Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer
Georgie threw the best parties, mostly because he had a carpet he didn’t care about. Heather and Ralph used the monthly parties as an excuse to play drinking games and challenge each other to contests. The winner was usually responsible for dragging the other the two blocks home. Since Ralph had already gone upstairs to vomit, Heather had preemptively declared herself the night’s winner.
“Another drink Georgie.” she said, leaning against a cabinet in the kitchen.
Georgie handed her another drink. “Where’s Ralph?”
Heather flipped her purple hair over one shoulder. “He’s in the bathroom.”
“Still? He’s been in there for a while.”
Heather nodded. “I’ll go check on him, see that he hasn’t fallen in.” At the top of the spiral staircase Heather could see Ralph’s black boots under the bathroom door. “Are you okay baby?” She tapped on the door.
Ralph’s voice was tired. “Just taking a sit down while my liver cleans itself. I might do a little reboot in a minute.”
Heather took a sip from her plastic cup. “Drink too much?”
“Nothing a reboot can’t handle.” Ralph’s voice crackled, a current running though it.
Heather tried the doorknob, it was locked. “Baby, you don’t sound too good. Can I come in?”
There was a thud, flesh smacking tile inside the bathroom.
“Baby? What happened? Are you okay?” Heather sent a query to Ralph’s system. She pounded on the door. Her inbox received an error message. User unavailable. Heather banged her shoulder against the bathroom door, forcing the lock against the old wood in Georgie’s apartment.
“Heather, are you breaking my house up there?” asked Georgie “Come back to the party!”
“Call 911,” screamed Heather, slamming her shoulder into the door. She tried pinging his system again. User Unavailable. Ping. User Unavailable. Heather knew her arm was hurting, knew she was going to have a bruise, but Ralph was in there and he wasn’t answering. “Ralph!” she kicked at the door, screaming her lover’s name.
The rotten wood gave way and the door swung open, banging into Ralph’s body. He was laying awkwardly against the bathtub a red welt rising on his forehead. Heather knelt beside him. Georgie appeared in the doorway, scarf over his left shoulder, shock on his face.
“Oh shit.” he said.
“Call the ambulance.” said Heather.
Georgie paced back in forth in front of the bathroom. “Shit. Shit.”
“Just call them Georgie!” yelled Heather, slamming her fists into her thighs. Heather put her hands over Ralph’s mouth. He wasn’t breathing. She put her ear on his chest, but it was like an empty cage. Heather breathed into his mouth, but his chest didn’t inflate, it was like blowing on a wall.
“No. Oh Ralph. No. No. No.” She reached into her throat behind her teeth and up, flipping open the little panel in the back of her throat. A little too hasty, a little too quick, she sliced her throat with her fingernail. Tears bit her eyes. She gagged a little as she pulled the wire out from the back of her throat. Holding her cord out with her teeth, she opened Ralph’s mouth and reached back, fumbling to get his slick panel open, fumbling to pull out his cord, spit and blood on her hands, his or hers, didn’t matter, linking the two cords, instructing for a power transfer. This Ralph, who let her rest on his shoulder even if it made his arm fall asleep, who gave her sips of his coffee and let her wear his t-shirt. She was going to jumpstart him.
A screen lit up in front of her vision. Ralph’s full name and a prompt for password access. The last time she saw this was two years ago, when they first decided to sleep together and did the direct connection scan for STD’s. Ralph’s system scanning her, feeding him a full report, every physical secret. Her system scanning Ralph, telling her about a leg once broken and the drugs he used to take.
If Ralph changed his password in those two years, she wouldn’t be able to affect his system, no password, no access. You were supposed to change your password every six months. Please be lazy, Ralph, she prayed. Please baby, be my lazy, lazy man. She entered that two year old code and waited, waited, Georgie back at the door just watching both of them. Georgie putting a hand on her shoulder, saying something she couldn’t quite hear, paramedics on their way, maybe she should disconnect, it wasn’t working.
Then Heather felt her heart pull, her eyes get heavy, lights dimming and then back on as her system readjusted to the power output. Ralph opened his eyes, hand going to his mouth, touching his cord.
“What’s up baby?” he said, his mouth making mutilated words from the cord. Heather felt herself shaking, her eyes squeezing shut, hands on Ralph’s chest, yes, really there, really breathing, awake and heart and lungs all pumping and inflating and moving like they should. Ralph saying “Sawwy.” around the cord. Heather closed the space between them, holding him in her arms.