The old couple who wanted the green clock radio were standing by the wall of TVs. They each watched the same movie on two different screens. When a soaring shot of Manhattan flashed on the screen, the two of them looked at each other and the old man, wordlessly, pointed at the screen. I stepped beside the two of them and when they looked at me I held up the clock radio.
"Oh thank you, young man," said the old man. He took it from me and tucked it under his arm then pointing at the screen he said, "do you know what this movie is called?"
"I'm not sure," I said. I stood next to them and watched for a minute or two. Spiderman swung across the screen.
"Spiderman," I said.
Laura picked me up out front of Wal-Mart at closing. She leaned across the car to unlock the door for me and then pushed it open. It opened a few inches and I opened it the rest of the way and got in.
"Are you hungry?" she asked.
"Yeah, sort of."
"Is Burger King okay?"
"How are you not sick of Burger King?"
"Do you not want Burger King?" she asked.
"No, I do."
Laura pulled the car into her spot in the apartment complex parking lot. She kissed my cheek and then got out of her side of the car while I grabbed the bag of food from the floor by my feet. I followed Laura up the few front stairs. Her body blocked my view but I heard the keys ring and hit each other as she opened the complex's door. Inside we took the few steps down to the door to our garden apartment and Laura grasped the handle, found it unlocked and we stepped in.
Our roommate John was sitting on the couch holding a red plastic cup in his hand and staring at the TV. On the couch next to him was an open notebook with a pencil in the crease.
"Hey," I said. John looked over from the television. He had a fork in one of his hands and he pointed it at my bag of food.
"Burger king? What'd you get?"
I walked over next to him and sat down on the couch, Laura sat down next to me. I set the burger king bag down on the coffee table and opened it. I took my hamburger and gave Laura hers. I took off the paper.
"Burger king? What did you get?"
"A Hamburger." I took a bite. Laura set her wrapped hamburger down on the table.
"I'm going to get napkins," said Laura. She walked across the room and around a wall, into the kitchen.
"That looks good." John said, pointing his fork at my burger. He turned back to the TV then looked down at his cup. He lowered his fork into it and pulled it back with some macaroni on the end of it.
"I'm eating some of that thirty cent mac and cheese you brought home," he said.
"Good, I don't want it," I said.
"It's so bad," he said. He took another bite. Laura came back with paper towel and walked toward the couch.
"Are you eating out of that cup?" She sat on the couch but was leaned forward and looking over me at John.
"Yeah," he had some in his mouth and it dropped out. He pinched it between the ring and pinkie fingers on his fork hand and put it back in his mouth. He laughed through a closed smile.
"That's so weird," Laura said.
"Why is it weird? Because our parents say it's weird? We're our own generation. We can define what is weird and what isn't. I think it's weird that people don't eat out of cups."
"Oh shut up." I said, I took another bite into my hamburger and chewed. I looked over at Laura as she took a bite of hers.
After she was done, Laura crumpled her wrapper and tossed it in the bag where mine already was. We got up and walked into our room. I looked at John watching the TV and said good night to him. He said good night and I shut the door behind me.
John was in the kitchen in the morning. He was eating cereal out of a bowl with his fingers. He filled a glass with water then turned around.
"Do you want me to pour you a glass?"
"No thank you. Why didn't you just eat it out of the box?"
I took the coffee can out of the cupboard and pulled the top off.
"I poured the cereal but I forgot we we're out of milk. So I'm just going to eat it like this. Also, you don't want my hands all over the cereal."
He looked down at his bowl of cereal. He picked a piece out and ate it. Laura came in from the other room.
"Is the coffee almost ready?"
I had the open coffee can in my hands. I set it on the counter and got a spoon from the drawer.
"Almost," I said. I poured a spoonful into the filter.
"I'm going to be so late. I don't want to go," said Laura.
"Whatever," said John, "I'd love to work at Burger King. You get so much free food." He put another handful of cereal in his mouth and then talked through it.
"The last free thing I got was a pack of manila folders that someone spilled coke on."
"Is the coffee ready yet?" Said Laura. She had a box of cereal in her hand.
"Almost," I said. I hit the start button on the machine.
"It's okay. I'm going to be late. I'll just have some milk."
"We're out," said John.
"What?" Laura made a loud noise with her throat. "I'm taking this box with."
She walked past the two of us and stopped near the doorway.
"I love you," she said. "Bye John."
"Bye, love you," I said.
"I love you too," said John and he laughed. The door slammed behind Laura.
The coffee machine started to make noise and coffee began to fall into the pot. John was holding a now empty bowl.
"It doesn't look dirty," he said and then set it in the sink.
I poured coffee into a mug and took one small sip. The coffee burned my lips. John looked at me and he was smiling and making small laugh noises. He hit his hand on the counter a few times, in a slow rhythm. He watched my face while he did it, smiling. Then he stopped and looked down at his hand.
"I could hear you guys doing it last night."
He laughed a little louder.
"What the fuck," I said. "I don't want to hear that."
"Yeah, I don't know," he said.
I poured my coffee down the sink and left John in the kitchen and went into my bedroom. When I came back out later he had left.
Laura picked me up from the apartment. She wanted to get something nice to eat.
"Applebee's?" I said.
"Yes!" She said. She smiled and looked at me. She looked back at the road. I saw the Applebee's sign and Laura slowed and put her turn signal on. It made a ticking noise while we waited. We pulled into the parking lot and parked and got out of the car and walked up to the Applebee's. I held the front door open for Laura.
"Welcome to Applebee's." The hostess led us to a table and we sat.
"The waitress will be right with you." She walked away.
"Oh man." Laura watched the hostess walk back to the front of the Applebee's. "I want that job. That would be awesome."
The waitress came to the table and introduced herself, "Alison" and then said she'd be right back with our cokes, "Be right back."
"Look. That waitress is talking with the hostess."
I looked. The hostess laughed and sat down at a tall chair behind her podium. The waitress walked away and toward the back.
"Oh, and she's sitting down now." Laura was out of her chair, with one hand on the counter, and peering over a privacy barrier at the hostess. I flipped through the menu.
"What do you want, Laura?" I asked. She sat back down, still looking at the hostess. Then she looked down at the menu.
"I'm not sure. What about you?"
"I'm going to get," I looked at the list of dinners, "a hamburger."
Laura continued looking down at the menu and nodded slowly.
"That sounds good." The waitress came up and set two cokes down on the table.
"Are you guys ready to order?"
We both ordered hamburgers.
"Is it good to work here?" Laura asked the waitress.
"It's okay. I mean, it's pretty good."
"You get to sit down sometimes though?"
"Yeah, when it's slow."
"I don't get to sit at my job."
"Oh yeah? Where do you work at?
"Just a restaurant. Are you guys hiring?" The waitress smiled at Laura.
"I'm not sure," said the waitress.
"Can I get an application?"
"Of course." She walked away.
"I'm going to apply here," said Laura.
"I know," I said and Laura let out a snort and laughed. "What's wrong with burger king?" I said.
"Nothing," she said. "Just, look at this place. And I'd get tips." She looked over toward the hostess's pedestal again. "And. And I'd get to sit." Laura drank from her coke, still looking at the hostess. She turned toward me and raised her eyebrows. The waitress came back over and set an application and a pen on the table. Laura started to fill it out silently. The waitress came with the hamburgers and set them on the table. I started into mine, Laura continued writing. She started into her hamburger as I finished. When I was done I sat and waited. The waitress brought us our check.
"Can I give you this now?" Laura held the application up. The waitress took it smiling. "I hope I get the job. Thanks so much, Allison."
Laura stood up and I stood up too. We stepped away from the table. The waitress took the application and the check in one hand and waved good-bye to us with the other. Me and Laura waved good-bye to the waitress.
I was standing and watching Spiderman in the electronics section when a girl approached me.
"Do you work here?" She said.
"How can I help you?"
"Do you have any of these clock radios, but in green. Like the display one."
"Yes, I think, in the back. I'll be right back."
I set the ladder against the shelves that held all the overstock electronics. I climbed up to the top of the ladder, enjoying the smoothness of the rungs. At the top I pushed a few blue clock radios out of the way and found the last green one we had. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I took it out and there was a text message from Laura that said "can you get a ride from John? I got an interview! Wish me luck."
I let go of the top rung with my other hand and texted her back. "Okay, good luck."
Putting the phone back in my pocket put my balance off and I reached out to grab the top shelf. The ladder slid beneath me then stopped. I rested against the top shelf and breathed out, grabbed the green clock radio in its box, and climbed down quickly.
Back on the floor I looked around for the girl but she had left. I put the green clock radio on the shelf with the four blue ones.
I waited for John at the front of the store. A co-worker approached me from the parking lot.
"You going home?" He said.
"Yeah." I said.
"You're lucky. Man," he said and the automatic sliding doors opened for him and he walked through them.
John pulled up a few minutes later and I opened the door and climbed in. He asked me how work was and I told him that it was like it usually is. When we got home, John said he was going to bed and he went into his room. I sat on the couch and turned on the TV and waited for Laura.
"How was the interview?" I asked. Laura took off her jacket and sat down on the couch next to me.
"Good. I think, I'm not sure."
"I bet you're exactly the person they want for the job."
Laura kissed me on the cheek.
"They said they'd call me this weekend, if I got it. Or if I didn't."
She kissed the hair on the side of my head.
"If I get it, we should go out and celebrate. I hope I get it."
I looked over at Laura and she kissed my mouth.
"Lets go to sleep," she said. I turned off the TV and we got up and went to our room. I shut the door behind us.
We crawled into bed and I closed my closed my eyes. Laura lay close beside me and pressed her lips against my neck. I put my hand in her hair and rubbed the back of her head, doing circles with my fingers.
"It's cold," she said. He bare leg moved across mine. She put her arm around my waist. Then her mouth started to move against the side of my neck. I opened my eyes and looked out of the corner of them at Laura's. She had her eyes open. Seeing my eyes, Laura stretched her neck to press her mouth to mine. She closed her eyes while we kissed. Gripping my shirt, she pulled herself on top of me. I sat up with her on me. She put her hands in my hair and moved her face down to kiss my neck. I opened my eyes and looked at the top of Laura's head. I looked up at the wall. The white paint was blue with night, except near the corners where it was darker. There was a crack, black and long and it looked like a hair on the shower wall. It started near the framing at the ceiling and came down a foot. Laura moaned loudly against my neck.
"Alex." Laura said.
"Laura, not so loud."
"I'm not being loud." Laura sat back on my knees. I looked away from the crack.
"I guess I'm tired," she said. She stepped, with her knee, off of me. She lay on her side facing away from me. I stayed on my back and looked up at the ceiling.
"I love you," I said. I scratched her lower back with one hand and rolled to kiss the back of her head.
"You too," she said.
I fell asleep.
Sunday afternoon I stepped out of my room to Laura coming home from work. She had a Burger King bag and set it down on the table in the living room. John was sitting on the couch with his notebook.
"I got hamburgers," she said.
"Oh yeah?" I asked.
"For you too." She said.
"Oh thanks, so much." John said. We each took a hamburger and a spot on the couch and ate. John moaned while he chewed.
"This is so good," he said with burger in his mouth. "I love Burger King."
"I hate it," said Laura. "I just want to quit."
"What about Applebee's? I asked her.
"They haven't called," she said. She took a bite of her hamburger and swallowed. I took a bite.
"Do you think I should call them?"
"Didn't they say they'd call either way?" John asked.
"Yeah," said Laura, "but wouldn't it show good incentive if I called them?"
"Well, if they said they'd call either way," John swallowed, "and they didn't call, why would you want to work for them anyway? You couldn't trust them."
"I'm going to call." Laura stood up and set her half eaten burger and the paper down on the table. She walked into our bedroom.
"She should wait to see if they call. I wouldn't want to work for someone I couldn't trust. Would you?" John crumpled his paper into a ball and threw it toward the bag. It went over and bounced off the table to the floor.
"I don't know," I said, "It's a job."
"Yeah, a job is a big part of your life. You should make sure it is a good one."
Laura ran out of the bedroom.
"I got it," she said. "They want me to train this afternoon."
"Aren't you tired?" I asked her.
"It's Applebee's," she said, "I need to be available."
"You look good." I said. Laura kissed my check and left.
"Just me and you," said John from the kitchen, "just like the old days."
I shut the door and walked to the kitchen doorway. John had the fridge open and was bent down so I couldn't see his head.
"I am still hungry," his head rose over the top of the door, "do you want a beer?"
"It's four in the afternoon."
"On a Sunday," said John. "Come on, we haven't drank together since, like, mother's day." He held one out for me and I took it.
I went into the living room and sat down on the couch. I opened the can and took a drink. John came in after me. Holding the beer in one hand, he walked to the shelf next to the TV and looked at the movies.
"What do you want to watch?"
"I don't care," I said. John took a drink and rested his other hand on his hip. "Anything but Spiderman."
"Oh damn," said John and he laughed. "Here I haven't seen this one." John took the movie out and then put the movie in.
Two weird movies later and a couple of beers and I was feeling the beers inside me. John had his head rested against the side of the couch.
"Wow," said John, "this gets to you quick when you haven't eaten much."
"I haven't drank in so long," I said. John laughed. I rubbed my face and felt the stubble of a day off. The half windows in the room were all dark. A DVD menu was on the TV and played a thirty-second song clip over and over.
"You know," John was looking at his lap, "this is fucked up."
"What," I said.
"That night, when I could hear you guys doing it. Well I just heard squeaks really. And some moans."
I looked at John but he wasn't looking at me.
"I was masturbating," he said. He scratched at both of his knees with his hands. The DVD music skipped and started over.
"I was jerking off in my room," he said and laughed softly, "and I heard you guys doing it. And it was so weird, I couldn't finish." John looked at me and laughed and his eyes moved back and forth, looking at each of mine.
"I came out to the living room and fell asleep waiting for it to go away."
I coughed out one weird laugh and then we both sat quietly
"Hey. Do you think that Laura will be too good for me since she works at Applebee's?"
"Don't be stupid." He drank and then set the can on the table. It hit hard and made a loud noise, and beer splashed out of the top. "You guys are never going to break up. I'd be so sad if you guys ever broke up." John pulled his legs up onto the couch and tucked his feet to sit Indian style.
Halfway through Spiderman, John got up and said he needed to go to bed and he went into his room.
"Good night, John" I said.
I let my head fall back onto the couch and watched the movie out of the bottom of my sight. Spiderman swung across the screen. I switched to normal TV when the end credits came. Laura got home a little while after that. She came right to the couch and sat down against me.
"How was it?" I asked.
"Really great. Things got slow near the end of the day and I got to sit for nearly twenty minutes."
"That is great." I said.
"Yeah, I worked with Allison. She's so great. She told me about this movie she watched with her husband called ÔThe Village'. It takes place in this village and it's in the past. There are these monsters that attack the village. These two people in the village fall in love, but then the boy needs medicine, so the girl has to leave the village to get it. Then she gets far away from the village and she discovers that it isn't actually a long time ago, but it is actually modern day. It sounds so good."
"It does," I said.
"Can we rent it?"
"Sure," I said.
Later that week, the three of us sat down on the couch to watch ÔThe Village.'
"What is this?" asked John.
"The Village." Said Laura.
"Oh, I've seen this," he said.
"We haven't," I said.
The movie started with a village set far in the past. Eventually the girl in the movie left the village and found out it wasn't really the past. She went back to the village with some medicine and gave it to the boy she loved. The credits came on. Me and Laura looked at each other then at John, who was asleep on the couch. We stood up. I turned off the TV. I followed Laura into our room and shut the door behind me.