ClevelandWeirdness prose

On the Edge of Life, Part 4

(Note: Read Part 1 for the genesis of this serial novel. You should probably read Parts 1 & 2 & 3 first anyway, but I suppose you don't have to. I mean, it's weird enough to stand on its own. )

Josh hasn't been himself lately. It's been three days since a gas main blew over in Maple Heights sending flames shooting 200 feet into the sky… and not one fucking word. He didn't say anything, he's not pissed that he missed it…he isn't moping around the house… What the hell is this Nell chick doing to him? Ah crap, here she is now…

"Hey baby!" She hugs me and kisses my cheek. She has been saying hello like this since we met; it feels odd.
"Howdy Nell."
"Where's Josh?"
"In the shower," I glance back toward the hall, "he should be out any minute." Please God let him be done.
"Can you just believe it? What a disappointment."
"Huh? What is?"
"They say there's no casualties! All that fire and not one person got tagged! What about the guys that struck the gas line? Shouldn't they be dead? Man, you'd think there'd be casualties…" she trailed off and frowned.
"They haven't come down yet."
"What?" It's her turn to be confused.
"The casualties…they haven't been counted cause they haven't come down yet."
Slowly she grinned; she crossed the room laughing and plops herself down on one of our couches. I look around; maybe I'll just go to my room.
"So what are we doing tonight?"
"We?" Try as I might, I still look disgusted.
"Yeah, we're goin' out. Didn't Josh tell you?"
I turn and shout down the hall towards the bathroom; "NO, JOSH DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT GOING OUT" I can almost hear Josh mumble 'oops' over the running water.
"We could…" She broke off as I pointed my index finger up in the universal 'just a sec' sign.
"Hold that thought."

I grumpily made my way down the hall to the bathroom. Steam filled the room, the mirror was covered with a murky mist. Josh likes his showers HOT, I dunno…maybe he thinks he'll get burned to death or something.
"What the fuck is that about?" Josh poked his head out of the shower curtain,
"What the fuck is what about?"
"Making plans for me."
"S'no big deal. I figured we could go out. You could get to know Nell. You know- hang."
"I've gotta work." Not the best lie I'd ever thought of, but that blue haired wondergirl puts me off my game.
"No you don't." Josh pulled his head back into the water.
"Sure I do."
"No you don't." He said in a sing song voice through a mouth full of water.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Resignation, "Well, I suppose I could call off."
"Uh-huh. You do that. Won't Mike be surprised when you call off on a day you don't work."
He sticks his head back out at me, "If you call off on a day you don't work, does that mean you have to go in?"
"Maybe, I…"
"Just go get ready, dude."

I go back into the hall. I glance toward the living room and can just see her on the couch. I point at her viciously, "Don't touch anything!" She quickly puts one of my Gundam models back where she found it and smiles like an angel. Bitch. Half an Hour later we get a booth at the Great Lakes Brewing Company, lucky for us we went early…normally ya gotta wait forever to sit in this place. Love it here, there's beer in EVERYTHING. Hell, anyplace that Eliot Ness fancied is fine by me…fun to watch the bartender give the bullet hole spiel to the newbies… Nell skips off to the bathroom, leaving us alone. Josh turns to me with that look. Ah Shit! Don't ask Josh, for god sakes don't ask me!
"So what do ya think of Nell?"
Fuck, here we go. "I can't stand the little bitch." I look away, can't bear to see him take that. A few moments pass. I look back, he's absolutely beaming! What the fuck? He's just smiling at me! "Uh…I don't really know what it is. She just…um, bugs me."
"I know why." He knew. He knew she bugged me! How long has he been waiting to ask me that…He's actually happy…wait… And he says he knows why? Well shit, I wanna hear this!
"Why's that smiley boy?" I'll call his bluff.
"Well, except for her being WAY cuter than you are…you're exactly alike. I mean you guys are almost the same person."
My jaw drops to the floor. "No way! She…" wait. Fuck. Could…are we…we can't be…right?

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