Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Health Care, Chapter One, Part 2
Ben drove for awhile thinking about how nice it would be to smell Simone again. Claire let out with this intensely loud snore, which must have echoed around inside her skull enough to wake her. She sat up sharply and looked around for a few seconds before she realized that she was in a car and then that she was in Ben’s car and then that they were driving to Seattle.
She let out a huge yawn and a cloud of morning breath that smelled like garlic and bad parmesan. Unable to help himself, Ben’s face scrunched up in disgust. “Could you breath the other way, please? You’re a little gross.”
Claire smacked him in the head. “Fucking get over yourself,” she said, and then pulled a tube of Aquafresh out of her backpack and smeared some of it on her teeth. “How the hell many mornings did you show up at the breakfast table with your face smelling like Simone’s crotch? Now you’re going to get all pissy about linguini breath?”
She shook a couple of cigarettes out of the backpack and handed one to Ben. She pushed in the dashboard lighter, then picked up the ass-end of the roach and showed it to him.
“Nice. Didn’t leave me even a little tiny bit.” She tossed it back into the ashtray, then pulled the lighter out and lit both of their smokes.
“Well, okay: there wasn’t a whole lot to start with and, and you were completely snoring or else I woulda offered you some.” This wasn’t exactly what you’d call true, because there were only a couple of hits worth in the roach, but it was only polite to pretend.
“Where are we?” Claire rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, dug back into her backpack and pulled out some deodorant, which she then applied to her pits.
“Is there something in the Lesbian Handbook that says you can’t shave those?” This was not a great thing to say to someone he’d already annoyed this morning and the result of it was that Claire climbed over to him and stuck her pit in his face. He shoved her off. “I’m fucking driving. Knock it off.”
“Oh, you’re driving? I’m sorry. I thought you were being a dick. My bad.” She cracked her window and blew out a small cloud of smoke which was sucked neatly through it. “So you didn’t answer me. Where are we?”
“We’re going through Issaquah. We’re about twenty minutes to half an hour from Seattle.”
“And do they have gas stations in Issaquah?”
Ben checked the gas gauge. This was one of those things about Claire that bugged him. He’d been driving for hours and knew exactly how much gas was left, but Claire thought that she was in charge, so she was going to tell him when he needed gas. “We’ve got about a third of a tank, Claire. I think we’ll be okay til we get to Joan’s.”
Claire flicked an ash out the window, then turned to Ben with her eyebrows doing that Spock thing and said, “Yes, Ben, that’s fine. But there are other things at gas stations, like bathrooms—”
“Oh right.” Sometimes Ben didn’t pick up on things right away. He hated that.
“—and soda and a phone from which we can call Joan so she knows we’re almost there and can kick out any little tart she picked up last night.”
And there was another thing about Claire that bugged him. She was always joking about Joan sleeping around on her. That kind of thing just wasn’t funny. Ben would never joke about Simone fucking some other guy. In fact, he had nightmares about it. It didn’t seem to Ben like something you should kid around with. Like cancer or music.
“That was a joke, dipshit.”
“I know.” Sometimes, Claire could be a little mean. “I just didn’t think it was funny. So I didn’t laugh.”
“Okay.” She looked out the window. “Oh, hey! BP! Soda, toilets and a phone. Next exit. Take us there, Sacajawea.”
Again with the insults. “Sack of what?”
And Claire just laughed at him. Ben would be very glad to get out of this car.