CANDLES AND TABLES by JORDAN CASTRO
by Keep This Bag Away From Children
I’m sitting on an exposed heating vent in an apartment in Boystown, surrounded by writers and editors and people who call themselves writers, etc. I’m rolling my face off, sitting next to a beautiful biochemistry professor from Rhode Island whose name I can’t remember.
“Who can say?” she says as the editor of a popular online literary journal snorts something off the coffee table then takes a shot of cherry flavored vodka from the bottle.
“That’s what I say to people when I don’t know what to say,” she says, making eye contact with me.
“Who can say? Because it’s like, I don’t know, but truthfully, I want to know, so really, who can say?”
We watch people with First-And-Last-Names forget them. We take pills and drink alcohol and chain smoke. A writer who has a long-term contract with a major publishing company pours Pabst Blue Ribbon brand beer on to a wooden coffee table while screaming something about Wall Street. An editor for a website I’ve written for says something to the writer, asking him why he did what he did.
“I like pouring beer on candles and tables,” The Writer says. “Candles and tables. Okay?” He slurs his words and moves his body. I can’t tell if he’s yelling or if this is just the way he talks. “Can you not understand that? What’s wrong? What’s wrong with you?”
Kara, the biochemistry professor from Rhode Island, laughs while touching my leg. The Editor looks puzzled, almost helpless for a moment then his expression changes. “Why the fuck would you do that?” he asks The Writer. “Is that your table?”
The Writer crushes the half-empty Pabst can, letting what’s left of the liquid spill onto the floor. “Is it your fucking table?” The Writer says. “Candles and tables. Candles and tables. I told you.”
The Editor looks around the room before asking The Writer, again, why The Writer would do something like that. “Candles and tables,”
The Writer says. “I told you.”
Kara and I make plans to go to her hotel room after the party.
“It’s crazy,” I say to an Australian 19-year-old who made $100,000 off his most recent novel. “She’s like, really fucking sweet to talk to. It’s fucked…I’m like, trying to be cute and shit…It’s like…I don’t know…Damn…”
We’re drinking and on drugs and at a party and it’s great. Kara’s conversation is occasionally interrupted by people who want to buy MDMA or who know of my writing and want to say hi.
On the porch someone walks toward me and asks me why I didn’t read last night.
“I don’t know,” I say.
“Weren’t you supposed to read?”
“Yeah, I guess,” I say. “I just felt like…really…uncomfortable…I don’t know…”
He says something about drugs then calls me a pussy.
“You aren’t leaving a comment,” I say. “This isn’t the internet.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he says, walking down the stairs and on to the sidewalk.
Inside I tell the Australian what happened. He encourages me to snort another line of MDMA. I snort another line of MDMA. I eat more Vicodin and Xanax. I find Kara.
At some point I notice the person whose apartment we’re in staring at us from across the room. Kara tells me about how they fucked last year. “Before I came to Chicago he texted me asking if I wanted to stay at his place and I told him I didn’t want to.” We walk outside to smoke. The person whose apartment we’re in follows us, opens the door, looks at us then goes back inside.
“He’s just drunk or something,” Kara says.
“Should we not be doing this?” I say.
“No,” she says. “It’s ok. He’s just like, mad that I won’t sleep with him or something.”
Inside someone tells us that the person whose apartment we’re in had been throwing empty beer bottles against his kitchen wall while we were outside. Kara tells me that she’ll be right back. She walks toward the kitchen. She walks out of the kitchen crying, saying that she’s sorry but that she has to go, that she’s going back to the hotel room with her friend from Rhode Island right now but that maybe we can get breakfast in the morning or something.
I ask her what happened and if there’s anything I can do.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she says. “And there isn’t anything you can do, I’m sorry.” She kisses me on the cheek. We hold each other on the porch.
2AM. I sink into the couch. Kara is out of my life forever. A blonde girl from Texas who I vaguely know from the internet sits next to me. There is hardly anyone left at the party.
“What are you doing after this?” she asks. Her breath smells strongly of vodka and beer.
“Going to Jeff’s mom’s house,” I say. “Do you want to come?” I ask, not expecting her to say yes.
She says “Yes” and smiles and rests her head against my chest. Her friends leave. Jeff calls a cab. There is confusion about whether or not a cab is actually coming. A cab comes.
The blonde girl from Texas falls asleep in the cab.
When I wake up in the morning the blonde girl from Texas is gone.
Jordan Castro (b. 1992) is the author of KADIAN (hiphiphooray press, 2012) and 3 other chapbooks. He is the author of 3 ebooks. He is the author of two forthcoming poetry books -YOUNG AMERICANS (CCM, 2013) & if i really wanted to feel happy i would feel happy already (Black Coffee Press, 2013). He has a blog [http://animalsorrow.com] and a Twitter account [http://twitter.com/jordan_