Last Night, Alone

Last Night, Alone

 

He walked into the house and stood for a moment at the door, looking at the vacation picture hanging next to the coat rack. He took the picture off the wall and dropped it on the ground, cracking the glass. It had landed upright. He kicked it into the wall.
        The house was dark. He threw his coat across the sofa and flipped off his shoes. He put on a pair of slippers and walked to the bedroom and opened the window. The winter air crept in. The sun was still near the horizon so he shut the blinds and then pulled the cord on his desk lamp, painting the walls with yellow-tinted light.
        He opened a cabinet next to the closet and pulled out two bottles—gin and bourbon. He set the bottles on his desk and poured each into a old-fashioned glasses. He picked up the glass of gin and swished it.
        The house phone rang.
        “Leave me alone.”
        He walked to the nightstand and picked up the phone.
        “Robert?” a woman asked.
        “What?”
        “Listen. I’m willing to work through this. I’m sorry about yesterday, but you can’t just pretend I don’t exist.”
        “Why not?”
        “Please, Robert.”
        “I decided I don’t want a relationship.” He sipped the gin. “You can’t come back. I don’t want you back.”
        She began crying. “You know that’s not true.”
        “You don’t know what the fuck I want,” he said. “You cunt.” He slammed the phone.
        He looked at the nightstand. He placed the gin on the bed, balancing it carefully on the comforter, and grabbed the phone and yanked it, breaking the plastic connection in the socket and throwing it across the room and into the closet door. A bit of fake wood chipped off.
        He walked back to the desk and sat down. He drank the gin and poured another glass. He took a stack of files from the shelf above the desk. He thumbed through the files, spreading pages across the desk. He drank the gin and poured another glass. He made a few notes in the margins of a document. Then he drank the bourbon and poured another glass. He went downstairs to the kitchen and opened the fridge and took out a plate with a half-eaten sandwich. He set it on the counter. Then he noticed a bottle of vodka in the fridge and took it back to the bedroom, leaving the sandwich in the kitchen. He drank the gin and poured the vodka into the glass and then drank the vodka. He opened another folder and tried to read the papers but it was useless. He tossed the files to the floor and leaned back in his chair and stared at the light coming in through the cracks around the blinds.
        A few hours later he was still sitting at the desk. The kitchen phone from downstairs rang. It rang for about a minute before he got up and answered it.
        “I’m sorry,” he said.
        He stared at the tiles of the kitchen floor, tracing the squares with his eyes.
        “It’s work,” he said. “I want to retire.”
        She sniffled. “It can’t be just work that turns you into this angry person. You take it out on me like it’s my fault.”
        “When I say work I mean everything, not just my job.”
        Neither said anything for a few moments. He leaned against the counter, watching the backyard from the patio window, the moonlight illuminating the trees and the hammock he tied there last summer but never took down.
        “I gotta go,” he said.
        “Will you call me back?”
        He hung up and went upstairs.