Down and Out on Burnet Road

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A158 down and out

Written by Reginald LeDuke. Reginald is a first-time Jewrotica writer. “Down and Out on Burnet Road” is a semi-autobiographical story of a Jewish man entering his late twenties and reflecting on relationships, sex and his future. Though Reginald has previously written war stories, science fiction, horror and political satire, this is his first official romantic / relationship piece.

Rated RKatrine sat pensively across from Paul tapping the table and looking down at her coffee to avoid eye contact while her boyfriend, Seth made a quick call to his parents. Paul sat quietly, tattooed arms stretched out of his black t-shirt folded on the table, his eyes still covered by black Wayfarers.

Finally, he asked, “How are you doing?”

Katrine’s head popped up. “Huh?”

“I said, how are you doing?” He took off his sunglasses leaned back in the booth and took a sip of his coffee.

“Oh, I’m doing OK. You know, work is…meh” Her voice sounded distant, quiet and French. Where was Seth?

“You’re still with the state, right?”

“No, I’m with a non-profit doing women’s advocacy.”

How quaint, Paul thought. He stared into the minimal cleavage of Katrine’s aqua-colored v-neck t-shirt. Her fingernails were painted a deep red.

All 140 pounds of Seth’s lean frame plopped down next to Katrine. He put his arm around Katrine and gave her a squeeze. He had one of those preposterous mustaches that everyone seemed to be sporting these days. It was almost as ridiculous as the Waldo sweater he was wearing.

“So, how was New York, man?” he asked Paul.

“Expensive.”

“I bet.”

“I lived in pretty much a third world slum and paid twice as much as I’ve ever paid here.”

“Well, it’s good to have you back.”

Paul caught himself staring at Katrine. She looked up from under her black bangs and noticed him for a moment. He stared up at the ceiling.

“Is Jen still in town?” he asked.

“No, she moved to Dallas to work for her dad.”

“Gross.”

Jen was a mutual friend of Seth and Paul’s, with whom both of them had slept. She had a high-pitched voice and a protruding Semitic nose and wore Chanel everything. How she had fallen in with their group of friends was beyond any of them. Now she was back in Dallas solidifying her JAP status in Paul’s mind.

Katrine’s silence was beginning to irritate Paul.

“Your sister is still in Brooklyn, yeah?” Seth asked.

“Yep.”

“Is she still Orthodox?”

“No, she’s a lesbian.”

“Oh, well that seems like the next logical progression.”

“Clearly.”

Elizabeth had fallen in with the Chabad Lubavitch Orthodox crowd her senior year at NYU after a traumatic breakup with her Ghanan artist boyfriend, Kwame. She thrust herself into Torah, challah baking and ugly skirts and began forcefully inserting Yiddish phrases into conversation, which drove Paul mad. For her birthday that year Paul bought her a thick collection Nietzsche’s “Twilight of the Idols” with a birthday card he had made himself using a 1930s anti-Semitic drawing of an Orthodox Jew. She took it with good humor, but the next time Paul came over the Nietzsche was gone or hidden. Now she cohabited with Melanie, a barista at a west village coffee shop with a master’s in anthropology from Vassar and an associated self-righteous vocabulary.

“What did you guys do last night?” Paul asked, forcing himself to sound interested in what he knew to be a doomed little relationship.

“We just watched some Walking Dead and Girls episodes and I made some dinner.”

“She is really a good cook, you know.” Katrine finally chimed in.

“ And you know that means a lot from a French person” Seth said, chuckling.

“Right.”

“What about you?”

“I went to the White Horse with Danny and Tom.”

“Fat Tom or Gay Tom?”

“Fat Tom. Mike and the Moonpies were playing. It made me glad to be back home. I taught some girl from Ohio how to two step.”

“You get her number?”

“No, I just wasn’t on last night. I mostly just drank Two-Steps and caught up with Danny. I can’t believe he’s a fucking lawyer already. I remember doing bong rips and knocking over port-a-johns with that dude.

“Yeah, he’s a real adult now. It’s kind of lame.”

“I know – how bourgeois. Y’all oughtta come out next week. I miss the old days.”

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I live in a cabin in West Texas where I eat salted meat. drink bourbon and await the apocalypse. I have a cat named Rufus who enjoys Frito Lay bean deep and a bitter ex-wife who spends my money furnishing her upper West Side flat. I love the films of Dario Argento and John Ford. My father was an oil man and my mother the heiress to a diamond fortune that was hijacked by some revolution Africa.