Aug 312011
Authors: Justin Goodfellow

_Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of the fiction story “Inside the Hollow Sun,” which will appear every week in Verve throughout the semester. _

I stood waiting. Knock knock. I started muttering, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…” Knock knock. Silence filled the space around my knocking. The hallway was dimly lit, and I counted out another three seconds. Knock knock.

“Harrison?” I heard Greg call behind his apartment door.

“Yeah,” I called back, “it’s me, Greg.” I heard locks turn before Greg cracked open his door and poked his head out.

“Hey, sorry about that. Never hurts to double check.” Greg proceeded to shut and lock the door after I walked through. His desk lamp was on, and I could see papers spread out under its light.

“Did you draw today?” I asked as I walked up to the desk.

“Tried to,” said Greg. He came up and stood next to me. “My hand started getting bad again.”

I examined the drawings on top of the pile. The lines were shaky and sporadic. They looked like sketches that would come out of an elementary school classroom. I shuffled them aside and looked at the drawings underneath. Smoother lines occupied the comic strip boxes on these pages. Some even had color already, but most of the dialogue boxes were blank. Greg liked me to proofread his lines before he wrote them down.
“I tried writing this afternoon.”

Greg turned toward me with raised eyebrows, “Really?”

“Yeah,” I said, “but nothing really came out of it. I was just in the mood to see what would happen today.” I walked over to the couch and laid down. “Have you got anything to drink?”

“I’m not sure if we finished off that wine yesterday,” he said. “I’ll go check.” Greg went into the kitchen and started opening cabinets. The afternoon sun squeezed into the apartment through a small window. The living room had been tidied since I’d left this morning. I looked up at the dozens of “Peanuts” comic strips hanging on the walls. A majority of them had Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and as usual, ending up on the ground. “Sorry, Harrison,” called Greg, “looks like we’re out of luck.”

“Whatever,” I sighed, “I’ll grab some more on Monday when we get our checks.”

“Are you already out again?” asked Greg from the kitchen. I usually had trouble holding onto my welfare money past Wednesdays. No one was willing to hire people like Greg and I anymore, but at least they didn’t give us a hard time about registering for a disability claim. The only condition was attending therapy every weekday. That’s what gets me into Dr. Clermont’s office week after week.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“What did you spend it all on this time?” I didn’t respond. Greg walked into the living room and stared at me before sitting at the table. I started scratching the scabs on my wrists. “I’ve still got 80 left if you want to go to the store.”

“All right,” I said, standing up. I felt something stream down my arm and over my hand.
“Is that blood?” I heard Greg say.

_Fiction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at _

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