The Problem With Vices


Spiraling into a spiral of loneliness, James takes a shot of whiskey over the sink, already shunning the pity call from Jack at the firm. Jack who likes to gallivant all over the city. Jack who likes to speak in bachelor cliches. Let’s paint the town red, he proclaims amidst his trademark Friday night monologue on the A train.

But he knows Jack is just like him. Jack just chooses to hide it better.

James knows not to bother contacting his sister, Kate. Kate who works well over 40 hours a week. Kate who buries herself in scripts at her desk. Kate who likes to work on Sunday mornings in her home office while everyone else is browsing at farmers markets. Sorry James, but this is the world of broadcast television, she says in between bites of the chicken caesar salad she retrieved from the Trader Joes around the corner.

She never strays too far.

He stands on line at the liquor store, allowing the dreadful monotony wash over him like a startlingly bout of nausea. He holds onto his bottle of Johnny Walker Black and admires the low- cut blouse on the check-out girl up front. Angelica, her name tag reads. Angelica has a stiff smile and glances down at her phone after each customer walks out of the store, out into city’s vibrant rhythm.

Anything of interest down there? he asks as she bags his purchase.

Excuse me? Angelica is eager for the man with the Johnny Walker to hurry along with the rest of them.

I’m just referring to your phone; it seems like you can’t pull away.

James logs onto Facebook back at the apartment. He clicks on the profile of Lisa Thorpe. He met Lisa Thorpe three months ago at a dinner party. He remembers the way she titled her head back ever so slightly when she paused in conversation. He remembers her straight black pixie cut. He remembers the way she’d hold onto her dirty martini in the sleeveless black dress that hugged her waist. He remembers the tattoo on her left wrist that spelled out a word in French, written in a dainty cursive.

He scrolls down to study the shots she’s been tagged in. Shots of Thorpe and her girlfriends sharing a decadent plate of sushi, faces flushed from glasses of rosé. Stylized candid pictures of Thorpe traipsing about Greenpoint, her piercing red lips aligning with her vintage red dress. She is effortlessly striking. She is autumn. Finally, he clicks on a black and white photograph of Thorpe gazing out at the skyline from what appears to be a roof top. He notices that she has a Monroe piercing and wonders if it’s new, or if he just missed it three months prior.

James recalls the conversation he had with the host at the end of that fateful evening.

What do you know about Lisa Thorpe?

A beat or two goes by before his friend answers.

Lisa Thorpe is sad. She’s profoundly sad.

James goes to the kitchen and pours the rest of the whiskey down the drain.