Brownstones looked impressive from the outside but, to the inebriated, manifested themselves as the impoverished rat holes they truly were on the inside. Nikos didn’t remember opening the hallway door that led to his part of the building. He did recall drunkenly stumbling up the four flights of stairs, however. Memory was a funny thing if, by “funny”, you meant “disturbingly selective”. Most of his walk home from his studio had been that way: full of holes. He knew that he must have passed Brooks Brothers on West 65th but could only remember the part, a few blocks later, where he leaned up against the window of The Emerald Inn on Columbus.
Why throwing up all over the pavement on his way home should stick in his memory was just another perverse piece of evidence against the goodwill of God. Around the edges of the memory was someone–hopefully not the handsome bartender who worked there–shouting at him to move on and not mess up the sidewalk with his sick. He’d stumbled off, home, in disgrace.
Through the tilt and pan of his vision, he looked at his latest sketch. He figured it must have taken him about an hour.
He sighed. Drawing beefcake erotica wouldn’t impress the folks at Dawnstone Greeting Cards any more than it impressed himself. And having taken the job to create a dozen, holiday-themed cards was really his own fault. He’d missed his deadline four months ago, gotten fired two weeks later, and spent the remaining time between then and now running between his apartment and his studio. He felt stuck in neutral: drawing Santa, elves, Christmas trees, menorahs, mistletoe, and even the occasional dreidel.
He’d taken the other illustration jobs (there were plenty of ways to prostitute his talent during the holidays) but only enough to keep him in his home. None of it helped with his annual descent into self-pity. None of it conjured up a boyfriend out of thin air.
Looking down at the human-shaped reindeer he’d just soiled his sketchpad with, he sighed again. He knew that he’d do better if he just turned off his phone, curled up by the fire in his second-hand recliner, and slept until New Year’s. It wouldn’t be the first time.