“I hate it when you say you’re going to leave but we stand here in the doorway for like twenty minutes,” Cait said. “How long are your goodbyes?”
“Sorry.” Jordan looked down and to the left. There was a shelf with small wooden figures, horses and elephants and other animals, collected and arranged to give the appearance of, he suspected, worldly interest. “I just don’t like leaving. I like your house.”
“Well,” Cait was smiling, “when I say you need to leave, then you need to leave. I don’t like standing here by the door. It makes me nervous.”
“Okay.” Jordan kissed her and opened the door to the darkness beyond. “Sorry.” He stepped outside and Cait shut the door behind him. She waved through the glass and stopped abruptly, staring at him. Jordan said “Sorry” again and moved off the porch, through the light spilling across the lawn, and to his car on the street. He took out his keys and turned to look back. Cait wasn’t by the door anymore.
Jordan sat in his car and put his hands on his lap and felt his own breathing. He took out his iPod and plugged it in. He opened his phone and wrote “im sorry” in a text to Cait and then deleted it. He started the car and rewrote the text and stared at the word “sorry.” He clicked send, put on some music, and drove away. He rolled his sleeves up at a stoplight and yelled “fuck” at a child on a bicycle.
He walked through the parking lot and smoked a cigarette under a street light. He stared at the glowing Christmas tree of ash at the tip and thought vaguely about dogs riding skateboards. He walked the twelve flights of stairs up to his apartment and smelled his fingers that, to him, after smoking, smelled like burned popcorn. He wiped his hand on the back of his pants, like it would do anything, while passing a man eating yogurt between the fifth and sixth floor landings.
Jordan's roommate was asleep on the couch, I Love Lucy playing on the television. He walked through the many numerous, small rooms aimlessly before stopping in the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and looked at his phone. He'd gotten a text from Cait some minutes earlier. It said "y r u sry" and Jordan responded "im sorry you never learned how to spell" and sent it. He quickly wrote another that said "haha just kidding. i dont know" and sent that too. He scratched his head and something floated to the floor. "dont cum over 2moro" she texted back. "im having frenz over"
He opened and closed his phone over and over, his face flashing between each plastic clack. He poured out his orange juice into the sink and stood next to his sleeping roommate who was making faint grinding noises. Jordan took the orange juice carton from the fridge and threw it out the window, its liquid spreading to the cars below. Somewhere, a dog barked.
The next morning, Jordan was woken by the sound of his roommate and his roommate's girlfriend having sex. Jordan's eyes fixed on the contours of the stucco ceiling, sliding in an out of focus, while moans requesting increased strength and speed penetrated the thin walls. Jordan sat upright with his legs crossed, his hands on his face, slowly massaging into his eyeballs. He got up and walked into his roommate's room and reached for something on the wall adjacent to the bed.
"What the fuck are you doing, dude?" The roommate barely lifted his head to ask the question, his hips and the girlfriend's ass making clapping sounds that synched with the painful throbbing in Jordan's head. The girlfriend looked over at Jordan without slowing, slid her eyes up and down his body, seemed to consider something, and resumed looking down at her fingers tangled in the roommate's chest hair.
"I'm not even here," Jordan said. He took the roommate's tengu mask off the wall and turned to leave.
"Where are you taking than? What are you doing?"
Jordan closed the for softly behind himself.
He got dressed and ate two eggs on a piece of toast. He put the mask on and went down to the parking lot. There were six empty yogurt containers between the fifth and sixth floor landings. He stood under the same street light in the parking lot and smoked a cigarette through the mask's mouth slit. He felt brave and wild and handsome. He got in his car and went to Cait's house.
On the street, he pulled his hood up over his head and tight around the mask. He walked up to Cait's door and range the doorbell with the mask's long nose. He felt ridiculous. "I feel ridiculous," he said out loud, but he didn't believe the tone of it. He sounded docile and nervous. "I am docile and nervous and ridiculous." It sounded better.
Cait opened the front door while smiling and looking to the side. Jordan could see she was wearing makeup through his reflection in the outer glass door. Cait never wore makeup for him, not in a long time. Cait opened the glass door, turned to look, and jumped. She put her hands over her mouth and made a shrill "yip" sound. Jordan laughed behind the mask. Her eyes were so big.
A deep female voice behind Cait said "What's wrong, Caitie?" It wasn't really deep, Jordan decided, but husky, like a fat person had crawled into the girl's vocal chords and stayed there, eating bag after bag of sour cream and onion potato chips. Cait looked angry now but still had her hands over her mouth. Then she looked scared.
"What are you doing?" she asked through her fingers.
"I want to meet your 'frenz.'" He put an emphasis on the 'z' sound. Cait didn't say anything and kept her hands on her mouth. A tall girl with long black hair walked up and put her arm around Cait's waist.
"Something wrong? Who's this clown?" she asked with her fat-person-eating-chips voice.
"My name is Kazuo," Jordan said, extending his hand. He felt calm. "I'm calm," he added.
The tall girl took his hand and shook it twice, quickly. "Right. Cait, we need to go soon." Cait didn't move. A motorcycle drove by.
Jordan's breath was hot inside the mask. The tall girl was looking down at Cait with a panicked expression. Cait said, "Jordan," and the tall girl said, "Who's Jordan?" and Jordan said, "Me, the clown." The tall girl's arm was still around Cait's waist. Her grip tightened.
"I'm here to rape you," Jordan said," for destroying the forests."
"Fuck this," the tall girl said and punched Jordan in the face, sending him stumbling backwards off the porch. The nose on the mask snapped off when he hit the ground. The tall girl kicked him in the side twice and went back inside, closing the glass door. Jordan turned his head and saw that Cait was still in the same position in the doorway, her hands over her mouth. She stepped back and slowly closed the other door.
Jordan stayed on his back on the walkway for some time before the doors opened again and Cait and the tall girl came out. The tall girl picked up the broken nose and shoved it into the mask's mouth slit. Jordan could feel it against his lips, pressing them into his teeth. The tall girl stepped over him, lazily kicking him in the head in the process. Cait walked around him. He rolled his head back and saw them holding hands as they walked down the street. Cait's other hand was still over her mouth. The got into Cait's car and drove away. Jordan laid very still for a long time. He got up when the shadows had covered his whole body.
Jordan stopped at a Wendy's and ordered two large fries. The boy working the cash register, probably a high schooler, Jordan though, looked at him for a long time before telling the total. Jordan paid with a roll of quarters and waited with his hands nervously at his sides. He felt the front of the mask; there was a long crack along the side of the right eye. He dislodged the nose from the mouth and put it in his pocket. His lips were numb where the nose wash pushing. A little girl was watching from her seat an Jordan waved. The little girl waved back. Jordan said, "Boo," and held his hands up, curled like claws. The girl laughed and then had a strange look on her face. Jordan couldn't place the emotion.
At a booth, Jordan slid fry after fry through the mouth slit. The fries were hot but unsalted. He liked the little burned ones at the bottom of the container the best. Then he drove home.
"What happened? Why did you break my mask? I got that in Japan," Jordan's roommate said. He was throwing his arms around but had a neutral expression.
"Your brother got it for you at a Japanese airport," Jordan said, "during a layover."
"It's the principle of the thing."
"I'll buy you a new one. I'll order it tonight, from a real shinto shrine. I'll even request FedEx send a Japanese man to deliver the package. I want you to have the full experience.
"You can't just take peoples' stuff."
"I know. I'm sorry."
Jordan's roommate relaxed and sat on the couch. He exhaled, long and slow. "So what happened?"
"I said I was going to rape her."
"Oh," the roommate said while taking his socks off. "That makes sense."