Jake Ruiter

We are all in the kitchen drinking cheap vodka with cranberry juice out of coffee mugs. We've run out of the plastic cups and all of Mary and Phillip's glasses are dirty. I have the blue one with, "Malden Concrete Pipe," in big white block letters on the side. Tim, standing beside me, traces his finger lightly between my shoulder blades, our signal, and then he is gone, I know, to commandeer the bathroom. I keep smiling, laughing and talking with our friends and admiring the freakish art that is everywhere. Mary is the dealer and Phillip is the artist with abstract tendencies. One piece, apparently titled "Promise," is a bunch of guitar strings coiled up with yellow and red paint splattered all over it and a decaying apple core sketched in the middle. 

Tim and I are adding some spice lately, pretending we're twenty again, fucking on beaches and in parking garages and fondling each other under tables at restaurants. I know I'm meant to duck out discretely in a couple minutes and sneak into the bathroom to join him, but for some reason I don't move. I keep listening to Mary who is telling the story about finding a dead rat in the break room at the Safeway when she was sixteen. She comes to the part about the crazy hippie cashier, Janice, who wanted to call the animal rescue league to come resuscitate the rat. I already know the story but I laugh anyway.

It was my idea, all this sexual subterfuge. I even asked Tim to take the initiative at this party, to pick his moment. But now that we're here and it's time, I can't move and I can't stop laughing, at our friends or at myself, I'm not sure.

In twenty minutes, Tim comes back from the bathroom and flashes his confused, dejected eyes at me. I decide to get ripping, stupid drunk. I tell Carol that her glasses make her head look fatter than it really is. I take a chip out of one of Phillip's sculptures with a wild swing of my mug.

On the way home, I stumble around the sidewalk with Tim on the outside to keep me from lurching into the street. We come upon a house with the sound of violins spilling out of open windows. I bend down low to get the right angle to peer in, and I can see just their mid-sections in there, two violins and two women to play them. I think of stately Tudor mansions and restrictive corsets. And then I am on my knees on the sidewalk, bawling like a child. I will never, I think, do anything as beautiful as what these two women are doing together in the middle of the night. I look up at Tim and his worried eyes. He sighs and pulls me to my feet and throws my arm over his shoulder. We shuffle down the sidewalk like that, the sad sound of violins fading as we get closer and closer to home.

Jake Ruiter's work has appeared in Quick Fiction and online at SmokeLong Quarterly and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He would like to join a mountain blue-grass band but he only knows how to play Blitzkrieg Bop on the guitar. Maybe he could be the guy who just blows on the jug of moonshine.

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Detail of photo on main page courtesy of RobW.

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