augustbird: (Default)
[personal profile] augustbird
Title: he says
Fandom: The Pacific
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,002
Characters/Pairing: Sledge/Snafu
Summary: The dim light of the naked bulb never wakes him and he never cries out in his sleep because you want him to be happy. There are enough demons in this apartment.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters--they are based off of the actors' portrayals of characters in HBO's The Pacific, not the real people themselves. Absolutely no disrespect is intended.
Author's Note: For Team Pacific in HBO War-A-Thon.

When the war is over you take Eugene home with you. You leave him on the train to Mobile, Alabama when you disappear into dark streets lit only by hazy lamplight but you take the tint of his hair and the clean scent of smoke. You take the line of his back and the tendons in his wrist. You take the sound of his voice and his private smile—you take all of these things and you make a new Eugene to keep you company.

Your Eugene likes to read books and he’s more educated than you’ll ever be. He likes to lounge in the sun so you buy a new couch that costs as much as a month’s paycheck and you put it in your shitty apartment so that he can sit on it and read the books that you bring home. You don’t really know what educated people read so you bring home Satre and Aeschylus, you bring home automobile manuals and newspapers and you give them all to him. You smoke cigarettes for lunch and have coffee for dinner so you can buy paperback Dickens, printed copies of Hemingway’s short stories. They look smart, you figure, so Eugene would probably like them.

Your Eugene has been accustomed to certain means, you know, so you bring home the best food that you can afford. You try to bring home fresh vegetables and you know you’re not very good at cooking so you try to bring back restaurant fare as much as you can. Crawfish and beignets, you place them all on the table and you retreat to your bed and smoke. Eugene never eats much so you finish the food off later in the middle of the night when he’s asleep on the new couch and you can’t sleep. The dim light of the naked bulb never wakes him and he never cries out in his sleep because you want him to be happy. There are enough demons in this apartment.

In the space of night, you look up at the ceiling and you measure your breaths and feel the edges of your ribs with oily fingers. Your hipbones press against the thin of your skin because you haven’t been eating enough. In the morning you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror and your eyes slide to the chipped sink where the faucet leaks rust-colored water down the drain.

Your Eugene isn’t allowed to leave the confines of your apartment but he doesn’t want to be in the world outside. You’re all that he needs—you bring him food and you give him books and it should be enough. His parents must have stifled him, you decide, so he’s glad for the freedom away from them. He has all the fresh air and adventure he needs from the words he reads. He can be anything he wants as long as you have a quarter to spare, a dollar to buy Fitzgerald while the bookshop assistant sneers at you when she rings up your purchase. You notice but you just don’t care, look at her with lazy eyes and smoke in front of her store with your oily fingers and dirty shirt just to be an asshole.

Some evenings you sit and rehash old conversations with your Eugene, think of the words he said back in China or even those fucking islands. You don’t really remember them that well, not specific conversations anyway—but you know him well enough that you figure he’d tell you to fuck off when he’s reading though his mama must have taught him manners so he wouldn’t say it quite that way. Over time, he slowly gains a New Orleans accent but he never lapses into Cajun because you know better.

Maybe it’s been months since you last got off that train or maybe it’s been years—you don’t know because you measure time in the number of cigarettes you chain smoke through the day, in the number of new insults you trade with the boys at the lumber yard—but the lady downstairs stops you one night and tells you that you have mail, looking at you like she doesn’t know why anyone would write you with your sawdust arms and sullen stare. You pick up the letter and it’s got tiny print across the envelope: your name in his handwriting and you feel like you want to throw up.

Your Eugene is gone when you get up the stairs.

He says hello Snafu, what have you been up to, I hope you have been well, I hope your family has been well. He says, I talked to Burgie and got your address, he says, I hope you don’t mind.

You sit on the couch for the first time and you tap a cigarette into your palm and you don’t open the window. You light it and you hold it between your teeth as you start stacking all of the books in the room on top of the table. It only takes a few minutes because you were never that rich, you wrap them all up in a newspaper and you take them to the bathtub. You go back to the kitchen for the shitty vodka that you bought yesterday and you dump it on the newspaper. There are matches in the drawer next to the knives so you take one and you light it and you drop it in.

You leave and lay down on the couch and you close your eyes. Peleliu is waiting for you and that’s the sound of the neighbor slamming on your door asking what the fuck is going on in there. Are you trying to burn down the entire fucking apartment, you son of a bitch?

In the morning you wash your face at the kitchen sink and you use your shirt to wipe at your eyes. You only catch a glimpse of burnt plastic when you close the door to the bathroom on your way out.
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