Cynthia stole the water bottle while her boyfriend Gavin faked a hemorrhage at the front of the line in front of the cash register. She put it in the large pocket on the inside of her coat, and then closed the glass door of the refrigerator. As the door thud shut she saw herself in the reflection of the glass and stopped.
Earlier that day, Gavin said, “This time I want to fake a hemorrhage. I’ll flop around the floor with my tongue out”. Cynthia said, “That’s a seizure, not a hemorrhage”. “Then what’s a hemorrhage?” asked Gavin. “I don’t know”, said Cynthia, “you’re the… you’re the one who wants to do it”.
She wanted to say, “You’re the idiot who wants to do it”. Now, looking at herself in the mirror she said, “You’re the idiot”.
Gavin did a bad job faking a hemorrhage. Afraid to hurt himself, he fell onto one knee like he was about to propose and then fell the rest of the way to the ground. He just lied there like a self-conscious ham.
The barista behind the counter looked at him with a bored expression on his face. “Are you okay, man?”
Gavin began to panic, because he didn’t know whether someone could talk during a hemorrhage. He didn’t take his Wikipedia research that far. Cynthia was still staring at herself in the mirror, the water bottle hidden in her pocket. Gavin looked like a cross between a peacock and a possum, on the one hand playing dead, on the other hand attracting attention (away from Cynthia).
The plan was the same as before- Gavin would fake some kind of injury, Cynthia would steal something. Not that they needed to. Obviously: it was water. The reason they did it was because it gave them a rush, a rush that led to the bedroom, a place they hadn’t been (for that purpose) in a long time until their first heist, which, unlike now, was spontaneous.
Gavin and Cynthia were in a liquor store. While Cynthia was buying her Pall Malls Gavin wandered to the Tostitos. He leaned over to pick up a bag from the bottom shelf and nailed his head on the rack and started to bleed. The cashier ran to his side and administered first-aid while Cynthia stood with her hand to her mouth by the check-out counter. Gavin looked at her with electric eyes then looked at the tray full of lighters in front of her. She knew immediately what he meant, and grabbed them. Afterward they screwed, first in the stairwell on the way to the bedroom, and then again in the bedroom.
They laughed about it afterward. Cynthia forgot the problem that was the fact that she was distracting herself with Gavin from her real problems. Gavin said they should do it again. Steal. Cynthia said Yes; he laughed before realizing she was serious.
The second time it was a Twix and a fake asthma attack. Same result. Awesome sex.
But this time, the third time, it didn’t feel the same. For one, Gavin did a shitty job faking a hemorrhage. And two, she saw herself. Inside herself.
The barista asked again if Gavin was OK, acting like he was about to walk around and help but not. In an all-at-once burst Gavin shouted, “Hemorrhage!” “Hemorrhage?” asked the barista. “Yeah”, said Gavin, “Hemorrhage”. “How do you know?”
As Gavin did a mental cartwheel trying to think of what to say Cynthia felt embarrassed to be with Gavin. Even though nobody knew they were together. Somehow that made it worse.
“Alright, dude, I’m going to call an ambulance”, said the barista. “Wait, No! It’s really not that bad”, pleaded Gavin, still lying in the exact same spot he fake-fell into, wondering whether or not hemorrhage victims could move. He looked at Cynthia for direction but she kept looking within herself.
She saw her thinning hair despite the cunning brushing she did and she saw that the white makeup she wore was still darker than her pallid skin. She saw the regret around her eyes and the fear of the future beneath her mouth. The cold, long earrings she wore were like pendulums at the end of time.
I forgot to mention a crowd had gathered, but nobody was doing anything worth talking about, except for simultaneously gawking and balancing their over-filled lattes, which, if you want a portrait of the conflict between care for the life of the other and care for one’s own superficial well-being, well there you have it.
“Hi” said the barista into the phone “We have an emergency… Acropolis Coffee… Grandville and Kenmoore… a hemorrhage… right, a hemorrhage… he’s on the floor… no bleeding… how?… because he said so… right… right… no… he’s talking… put him on the phone?- dude, can you talk?” “No” said Gavin, “I’m fine. I can’t talk. I can talk. I’m not fine.” “No” said the barista to the operator “He can’t… OK… see you soon.” Beep.
Cynthia turned away from the fridge and looked down at Gavin for the first time. He looked up at her with scared eyes wanting to know what he should do. He looked to see if she had gotten the water bottle. But she had forgotten all about the water bottle. She held her palm against her forehead, feeling her temperature.
By now the manager had arrived and was on one knee trying to help/get information from Gavin. Gavin decided to show signs of life, in order to convince the paramedics that were about to arrive to leave him alone so he could go and maybe still have sex with his girlfriend (O the capacity to believe the rush is mutual).
The manager noticed Gavin and Cynthia looking at each other and asked, “Are you two together?”
They both said No but for different reasons. Gavin was maintaining the masquerade; Cynthia was done. She walked to the manager and said, “Here”. She handed him the water bottle and said, “It’s good for hemorrhages”. She walked out as three paramedics barged in.