leftover wine

The low lamp light cast an evil glow over his handsome face reminding me of what a pumpkin really can become, and quickly. I set my fork down and listened in…”


by laine perry



He was talking to me as he rarely does about his dreams. They weren’t his dreams really. It was more that he lacked dreams of his own and had been drinking enough to feel bad about that fact. He was slurring his way through dinner which consisted of a piece of dark meat and a few oily fries. The low lamp light cast an evil glow over his handsome face reminding me of what a pumpkin really can become, and quickly. I set my fork down and listened in. It was good to hear Jasper talk about a project of any sort. Appropriating my area of interest was only a try at getting on with me. I knew that.

He mumbled something about wanting to make a movie, mentioning what would amount to a 3 second scene. I encouraged him with options for the character’s next move. “He could walk out to the painting studio,” I said. “No,” he grimaced, gulping the last of his beer. “That’s it. He doesn’t do anything else,” he insisted, “he stands there in his underwear. That’s all he does. That’s it. He’s wearing a zebra stripe thong.”

Two years down the road and things had gone dry between us. “Yeah,” I told him in my most encouraging voice, “Good. It definitely has potential.”

“So what if you had the character standing in the doorway at the front of the house surveying traffic?” Our house was on a busy street. His features contorted, looking all the more evil in the unflattering glare of refrigerator light. “I told you,” he muttered, “He doesn’t do anything but stand there. That’s it. That’s the whole movie. I’m going to show it on You-tube. It’s funny.” He didn’t find the beer he wanted. He grabbed the leftover wine instead.

A bit later in the evening my roommate came in to stare at me. “Jesus!” he said. “What happened?” I shook my head thinking about how to answer that. “Can you take a picture of me like this?” I asked. “Of course,” the kid said, and went into his room to grab his camera. “Jesus! You look like hell!” he said. “Jasper went crazy,” I told him, “he didn’t like my ideas for his movie. He was already drunk when he got into the wine.” Now it was the roommate who was shaking his head. “I guess collaboration on his blockbuster is definitely out of the question.” I thought I should be crying. It was the first time anyone had shoved me to the floor and beaten my face in. I just sat on the toilet in the strong light having my photo taken.

It’s too new to write about, what with the bruises still colorful and puckered and me a bit punchy. Imagine the cork gnawed, the lamp bent, the wires and bulb dangling, the flowers still hanging though the stems have paled; the petals edged in brown. There isn’t a kiss around the house anymore. I’d say it is disconcerting but I don’t want to feel disconcerted. It’s the same pain in here just that nobody’s passed. The feeling it leaves me with is a wobbly one. I am off kilter and in search of my equilibrium. When things have gone terribly stiff something has to soften them. I sat with my back to the fireplace waiting for the comfort of the burn.

Originally published:
Issue Fifty-Two
April 2008

Laine Perry grew up on the road with her mom, making music and telling stories. Many more of these stories from Laine can be found in the Vault of Smoke.

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