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What Channel?

Willow set her smart phone on the green plastic crate Cody used for a living room table in his apartment above his parents’ garage.
“Yeah, see how long that lasts,” Cody said.  He wore a snug Under Armour t-shirt and loose-fitting basketball shorts with the Lakers logo on them.  He sat with his pale legs straight out from the couch, a worn thing with mismatched cushions he found on the side of the road.  He had short brown hair.
“What?  You think I’m addicted?” Willow said.  She wore navy blue tights under a short denim skirt and pink t-shirt with a non-descript anime character on it.  She sat next to him, perfect posture.  Her hair was dyed light blue.
Cody said, “Shit.  I don’t know.  All I ever see is girls on they phones.  Doing selfies all day and shit.  Know what I’m saying?”
Cody tried to talk like a cross between Mark Wahlberg and Snoop Dogg.
“Did I tell you my sister is getting married?” Willow said.  “In April.”
“A’ight,” Cody said.  He reached toward the table and found the joint he’d rolled a few minutes ago and held his lighter to it.  The lighter had the Lamborghini logo on it.
Willow watched him draw it in slowly, nod his head, squinting.  She wanted a hit but had told him three weeks ago when they’d started dating that she didn’t smoke weed.
“You wanna grab me a beer?” Cody said.  “In my fridge.  Get yourself one, too.”
No, she didn’t want to grab him a beer.  Willow rose and walked to his kitchen.  She glanced in his sink and saw an unrinsed plate with enchilada sauce on it, ants covering the surface.
In the refrigerator, she found two cans of Miller Lite.
“For real?” she said.  “Your dad buy this for you?”
“Damn,” Cody said.  “It’s cold, ain’t it?  It goes down easy.”  She handed him a beer.  “Wish you did, too, you want the truth.”  He winked and looked at her legs in her tights as she sat down.
Willow smirked.
Twenty days in, but they hadn’t been intimate yet.  Kissing was it, but that wasn’t intimacy to Cody.  Or Willow, especially since Cody kissed like someone enduring a root canal.  He would ask what she was waiting for, and did she want him to be tempted to cheat on her?
Willow thought he wasn’t worth it.  Then why was she still dating him?  That’s what her friend Alisha asked, and Willow didn’t really know.   But there also hadn’t been many openings to cut him loose.
“Where’s my remote?” Cody said, beer in one hand, joint in the other.
Willow reached between two couch cushions and pulled it out.  “What you want it on?” she said.
He drew on his weed.  “Fuck if I know.  Just find something, boo.”
She hated him calling her ‘boo’.  She hated that his white, suburban, son-of-a-tax-attorney ass co-opted Black American culture in an effort to seem cool.  She hated that he kept a picture of his ex on top of his refrigerator.
“Check out Judge Judy if she’s on,” Cody said.  “Shit, just stop with the surfin’.”
Willow dropped the remote on the cushion next to her and pulled the top of her Miller Lite and took a sip.  Cody stuck the joint in his teeth and grabbed the remote and settled on a Motocross competition.
“Oh, sweet.  Dirt bikes,” Willow said.
Cody snorted.  “You ain’t happy, but you stopped scrolling.  Didn’t your ass?”
“I’m bored with this,” Willow said.  “Let’s watch a movie.  You always say we should watch a movie; you say you got lots of them in mind.  Why not now?”
“I don’t feel like no movie.  Ain’t got that kind of time, boo.  Work in an hour, anyway.”
Cody worked as a team lead in a call center that sold travel discounts.  He worked 32 hours a week, his rent waived by his dad to keep him out of the house.  Cody paid for his utilities and weed, though.
Willow sipped her beer.  
It wasn’t a bad arrangement, not really.  She was midway between nineteen and twenty, and Cody was a solid twenty-one.  
He looked like a punk and showed his ID every time he bought it, but he could get liquor.  That was something.
But it also wasn’t anything.  Except for a rare shot at a party with friends, Willow only drank when she was with Cody.  It wasn’t worth keeping him around for that, was it?
“Hey, you know that sauce pan I got hanging on that hook?  By my sink?” Cody said.  “How about you boil some water up in that, get me some hot dogs.”
Willow looked at him.  That must be good weed, was her first thought.
“Get your own hot dogs,” she said.
“Fuck.  You ain’t even watching the bikes, boo.”  He frowned at her.  Wasn’t like her to give him lip, not jump up and get what he asked for.
Why did he keep her around?  Ain’t like she ever satisfied him the way he wanted to be.  Willow.  Ought to call her Westinghouse, cuz girl’s a fridge, Cody thought.  He’d work on the joke, though.
“I ain’t even hungry,” Cody said.  “No matter.”
But it did matter, made him mad.  He made a fist and punched her left arm below the shoulder.  Her beer sloshed onto her pink t-shirt.
Willow looked at him, tears forming in her eyes.  “Why?”
Cody’s jaw muscles tightened as he watched the screen, ignoring her.  That’s how you did it.
Willow reached toward the table and grabbed her phone.  “That’s going to leave a bruise.”
“Rub it,” Cody said.  “Your shirt’s gonna smell like beer, too, boo.  See how mommy likes that.”
Willow rose from the couch and walked behind him.  Three steps from the door.
She could make it.
She took the rest of her beer can and poured it on his head, then darted out the door.
But he didn’t curse, didn’t chase her, didn’t even try to get her back.
He probably liked it.
Jim Mentink's short fiction is published in Bending Genres, Pangyrus Literary Magazine, Mono, New World Writing, The Woolf, Bright Flash Literary Review and forthcoming in The Bookends Review. In 2021, he was longlisted for the Bridport Prize in Short Fiction, and in 2022 he was the Joy of the Pen ‘Verdi Tripp Award for Fiction’ winner. He had the privilege of being invited to workshop at the Writers in Paradise conference in 2019, and was granted art residencies with Hewnoaks (2015) and Wildacres (2019). He is a current member of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.
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