Saul says, “How much you paying for this place?”
Saul says, “If you’re paying over two seventy-five a week, you’re being robbed.”
Saul says, “The university aside, this is one of the poorest cities in the country.”
We are sitting in my living room, which is also my bedroom, which is also my kitchen. We are sitting on the floor because I don’t have a couch. I don’t have chairs. Saul’s dorm is on the other side of campus. Saul’s roommate is an asshole so mostly we hang out here.
“It’s bullshit that they don’t let you smoke in your own goddamn apartment, anymore,” Saul is saying.
I don’t have to say anything. I’m the one who taught Saul to say shit like this. I may be Saul’s biggest influence. Then again, he may be mine.
“Fuck it,” Saul says. “Let’s smoke in here anyway.”
I only smoke Benson & Hedges and I’m out. I tell Saul this. I say, “I’m out of cigarettes, Saul.”
Saul doesn’t smoke. Or Saul smokes the tobacco with the Indian on the package. Or Saul smokes my cigarettes.
“Let’s go get you cigarettes then,” Saul says.
It’s April but it’s still thirty degrees at night. I put on a jacket. I put on gloves and a hat. Saul doesn’t put on anything. Saul is young. Saul doesn’t wear a coat.
“Might as well get some beer while we’re out, too,” Saul says.
I look at my phone while we walk. Adam doesn’t text me anymore. Adam is finally fucking the female professor that’s been trying to fuck Adam for six years. I told Adam I would not contest a divorce. I told Adam I had no use for any of the objects in the house.
I text with Eli and Saul and Alondra and Coco.
Sometimes I text with Primo Carnera.
I never bothered to change his name in my phone. I still get texts from “Primo Carnera, the greatest heavyweight boxer in the world.” I don’t know where Primo Carnera lives. Primo Carnera’s location doesn’t seem relevant to me anymore. I only tell Primo Carnera everything I’m thinking anyway. Primo Carnera tells me to “Eat shit and die, honky.”
I have lunch with Eli every other day. Sometimes Saul sleeps over if he’s too tired to walk back to the dorms. If he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Sometimes Alondra and Coco drive up and the four of us go to dinner like we used to, before their former friend Mia and her parents took a handful of my photographs first to Saul’s parents and then to the police.
I don’t sleep in closets anymore. I don’t carry around vomit bags I stole from planes anymore either.
I take photographs around campus and alone in my apartment. I hang photographs of Saul and of me and of Saul and me on my walls because for three years I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of Saul. I haven’t met anyone on faculty at the university. I am in contact with no one else from my previous life. I title my photographs “Posthumous # 39” and “Posthumous #103” and “Posthumous #469.”
I have turned in applications for housecleaners at the four small motels near the university.
I used to clean the houses of professors at the university in our town before Adam became one.
I prefer no one know I’m here.
Saul says, “Come on.”
And I follow.
Saul says, “Let’s stop and see Eli.”
And we stop and see my daughter.
Saul says to Eli and me, “Let’s smoke this weed,” and the three of us smoke weed together, squished into the front seat of my car.
Later, when I’m alone, after Saul has gone back to his dorm, I take a photograph of my wrist and send it to Primo Carnera. I write words on my wrist before I take the photograph. I write, “Die Yuppie Scum,” in red permanent marker. I write, “Mein Kampf,” beneath that. I write, “XOXO, Gossip Girl,” under that. It is a lot for my wrist to contain. I write small, careful letters. I smoke a cigarette with the window open. I sip a beer Saul has left me. I lie on a blanket in the middle of the floor in the dark, waiting for my phone to light up with a text from Primo Carnera.
Some time in the night, the light from my phone awakens me. I slide my phone open and there is a photograph of Primo Carnera standing in front of a bathroom mirror, the words “Happy Halloween” written across his chest. I smile because it is April and I am alone in my apartment. I smile and light another cigarette, open another beer.
Elizabeth Ellen is the author of the story collection, Fast Machine and the poetry collection, Bridget Fonda. She lives in Ann Arbor. elizabethellenfastmachine.tumblr.com