“How unfortunate,” he said, “I’d hoped you’d perished in some horrid train wreck on The Continent.”
“Thanks,” I said.
The Writer shrugged. “Nothing personal, mind you. Simply hoping to save the world from some Godawful work of, well, mental vomit. And Drunkard, I see you haven’t drank yourself to death yet.”
“It’s been, like, three days since I’ve seen you last,” said The Drunkard.
“Plenty of time for the enterprising alcoholic to commit various forms of suicide via the bottle. However, I estimate that your dedication to fermentation is lackluster and thus—”
“Do you want me to dump you in a garbage can again?”
The Writer stared at The Drunkard.
We’d apparently caught him in the middle of attempting to write—not that he’d greet us pleasantly if we were around at any other time. He was wearing a different pair of glasses I’d normally seen him wear; instead of his usual button-up fare seemingly chosen to match his corduroy jacket, he wore a plain white t-shirt tucked into his jeans, making him look like a slightly overweight greaser who didn’t want to mess up his burgeoning Jewfro with something like hair product. He held the door open with one of his feet—like every other door in Woolf, his flat’s entrance was designed to be a fire door, and thus, would not stay open unless you forced it open—and, in the other hand, held a coffee mug featuring a picture of Dostoevsky.
“Hey,” I said, pointing at the mug, “I’ve got one of those of Mark Twain.”
“Pleasant,” he said. “I am quite certain you’ll not be surprised to hear that my opinion of Mark Twain is quite low; the man was a hack and a capitalist extraordinaire who put on the airs of egalitarianism.”
“God damn, do you ever come off your high horse,” said The Drunkard, “or are you stuck up there?”
“Indeed,” said The Writer before clearing his throat. “If you’ll excuse me, I really must get back to my project du jour. Quite important, you see, working through the harsh realities of the modern world while trying to reconcile them with the seeming need of humanity to distract itself with flashy objects, i.e. television, that do nothing to advance the intellect or the soul.”
“What the fuck would you know about soul,” began The Drunkard, “you near-celibate, joyless, academic, anemic, moron?”
The Writer cocked an eyebrow and shut the door on us.
“That,” I said, “was perhaps not the best way to go about getting him to head to town with us.”
“Fuck him if he can’t take a joke. Pub?”
I shrugged. I didn’t have any better ideas, and I’d never been able to write an essay unless it was early in the morning and I had baroque music blaring around me, and neither of those requirements will being filled at the moment. So we turned around, walked back down the blue-carpeted stairs, shoved open the door, and were hit with the typical gale-force winds of Canterbury.
I reacted by letting out a prolonged “fuuuuuck.” The Drunkard, stoic, took out a silver flask decorated with a leather patch depicting a deer and took a drink. Nothing stirred. I looked up and saw the three Chinese girls in my flat looking out of the window. They laughed at me and waved. I waved back, and The Drunkard and I walked on.
We hadn’t made it to the edge of the building before a window broke behind us. I looked behind me and, sure enough, flopping out of the kitchen window of the first-floor flat with all the rag-doll physics of a faceless video game enemy, The Writer plummeted to the ground. The strong winds carried what could only be horrible obscenities in Greek, and I gathered that, yet again, The Writer had done something to anger Stasia—like make eye contact or something. I nudged The Drunkard, who snickered, and we watched as The Writer, who had, in the interrim, for some reason, put on a coat, stood up, brushed himself off, and slouched our way.
When he caught up, he said, “I wasn’t making any headway, anyway. Which pub are we going to?”
“Dolphin?” I suggested.
“Ayup,” said The Drunkard, taking another drink from his flask.
We walked to the bus stop and stood there for a full twenty minutes, with nothing moving in sight aside from the rapidly-falling snow—in the twenty five minutes we’d spent outside, an inch and a half had accumulated on the ground—when The Writer finally said, “You do realize that the busses aren’t running to campus during the holiday.”
“What?” asked The drunkard and I simultaneously.
“Oh, dear, you didn’t.” He shook his head. “You idiots.”
“Well why the hell would you have waited thirty—”
“Twenty,” I said.
“Twenty minutes to tell us?”
“I thought you had called a cab.”
“We’re fucking postgrad students, man! We’re not rich, we’re from fucking Tennessee, for God’s sake. No one has that kind of money and is a student where we’re from.”
“You might be from Belle Meade.”
I’d been trying to stay out of the argument, since any energy I spent yelling would have been energy that should have been used trying to keep myself warm, but that was the breaking point. “You kidding me?” I asked. “Have you seen the way The Drunkard and I dress? Do we look like we frequent the shops in Green Hills because they have good deals? Fuck no, man.”
“Wal-Mart!” said The Drunkard.
“Yeah!” I said.
“Well don’t leap upon me simply because I assumed otherwise. I haven’t bought new clothes in three months.”
“Five months,” I said.
“A year,” said The Drunkard.
We all grumbled, tightened our clothes around us, and started down Eliot Hill. We didn’t even bother looking for the footpath. In this weather, the footpath would either be just as covered in snow as the hill, or iced over completely. We beared it—didn’t grin, though—and schlepped down the hill to the town, which was barely visible for all the flying snow.