Kayla should have bought toilet paper before the lockdown started. And white wine along with a few bottles of rosé. Dumping her boyfriend, Tyler, would have been a good move as well. The only supplies he bought were hot pockets, cotton socks, and beer.
She’d been meaning to dump him for months. Not that Tyler was keen to stay with Kayla, but he’d left walking out, his big play that would leave her begging for him to come back, too long and now it was lockdown and where was he going to go.
“You don’t like Tiger King?” said Kayla.
“Nah,” said Tyler from the chaise longue section of the modular lounge where he nestled in a sleeping bag. It was his cocoon and he was a caterpillar who wasn’t ready to give up the gluttonous lifestyle and commit to being a butterfly. He also wasn’t allowed in Kayla’s bed.
“Well you choose something.” She threw the remote at him.
An hour, almost two, was spent scrolling through categories, watching parts of trailers, dismissing every show and movie, be it local or foreign, classic or Netflix Original. Tyler hovered over The Office.
“I will stab you,” said Kayla. She meant it, even though getting up off the couch and going to the kitchen to get a knife out of the block was all too much.
Episode one of The Office started to play. Tyler avoided looking in her direction. She would stab him later. It would be easier if he was asleep and the kitchen was such a mess she wasn’t sure a suitable knife would be easy to find under the collected detritus.
Five minutes into the episode and Tyler was regretting his choice. It had lost its edge after the sixth viewing. This seventh time it dragged. The remote control was lost somewhere in the sleeping bag, probably buried in the drift of discarded socks and corn chip fragments at the foot of the bag, getting greasy and rubbing against the Glock down there.
“Where’s the remote?” said Kayla.
“I gave it back to you.”
Kayla looked around the couch for it, under her legs, between the cushions, where she found two quarters, a dime, and a ten inch chef’s knife. Of course. That was from the last time she wanted to stab him. Back when she was still proactive, a go-getter. She left it between the cushions.
“No, you didn’t.”
Tyler curled up in the sleeping bag, drawing his head in.
“I think I’m going to sleep,” he said.
“Do you want anything from the kitchen?”
Tyler stuck his face out of the bag and peered at her.
“You’re not getting a knife, are you?”
The bag wriggled and concertina-ed. The remote control extruded itself out from under Tyler’s chin and fell to the carpet like a dropping. Tyler pulled his head back into the bag.
They were ten minutes into episode one now and the remote was a good yard, maybe four feet away. She’d get it in a minute.
Tyler woke up. He hadn’t been stabbed. “Is this season two?” he said, blinking at the tv.
“Episode seven,” said Kayla. She had rearranged the couch cushions. One of the back cushions, leaning against the arm, served as a pillow. Another, balanced across her hip and shoulder like a Saltine on a Vienna sausage, had the role of blanket.
“I hate this episode. I hate it so much,” said Tyler.
Tyler hated it so much he leaned over to grab the remote and fell to the floor with a thump and a thunk. He groaned. The floor wasn’t lava. It was much worse than that.
“While you’re up,” said Kayla, “can you microwave some hot pockets.”
“Where are the hot pockets and what’s all over your socks?” said Kayla when he returned.
“They’re in the microwave. Corn chip chips,” he said, sliding back into the sleeping bag.
“They look more like corn chip flakes.”
“Flakes are long and thin. These are triangular and quadrilateral and, and, five sided.”
“Why didn’t you bring the hot pockets?”
“You only asked me to microwave them.”
Kayla pulled the knife out from between the cushions. Tyler responded by pointing the Glock at her. They stared at each other, each weapon trembling from a mix of fear, elation, and effort. It had been a long time since either of them had held anything heavier than a piece of pizza.
“I think it’s time you moved out,” said Kayla.
“I think it’s time you moved out,” replied Tyler.
“It’s my house.”
“So? This is your gun, too, but I’m the one who’s holding it.”
“You’re also in my sleeping bag and wearing a pair of my tights. Leave now and you can keep them and the gun.”
The phone rang. It was within Kayla’s reach. Her mother was on the other end.
“This is a bad time. Tyler and I are breaking up. I know, I know. I agree. He agrees. But with the lockdown and everything…I know…but it’s only been six months since it ended. Yes, I’m looking for work. No, you can’t stay. Tyler hasn’t left yet. Yes, he’s looking for work.”
Tyler shuffled to the kitchen in the sleeping bag while the conversation dragged on. He could not bear to listen to Kayla talk to her mother. The woman was toxic. Plus armed stand-offs made him hungry. He took the plate of hot pockets out of the microwave. They were still warm. He stuck the Glock down the front of his tights and took a couple of beers out of the fridge then shuffled back to the living room.
He handed a beer to Kayla and put the plate of hot pockets where they could both reach them. Since he was up, he grabbed the remote and went back to the home screen to find something else to watch.
“No, Mom. There might be a resurgence. The curve might unflatten at any moment. After you’re vaccinated then you can visit. It can’t be long now. Say hi to Dad. Love-you-bye.”
She dropped the phone on the coffee table and opened her beer, took a long drink.
“What are you looking at now?” she said, pushing the knife back between the cushions so she could lean over and grab a hot pocket.
“I heard about this Korean reality tv show,” said Tyler. The gun was digging into his junk. He pulled it out of the tights and pushed it down to the bottom of the sleeping bag.
Kayla groaned. “This is why I’m breaking up with you,” she said, stretching out on the couch, using her feet to bring the plate of hot pockets within easier reach.