Ritual de lo Habitual came out that summer, and Jane’s Addiction were suddenly superstars. I skipped shows because I felt betrayed in that way that kids do when their band suddenly becomes popular. I continued my protest in absentia all the way through their last dates, thereby missing the inaugural Lollapalooza.
That fall my new boss, Tony, asked who I thought would win the World Series. “The Reds in a sweep,” I said.
He looked confused. “They’re not even the favorites,” he said. “Why would you think they’ll sweep?”
“Just a hunch.” The truth was that I knew fuck all about baseball. I picked the Reds because I chose them as my favorite team in grade school, when lists of favorite colors, lucky numbers, months, and sports teams were mandatory. I couldn’t have named a Cincinnati player at gunpoint.
The Reds did indeed sweep that series, beating the Oakland A’s in four straight. Vegas odds were 30 to 1 on that happening. Another Lollapalooza missed, but I had no complaints. Every night when I turned off the cutting room light I knew I was going home to Jody, and every day I knew I’d be talking to her on the telephone. Sometimes our calls were no more than “what are you doing” small talk, others “don’t forget to stop for Halloween candy” errands. Now and then she just sounded down about her career or bored with kicking around our cruddy little apartment.
Sometimes she just wanted to fight. “Why didn’t you answer the phone?”
“I wasn’t in my cutting room,” I said.
“Where were you?”
“I was downstairs waiting on Preston to transfer some sound effects onto mag for one of the editors.”
“No you weren’t. You were flirting with Cheryl,” Jody said.
“Jesus Christ. I wish I never told you that she wants to be a bikini model.”
“I bet you don’t.”
“I thought you’d think it was funny.”
“Yeah, I bet that’s why.”
“Can we stop this? I have to get back to work,” I said, and Jody slammed down the telephone.
The drive home that night was awful. My stomach iced over and my heart raced. As soon as I opened the door Jody was on me, blue eyes flashing as she yelled at me. “You’re fucking her.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know when you lie.”
“I’m not lying to you, Jody.”
“You think you’re so fucking smart.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You think you can hide things from me.”
“I’m not hiding anything,” I said.
“You think I don’t know about your little stack of dirty magazines in the bathroom cabinet? Oh, stack a towel on top of them, what a fucking genius.”
“I assumed you knew they were there. It’s just not something I cared to talk about.”
Jody stared at me. “What are you, a robot?” she said. “Are you a machine? Is there a human inside there anywhere? Do you even have feelings?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Yes, of course,” she repeated in a robotic voice, and then, “Fuck you, Jim. Fuck you ’til you bleed.”
“Baby, I don’t even understand what we’re fighting about, I said. “I was just at work, doing my job — ”
Knock knock knock.
We looked at each other. Our apartment was on the second floor on the alley side of the building. Nobody had ever knocked on our door.
Knock knock knock.
I braced myself for a neighbor complaining about the screaming, or even worse: maybe somebody called the police. No cop was going to believe that the petite blonde was the aggressor. My ass was on its way to jail, and for what — getting yelled at for not answering my work phone? For reading Penthouse?
Fuck this noise. I love you, Jody, but I don’t want to go to jail over this shit.
Knock knock knock.
I unchained the door. I unlocked the deadbolt. I unlocked the knob and flung open the door to my fate. There were four of them standing there.
“Trick or treat!”
My robot brain short circuited. It caught up with me after a few seconds of awkward staring at the ghost, princess, cowboy, and hobo at my door.
“Listen,” I said. “I forgot to buy candy on the way home and we’re kind of in the middle of something here. Will cash be okay?”
The cowboy looked at the hobo. The hobo nodded, and the cowboy turned back to me. “Yeah, that’s okay,” he said. I pulled out my wallet and dropped bills into the kids’ bags.
“Thank you,” they said.
“Happy Halloween,” I said, and I closed the door. Jody’s tiny hand covered her mouth, her blue eyes twinkling. I laughed, too. “We have to get out of here before those little savages tell every kid in the building that 207’s handing out cash,” I said.
“Okay,” Jody said.
We walked up to Hollywood Boulevard and holed up at the Hamburger Hamlet. Across the street, tourists took photos of Mann’s Chinese Theater. Goddammit, I loved that girl.