Ashley

As we walk in, I bust out the beers and the weed so everyone starts feeling at home. The big hard looking girl asks if I have anything to eat. I get her a hot cup of ramen noodle soup. She thanks me with wide grateful eyes and gobbles at the steaming soup before I even get her the spoon. Ben and Nadia and that sister of hers are nursing the bong while I pass the pipe to Ashley in hopes of peace. She smiles as she takes it. I smile back. She has to tell me what started this. I don’t care if we have to smoke all the dope in California. Did I mention Nadia’s sister is looking really cute at some angles when she doesn’t think she’s being seen?

“Katya,” Ben says as he fills his pipe with a carefully crafted and measured little crack rock. “Did you know Alex here is also a fellow Russki?”

Katya smiles.

“Really? No way. You don’t look it. At all.”

I smile back.

“Thanks. I appreciate the compliment.”

“Where are you from?” she asks me in Russian.

“Chernivtsi. Ukraina.”

“Oh shit my grandmother is from there!”

“Oh cool. My grandpa probably fucked your grandma at some point then.”

Katya and Nadia both laugh.

“Ew!” Ashley puts in her 2 cents along with her standard smells-like-shit face.

“Was your granddad hot?”

“Still is, baby. We Rosenbergs look good well into our 80s.” I say with that shit stupid smile.

I like Katya’s face much better than Ashley’s. I wonder if her pussy tastes cleaner too. Like a gulp of Fiji would after a pull of Dasani.

“Can I smoke a cigarette on your porch?” Katya asks as she’s already stepping out with the cigarette in her mouth.

“Of course. I’ll have one with you.” I pull one of my own out from the pack and come out onto the balcony.

She has a smile waiting just for me. I light hers first then mine. She leans over the edge and looks out.

“You have nice view here.”

“Yeah. The parking lot’s real nice.”

“What is it?”

“A preschool.”

“What is this area?”

“Culver City. I think.”

“Oh cool. I hear good things.”

“I like it fine.”

She smokes like a pro. I like her smoking style.

“I really love your place.”

“Thanks.”

“I love the high ceilings.”

“Me too.”

Lil Cholo comes out to the balcony looking mean and tired.

“Hey give me a cigarette.”

“They’re inside.”

I turn away from her and lean with my elbows on the balcony.

“Where?”

“Over by the couch somewhere.”

The shadows from the streetlamp create a Bart Simpson outline on the blacktop of the parking lot beneath. I hear her mutter “asshole” not so discretely and walk back in.

“Uh oh.” Katya says. “Trouble in paradise?”

I hate when people refer to anyone or anything as if they or it is the only ticket they need to get to some stupid paradise they’re all in search of. But I’m not in search for shit. And who knows why but that’s fine with me. Leave me out of your paradises. Let me be alone with the bonobos and the hobos.

“Not for long” I say as I exhale grey.

A beat.

“Wanna hear a joke?” she says to me in Russian.

“Sure,” I reply.

“Have you heard the one about Sherlock Holmes and Watson when they go camping?”

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