Jennifer married the wrong man, and she knows it, which is why when she comes by your place for the reception after your Dad’s funeral it won’t be long before she takes off running out the door and across the street into the ruins of the waterfront buildings that burned down in 1977.
You had your arm around her shoulder while you watched the buildings burn. The two of you were only ten years old. Your big brother and his friends were grabbing pieces of wood and garbage and tossing them over the fence into the flames. But you and Jennifer stood and watched like you were getting a look at a second 4th of July.
Jennifer’s husband wasn’t there when the waterfront burned down. He wasn’t even born yet. Just a thought in his mother’s head all the way across the country in Northern California.
“I can’t run through here,” you shout at her back. “Too much piss.”
Jennifer doesn’t stop. She races out of one cinderblock doorway and finds her way in another. You started drinking early today to get through the funeral, and you’re now praying for a rain that’ll at least stamp down the pee smell a bit.
“Jennifer please,” you shout. Then it comes. You bend over and you start throwing up on the floor of what was once a shoe factory. You retch loudly to make sure she hears you. It isn’t long before she’s by your side and rubbing your back.
In between your vomiting, when you pant for air and enjoy Jennifer’s hands on you, she explains why she’s married to a man over a decade younger than her, and not you.
“You stayed in the neighborhood,” she says. “You got a place right here looking at all these burned out buildings. You never wanted anything more.”
You start throwing up again. Then you stop.
“I pictured marrying you and I saw nothing more than the life my mother and father had,” she says. “I wanted control. I met this young boy, you know he’s not even thirty. He does what I want.”
You throw up. Then you stop again.
“I’m fooling myself, yeah,” she says. “I’m gonna get bored with my boy husband, I know. But I'll never be trapped.”
You’re done throwing up. You get on your feet and Jennifer looks in your eyes for the first time today. They’re bright red from the vomiting. Jennifer doesn’t move a muscle to stop you from grabbing her close and lifting up her dress. You keep your head on her shoulder, facing away from her so she can’t smell you, and you kiss her neck while she undoes your pants. Then her boy husband calls her name.
His voice and his footsteps turn you both into shadows. You’re up against a wall turned gray with piss and shaded by the trees hovering over the open roof. Your pants are down and her dress is up. Her boy husband comes closer.
You consider calling him in so you can crack his head open with a block of wood. But that would mean letting go of Jennifer. You stay quiet. You and Jennifer look into each other’s eyes while you listen to his footsteps.
He’s just outside your building now. He’s stopped. He can see through the door that the roof has fallen in and it looks more dangerous in there than the other buildings. You wonder if the fresh scent of your puke is reaching him through all that pee.
“Jen?” He’s calling like he knows you’re just inside that room. Then his footsteps start up again. He’s walking away. When the sound of his steps disappears, Jennifer grabs your head from her shoulder and plants her lips on your disgusting mouth. You both move deeper into the shadows of the burned out building, not trying to be quiet anymore.
Happy Chase A Lady Through Some Ruins That Smell Like Pee Day!