Wanda owns a dog but she never takes it for a walk. It shits inside. Sometimes she cleans it up, sometimes she doesn’t. Pieces of dried-up dog shit dot the floor of her apartment. But it’s not just the dog shit. Her whole place is a mess: piles of dirty dishes, empty beer cans and wine bottles, unwashed clothes strewn about.
She doesn’t shower very often, either. Every couple of weeks. She smells, but not much given how infrequently she bathes. She’s popular at all the clubs. Men love her. She always has a boyfriend.
Her romances all seem to last about a year. They end with the boy screaming, “You’re gross!”
I can never figure that out. She’s the same the whole time. It’s like, after a year they realize just how unclean she really is. Wanda doesn’t seem to care. A week or two later, she’s got another guy.
Her circle of friends is once removed from mine, but we hang out at the same places. I first meet her at the Short Stop on Sunset. The bartenders there are good, but there are too few of them, so you have to wait forever for a beer. Wanda is standing next to me. I can smell her a little, but I like it. She smells like sex and sweat.
We order the same drink—Irish and soda—and we laugh about it.
“It helps with his confidence,” she says. “He used to flunk every subject. Now he’s getting straight A’s.”
Sure enough she pulls out a couple of copies of his report cards—a steady rise in his performance, I admit.
“Don’t be judgmental,” she says. “He’s a boy, not a girl.”
Two days later I watch.
Sergio is glad to have me play the voyeur. He is proud and happy and puffing up his tiny chest.
He smiles widely when Wanda swallows.
I want to tell him that Wanda and I have never touched each other, but it is not appropriate.
When they are done, Sergio asks for a beer.
“You’re too young to drink,” Wanda says and sends him on his way.
“When he hits the ninth grade, goes to high school, I gotta cut him off,” she says. “He needs a girlfriend.”
“You’re right about that,” I say.
“You hungry?” she asks.
She microwaves some taquitos.
While we are eating, her dog takes a dump on the floor.
I offer to take the dog for a walk.
“A little late,” she laughs, pointing at the pile of shit.
She goes to the fridge and grabs two cans of Pabst.
“Besides, you’ll spoil him,” she says.
I begin to drop by unannounced.
Today she is reading. She reads a lot, in fact.
“You like Kant?” she asks me.
“The categorical imperative?”
“I prefer ‘a.’ ”
“Yeah, the indefinite article …”
“I love the German Idealists.”
She is reading a Penguin paperback anthology with that title. She puts her book down and smiles at me.
Her phone rings.
She has a steel-blue iPhone. She keeps the volume up. I can always hear both sides of her conversations.
Now a man shouts from the other end. Clearly it is her boyfriend. He is still out of town. I am not sure where he is. She has not told me. But he is very angry and loud.
He yells for about ten minutes straight.
She says nothing.
I pick up her book and, without losing her page, begin to read the introduction. It sounds interesting.
When her boyfriend finishes his tirade, she turns off her phone.
She looks at me. I can’t tell if she is sad.
“I guess I’m single again,” she says.
We kiss for the first time.
May 8, 04:29 PMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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