Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 1: Heat

This a rotten summer. The heat gets into everything. It’s not a dry heat, like California. This is a wet, hot, stinking Philadelphia heat. Jungle over desert, motherfucker. You take a shower and never get dry, pores picking up where the faucet left off. Your clothes stick, and your fingers, stick, and the sheets stick, and cling as you roll around in the hot, wet, dark, heat of the night. The sheets stain yellow from the sweat.

My bedroom is the size of a trailer. It just barely fits the bed, a twin (would you really put twins in this?), and I have to scooch around the side pressing my back against the wall to get to the head of it. The ceiling is high and there are two windows that bring in light and air and the neighbors’ conversations. Kristy is thinking of buying a grill. She’s concerned about a rash on her vagina. Their voices echo in the convolutions of my brain.

I sleep with my head reversed—over by the foot of the bed rather than the head of it. My little round fan is propped up on a tower of dirty clothes and dirty books and this arrangement allows me to blast air into my face at night. With the door open and the windows open and four or five gin sodas, it’s enough to feign sleep, though no one really sleeps in the summers here. With the door open I can hear my roommates in crystal definition. Felipe argues with his lay, clunking down the stairs at five a.m. for plan b, forgetting his keys, banging on the front door until Zak goes down to let him in. A few hours later, he’s—surprise—late for work again, better call a cab.

This morning I wake up cold. A freak thunderstorm has blown in. Yet it is bright; at first I think Felipe has come into my room thinking it was his again and turned on the lights. The sun rises through the storm. The air shimmers gold. My room in gold, the whole city in gold. Lightning crackles through the bright clouds. I watch until it is gone, the clouds a haze, the sun lost in the haze.

The heat is back again.

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