Jim Jarmusch

This Is Fiction I Swear

Part 1: The Laundry

Streets tonight

“It’s a sad and beautiful world.”

I think that’s a fine enough thing to say, but I’ve had enough of this Jim Jarmusch movie for the third time, and I turn it off. That’s what trying too hard sounds like. That’s what thinking too much about what you should feel and how it should look sounds like, and I’ve had it, just like I’ve had it with everyone. Boredom, once again, and I need to be thrilled. I briefly consider getting a gun, just for something to do, but I have no idea where to get one. I briefly remember a poem I wrote where I compared a boy I liked to Chekhov’s Gun, and no one liked it because the writing was terrible and the allusions thinly veiled. He was, though, that boy. Briefly.

And it’s nights like these that I can’t stand because I can’t tell if I’m happy or not. I can’t tell if I’m lonely or not. I’ll pace for a minute and finally go up the back steps to the laundry room in the attic. It’s not quite October so the windows in the stairway are open, and I smell the dark floating in. Except it’s not quite dark out there because we’re in the city. It’s never quite dark out there, but I love it anyway.

In here, though, it’s dark in realest way, and all I can hear is the creaking of the wooden stairs and the echoes of another night when I was in the same place. It was the same not-quite-dark, the same stairs, the same open windows, but you were there. You walked behind me because you couldn’t see, and neither could I, but I know the way. I know every step. You stopped talking to focus or breathe or count the steps because you’re strange like that, and I could smell the laundry at the top of the stairs. Laundry mixed with cigarettes like a cheap motel. My neighbor smokes, that’s why, and I think I told you that because I thought you would ask. But you didn’t.

Up here, I love it. I look out and can see the train pulling in and out of the station and the rooftops of people’s houses and a horizon, if you can call it that. You were more concerned with the other side, though, where we keep things like suitcases and broken fans. I turned on the light and showed you that part because you wanted to see it, but I explored it long ago and had no interest anymore. I wanted you to touch me. Instead you kept blathering on about some project you were working on, a project I knew you’d never finish because you never finish anything. I wanted to hit you, so I did, but you caught my hand and grabbed my arms and my waist until I was laughing and you were laughing and it was all dimples and cheekbones and gold. Where have you gone, friend?

The laundry is done, but it’s too early to sleep so I stand looking around at the quiet of my living room and realize the night is calling me outside. Suddenly I need some air because I can’t breathe and I hate you and I hate what I did and what you didn’t do. Once I’m out there it’ll be better. Once I’m out there I’ll realize it was weeks ago and I’m clear out on the other side. I put my keys in the door lock, then the gate lock, then the bike lock, and now I’m gliding down the street towards 18th. I have no idea where I’m going, but the wind in my face is like a good hit and I keep riding further, faster, harder, chasing the infinite.

Or something. I get stopped at the eastern-most cross street by a red light and there’s a kid with tight pants crossing the street looking at me. I wave because I see him and he sees me and it’s silly and awkward not to, but he looks at the ground, and that’s why I can’t stand hip kids. I catch my breath and turn left to go downtown. It’s a good night to do stupid things on two wheels by the monuments until the cops shine their lights and tell everyone to leave. Without stopping I pull out my phone to call my friend Angelica who always wears hoodies and thinks she’s hot shit because she can keep up with the boys at everything. She’s still finishing undergrad and tells me when I call that she has an exam tomorrow and is in the library studying. Fine, just one solo round then. I put my phone away and a girl in spandex speeds past me and turns to give me a dirty look for biking while being on my phone. I wish I had a rock to throw at her.