My Life On Rye: Natural Light

Written by
Nathaniel Kressen

Natural Light, Part 2

[Continued from last week]



The doorknob to my dorm room had a sock on it. A white gym sock on a steady slog toward grey.

This was not the first time my roommate had sexiled me. In fact, it been happening a lot lately. His girlfriend was a Midwestern girl with flat brown eyes and flat brown hair, quiet enough that you forgot she was there half the time until she surprised you with her cutting sense of humor. I had not brought myself to calculate the amount of time I’d spent wandering campus while they boned. In retrospect, I could have spent the time practicing.

I knocked. I knocked harder. There was a shout from inside, “Go away!”

“It’s late,” I called back.

After a moment, my roommate half-opened the door and stuck his head out. “You are disobeying the Rule of the Sock.”

“It’s been a long day.”

“Tough shit.”

“I want to put my equipment down,” I said. “I want to go to bed.”

“I am literally in the middle of fucking right now.”

“Tomorrow’s another day.”

“Look,” he said. “If you ever put a sock on this door, I would respect it. Because you are a person worth respecting and the Rule of the Sock is golden.”

“I don’t need to hear this again.”

“We do not violate golden rules because why? Because society would descend into anarchy, that’s right.”

I sighed. They were naked in there and I really didn’t want to verify my suspicions that they’d been fucking on my bed. “How much time do you need?”

“Two hours.”

“You do not need two hours.”

“Perhaps your method differs from mine, but I do in fact need two hours.”

I handed him my guitar case. “I will give you one hour.”

“Deal,” he said, reaching for it and flashing me a glimpse of his junk in the process.

“Bye, Macey,” I called to his girlfriend.

“Who’s Macey?” asked a girl’s voice.

After door clicked shut, I just stood there. A light flickered above my head. It had been going all semester, and I’d detected a jazz drum rhythm in it. When the sex sounds joined in, I left.

There’s nothing like a starless night to solicit emotions. No constellations to pull your focus, no moon to reassure you. I stopped at a payphone and tried to call Kitty. The line was busy. I waited and retried. The definition of insanity is expecting a different result.

Wandering toward her apartment, I happened upon a frat party. One can always spot a frat party by its subtleties. The frat house was bright enough to resemble a spacecraft. As I neared the Greek-lettered entrance, I passed a pair of dudes dressed as lumberjacks, squirting maple syrup onto a girl’s exposed chest. Inside, the subtleties abounded — from the maple leaf bikinis to the moose ears, one might discern a certain Canadian theme. There was an absurd amount of light, spilling from everywhere, as though these “brothers” wanted to advertise their misdeeds to the satellites.

Everyone was drunk, allowing me to grab a piss-beer from the keg, undetected. The first sip offered solace, half a beer in one go. I roamed from room to room, seeking substance. Proof that some of us just don’t belong in a fraternity. I went for a second piss-beer, then a third. I held my own in a conversation about hockey.

A girl with a severed bra strap materialized next to me. “Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” I replied.

“Don’t you like this song?”

“I can’t hear, what is it?”

“It’s really good.”

“What’s it called?”

“Ooh, this song is good, too.”

She was a girl who never stopped half-dancing, and her red triangle tongue flicked into view in slow sweeping motions. Her teeth could have doubled as lighthouses. When I tried asking what happened to her bra strap, the closest I could get to an answer was, “They cut it.”

We never got the opportunity for substantive conversation. Instead, she drew me into her own internal rhythm, we half-danced with contact, I smelled the sweat and perfume in her hair, she snaked her hand inside the waistband of my jeans, and we began to furiously make out.

[To be continued]

This piece appears as part of a serialized fiction experiment by Nathaniel Kressen for At Large magazine. New installments are published weekly, each based around a different liquor.
Nathaniel Kressen is the author of two novels — Dahlia Cassandra (named Best of 2016 Fiction by Entropy & Luna Luna Magazine) and Concrete Fever (Bestseller, Strand Book Store) — as well as the co-founder of Second Skin Books and the leader of the Greenpoint Writers Group.