Bruce Bagnell
Doorknobs Winner



He moved to the first available apartment, “a home for the mildly insane,” he later called it.  It was the summer 1981 with Raiders of the Lost Ark at the movies and tanned women in lawn chairs around a pool too short for swimming.

“Hey, guy, come have a margarita,” one yellow-headed woman said to him. She sat by the gate with a cluster of sunglassed female pool hangers, dripping hormones and lotion, their heads swiveled towards him. They were all of an age. Divorcees, he intuited, all damaged like him. Intimidating for someone just eviscerated by his ex. “Thanks, maybe later,” he said.  He was carrying his first IBM PC, wanting to lose himself in something unrelated to love or its loss. DOS awaiting to sooth his neurons.

Nighttime. He broke away to answer the door.  It was the same woman.

“It’s later,” she said with a grin. “You’re the latest. I watched you move in, so I know from what you carried that you got less than half the divorce loot.” “Yeah.” He stood in the doorway without stepping aside to let her in.

“So be like that! That’s not going to get you out of where you’re at!” She raised her voice until it could be heard across the complex. “I was just going to give you a little mercy fuck!”

“I’m avoiding welfare,” he said and shut the door in her face, turning back to the glowing green-screen, striving for perfection in another, better world.

First published: May 2018
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