TITLE: Celebrated Blue Period
AUTHOR: Sabine (sabine101@juno.com)
ARCHIVE: Anywhere
CATEGORY: Toby/Andi, CJ/T
SPOILERS: None
RATING: R
SUMMARY: "If I'd met you during my celebrated blue period, I don't know what
I would have done."
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Indebted to Sorkin, Schiff, Janney and PJ Harvey. At
the same time, go read A.M. Homes' "Music for Torching." And M*A*S*H, "The
More I See You."
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: What do I know about Toby? Luna gave me PJ
Harvey's "You Said Something" and made me do it. Fortunately, she (Luna, not
PJ) also lent me some help, history, and a timeline for Toby. Then Shana talked
Toby with me, over cheeseburgers. And k. helped and Punk faked it like a
champion, and august saw everything, all at once, even before I knew it was there.
And this is for august, for obvious reasons.
SOUNDTRACK: Radiohead, "Kid A." PJ Harvey, "Songs from the City, Songs
from the Sea." Billie Myers, "Growing, Pains." Patty Griffin, "Living With
Ghosts" (again). Patty Larkin, "Perishable Fruit." Liz Phair, "Whip-Smart." Alanis
Morissette, "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie."



Celebrated Blue Period




In his pocket are his keys, a mini Maglite, and a pack of Butter Rum Lifesavers. A
deli receipt. His wedding ring, his wallet, his watch. He dumps everything into the
ceramic bowl on the green table by the door, except the wedding ring. The
wedding ring he puts on.

It's just past one in the morning, and he tries to be quiet, because lately Andi's
taken to falling asleep during reruns of "Seinfeld," at eleven. During the WPIX
ten o'clock news, sometimes. Last night he came home at six to a note: "Please be
quiet. Sleeping. -A." It was still light out, and he made himself chili from a can
and watched Hitchcock on the living room television and fell asleep on the couch.

Now he kicks off his shoes and pads into the kitchen, pours himself two fingers of
Red Label. He crosses to the refrigerator, where Andi's hung a wite-board and
three different colored markers.

He picks up the pen. "Please be quiet. Dead. -T." He coughs, laughs at himself,
embarrassed. He wipes it off with the dishtowel and puts the pen back in its little
plastic tray.

Then he goes into the living room, sits down and switches on the TV. He doesn't
have the energy for C-SPAN, and he finds a rerun of "Laverne and Shirley"
instead and watches it with the sound off.

"You got in late." He turns around, and Andi's standing in the archway in a
nightgown, silk blinders flipped up on her forehead.

"Yeah, I was, I had a, I had some calls to make."

She nods. "Okay," she says, and he doesn't care if she believes him. He thinks she
doesn't care either. "You hungry?"

"I ate," he says.

"Okay." She shrugs. "You're coming to bed?"

"Yeah, in a, in a little bit."

She leaves again, and he unbuckles his belt and his fly and rolls his head back on
his shoulders with an exhale.

Now he wants to return the Butter Rum Lifesavers. He laughs and rubs his hand
across his forehead and he can't imagine why he took them after all. But they
were just there at the newsstand, and he thought maybe it would give him a thrill,
and nobody was looking, just a lot of busy Wall Streeters with briefcases bustling
for the train, and the little Indian man was too busy snapping open the plastic on a
packet of Newsdays to care about one fat balding guy pretending to read the cover
of Elle. And it was just that easy for Toby to slip the little gold roll into his pocket
and turn west crosstown.

Andi's already made coffee when he wakes up.

She's standing at the sink peeling a grapefruit, hacking off chunks of white fleshy
rind and tossing them into the garbage can. He comes up behind her and kisses
her on the neck, holding her hair up with one hand. "Hi."

She turns around. "Hi." She kisses him. She puts the grapefruit down.

He wants to devour her, and he shrugs out of his bathrobe and cocks a knee up
against the counter, pushing her back. "Toby, my god, Toby, come on, I have to
go to work --"

"Fuck me," he mumbles, slipping a hand up under her nightgown, up her thigh,
lifting her up so she's sitting on the sink. "God you're beautiful."

She scrapes at him and her fingernails are sharp on his skull. She falls backward,
her head hitting the window behind the sink. She presses a palm against the
cabinet as he drags her nightgown up over her hips and buries his face between
her legs, smelling her, tasting her. She takes a short breath, moans a little.

He flips on the sink. Cold water comes shooting out, slamming into Andi's back,
through the crack of her ass. She leaps down and glares at him. "What the fuck
was that?"

He really has no idea. He shrugs. "Dunno."

"Jesus, Toby." She shuffles a little, pulling her nightgown down over her wet legs.
"You're insane."

He shrugs again. "Okay," he says. She picks up her grapefruit again.

"I have to go to work," she says, backing away a little. When she reaches the
doorway, she stops and looks at him. "What's wrong with us?"

He shakes his head. He's been wondering the same thing, for months now. Maybe
years. "Something," he says.

"Definitely," she says. "That goes without saying."

He switches off the sink. "So, what, should we, should we talk about it?"

"I guess," she says, furrowing her brow. "Are we supposed to?"

"I guess," he says. He opens the refrigerator and sees a tupperware dish of
spaghetti. He's naked, and the freon is cold on his chest. "How old is this
spaghetti?"

"In the blue tupperware?"

"Yeah."

"It's okay," she says. "Maybe yesterday, maybe the day before. You can take it."

"I can take it for lunch?"

She nods. "You can take it," she says. "Oh, and pick up garbage bags?"

"Okay," he says, taking the spaghetti and shutting the refrigerator. "Big?"

"Big," she says, and leaves to get dressed.

He keeps a little office downtown, though he's technically between jobs. Lily
Howard's run for Congress was short-lived, after the fraud report came out, and
she'd found a way to blame Toby for it and he'd let her. He gave back the cell
phone, but he kept the office, a little workspace with one tiny window on the
fourth floor of a walkup on Water St.

When he gets in, he checks with his service, but the only messages are from Andi
("Microwave popcorn," and later a very cryptic "Jefferson") and from the phone
company, reminding him his bill is overdue. He calls back Mrs. Robards at
extension 4800 and promises her the check is in the mail.

He's very surprised when the phone rings again, just past noon, when he's sitting
by the little window smoking a cigar. He fumbles a little with the receiver. "Toby
Ziegler."

"Toby?"

"I just said that," he yawns.

"Toby, it's me. It's CJ."

He rolls the cigar around on the tip of his tongue and doesn't say anything for a
while. "What are you wearing?" he asks, finally.

"What?"

He sighs, a half-laugh exhale. "Never mind. What's, hey, CJ. What's up?"

"I just wanted to -- the thing is, I'm gonna be in town," she says. "I'm gonna be in
New York this weekend. End of this week, actually. I come in Friday night."

"You still with that, with those people?"

"Triton-Day?" she laughs. "I'm still with those people."

He chews his cigar and rocks back in his little chair on wheels. "So when am I,
when does the Democratic Party get to reap the benefits of Claudia Jean Cregg?"

"When you can pay me six figures, Toby," she chuckles. He really does want to
know what she's wearing.

"Ah, so it's the lure of the almighty dollar that's kept you out there in the golden
state," he says, setting his cigar down in an ashtray.

"Can you meet me Friday night? I get in at nine, but that's really only six -- you
still staying up all night these days?"

"I'm still up all night," he says. "Andi's taken to falling asleep before dusk,
though, god knows why."

"How's Andi?"

Toby stiffens a little. "She's terrific," he says.

"Give her a hug for me."

"Will do," he says.

"Hey, Toby?" Her voice sounds different, goes up a little, and inexplicably he
leans closer to the phone.

"Yeah."

"You -- you know if you ever needed -- I mean, I'm not gonna stay in California
forever."

He nods even though she can't see him. "Yeah," he says. "Though I'm not, I'm not
altogether convinced you'd wanna get on board with me. I've got quite a notable
losing streak."

"Then it's logical your number's gotta come up soon, right?" He can hear her
smile.

"So what are you wearing?" he asks.

"Too fucking much," she says. "Air conditioning's shot. We've got a guy coming
in. Ten in the goddamned morning, it shouldn't be so hot. In October."

"It shouldn't," he agrees. "So, ah, what brings you to New York?"

"Premiere," she says. "We've got a photo shoot at Rock Plaza on Saturday, some
celebrity stunt, I don't know the details."

"You don't know the details?"

She laughs. "Of course I do, it's just so brain-numbingly boring I can't even --"

"Good," he says. "So we'll go get trashed on Friday and talk about better days."

"Better days," she says. "Sounds good."

On the way home he passes the newsstand again. The Indian man is smoking a
cigarette, ashing poorly into a bottlecap. Toby nods at him. The Indian nods back.

Toby shuffles his feet. "Hey, man, I, ah, how much for one of those packs of
Lifesavers?"

"Feefty-five cents," says the guy.

Toby digs in his pocket. "Here's a buck. I only got a buck. I -- just take it."

The man takes it. "Take you candy."

Toby shakes his head. "No," he says. "No, I, uh -- thanks, man."

He walks away.

CJ is coming.

When he met CJ Cregg, ten years ago, he still had most of his hair and they were
both working in politics. That was before his celebrated losing streak, his era of
disillusionment, his blue period, Andi. And CJ was this great bird of a woman
with ink on her fingers and and overflowing folders, bustling around, getting stuff
done.

In '86 she was media director for Keith Zahn's campaign for Supervisor, and even
though in high school Keith used to get off on thwacking Toby in the head with a
tetherball, Toby went out to San Francisco to lend support. Keith introduced him
to CJ the first day with a wink and a nudge, and Toby might have been
embarrassed except CJ wasn't really watching, waving a pinky at him, drinking
coffee, shouting into the phone, "no, no, four colors. Swear to god, man, I said
four colors."

Keith lost, but it wasn't CJ's fault. Toby stayed in a motel on Valencia and he and
Keith and CJ'd go get drunk in the lesbian bars and take turns hitting on the
waitresses. Toby'd planned to go to San Francisco for a week -- he ended up
staying six months. He left the motel after four weeks and spent the rest of the
winter at CJ's place.

When he left CJ was already fundraising for the Church Street Rehabilitation
Project, and Keith had joined the army again. John Carroll O'Malley's campaign
hired Toby back to New York, and in another six months, O'Malley would lose
too.

CJ hadn't wanted him to leave, and that had scared him, just enough that he knew
he couldn't stay. "He's a good candidate," he'd told CJ, the night he packed up his
stuff from her place. "This is what I do."

"I guess I don't see why we can't do it together," she'd said. He left for the airport
before she woke up the next morning.

Toby has walked past his train. He turns around.

It's only five, but Andi might be home anyway. He remembers garbage bags and
microwave popcorn and the mysterious "Jefferson," and he ducks into a
Waldbaums, where everything is cold and bright and smells like bananas and
disinfectant.

CJ is coming.

Andi's standing in the kitchen again, brown paper bag between her teeth, screwing
in an earring. "Did you get a bottle of wine?" she mumbles over the paper.

"I got garbage bags and I got microwave popcorn," he says. "Those are the two
things you told me to get."

Andi takes the little bag out from between her teeth. "We have dinner with Andy
Jefferson, remember? I figured we should bring a bottle of wine. It's common
courtesy, Toby. God."

"Jefferson," Toby mutters. Andy Jefferson is Andi's lawyer, former law partner.
Sometimes Toby worries about why she's kept him retained so long -- he wonders
if she's planning for some divorce so far off in the future he can't see it yet. He's
always praised her foresight. "Isn't that the 23rd?"

"It's the 23rd," Andi says. "Forget it. The restaurant will have wine. Just make
sure you get the check."

"We're paying this guy two-fifty an hour and I'm supposed to get the check?"
Toby sets the groceries on the counter.

"We're not paying him anything, Toby. He's an old friend. Behave."

"I behave," Toby says. "Who's coming?"

She shrugs. "You, me. Andy. I think his girlfriend."

"Mm," Toby nods. "What's in the, uh, little bag, there?"

She opens it and pulls out a tiny crystal saltshaker. "You think he'll like it?"

"We're giving him a saltshaker?"

She frowns. "He collects them."

"Okay," Toby says, walking past her, heading for the bedroom to change. "We
sure this guy's not, like, really gay?"

Andi comes up behind him when he's buttoning his shirt. She leans in close to his
ear, tickles his cheek with her breath and her tongue. "I'm not wearing any
underwear," she says.

He looks at the floor. "That for Jefferson, or for me?"

"Fuck you," she says, throwing her arms in the air and leaving the room.

The girlfriend's gotta be twenty-two, maybe twenty-five, purple-tinted glasses and
a brown suede jacket. She talks about gentrification and gets off a couple jabs at
Starbucks and Barnes & Noble, and Andy tickles her. She orders a Cobb salad
and picks off the bacon with her fork.

Andi asks Andy about the firm, he asks her about Washington. Toby watches and
wonders if she's ever fucked Andy. He wonders if she's fucking Andy now. The
girlfriend's cell phone rings, and she takes it from her bag and turns it off.

"How's the world of local politics, Toby?" Andy's talking to him. Toby looks up
from his ribeye.

"Andi's not, uh, wearing any underwear," he says.

Everyone is very still. The girlfriend gets her phone out of her bag and looks at it
and puts it back.

"Uh, okay, then," Andy says. "How about that."

Andi seethes. Toby starts to laugh and can't stop.

"Don't you ever," he starts. "I mean -- don't you people ever get tired of having
the, the, the same goddamned conversations? Over and over again? I been here an
hour I'm already so insanely bored I can't even keep my eyes open! Don't you
ever, you know, want to, I don't know, do something with your lives? Be a
person? God almighty."

He pulls himself to his feet, and leaves just as the girlfriend's saying, "you know,
he has a good point."

He's waiting for Andi when she gets home. "Tell me about the divorce," he says,
after she locks the door and dumps her keys in the ceramic dish with the
Lifesavers.

"I'm not talking to you," she says, kicking her shoes off and picking them up. "I'm
serious, Tobe."

He stands up and goes over to her, touches her face. "Tell me about the divorce,"
he says.

She sighs. "Whose divorce?"

"Ours."

She looks at him. "Jesus, Toby. Don't be an idiot."

"Come on, Andi," he says. "You know. I just -- has Andy worked out the details
with you already? Is that what's happening? I think I have a right to know."

"You're being paranoid," she says, sitting down, setting her shoes on the table.

"I don't think so."

"After tonight, I think I'd have a good insanity claim. Verbal abuse claim."

He sits down too, straddling the chair backwards. "Yeah," he says, rubbing a hand
up over his forehead. "I, ah, sorry about that."

She sighs again. "Whatever."

"This isn't working," he says, because it seems like something to say. He wonders
what CJ would think. He thinks she'd want him to have a more elegant line.
"We're killing each other," he says, but that bores him too.

"We're not," Andi says. "We're just...in a routine."

"And that's a good thing?" Toby purses his lips.

"It's a fine thing," she says. "I'm in Washington half the year. You're out of work.
Of course things are going to be strained."

"CJ's coming Friday," Toby says.

"Is she staying with us?" Andi asks, and Toby's surprised she'd even think that.

"It's business," he says. "She's here for a, you know, a Hollywood thing."

"Good," Andi says. "Good." Toby doesn't know what that means. "You fucking
her, then?"

He stands up, nearly knocking the chair over. "What? No. No, Andi."

"Okay," she shrugs. "I'm going to bed. Leno's on, he's got that little girl who's in
the thing, you know, the smart girl."

"Yeah," Toby says. He has no idea what she's talking about. She takes her shoes
and goes.

"I'm at the SOHO Grand," CJ says, on the phone late Friday night. Toby can hear
crowd noises behind her. "You still want a drink?"

He's still in his office. "Yeah," he says. "I'm not far from you. Union Square. Meet
you in fifteen minutes?"

She laughs. "I just got in, Toby. I wanted to, you know, change, call the office,
maybe shower? How's an hour?"

He laughs too. "That's fine," he says. "See you then."

On the train, he sits next to a pretty Japanese girl who smells like urine. She's
reading Martin Amis and he tries to read over her shoulder, but after a minute she
closes the book around her finger and tips her head back and closes her eyes.
Toby gets out at Prince Street.

The concierge won't let him up, but he calls CJ's room and she comes down ten
minutes later in a long linen dress and her hair still wet. She's not wearing
makeup. Toby thinks she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

"Hey, hot stuff," he says. She comes at him with her arms out, and he folds her
into a hug. She kisses him on the cheek.

"You look like shit," she says.

He follows her up the wide metal stairs, to the bar. They sit side by side on a big
blue couch.

"I'm fat," he says.

She looks at him. "That's a real conversation-stopper there, Tobias."

"You're not arguing."

"Yeah, okay," she sighs. "So tell me everything."

He feels boring. He shrugs. "My life's a swirling eddy of despair," he says.
"Occasionally interrupted by, you know, ESPN."

The waitress comes over, a skinny little French woman in platform shoes and
leather pants. Toby gets a bourbon and CJ orders a gin, and the drinks show up a
few minutes later when CJ's talking about her car and laughing.

"Get yourself a city where people actually, you know, walk," Toby says. "What
was wrong with San Francisco?"

She shifts in her seat, tucking her feet up beneath her. "I like my job, Toby."

"Yeah," he mutters. "Okay." She's smiling at him, and she shoves some hair out of
her eye with a thumb. He touches his skull unconsciously, catches himself doing
it, lets his hand drop.

"I'm guessing things with Andi are the same," she says. It's not a question.

He nods anyway. "Yep, forever and ever amen."

"And still no work?"

All of a sudden he's afraid he's being pitied, though she's not looking at him, in
favor of poking the ice in her glass with her tiny straw. "Last one lost," he says.
"Guy before that lost. Woman before him? Lost! I'm sensing a, a, a definite
pattern in my choice of employers here, unless, you know, it's me!"

"It's not you," she says, quickly. Now she looks at him. "Seriously, Toby. Well,
wait. It could be you."

He laughs, but it turns into a groan. "Yeah, thanks, there."

"You need to shape up!" she says, clapping her hands on her knees. "We're gonna
give you a total career makeover. Get your ass in gear."

"I'm a lost cause," he says.

"You used to be such an idealist."

He laughs again. "I was never, repeat never, an idealist. Take that back."

"I take it back." She holds out her hands, palms up. "I take it back, swear to god."

"There's just -- I'm an old breed," he says. "I'm dated. I'm past my prime."

She grins. "You never had your prime."

He grins too. "Well, that's very sad."

"I'd say so." She sucks an ice cube, bites down and he can hear it crunch. A
shudder shoots up his spine. "So what do you want to do with your life, you
pathetic sop?"

"I'd be happy with, I don't know, another bourbon." He dips his head a little. "Just
to sit here with you, that'd be okay."

"Okay, you're a loon, you know that, right?"

"I'm a romantic," he mutters. "And I miss you."

"Why?"

He hadn't expected that, so he coughs. "Guess I can't smoke in here."

"Guess not," she says. "Why do you miss me, Toby?"

He shakes his head. "Forget it. I was just -- forget it."

But she's got that same look. She looks just the same, and she could be twenty-
five again, and if she were and if he still had his hair he'd be kissing her now. And
he wants to be. He's not used to being this close to her without touching, not this
weak, and tired, and bored, and late.

"It was ten years ago," she says. "The last time you and I lived in the same city. It
makes me -- I don't know." She looks away. "So why do you miss me now? You
never missed me before."

Ten years ago he'd left because he was afraid his political career would suffer.
Some notion of valiant martyrdom, the model of a singular hero. Ten years ago,
and it took two years after that before she would speak to him again. And then
Andi. He feels like an idiot, and CJ's still beautiful and still looking at him like
she really expects an answer to her question.

He exhales. "Don't take it personally," he says, though he knows that's a stupid
thing to say. "It's a rough time for me."

"I can see that. Tell me."

"Do you have to go to sleep -- be anywhere early?"

She shakes her head. "I don't have to do anything," she says. "I'm here for the
duration."

So he tries to tell her about Andi. He can't really figure it out himself.

Two bourbons later, he finds himself in her room, sitting on the bed while she
washes her face.

"Hey," she calls. "Will you switch on MTV? They're supposed to run a spot for
this thing my guy's working on. I want to see if they got the chyron right."

He has no idea which channel is MTV, but he surfs around for a while and the
room fills with noise. Soundtracks, laughtracks, rapidfire dialogue and someone
singing in Spanish. He imagines this is what Hollywood sounds like. CJ comes
out, rubbing her face with a towel.

"Eh, never mind," she says, crossing to the TV and slapping it off. "I'm off-duty."

"I want to do great things," he says, when she collapses on the bed next to him.
"Like we used to."

"We never did great things," CJ says. "Zahn lost. And he was a little bit of a yutz
to begin with."

"Yutz," he repeats. "Do you even, excuse me, know what that word means?"

She ignores him. "So what great things?"

"I don't know," he says. "But you'd think, right, that somewhere, somewhere on
this godforsaken planet there's a guy who's genuinely a good man? Good smart
politician who wants me?"

"What makes you so sure it's a guy?" CJ asks, smirking, and she meant it to be
clever but it comes off suggestive and he smiles at her.

"Why," he says. "You, uh, wanna take me up on the offer?"

She reaches out a hand to touch his arm. "Toby."

"I'm serious," he says, and he realizes he is. "You're the only good thing in my
miserable life --"

"Shut up, Toby."

"CJ --"

She shakes her head. "Really. I mean it. Shut up."

"I'm just saying --"

"You're saying you're lonely. You're married and lonely and unemployed and
you're looking for any port in a storm. And that's not me."

He collapses back on the bed too, and stares at the ceiling. "Whatever."

"Toby," she says. "You need to realize that just because you're worried about the
Party and you can't find a good candidate to back -- that doesn't mean the rest of
your life is shot to shit. That's not --"

"It is!" he says, waving a hand. "It is, CJ, that's what I am, that's all I have is a
brain, a political brain in this thick skull of mine, this thick bald skull of mine. So
yes! Yes, when I can't work, when I can't feel like the people around me are
significant, when I can't get riled up, over a cause, over a candidate, yes, CJ,
there's not much left for me. You don't want to believe that? Fine. But that's who I
am. Yes, CJ. Yes."

He tenses, because now she's touching him, her hand is splayed across his chest.
"I know," she says. "I love that about you. Always have."

"Okay," he says, sitting up again, with some effort, shaking her hand free. "So
that's what that is."

"I need that too," she says. "But for now I'm settling for people who need me.
Yeah, okay, they're beneath my considerable intellect and sophistication. But my
clients need me, and I do a good job."

"You hate it," he mutters, and she sits up too.

"I hate it," she agrees. "But it's not the end of the world."

He pauses for a minute, watching her. "Are you sure?" he asks. "How can you,
how can you be sure? That it isn't."

He realizes he's not sure himself. Spitting distance from forty and maybe it is the
end of the world. Maybe what he does, what he wants to do, maybe it is just that
important. Or maybe nothing is.

"I don't know," she says.

He exhales. "CJ," he says. "I love you."

She leaps to her feet. "You should go," she says. "I have a thing, I have this thing
tomorrow and I really need to sleep, and go over some papers. And sleep."

He stands up too.

"Go," she says. "I have to sleep and work and then go back to L.A."

She pronounces it "allay," and he rolls it around in his head. He likes it. "Allay,"
he says, trying it out. Allay his loneliness. His misery. Allay.

"Yes, Toby. L.A."

He checks his watch and it's nearly two-thirty. "Yeah," he says. "Okay. I'm gonna
just go, then."

She lays a hand on his shoulder when he reaches the door. "I'm miserable too,"
she says. "And just, you know. Remember who left who, buddy. And ask
yourself. Someday. What you think it's like for me, when I'm in L.A. and I know
you're here, and you're working in politics, and you're doing it. And you're
married. Just, you know. Think about it."

He doesn't want to think about it. His stomach roils and his palms are cold and
he's tired, exhausted. So tired. "Okay," he says.

He thinks about it on the train. Thinks about it when he unlocks the door to his
apartment and dumps his keys in the ceramic dish on the green table by the door.
He picks up the pack of Butter Rum Lifesavers and unrolls one, pops it on his
tongue. It's cloyingly sweet, and too much like the bourbon. He chews and
swallows and it sticks in his teeth.

When he goes into the bedroom, Andi's awake.

"Hey," he says.

"Working?"

He kicks off his shoes, starts unfastening his belt, getting undressed. "I saw CJ."

"You told her hi from me?" He hadn't. He nods. "Good," Andi says.

Allay, he thinks. CJ. Allay. He sits down on the bed. "We have to talk," he says.

"Do we?"

"Yeah," he says. Because she's a politician too, but it's not the right cause, not for
him, not now. "We do."

She rolls over and reaches for him with both hands. "Fuck me," she says. "I stayed
up because I wanted you to fuck me."

"I'm tired," he says, and he is. He slaps off the light and crawls under the covers.

"I got a butt plug," she whispers. "At that condom shop on 42nd street."

He bites his lip so he won't laugh. Because yesterday, it could have been him, too.
Waiting in the dark with a butt plug for his wife to come home and fuck him.
Because that would have been something, would have allayed something.
"Tomorrow," he says, though he's not sure what that means.

She doesn't seem to mind. "Okay," she says. She switches on the TV. "I'm going
to sleep, then," she says.

"Okay," he says, and he hears the laughtrack, the soundtrack, the rapidfire
dialogue. "Love you."

She mumbles something into the pillow, but he can't hear it over the sitcom
playing out on their big screen Sony. He rolls over.

"Oh, forgot to tell you, I'm going to Washington," she says.

"Uh huh," he says, closing his eyes. "Me too."