The shoelaces dangle as if exhausted from their vigorous rub down. Brad cleaned them. Before that he unlaced them. This process started when his eyeballs narrowed their OCD search light stare, as he reached one hand down to abrade a fresh scuff mark, surprised that such a display of disorderliness would have the nerve to occur in his presence. After all this, he retrieves some fresh laces from his dresser.
“When did that happen?” he exclaims.
“Babe, they’re shoes. They’re the closest things on your body to the ground.”
Brad grabs a paper towel, folding it into several squares. He wipes the scuff mark with dark enthusiasm, the whites of his eyes, extra orbital, and the black of his pupils stitched tight, like crudely mended holes in a dress sock.
I watch Brad lace his shoes, then tie them and retie them before placing them in a perfect parallel to each other by the door. He stands over his white Chuck Taylors with apprehensive authority. He dims the lights, and takes out a new pair of sheets from his laundry bag. I can’t fathom how he has a full load of clothes to be washed every day, but there they are whenever I come over, like an obsessive compulsive magic trick.
Brad lays his pillow in front of him on the bed, patting it three times in five segments from one end of the pillow to the other. I light another cigarette, and go into the bathroom. I peruse the vintage postcards on the wall, studying one in particular, a drawing of a buxom red headed pin-up, the sides of whose breasts tumble out of her leopard print top, her ass, bounding and stretching the seams of her skirt as she lies wanton and resistant all at the same time in the arms of a sea monster. A caption above her languishing body reads, “The Most Dangerous Creature Known To Man!”