I'll Come Running

She asked what was wrong. I could not believe her nerve. She spends five years of her life attached to the hip of some …jerk. Some guy who beat her up and pushed her around and now she has the cajones to ask what's wrong with me

I hate it when we do this, I hate it, hate it, hate it!

Ana just stood there looking at me, expecting an answer, completely oblivious to how much she'd just pissed me off. But I can't be angry, as she's told me a thousand times, she just is the way she is. And this is how she is; Ana thinks that nobody has ever had a problem that was so deep and painful that they couldn't talk about it. Or, rather, everybody but her, because, I know, like no one else knows. This is why I hate her constant questions about my state of mind. She has to pry the lid off my issues, but I can't touch hers. But how can I say that? She won't let me get mad. After a moment I turned and started walking again.

"Hey!" She shouted after me.

Woman can not take a fucking hint! I turned on my heel and almost fell on my ass in my stupid shoes. "What?" I'm angry, but trying to be as still as possible, I made a point not to say it in a mean way. Calm, calm, calm, calm, calm!

She looked hurt anyway.

"Why won't you talk to me?"

Because I don't want to advertise my personal problems, you fucking cow. "I don't feel like talking, that's all," I said.

"Why are you always shutting me out?"

"Excuse me?" I feel it always pays to be polite.

"Don't give me that! You heard me. You never talk to me; you never tell me what's going on. Like just now, I asked you what was wrong and you ignored me."

Ha! I did not ignore you. I just didn't respond to your inane question. "I don't want to talk about it. And what do you mean we never talk? Didn't we just spend two hours at Brainwash talking?"

"I don't mean conversation! Why don't we ever talk about us?"

That's what this is really about: us. Was there an "us?" I don't normally want people that I've slept with twice to be surgically grafted to my spine. Plurals are such a troublesome concept. "What about 'us?'"

"See, there. You're doing it again."

"Doing what?"

"Being all cold and sarcastic and rolling your eyes at me."

Oh Christ, now she's gone into Autobitch. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize unless you mean it."

Oh Holy Hell. I hate it when we do this. I've known the girl for a month and we fight more than any one else. "Fine,I won't." I turned again and started walking, faster than before. I expected her to call after me, to keep our manufactured drama going, but after a half a block I turned to look back and she was gone as if she'd never been.

I wandered around aimlessly up and down Mission in a foul mood, but then got bored and decided to wander up and down Valencia in a foul mood. After all, maybe I'd run into the dyke of my dreams and not have to worry about Ana anymore. Eventually I wandered into the Lexington; it was full of red lights and music but bare of people, perfect.

"Hey darling!"

Oh Christ. "Hello."

"Aren't you just a little ray of sunshine."

Yes, and that's just how I and my neurosies like it. "What makes you say that?"

"Where's Ana? I thought you had a date."

Oh – Holy - Jesus. Why does everybody in this fucking town assume that if you sleep with somebody more than once you must instantly merge identities and become The Lesbian Couple? "I don't know, out someplace probably. Why? Am I not allowed to be my own separate entity?"

"You most certainly are. Wanna beer? It's on me."

"Sure." Sarcasm is clearly lost on Jacob the nosy transsexual.

The indifferent cool-kid bartender popped the cap off a bottle of Corona, stuffed a wedge of lime into the neck, set it in front of me, and got one for my sudden companion, sans fruit. "Cheers." He said and clinked his beer against mine.

"Yeah, cheers." I muttered and took a drink. I'm not much of a drinker, particularly piss-pale beer, but for some reason the alcohol tasted good to me just then. We drank in silence for a few minutes and I removed the lime and sucked on it. Yum, yum, yum, it matched my mood.

"You wanna know something?" He asked, looking mischievous.

No, actually. "Sure, what?"

"Tiffany and I are going to have a baby."

Ewww. "Congratulations, I didn't know you guys had been…uh… trying." Children give me hives.

He smiled. Jacob makes a very attractive woman when he smiles, even if he and his L.A. lesbian girlfriend were trying to bioengineer the next generation. I smiled back, sort of; it was a rather sad attempt to look happy. He got the bartender's attention, rather against her will, and bought another Corona. "Now that we're all caught up," he set the other beer in front of me, surprising, as he knows I'm something of a lightweight. "Is there anything you wanna tell me?"

No, no, no, no, no, no! Why is everybody so goddamned concerned about my stupid fucking life? "Like what? Anything you wanna know?" I had to wait for my answer because a couple of girls walked into the bar. They were obviously under age, but it was a Tuesday night, and if they wanted to sit in homeroom with a hangover tomorrow it was none of our business. The insipid giggling subsided with the acquisition of Parrot Bay and Sprite and Jacob returned his attention to me. "Well?"

"Well what?" He said far too casually.

"You wanna know what's up with me and Ana don't you?"

He shrugged. "If you wanna tell. But, come to think, I never did hear how you two got together." He said as he examined his beer like anything I had to say was a matter of supreme indifference.

"We met at that stupid poetry thing at Valencia Street Books, you know that."

"Everybody knows that." He said, dropping his affected unconcern and setting the bottle aside.

I am so fucking tired of people. Nosy, noisy, yammering, bubble-headed fucks. I'm going to go find a cave in the mountains and live as a hermit. I didn't say anything. Jacob looked at me with a very patient expression, and I suddenly felt like an unreasonable child. I was beginning to feel the alcohol and everything just seemed so very pointless. I was so sick of everyone, of Jacob and Ana, but most of all myself. My brain felt way to fucking full. I put my head down on my arms.

After a moment I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay?" Jacob asked.

Oh, fine. Everything is just peachy. "I'm fine."

The hand left my shoulder abruptly and I thought he'd finally gotten sick of my mulishness and would leave me alone. Then I felt someone roughly grab my arm and haul me off my stool. He dragged me outside into the relative quiet of the alley. It was nice out, dark, warmish and the air was soft. I could smell star jasmine from some apartment garden. I could hear the jukebox inside, but between us the silence seemed to press down on my ears.

"Shouldn't you be off propagating or something?" I asked a little sourly.

"Tiffany is out with her sister." He lit a cigarette and offered me one too.

I shook my head, and he put the pack away.

"What's with you lately? I've never seen you so shut up before."

Okay, you know what? I hate the world today, how's that? "Why do you wanna hear this shit?"

"I have a vested interest in your happiness."

"Bullshit."

"I'm waiting."

"I meet this girl, she's smart, she's funny, she's psycho. That's what's up."

"Who's psycho? Ana?"

"Not fuckin' anyone else at the moment."

"You're not fucking anyone at the moment. What's the problem?"

"I just told you."

"What happened to make you think Ana's psycho?"

"I liked her the first time I saw her at that stupid reading, but then I find out that she's just out of this five-year relationship with some guy. So I put it out of my mind. Then the next time we meet, she's flirts with me, we both get really drunk and have really bad sex in the back of her car. I give her my number, then three weeks later I have heard absolutely nothing from her. I think, 'okay, one nighter' whatever. Then she calls me, out of the blue, and invites me out. We meet and practically eat each other, have slightly less awkward sex - in a bed this time, I might add - then go out for Thai. We see each other every night for two weeks. Then she drops this bomb. She didn't call me for three weeks because she wanted to 'sort out her emotions' and that she's finally 'made up her mind about me' then asked, indirectly, if I wanted to move in with her. What the fuck is that about? So, after a two hour conversation in which I tell her I think she's going just a wee bit to fast she asks, 'what's wrong?' Do you believe that? She has the balls to ask me, what's wrong?! And then we have this fight in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the entire fucking neighborhood about how we never talk! Talk! What is there to talk about?! She nuts. End of story. So there, Jacob-the-nosy-fucking-transsexual, while you Tiffany are out shopping for sperm donors and bioengineering the next generation, I get to tango with the lesbian Fat Man A-bomb from Hell!"

Jacob looked a little stunned. (And really, who wouldn't?) Then he looked thoughtful. "I don't think I'm the one you should be talking to."

No shit. "What?"

"Where is Ana now?"

"Over the moon? Under the sea? A thousand miles below the surface of the earth, maybe?"

"Seriously."

I felt very wide-awake all of a sudden. "I don't know. I think she might have gone home."

Jacob flicked away the butt of his cigarette. "You should go talk to her."

"Why?" I asked, still feeling like a sulky child.

"Because you shouldn't be this angry at her without telling her why."

Unfortunately for me, I couldn't think of any way to disagree with him about that.

I had been to Ana's place before, but I'd been blind drunk at the time, it was someplace off Market, the corner of 18th and Church or thereabouts. It was closing on three in the morning, a strange hour to go visiting. I seriously doubted that she would be either awake or inclined to listen to me. So I'd spent the last hour or two wandering about mindlessly in a vain attempt to not go see her. However my talk with Jacob left me feeling a bit like I'd been to mass. Slightly paranoid that some one (probably my Grandmother Raphaela) was looking down on me, disapprovingly. I had a superstitious feeling that I shouldn't sleep on this one. I was listening to my CD player as I walked the deserted early morning streets. I stopped in front of a building that looked right, and looked over the name labels on the buzzers and…nothing, not a clue. I was about to press a blank one (she's a new tenant, her buzzer might be blank) when an old man in bright pink spandex cycling shorts and seventy dollar jogging shoes came out of the building, muttering to himself. I let myself in behind him. No need to bother anyone.

I tried to think of the number to her apartment, it was someplace on the third floor. 310? 312, maybe? Something like that. The elevator was broken, so I had a nice long haul up an uncomfortably creaky flight of stairs to think about it. I walked the dim, dingy halls. I could hear a T.V. off someplace, snores, and the tinny shriek of an alarm clock. I passed 312 first; there was a sign on the door. It was a cardboard star, spray painted gold and edged in multi-colored glitter that sparkled cheerfully on the jittery fluorescence of the hallway. "Ana's Room" was spelled on the front with white-pearl pop-beads. I heard voices, and a radio or something and a waft of Nag Champa. What the hell? I thought Ana could barely stay awake through the eleven o'clock news, why did she have somebody over at three-thirty in the morning? And what's with the incense? She's fuckin' Catholic. And the sign, when did that go up? It was really creepy. Everybody else I know is too paranoid to even open the door all the way for the UPS dude. Why didn't she just hang a big neon sign out front that said "Hi, I'm naïve?" I knocked. The door swung open, it was Ana, bare of make-up and pajamaed. "What are you doing here?" She inquired. She didn't sound hostile exactly, more like I was a dog that had rolled in something smelly.

"You said we needed to talk, so I'm here to talk."

She rolled her eyes at me, "come in then, you can meet my room mate."

I looked over her shoulder into the apartment. What had formally been a sea of boxes and moving paraphernalia, was now a riot of color and clutter. A skinny boy in satin pajamas sat on a pillow on the floor. He waved at me. A tiny Santeria – style altar sat in a corner, a brightly colored Santa Maria looked benevolently over all. I looked at her for a few stunned seconds before moving past her into the living room, and I came to the disturbing realization that I didn't know her at all.