Fiction: Here’s the Situation by Christopher Gonzalez

Landscape

Danny Lyon, 1970s

Here’s the situation:

There’s a guy, Danny, sitting on our stoop. He’s got his face in his hands and he’s tapping his left foot, slapping the heel against our bottom step, counting down the seconds until he loses his shit.

He’s waiting for Eduardo. Like all the others.

Here’s how it started:

In high school, Eduardo would pick up a new guy every few weeks in the spring, every couple of days in the summer. He let his dick rest through the winter. Sometimes I tagged along on the dates—I’d sit on a bench in the park, staring out at the little creek while they sucked each other off behind a group of trees. I never participated or anything freaky like that, not that Eduardo ever invited me to join. But he needed to keep me close, for all the good times, he said, but especially the bad.

Here’s the situation:

Unlike the other guys, Danny has always greeted me with a smile, toothy beyond what I deserve. When his late nights with Eduardo started folding into Saturday morning breakfasts, I would set my alarm to wake hours before either of them would stumble out of Eduardo’s room. I whipped up tall stacks of blueberry pancakes twelve weekends in a row; the three of us sipped café con leche at the kitchen table, our forks dripping with syrup, our feet bare, and hair messy. I lost full days to the haze of those slow mornings, each one stretching out like a long, delicious nap.

Here’s how it often plays out:

I go up to the guy and sputter out any name, say, “Andrew?” (This is not strategic at all on my part. I rarely get their names.) The guy then cocks his head up at me like I am trying to start a fight. “Helios,” he might correct me. Coldly, that’s how he’d do it. I then tell Helios-Andrew-Sergio-whatever that our friend Eduardo won’t be back anytime soon, maybe not even that day or week. I might toss in a detail about a month-long vacation, a family emergency, his mother found dead on the side of a street, his brother taking a bullet in the back, a blood transfusion needed that only Eduardo could fulfill, and that in light of these events instead of occupying space outside my apartment it would be best for the man to go.

The good ones, the guys for whom I feel the most, do leave. They take the hint and disappear.

Here’s the situation:

Danny, wearing Eduardo’s college hoodie, leaning against the doorway to Eduardo’s room, waiting for him to finish up with a work call.

Or Danny, curled up with a book at the end of our sofa, the early morning sun dissecting him through the blinds.

Or Danny, alone at our kitchen table, half past 2 a.m., a bottle of blueberry wine drained; he sits in silence, chin in hand.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

There is power in ending a relationship. Even the ones that were never yours.

Here’s how it can go bad:

They sit for too long, faces cupped in hands, the sun sinking down on us. They might get indignant. Say something like “He can’t just do me like this,” or “What, nobody has the balls to break it off in person anymore?”, or “Who the fuck are you?”, or “No, really, who the fuck are you?”, or “Then why are you so fucking smiley about it.” They often scan my face for permission to scream or cry or run away, but I never stay long enough to see what they decide. This is for the best. I squeeze past them, wedge myself between their slumped body and the stoop railing, through the door and straight into my apartment, where I start a pot of coffee and wait, in the darkness, for Eduardo to come home.

Here’s what I remember:

Our classmates fawning over Eduardo. And why wouldn’t they? He could roll his Rs better than anyone. When he danced bachata and merengue in the school gym, he moved across the floor as if it had been waxed just for his feet, while I was good for a dance or two if my partner didn’t mind my taking a break every song and a half so I could gather my breath, and I spoke both English and Spanish with a lisp-y tongue, the words coming out wet and scrambled.

Here’s the worst it’s gone:

Helios-Andrew-Sergio-whatever got into the apartment. I had been preparing dinner, a comforting stew bulked up with potatoes and carrots. The chef’s knife was on the kitchen table. I imagined him getting there first, holding the blade against my throat. But I got there quicker; I blinked and saw the flash of red—how easily the blade passed through his stomach, like popping a water balloon, all the tension breaking away.

Here’s how the last guy left it:

“He’ll never love you.”

Here’s the situation:

Danny raises his head from his lap when he finally sees me. He says, “Eduardo isn’t returning any of my calls, Mateo. Do you know what’s up?” I could use a pre-packaged reply or I could easily back away and run around the corner; I could lie and lie and lie again.

Here’s how I sleep:

 

Here’s the situation:

Danny is sitting on our stoop. His frown could draw blood.

Here’s what I miss:

On the weekends, when we were children, I would strap on a pair of retro roller skates and Eduardo would let me tether myself to his bike. I weaved over asphalt and brick-paved roads behind him. While we sped through the city, the air scraping against my face, I felt like a kite not quite catching by the wind, thinking that if he could go just for a little longer and if I tightened my grip, I might take flight.

Here’s the situation:

I will hand Danny a bag of groceries, invite him inside. I’ll slice open a loaf of bread, slather its fluffy interior with butter, toast it, and serve it alongside strong Bustelo. We’ll sit together at the table, Danny and me, and hold each other in place until Eduardo walks in through the door. Then, together, we’ll let go.

Christopher Gonzalez works in book publishing and is a fiction editor for Barrelhouse. His writing appears in Split Lip Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Hobart, The Acentos Review, Chicago Literati, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can find his writing online at www.chris-gonzalez.com, or follow him on Twitter: @livesinpages.

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One response to “Fiction: Here’s the Situation by Christopher Gonzalez

  1. Pingback: WRITER ZONES: Episode 1 - Christopher Gonzalez | Fear No Lit·

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