A few nights later I caught a movie with one of my Tales From the Crypt friends. Later, she dropped me off at my apartment. “Want to hang out a little while?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. The power of distraction is great when one is moping like the protagonist in a bad breakup song. She was smart and funny, we had people and jobs in common. An evening out was nice.
I opened the door to the apartment, and there sat the missing Jody. She wore a men’s flannel shirt two sizes too big for her and a pair of faded Levis.
“Hey, what’s up?” I said. She stood and shoved her way past us and ran out the door.
“I think I better go,” my friend said.
“Okay, thanks for hanging out,” I said. I closed the door and sat on the couch that Jody just vacated. It was warm. Time crawled past. The phone rang.
“I can’t believe you brought that whore back to my apartment,” Jody screamed.
“I came over to talk about getting back together, but fuck you. Fuck you ’til you bleed, asshole.”
“Wait a minute. She’s just a friend and we were just hanging out,” I said.
“I know all about friends,” Jody said. “Don’t lie to me. I know when you’re lying.” She started crying. “I can’t believe you’re fucking someone.”
“I’m not, but didn’t you dump me?”
“Fuck you,” she repeated, and she hung up.
The next day she was back in the apartment, but she wasn’t. I slept on the couch, not that it really changed anything — we hadn’t had sex in months. I’d wait until late at night when I was certain that she was asleep, and then I would console myself with the stack of porn hidden beneath the towels in the bathroom cabinet.
Days in the cutting room were a relief. The work distracted me, and I was away from the powder keg that once was my home. Tony sent me to the Capitol Tower to watch Maurice Jarre conduct the symphony that was scoring our film. I had no business there, Tony just thought that I would enjoy it.
He moved me to a new cutting room, too. My new sound editor was named Kevin. He was a huge guy, a bodybuilder who raced cars when he wasn’t working on films. Occasionally he’d take me to lunch in his Camaro, cutting through traffic like a Le Mans driver. I’d never felt so relaxed while someone tore across L.A.’s crowded surface streets at 80 miles per hour.
I doodled on Post-Its while I waited for the sound editors to need something. One doodle depicted a river made of what looked like embroidery patterns. I wrote “I saw a river turn into a tapestry” beneath it, and I felt pretty damned clever. Each time I read the words I sang them in my mind like a lost verse of CSN’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
“That doesn’t really make any sense,” Kevin said. “How does a river turn into a tapestry?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I didn’t care. I liked the line.
Another day I drew a little caricature of Ted Kennedy that came out okay. A cartoon Teddy wasn’t too difficult: round head with hair styled like a tidal wave and little tiny face adrift in the middle somewhere.
“Hey, I’m on the show down the hall. Can we borrow some white splicing tape?” said a visitor standing in the doorway.
“Sure, come on in,” I said.
She was cute — thin with big, bright eyes and dark hair. “Thanks,” she said. She wore ratty black jeans and a pair of Chucks. “I’m Kelly.”
“What are you guys working on?”
“Some piece of shit. You?”
“Same. Dude, is that Ted Kennedy?”
“Yeah,” I said.
Kelly laughed. “That is awesome.”
“Kelly! Tape!” a voice screamed down the hall.
“I hate that fucking asshole,” she said. “Thanks for the tape. Swing by the cutting room later and say hi.”
“I’ll do that,” I said.
Once everything was out in the open and the decision was made, having Jody in the apartment grew unbearable. One week of apartment hunting stretched to two, then three. My credit card bill arrived with hundreds of dollars in hotel room charges. We went to the movies one afternoon in “Lisa’s” car and I had to move the “I love you baby” notes off of the passenger seat. It was miserable.
Routine and ritual are the only things that hold me together when the world is falling apart. I ate at the same places every day, parked in the same spot, followed the same routine when I got to work. In the evenings I’d lock the apartment door, retire to my couch/bed, pull the covers up, then go check the locks again. I began counting everything in sets of four — four breaths, four steps, four bites.
And at the end of the night when I was certain that Jody was sleeping, I’d sneak to the bathroom cabinet and grab the supplies for a late night shot of self administered oxytocin. One evening she bolted out of the bedroom long after the safe hour and caught me with my hand full. I shoved the skin magazines under the couch when I head the door open, but it was too late: I was caught lotion-handed. She slammed the bedroom door. I heard her crying. I dressed and knocked.
“Fuck you!” she screamed. I opened the door anyway.
“I’m sorry. I thought you were asleep,” I said.
“You’re disgusting. Go talk to your paper girlfriends.” I stared into the darkened room. “What is wrong with boys? Why do you have to do that when you have a real woman?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.
“How could you do that to me?”
“I’m really embarrassed and really confused,” I said. “Aren’t we broken up?”
“Just go back to your dirty magazines, you pig,” Jody said.
I walked back to the couch in exactly eight steps. Work was an uncomfortable five hours away.