all give up everything in a second to just be with her and fall asleep in her arms. It is quite funny to me because I have often despised those men but now I am very much quite similar. I don't know anything about this girl Catherine but if she said let's go run away to California, I would have a hard time finding a reason not to."

All four of them had finished there drinks and Bill ordered another round. James spoke up and said, "Hey do you guys want to go outside and smoke a joint before we start in on these fine drinks?" Bill and Catherine shook their heads yes but Amy said that she didn't smoke and that she would just stay in and drink. James was a little let down because it had become quite apparent that he was paired up with her and Bill and Catherine were paired up. Nevertheless the three of them walked out the back entrance together. It wasn't until James had pulled out the joint that Bill remembered what had happened the previous night. It seemed as if it had started out quite the same. James lit the joint and passed it to Catherine. She was no stranger it seemed to smoking marijuana. She took big pulls and held them in for as long as she could. She passed the joint to Bill and as they were exchanging the joint, their fingers touched. Bill smoked the joint in similar fashion as Catherine had. It wasn't long before the joint was finished. James walked back inside but Bill nor Catherine followed. Bill pulled a cigarette out and lit it. Catherine asked for one and Bill gave her the one he had lit. He lit another for himself. Bill looked over at Catherine and looked at her face. Her eyes were sunken and had little black patches underneath. She had very high cheek bones and her face was overall thin and weathered. Her face was most attractive to him. She spoke first, "Are you anything like the lead characters you write about?" "Pretty much so. I feel like a writer best writes about what he knows best, himself." She smiled and said, "Good because I didn't know what you would be like. I pretty much figured that you would be like your writing." He was very much aware of his "celebrity" at this moment but he didn't care. He just smiled at her and she smiled at him. Maybe it was the alcohol or the joint they had just smoked but there was something in the air. Bill leaned over and kissed her. She was very receptive and pursued another kiss. Bill was more than happy to oblige. They pulled back and both just smiled at each other. They were both infatuated with different things. He had fallen in love with her merely due to her sorrowful face and she had been in love with him through his writing for some time. Bill knew why she liked him but it was of no matter to him. They kissed a few more times before they went back in.

Bill was feeling pretty good by now. He finished the drink he had ordered before he left and ordered another which he took down in a few gulps. He was quite drunk now and stoned as well. He and Catherine sat very close to each other and sort of leaned on one another. All she could talk about was his last story and how she was that girl that he wrote about. He didn't listen very much, he just stared into her face. There was just something about her face, he couldn't find a damn thing wrong with it. Before long he stepped outside for a smoke. She came along with him and then went into the front this time. "Boy I'm really drunk," she said. He agreed. He kissed her drunken mouth. He couldn't stop from smiling at her. She was radiant. "Hey Bill, how's about we go back to my apartment. It's not to far from here. I've got some coke too there. Do you want to go?" There was no hesitation in Bill's voice when he said yes. "Ok we'll go to your apartment but let's first go inside and get another drink." They went back inside and Bill ordered another round. They both drank their drinks fast again. They said their goodbyes to Amy and James and left.

"It's just up the street here." Catherine was quite drunk and talking in and out of context. Bill who wasn't much better could barely see the street sign, he had no idea as to where he was going. He followed her lead though. They got to the front of the apartment building and walked inside. There was a lobby but Bill didn't take to noticing it. Catherine ran to stop the elevator before it went up but was too late, "Let's just walk up the stairs. My apartment is on the third floor." This was easier said than done. They both had had trouble just walking through the lobby. They eventually made it to her apartment. She hurried him in and closed the door immediately. She locked the dead bolt and then put the chain in. Even though they were very drunk, they both had a lot of energy. She kissed him on the cheek before she went into her room. There was some banging around and what sounded like a draw being pulled open and then closed. She came back out with a little white bag. She kissed him again and sat down on a sofa that was next to a clear coffee table. Bill who was still standing up was beckoned by her to sit down. He had always had a habit of waiting until everyone else was seated before he sat himself.

She emptied the little white bag on the coffee table. It seemed like a lot of coke to Bill but he had only done it a few times so he didn't quite know what a lot was. Catherine very neatly made a few lines with a credit card that was already out on the table. She got up and walked into her room and came back with a dollar bill. She rolled it between her thumb and middle finger. This movement reminded Bill of when he was young for you see he had rolled dollar bills in the same fashion but for a different purpose. She sat back down on the couch and handed Bill the dollar bill. He looked at it as if he had never seen anything like it before. Catherine giggled at the sight of this famous author, who was about to snort coke in her midst. He bent his head down very carefully, for he didn't want to mess up the lines or make himself look bad. More than anything he just wanted to make his girl happy. He took the line rather swiftly and raised his head quite quickly and almost bumped into Catherine. She just laughed and said, "Oh my silly boy." He handed her the dollar bill and smiled at her. She saw his smile and kissed him. She was rather noticeable less concerned with messing up the lines than Bill had been. He saw this and felt his heart sink. She was very graceful in her approach and she was done with it very quickly. She then switched nostrils and took another line. After see was done taking in the latest line, she licked her ring finger and ran it along the area where the lines had been. She then brought that finger up to her lips and rubbed them. Bill took the dollar bill back from her and went in for another. This time he wasn't as conscious of the way in which he should do it. By the time he was done with his second line, he looked over at Catherine and to his horror, she had fallen asleep on her couch. She lay on the couch with her head on the arm of the couch and with her knees slightly bent so as to not inhibit Bill. He looked her over and thought about maybe falling asleep himself but he didn't want to wake up. He got up and took a blanket that had been resting on top of the couch and gently put it over her. He then made his way to the door and unlocked it and left.

The hallway was very bright and he had to squint to find his way to the elevator. He thought the elevator looked familiar to him as he descended but reasoned that maybe he had been in a different elevator that looked very similar and at any rate it didn't much matter at all. It was lightly raining outside when he got out there. A cab stopped next to him and asked him if he need to go somewhere but he said no. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumbled cigarette and lit it. He walked for a little bit and realize that he was coming upon Jenny's apartment building. He thought about all the shots that were taken and all those that weren't and which one was best. He thought about Kierkegaard's theory on Either/Or and saw that it didn't much matter what he did. And it also didn't matter that he never read the book. So he threw his cigarette to the ground and continued to walk along to his apartment. The streetlights guided him quite nicely he thought. He didn't feel depressed nor did he feel happy. He kind of felt nothing.

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