Michael’s hands stopped shaking when the bottle was half empty. He knew that if he continued to drink, they would eventually start again. For now at least, he was in that intoxicated sweet spot. He opened the window and relit an old Swisher. Liza told him that she didn’t mind if he smoked inside once in a while. He normally refrained in the bedroom, but he didn’t feel like running into anyone downstairs. The block was still quiet. The girl was gone. Someone was in the shower. Liza. She had a habit of whispering to herself in there. It was a little unnerving, actually. Michael was annoyed with Bruce, more so after he heard him leave a few minutes ago, but his head was drowning in thoughts he had forced away for a long time.
Liza was sitting on the couch fighting sleep when he got back. Bruce grabbed the rest of the fastnachts from the kitchen and deposited them on an end table in the living room along with a six-pack of Guinness. Liza could see that he was sweating. She opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, but changed her mind. If he wanted to tell her, he would. She would just obsess about it in the meantime. He bent down and kissed her on the lips, then stared at her. His face was a few inches from hers. It was a little unnerving. It wasn’t an angry stare or a happy one. It seemed so neutral on the surface, but it made her feel so sick.
Bruce made several trips to the kitchen to get napkins, then plates, then a bottle opener. He ate three fastnachts, and took his time with each one. When he finished, he pretended to be absorbed in the movie that was on TV. Liza kept watching him. He acted like he didn’t notice. After one fastnacht and half a beer, Liza fell asleep with her head in his lap. He played with her hair while he flicked through the channels. Bruce wasn’t sure if he’d made the right decision. When he was at the underpass, the thought of not coming back made him feel sick. Now he felt an uneasiness that he couldn’t identify. Bruce pulled the cap off of another beer and drained it in three gulps. He leaned down and whispered in Liza’s ear before shifting back and falling asleep himself.