June 2, 2015 by Rachel Rueben
It was a hard night, but Cassie managed to sleep comfortably for a few hours on the inflatable mattress while Amato struggled for rest on the living room couch. She kept her door open a crack and could hear him as he tossed and turned. She even heard him curse the springs in the couch as they poked him in his back and sides. Having had enough, Cassie got up and dressed in her old clothes then went over to Amato and offered him the inflatable mattress. Not wanting to be a sissy, he refused, pretending all was well in Insomniaville.
“Come on John, you’re gonna be a zombie if you don’t get any rest,” Cassie said as she nudged him.
“I’m fine!” he said, speaking into the pillow that was pressed against his face.
“Go, I’m gonna be going to the gas station to clean up.”
“It’s 5 a.m.”
“I know, I just don’t want anyone seeing me.”
“Alright, but if you’re not back in an hour, I’m coming to look for ya.”
“Deal. Now get to bed.”
“Ms. Fennetti are you trying to seduce me?” Amato said smiling.
“No, just trying to get you in bed.” She winked.
This woke Amato right up and before you know it, he was hauling his ass to the bedroom in hopes of catching a little shuteye. The sight of Amato dragging his blanket and pillow like a little boy made Cassie smile as she left the apartment. Before the sun rose, Cassie went to the gas station two blocks away to freshen up in the bathroom, like the homeless did in this area. The homeless feared showering at the shelters because of the theft and violence so they would go to restaurants and gas stations to bathe in sinks.
When Cassie entered the station, she noticed the young foreign man behind the counter with a scowl on his face. Immediately she knew in order to get a favor from this guy she was going to have to spend money. So Cassie went to the back of the store to the refrigerator, where they kept the beverages and got two bottles of water and a small carton of milk. She then got some cereal and bread.
The cashier’s face softened when he realized she was a customer and not a bum or a psycho trying to rob the store. When he was finished scanning the items he announced the grand total, “$10.98,” he said as he bagged the groceries. Pulling out her debit card, Cassie swiped it and gave her John Hancock.
The man handed her the bag and that’s when Cassie asked to use their restroom. He handed her the key and pointed to the side of the building where the restrooms where located. Thanking him, Cassie grabbed her groceries and went off to take her morning bath. On the door of the women’s restroom was a sign that said, “For Paying Customers Only!” Turning the key, she opened the door and stepped inside flipping the light switch on, which inadvertently illuminating the room in an intense florescent glow that hurt her eyes.
She had to wait for her eyes to adjust, and when Cassie finally took her hands away from her eyes she saw the bathroom was immaculate. It was surprise to her because in most movies the bathrooms in gas stations are often cesspools. Closing the door behind her, she made sure to place the garbage can right up against the door, since she couldn’t lock the door from the inside.
Feeling a little more safe Cassie went over to the sink and started the hot water, looking up at the mirror above, she was horrified by her reflection. She looked so ragged despite her best efforts to appear normal. Her raccoon eyes made her look ten years older and the funny thing was, she felt it too. When she left the hospital she put on a beret so that her surgical wounds were covered. Since she was in damage control mode, Cassie took off the beret and stared at her partially bandaged head. Letting out a sigh, she looked at the other half of her head and noticed that her roots were showing through and she declared out loud, “If I get out of this alive, I’m definitely going to get my hair done.”
Carefully, Cassie cleaned her head wound just like the nurses taught her with the alcohol pads in her purse. She did her best to quickly disrobe and clean herself up before the clerk got suspicious. Drying herself off with grainy paper towels, she dressed herself back up and got out of there but not before staring at the pitiful image in the mirror once again. “This is what love does to you huh, Cass?” she asked herself out loud. Picking up her purse and grocery bag, laughed and said, “To think, I could’ve been a cat lady.”