:: Article

I Meant to Surprise Her, Atlanta Apartment Hunting, and Broken Leg

by Jamie Iredell.

I Meant to Surprise Her

I peddled through Midtown, weaving around skyscrapers, their business people be-suited, legs and faces shorn smooth as a lake surface in November, but it was May, and I slapped at mosquitoes that attached themselves to my face—magnets after the iron in my blood. By the time I reached Kaundra’s apartment—which we’d painted the color of a pumpkin—my skin had flushed, and my limbs had curled in, sweaty, and I resembled the engines for the trains that thundered by across the street. In my underwear I cooled, though I hoped to work up another sweat when Kaundra keyed her way in. The air conditioner coughed and ants marched along the windowsill. When she slipped around the mesh of screen at the door, the blond bob of her ponytail shifted like something alive, quivering. I could’ve been half-naked and threatening, but only the former was true.

Atlanta Apartment Hunting

toured me through strange-sounding byways: Cheshire Bridge, Bells Ferry, Moore’s Mill Roads. Everything sounded old, just as it was—antebellum, and cotton mill-studded. Finally a studio on Monroe—familiar, though still a forgotten President—emerged from the creative loafing. The landlord’s voice was Southern-gay—all drawl and lilt. His eyes were shaped like rail-flattened pennies, and just as brown, like a mouse’s fur. He was equally opportunistic and uncaring about the humans who inhabited his buildings. The apartment was swathed in pecan trees and pools of standing water gurgled with mosquito larvae, their little wormy bodies waving to me. Inside the room was cave-like, for all the shade the pecans tossed, and the lack of windows. For six years I hermitized myself in there, until I met Sarah, and we moved into a place filled with light. When it came time to move, Wayne, the landlord, said I could have extra time to pack and clean. He returned my deposit in full, minus these extra days.

Broken Leg

My friend had gotten engaged, so everyone was drunk. Me and this friend were about the same size, which means we were like two adolescent grizzlies. He’d played rugby and once did so with his drawers full of an accident. Everyone called him Chafe. We decided, me and Chafe, that it was a good idea to see who could toss who off the balcony. Winter had made ice that was hard and slick as a mountain road grow over the balcony. The mountains, too, were covered with snow, and our breaths puffed as if we smoked, though both of us were thinking of quitting.

Chafe won the toss and I had broken a leg. I kept falling every few feet when I walked. Chafe tossed me again, this time into a pickup’s bed, which took me to the hospital. Inside I cried for morphine because I craved the high; I was too drunk to feel any pain. The doctor said, “You’re so wasted, I’m not giving you anything.”

After they splinted up my leg and set me on crutches, we slipped out to Knuckleheads and met the rest of our friends. There we all continued drinking, since Chafe was getting married.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Iredell lives in Atlanta where he works as designer for C&R Press. He is a founding editor of New South. His writing has appeared–or will–in many journals, including elimae, The Chattahoochee Review, Storyscape, The Literary Review, SUB-LIT, Descant, Lamination Colony, and others. His book, When I Moved to Nevada, is forthcoming from The Greying Ghost Press.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, October 3rd, 2008.