by Chris Eng
“That’s your romantic night for us?” Edie stared at Gobbler, looking for any trace of black humour in what he’d just said. “You want to eat microwaved 7-11 food and watch movies while getting drunk on cider.”
Gobbler’s expression was utterly devoid of irony and he seemed to be missing any flaws in the plan. “Um… yeah? We don’t have to go to 7-11, if you don’t want to. The Speedy Market’s got food, too.”
Edie studied her boyfriend while she ran his words over in her mind. He was cute—that was a point in his favour. His short-cropped haircut and clean-shaven face accentuated his youthfulness (and periodic cluelessness… like now); the form-fitting Johnny Hobo shirt and black jeans were masculine without going overboard, and his matching tattoo sleeves of art based on Jack Kirby’s New Gods—well, those were just hot. But he honestly didn’t see what she was upset about.
“Dude, this is our anniversary!”
“I know! One whole year. It’s awesome.”
“It is. And if we hadn’t done anything at all, I probably would have been okay with that, but you promised me a romantic evening and the Speedy Market really wasn’t what I had pictured.” In point of fact, Edie had dressed up a little in anticipation. Her hair was done like it usually was, cut short with the peroxide blonde growing out and her brown undercut showing, but she’d worn her classiest jacket (the red plaid one) over a Cock Sparrer t-shirt and added a black miniskirt, some old fishnets and her 16-hole silver Docs. Considering what Gobbler had just proposed, she’d definitely overdressed.
“What kind of dinner did you have pictured, then?”
“I dunno. Maybe some kind of picnic. That would have been nice.”
“I didn’t have time to do any shopping. I worked at the art store today.”
“You could have picked something up on the way home.”
“The stuff from 7-11 would be cold and gross by now.”
“I am so not talking about 7-11 or the Speedy Market anymore. You could have gone to the supermarket and picked up some olives and a salad. Dude, we could have made a salad. It’s not hard. And we could have drunk wine instead of cider.”
“I thought you liked cider.” The confusion on his face seemed to grow ever deeper as the conversation went on.
“I do, but we get drunk on it, like, three times a week. A little variety is nice sometimes.”
“It’s fine. Forget it.” She was irritated but not willing to spend the evening fighting over their anniversary plans. That’s what stupid “normal” people did. She changed the subject. “What movie did you want to watch?”
“Sid and Nancy?”
“Seriously?! I am not watching the story of a couple of self-destructing junkies on a night when we’re supposed to be celebrating our love. God, I hate that film. I mean, a thousand Punk Points for the idea, but minus a thousand for the romantic gesture.”
“Jesus, Gobbler.” She massaged her left temple with her fingertips. “You know, just because we’re punks doesn’t mean we can only watch movies about them.”
Gobbler gestured at the TV/VCR combo on the far side of the room and the smallish pile of VHS cassettes next to it. “I don’t have that many tapes and the DVD player is broken.”
“I know; I live here, too.”
“How about Some Kind of Wonderful?”
“Sure. Why not.”
“It’s your favourite movie.”
“I know. Go put it on.”
“What about dinner?”
“We can worry about dinner later. Just…” She sighed a sigh comprised of equal parts disappointment and exhaustion. “Just put the movie on.”
He scuttled off the double-stacked mattress that was their bed, grabbed one of the tapes, and shoved it into the VCR. The TV screen flickered for a second and rearranged itself into the scene where Eric Stolz shows Lea Thompson the painting he made of her. The scene that always made her cry for some stupid reason. Awesome. She started to well up instinctively.
“Do you want me to rewind it?” he asked.
“No.” She focused on an section of wall far removed from the TV. “Just let it play.” Pressure was starting to build around the back of her skull and threatened to turn into a headache. On top of that, she was aware that unmoderated aggravation was coming through in her voice, but didn’t care enough to stop it.
Gobbler sat down on the bed next to her. “This isn’t what you wanted tonight to be, is it?”
“Honestly? Not really, no. But I’ve learned that life is a whole lot of ‘not what you wanted it to be’.”
He made an apologetic half-smile. “I got you a present.”
“You did? Why?” She was genuinely surprised by that. Presents weren’t something they did for each other. They celebrated each other’s birthdays and Christmas by doing something fun, but presents weren’t usually part of the scenario. Both of them preferred experiences to collecting more material possessions. “I didn’t get anything for you.”
“I didn’t expect anything from you. Hold on,” he said as he got up and left the room for a minute, leaving her with the movie. There was nothing to distract her now and her eyes kept tracking back to the screen and she kept edging closer to tears and she was pissed-off and tired and wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold it together.
Gobbler came back in the room. He was holding a painting.
It was on a two foot by three foot canvas and he’d evidently been working on it for a while, since it had all of his style but none of the rushed tone evident in his other art. It was of Edie standing under a streetlamp wearing her leather jacket and smiling. She looked radiant.
And Edie did burst into tears then and there was nothing she could do to stop them. She tried to tell him she was sorry for being a bitch but the words wouldn’t come out properly and she started weeping instead. The painting dropped to the floor and Gobbler ran to the bed and hugged her and apologized and kept apologizing.
Edie looked up at him then and kissed him, hard and fast and urgent, and her teeth were biting his bottom lip, and the taste of his skin and her tears were mingling, and she pulled him to her and bit his neck and asked him, “How long have you been working on that?”
“About two months. You’re not mad, then?”
She scrabbled at the button on his pants, forcing it open and pulling the fly apart. Falling back onto the bed, she hiked up her skirt, grabbed a fistful of stocking in each hand and pulled, tearing a wide hole in the crotch. Her face flushed and her voice short of breath, she pulled her panties to the side and said, “No. But if you don’t fuck me right now, I will be.”
He lowered himself onto her and she reached down and guided him into her, wrapping her legs around his waist and groaning thickly as he pushed forward.
Ten minutes later, they were a mass of sweat-soaked, clothes-covered bodies struggling weakly to disentangle themselves from each other. Gobbler eventually managed to roll off of his girlfriend, but his fingers stayed entwined in her hair, gently caressing her scalp. He leaned in and whispered, “Happy anniversary.”
Then, for a few seconds, there was no sound but the TV until Edie asked, “You planned all of that, didn’t you?”
“The crappy food. The movies I hate. My favourite movie cued to that exact scene. You had all of that planned from the beginning.”
He propped himself up on his elbow so he could look down into her eyes. Looking back up at him, Edie saw the boy she fell in love with the first time she laid eyes on him. “Yeah. You mad now?”
She reached down and circled her fingers around his cock. “No. But if you’re not ready to go again in about two minutes, I totally will be.” She grinned and gave him a squeeze. “Happy anniversary, yourself, you clever, clever asshole.”