|The Girl with the Glass
by Jean Kusina
IN THE REFRIGERATOR. Again. Two roommates stare daggers at a third, the Bulimic. Irv kicks
over a bottle and says, "Leave her alone. What you need to eat for when we got beer
anyway?" Except they don't have beer, Irv just sucked down the last one. He only says
that because he wants to sleep with her, even though "her boobs are no bigger than my
balls." Sensitive guys like Irv are why people get Bulimic in the first place.
Staggering to the toilet, he leaves the door open as usual. Makes it all but two steps
from the bowl and passes out, pissing all over himself.
"Just great. Now the whole place is gonna reek of
"Better than reeking of Irv. Maybe it will tone him
"Does that guy bathe in his own shit or
The Bulimic rushes past them, pulls Irv out by the
hair, then shuts the door.
"There goes our dinner."
Kevin reaches under his chair for a pizza box. It is a
couple of days old, but contains enough crusts to fill him up. He wonders, "Why do
companies still make pizza with crusts any more? So few people actually bother eating the
crust, and that tiny bit of dough has to add up after a while. You know what? That gives
me an idea. We should start our own chain of Crustless Pizza Emporiums. Maybe just a few
in town, to start, until things get moving. Then we can branch out across the country,
hitting the big cities first, gradually working our way into the suburbs. No more
squatting in crappy places like this. We'll each have a mansion, yeah, big-as- my-butt
mansions of our very own. And I'm gonna have a huge ol' sunken tub with those, those
whatever you call those things that shoot water at you from a bunch of different
directions. Crustless pizza. People will flip for it, and we'll be set from the start cuz
our costs will be lower than the competition, on account of not needing to waste all that
extra money on crust, you dig?"
Disgusted with them all, Frank grabs his coat and
heads for some take-out Chinese. If rent in the city wasn't higher than the stratosphere,
he wouldn't have to put up with these emotional leeches. At the restaurant around the
corner, none of the descriptive cards seem to match the food in front of them. A few
things look vegetarian, but they may just be clever impostors. As Frank turns his head to
see if anyone can help him, he catches a glimpse of a giant, red tentacle moving past the
doorway. He does a double take. Sure enough, the eye of a squid passes by the window.
Frank follows the six men wheeling it down the avenue
on a dolly cart. They stop at what used to be a shoe store. A man with a clipboard calls
into the shop, "Hey, lady! Someone's gotta come out here and sign for da squid!"
Frank studies the creature, then studies the building. Painted on a psychedelic placard
over the doorway is the word "AHHHHH!" Unsure if that means "Open wide and
say, 'AHHHHH!'" or "AHHHHH! My hair is on fire!", he moves closer in order
to read the smaller letters beneath it. "An Artists' Collective Work Space for a Soon
to be Post-Apocalyptic Society." The woman who just accepted "da squid"
approaches him. "We're still getting set up, but you are more than welcome to come in
and take a look around. Just mind your head because my suction-cupped friend here is going
up on a crane." Still hungry, Frank starts to say that art isn't really his thing,
only once more finds himself unable to formulate the expression, "No, thank
you." Ducking under an appendage, he enters the doorway and immediately draws a
conclusion: They mean "AHHHHH! My hair is on fire!"
First there are the dancing condoms. Suspended from
sticks, they move mechanically on a semi-variable course while a portable stereo plays
selections from the Nutcracker Suite. Next he observes the Not-So-Huggy-Bear, a two meter
tall faux-fur sculpture of a grizzly bear . The face looks remarkably like the President.
Every so often the bear-president growls, "No more arts funding!" and slashes
the air with a genuine double-headed ax. As Frank questions the safety and reliability of
this exhibit, he accidentally backs into something foamy. "Choo!" His heart
skips a step and he is hit from behind with a sticky liquid. He has just been sneezed on
by a monstrous nose, probably put there by the same person that made the squid. This is
officially as far as his patience will go.
While making a break for the exit, he meets the woman
from outside and she hands him a flyer . Advertising a Super Perverse Subversive
Extravaganza, it implores him to "Bring the family" to the gallery's grand
opening on Friday night. Although he has absolutely no intention of ever setting foot in
there again, he takes the paper. In this single instance, pausing for a moment, pivoting
his head in exactly the right direction, Frank's life is forever altered. For the very
first time, he sees HER.
SHE appears like a vision, radiating with
bioluminescence. HER movements are unlike earthly movements. SHE glides, or possibly
floats, a few spaces above the floor. A shooting star in slow motion. SHE is holding two
ovoid, translucent formations, glowing with a warm green light. The Girl with the Glass
SHE disappears from sight as quickly as SHE came.
Standing there dumbstruck, covered in fabricated snot, Frank has just had an epiphany.
After walking the streets for hours, he eventually returns to the loft. Kevin, who has
made no apparent attempt to leave the chair where Frank last left him, pounces at the
opportunity to irritate someone else.
"Frankie, man, I'm so glad you're home. I have seen the
future-- our future-- and it is satellite dishes." His hands gesticulate
wildly. "Check it out. Look at all the folks in this country that are buying
satellite dishes. Someone has to sell them all, right? See, the way business is done
around here, it's all run by corporate fat cats. Monopolies is what they are, virtual
consumer electronic cartels always stamping out the underdog. But then I got to thinking.
It's a big world. There's places like Fiji or, uh, the Bahamas or, you know, those other
islands. Why shouldn't they be able to enjoy the same quality of television as we do? I
say we get a bundle, a whole mess of these dishes, haul them down to the tropics, get some
local help to hang 'em on the palm trees, and Shazam! We are on the beach and made in the
Having recently returned to consciousness, Irv
interrupts his diatribe with a groan. A bump the size of a billiard ball protrudes from
"Really, Irv, we knew you were a smack addict, but
still." Kevin chuckles at his own joke.
"Man, this lump is bigger than Joanne's left tit. Not
like that's saying much."
"I heard that!" a muffled cry retorts from
inside the bathroom, followed by a flush. The Bulimic emerges and lets Irv have it-- slap.
"You're such a pig."
Walking to the center of the room, for the first time
ever Frank cuts them all short. "I saw HER today." His voice is
"HER. The ONE."
"Any chance this is related to the slime all over
"I went to this gallery..."
"It was an accident. She came out of nowhere, and
she was carrying the most remarkable, well, they are rather hard to explain. They were
something along the lines of avocados and--"
"The Girl with the Glass Avocados?"
Frank stares incredulously at the Bulimic. "That's incredible! How did you know
"Duh-- I do have a Master's Degree in art
history. Although I did my thesis specifically on the aqueous elements in Dale Chihuly's
pieces, I am nonetheless familiar with all of the leading contemporaries working in
Her roommates look stunned. "So why do you work
at an office supply store?"
"Let's just say there's not a lot of call for an
expert in the historical contexts of glass and tile unions as fashioned into free-standing
structures." She then asks sarcastically, "So what humdinger of a line did you
use to hit on her? And exactly how many seconds elapsed before she deafened you with her
Kevin looks embarrassed. "I didn't say anything
to HER. It all happened so fast. But I have another chance. SHE's supposed to be at the
opening reception on Friday."
Irv shakes his injured head. "She must have some avocados! How big did you say they
"Terrific, Frank." The Bulimic does not let
up. "Why don't you entice her with the prestige you gained by rising to assistant
manager of cost accounting. What woman wouldn't be swept off her feet?"
"Frank's not going to be stuck in accounting
forever," Kevin states in his defense. "Tell her how much money we are going to
make selling satellite dishes."
Reality descends on Frank like a cold front moving in
before a storm. He knows she is right, and Kevin is not helping.
"Where is this reception shin dig being held,
"A weird place called AHHHHH. Don't ask me to
"AHHHHH?!" The Bulimic's eyes brighten with
delight. "I don't believe it. My ex-girlfriend organizes all of the shows there.
We're still on good terms, I could probably get her to introduce you. However, you are
still stuck with your personality."
"Girlfriend?" They all speak in unison. She
puts her hands on her hips. "Now I suppose you are going to try to tell me you never
noticed that I was a lesbian either." They respond with slow nods.
Frank feels in his heart that he must win HER
affection, and the only way to do that is by meeting her on her own level. Yet how can he
transform himself from a total art ignoramus into a suave, sophisticated intellectual
overnight? He thinks of the dancing condoms. That didn't look especially complex. In
actuality, he has five days to meet his deadline. For HER, it will be worth it. From now
on he lives only for HER.
Monday morning Frank dyes his hair black and purchases
a new wardrobe to match. The absence of color represents his negative space, a black hole
manifesting his hunger for HER. Tuesday he convinces the Bulimic to help him secure the
last remaining exhibition space at AHHHHH! She does most of the talking as he sneaks
around the gallery trying to catch a glimpse of HER. Regrettably, the only other artist he
encounters is the guy refilling his nose. When he sees that the man is not paying
attention, Frank steals a long-awaited chance to caress an avocado. It is even better than
Wednesday and Thursday go by in a blur of activity.
The toilet is easy enough to locate, but it is heavy and hard to transport. Finding
another burgundy leather armchair is next to impossible. When he does come across one it
is too new, and it takes him forever to burn in cigarette holes and wedge snack chip
crumbles deep into the seams. He must find a way to keep the beer cold, the pizza hot, and
the television on, while not blowing the circuit breaker on the outlet he shares with
Huggy Bear. Sleep is rare, yet filled with dreams of HER.
When Friday evening finally arrives Frank is a nervous
wreck. His roommates are slightly worried that he has taken this too far. It doesn't seem
as funny as when they started, and they begin pointing fingers at each other for who is
most at fault. Irv drinks even more beer than usual. Kevin babbles on about grant money,
how much Frank could be in for if this artist lady pulls in what he heard they get paid.
The Bulimic fills herself with pizza, then feels guilty. She doesn't bother trying to talk
since there is never any getting through to them.
Frank is pretending to mingle with the guests. He
tries not to be too abrupt with the people who are complimenting him, while constantly
searching for the Girl with the Glass Avocados. Her space is illuminated like nothing he
has seen before. Never has he felt so pure, so energized, and yet so annoyed by the
plain-faced woman who forcibly draws his attention to her. "I couldn't help but
notice you staring at the avocados."
"Aren't they just exquisite?" A rhetorical
query, for he barely looks at her and hopes she is about ready to move along.
"Yes, they are. There's something seductive about an
avocado, don't you think?"
At least she is a kindred spirit. "I fell in love with them from the minute they
hovered before me."
"I think many people do. Sometimes I almost wish
people fell for me the way they do for my glass avocados. I've tried other fruits--
bananas, pomegranates-- only I could never quite reach the same heights as I do with those
Frank looks at her in disbelief. Certainly this cannot
be, there must be some mistake. Without her avocados, what does she do for him? Anything?
This is her, in the flesh, the immortal HER. Standing before him, speaking, making eye
contact. SHE who gives meaning to his every breath. Or does she? Frank suddenly realizes
everything she said is true. It isn't her he is in love with at all.
The following Monday Frank leaves his place of
employment for the final time. To his resignation he attaches a newspaper clipping
reviewing the show at AHHHHH! Naturally the avocados received the most kudos, while the
majority of others scored fairly well on their merits. A full paragraph is dedicated to
the discovery of "a rising new star, Franklin Twining, whose use of live characters
to illustrate the metaphorical incarnation of a Dale Chihuly glass work displayed, with
astonishing brilliance, how the nature of human relationships is a balance between the
luminosity of glass against a murky, at times impenetrable, dose of realism."
Keeping the rest of the paper, he turns to the Rooms
to Let section of classified ads. His agent is lining up shows for him all over town, and
he is going to be needing a fresh batch of roommates.