Lewis opened the door to the fridge with a sort of blind ignorance tied to a wish that maybe this time, there would be something there he might not be responsible for, some kind of gift left by fairies, or trolls, or leprechauns.
A quick visual survey confirmed the only things in there were things he put there and hadn’t used yet. Most of the things he couldn’t use without getting more things. Swinging the door wide, the light came up on three beers, two pounds of butter, an expired jar of green olives where the remaining two olives were floating in a murky brine, a dried up carrot, a tiny jar of orange marmalade someone got him from a recent trip to the sunny south and one slice of American cheese where the corners were getting hard because he neglected to close the Ziplock properly.
What was he doing with so much butter?
He grabbed one of the beers, now dinner, and the carrot. He tossed the carrot into the garbage bin, snapped the top off the beer and held it to his head. It was so hot he was convinced there was a sizzle when the can touched his skin.
The air conditioning blew out earlier this morning and being a bit late on the rent certainly didn’t seem to motivate the super into coming up to have a look at it.
The first course of dinner went down fast. He barely tasted it. He opened the fridge again, grabbed a second beer – the main course – and forced himself to slow down enough to make it last. He would try not to get at the last one tonight. What could be dessert might have to be breakfast in the morning.
He plopped himself down onto the chair of his nook-sized kitchen table and stared up at the bright, naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Sweat dripped down his face.
“What a mess,” he said softly to himself. It might have been the fifth time he said it in the last thirty minutes and he lost count of how many times it rolled across his mind this week. It was only Wednesday. There were still many more eye-opening moments of full failure realization to go before he had two solid days to wallow in his unfortunate circumstance free of the burden of weekly annoyances.
Of course, the rent was due on Friday, really two months worth now, and while part of his mind churned on any one of a number of creative excuses for not having the full amount this month, the other half was scheming away at how he could get the money in two days, and how getting the money would certainly turn things around…or at least start to turn things around.
All of his thoughts began with phrases like, “if I could just,” or “if only.” Phrases you might hear on a Saturday morning cartoon where Scooby and the gang are about to be done in by this week’s mystery, when “if only” results in a misstep, that results in an accident, that results in everything working out and the kids becoming heroes for saving the day.
Lewis had some pretty big “if onlys.” Short of running around his apartment shoving bookcases and trying to turn light fixtures to possibly reveal a secret passage or untold wealth, he was pretty certain there was no neat and clean Scooby ending awaiting him at the end of a 90 second commercial break.
He got up and walked to the fridge. It was probably just as good a night as any to have a little dessert.