People Who Are Good People
Andrea Kneeland

When we left the bar, we went to his apartment because he wanted to show me the religious tracts he'd brought home from church earlier that day. This would normally be a red flag, but he told me he was an atheist so I figured it would be okay.

I kept hitting my head on things: a lamppost, a window, his coffee table, his refrigerator door. This was also okay because I laughed every time to make it seem like I didn't hurt, like this was all just part of the fun, the same as the White Russians and creepy religious tracts.

He didn't like it when I called the religious tracts creepy. He told me he didn't think they were creepy. We spent quite a bit of time looking through the tracts and discussing them, mostly him discussing them I think, but I don't remember what he said if you want the honest truth.

Although it was made clear to me that I was not allowed to poke fun at the religious materials, he did reassure me over and over again that when he'd told me earlier he didn't believe in God, he'd meant it. I appreciated his consistency on that point.

Consistency is comforting. I would like more consistency in my life.

Eventually I fell off the couch and hit my head again and he picked me up and carried me to the bed and left the religious tracts on the coffee table. I was feeling a little bad about myself because I knew that I was being slutty. That morning, while the atheist was at church, before I met him or knew that he existed, I was waking up next to someone else, another person who was almost a stranger.

When I woke up next to this other person and looked at this other person's face, I'd realized it was covered in makeup. Not my makeup. Makeup he himself must have applied before we'd met: subtle makeup, doll-flesh colored for his skin. It was clumping up, gathering in the wrinkles next to his eyes, ringing his pores, making everything on his face enormous and fake and disgusting. I'd never seen man makeup before. I don't know if he got it in Taiwan, or from a theater supply company, or if it was just Cover Girl liquid foundation from Walgreen's.

I felt like the makeup thing should give me a free pass, because sleeping with that guy had so clearly been a mistake. I shouldn't be held accountable for a man wearing makeup. There was nothing I could do about that. It was out of my hands. Having sex with the atheist would be like a do-over.

I had already stopped feeling bad about myself by the time the atheist took my pants off. He went down on me, but not particularly well, so I started thinking about the makeup guy again.

I think that I'm probably a shallow person, I said to the atheist. I think that I'm probably a shallow person but I also don't really care about that. I don't care about that because I feel like I'm not as shallow as a shallow person who has never realized that they're a shallow person, and this is good enough for me.

After I say that he changes his technique, and things get a little better. I look around his bedroom in the half-dark, searching for signs of something. The things that make a person. There's a cactus on an Ikea desk next to a printer, a jar of loose change. I don't see any books. He has an Indian head tattoo on his shoulder. I am part Indian. There's unwashed laundry in the corner. I would normally find the idea of an Indian head tattoo offensive, but in this context it wasn't so bad. It didn't seem like such a bad idea when it manifested itself on the shoulder of a person who was performing oral sex on me. I have not seen any books anywhere. I can't remember if there were magnets on the refrigerator. Maybe. Yes. Maybe a magnet from a dentist's office and a coupon for delivery pizza. Yes. Round Table. There are still no books. My head hurts. I turn my head to press it against the cool of the sheets. There's a lamp and a box of Kleenex and a picture of a dog on the nightstand. It's the only picture I've seen in his apartment. The only picture I've seen is of a dog.
Dog people are good people. People who like dogs are good people. I like people who are good people. I close my eyes.

Andrea Kneeland has work in or coming from The Collagist, American Letters & Commentary, Caketrain, SmokeLong Quarterly and others. A collection of hers, The Birds & the Beasts, is forthcoming from Cow Heavy.

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Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Warm Sunny Days.

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