Sheryl is a mother and don’t you dare forget it. Caleb is her husband and he often wishes he could forget it. Avery is their son and he forgets most things but give him a break; the kid’s only six. Kindergarten can be a real bitch, what with the finger painting and all. Avery can’t make the letter people hold hands and it is worrying his teacher. Which is worrying his mother. Which is pissing off his father. Which doesn’t really bother him because he’s six and wets the bed and likes cartoons and baseball and seeing his father smile and watching his mother take naps on their living room couch.
But these days Caleb doesn’t smile, and he sees a lot of that couch on nights when the mood of his wife is colder than the summer cold. You know the summer cold. Which isn’t cold at all compared to winter cold but seems colder because you’re expecting summer warm and it abandons you, leaving only a disappointing replacement. This is the couch where the couple sits and stares and wonders who loves their son more.
Kyle has soul, but he’s not a soldier. Or maybe he is but is in the reserve and fought for a bit and is on holiday leave. But damn it, this kid is lonely. Quickly Kyle, show us your ammo: a brand new turntable playing beat up records and my my do they wail. He loves the sweaty, grimy, ragged stuff that made our parents blush and make mitten ears for fear of dad coming home from work early to hear the racket and start loosening his belt. But more than steam he loves the heat. The raw moans of Marvin Gaye crying “Distant Lover” to no one or everyone. He lies in his one-bedroom-off-campus with only his headphones on, only his headphones, and pines for the girl who lies in her room with nothing but her headphones contemplating the speed of the train Gladys Knight and the Pips are leaving on, at midnight, to Georgia.
And it always hurts the worst on Fridays. And why shouldn’t it? People say “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday!” but for every member of this quartet it’s “tgif: tough going, I’m fucked.” And so it is. It’s the end of the week for Avery, and Sheryl thinks he needs a tutor. Caleb thinks she needs a reminder that the kid is only six and he’s doing the best he can and it was only one test and even Einstein failed a test or two. Avery thinks that whatever it is they’re talking about, it could be done softly like in library when Mrs. Butler puts a finger to her lips and gives a look that freezes words in midair. But they yell and they scream and the damn college kids have the weekend to drink. Kyle can’t hold his liquor and would rather hold a note or an LP or someone’s attention, or hand for that matter. So he unplugs his headphones to share the misery. “Let’s start it slow with Al Green to settle us all down.” But the bass shakes the walls and the gutters shiver off the pigeons that just ruin everything anyway.
“My God, I am so tired of being alone.”
“I’m still in love with you.”
“Here I am baby, come and take me.”
The words are read, or sung, or thought. It doesn’t matter, they’re there. Too much pain for one apartment complex. Too much pain for neighbors. They should really try to find borders with opposite crises so the energy could balance itself out. It’s like landlords are paid not to think. And what a show on Fridays from the Open Windows Theatre. Screams, tears, silence, blast of soul mingled with anguish from next door, silence, tears, screams, moans, bumps, sighs. They should bottle this stuff.