City Fire

The fire burns a bright orange, lighting up Garret’s city yard of stone, warming the bodies of his roommates and friends.

Joseph stares into the flames, in his own world, Garret’s laughter far away, though he sits at a distance of about five feet.

“Joe,” Garret says between giggles, “yo, Joe, I got a question for you.”

Joseph looks away from the fire pit, at Garret’s mischievous face.  “Whasup?”

“What’s your mom’s phone number?” 

“Shut up, Garret.”

Garret’s roommates laugh because Garret does, though they’re not sure why.  Garret’s girlfriend, Suki, eyes him suspiciously.

“Alright then,” Garret replies, “What’s my phone number?”

“You’re so funny, dude.  Really you are.”

“What’s this about, Garret?”  Suki asks.

“He can’t tell you anyone’s phone number because he doesn’t have a cell phone.  He keeps people’s numbers written down on a notepad at home.”  Now Garret and his roommates roar.  Suki just rolls her eyes.

“267, 365, 8192,” Joseph says, “That’s your number.  I remember it.  What’s mine, asshole?”

Garret gets a hold of himself, nodding his head and twitching a bit as the laughter subsides.  “I don’t know,” he says, “I’d have to look in my phone, I don’t know anyone’s numbers anymore.  I just look up their names and push the SEND button.”

“That’s right, buddy.  You and everyone else.  You’re all slaves to your cell phones.  I, on the other hand, am free.”

Suki smiles.

“Free, yeah,” Garret retorts, “free to bum someone else’s phone if you need to call a cab,” he starts laughing again, “or order a pizza. . . .”  The joke takes new life.

Suki just shakes her head and Joseph stands to go inside for another drink.  “Anyone need anything while I’m up?”  he offers.

One of the roommates responds, “I’m alright, but if I think of anything, I’ll call you.  Oh wait.” 

More laughter from the group as Joseph opens the sliding door and enters the kitchen.  Inside, he opens the fridge and reaches for a beer and takes a deep breath, noticing the strong smell of burning wood on his clothes, surely in his hair as well.

You don’t realize you smell like smoke until you walk away from the fire, Joseph thinks.  He returns to his friends, drinks the beer while it’s still cold, and then walks from Garret’s place in Northern Liberties back to his Fishtown apartment.

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