He moved pans around. One filled with tomato sauce, another boiling water. He poured in pasta and transferred the saucepan to a smaller burner, behind the pasta, then heated oil on a third, removing the casing on the sausage while he waited. He broke the meat with a wooden spoon and, with five minutes left on cook time, added broccoli rabe to the boiling water, stirring as it wilted. Fat dripped from the pork. Atop the fridge sat a mostly empty glass of bourbon. He refilled, returning a bottle to the pantry. From the laptop, at full volume, ―Go and comeback quick, they don't understand me, it’s not logic, I’m not logic, got problems I worship the late prophet, the great Muhammad Ali, for the words he spoke, that stung like a bee soaked into me, you fuckers’ll see but still I’m insane, I’m Rodman, dealing my brain I’m grinding sharing my pain, shit, where is the… He had heard her, the door opening and shutting, he thought, it was not the landlord, he never paused on the steps like she did, like she was pausing at the door then. Her keys.
He did not look at her. He drank, voiding the glass, neither coughing nor shaking his head. And this bolstered his arrogance, and steam rose around the colander. Greens shrunk into the pasta. He turned the heat down on the sauce and tossed the sausage. The frown he had readied for her arrival already beginning to ache as he closed a first in contempt. For the sausage. For all of them. The toilet flushed. He salted it, separated from the fat and into the bubbling gravy. ―You know you could’ve waited for me to come home. I would’ve been happy to help cook. The song changed.
It opened with a soul sample, piano and guitar, ―You… You were my crutch, you were my crutch when I…
―Not if I didn’t, like, want to be eating at like nine o’clock I couldn’t. She turned down the volume. ―It’s fine.
―Is there anything I can help you with?
―Are you sure?
―It’s fine. It’s… almost finished.
―You know, I do like cooking too. I’m sorry I’m late.
―I just want it to be done the way it’s being done.
―I waited like twenty minutes for the Q.
―Hm. He poured a bit from the bottle and looked over his shoulder at her, the folds in his forehead pinching. The heat rose over the faucet.
―How was your day?
―Shitty… No, I mean, like, it was fine. It wasn’t that bad. You, like, know what it was like.
―Anything, um, new going on?
―Not really. Everyday is the same. It’s okay. It’s fine. How was your day.
―It was okay. Not sure how much Richard wants me to stay longer. I just, the thing’s basically done. But I’m not, you know, comfortable with like trying to defend this thing with, like, outlying data just becoming available. It feels irresponsible.
―Hm, ladling sauce onto the pasta. He licked the spoon.