All Night

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Book: All Night by Alan Cumyn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alan Cumyn
Tags: Literature & Fiction, Contemporary, Contemporary Fiction
Chapter One
    The night is so cold as we run down the dark alley. I will never, never, never again take a bus to a funeral. A funeral that’s out of town.
    “Open the door!” Jess says behind me.
    I drop the key in the slush by my feet. Why didn’t I bring gloves? My fingers are freezing.
    I wipe the slush off the key, jab it at the lock. “Come on!” I mutter.
    “Gregor. Damn it!” Jess says.
    She is tiny and very beautiful in her prom dress, with her pink ski jacket on top. Even in the dark. Even this late at night.
    I bend down to try to see the keyhole clearly. The key finally slides in. The lock is so loose I have to hold it with my other hand as I turn the key.
    When the door is open we race down the stairs. I slap on the overhead light. There it is: our one room. One room for almost everything: the old fridge, the pullout couch, the hot plate. No oven. And no kitchen sink. We wash dishes in the bathroom.
    “God, I hate that light,” Jess says. She slaps it off, as if the ugly, glaring light were my fault. Then she turns on the light by our bed, the pullout couch.
    We just need to go to sleep, I think.
    “It’s so cold in here!” Jess says. We take off our jackets anyway. I stand in front of the fridge and look in. I can’t help it. I’m hungry.
    “We are never taking a bus to a funeral again!” she says. My feelings exactly. She pulls out the bed. I get out the milk and reach for the cereal box. Not much left. I empty the last of the cereal into a bowl.
    “You have to get your driver’s licence,” I say. “Then we’ll be able to rent a car the next time we need to go out of town.”
    Just as I’m about to pour the milk, she says, “That cereal is all we have for breakfast.”
    I stop. “Really?” I say. “You waited till I was about to pour.” Then I think: why did I say that? I don’t want to start an argument. I just want to go to bed.
    I just want to hold her in bed.
    “I did not wait,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe you would eat all of our breakfast.”
    The wrong word now and we could be up all night fighting. Not that we fight, not often. But losing our friend Peter and then going to his funeral has been hard.
    “Why do I have to get my driver’s licence?” she says. I return the milk to the fridge. I eat one flake, then I pour the rest of the cereal back into the box. Dust and all.
    She’s hurt, she wants to fight, and I have to be careful. I have to stick with a safe topic. So I say, “You came the closest to getting your licence. If only that stupid car hadn’t stopped in front of you when you were taking your test. We could be renting by now.” It was a small accident. She needs to try again.
    She needs to believe enough in herself to keep going.
    I turn on my old laptop. It used to be Peter’s. It was too slow even for him. But it works.
    “We have no money to rent a car,” Jess says. “That’s the big problem. You aren’t checking messages now, are you?”
    The laptop takes forever, but finally my e-mail comes up. The conference centre needs me tomorrow, first thing. Before first thing!
    “I have to set up chairs for a big meeting in the State Room at eleven o’clock in the morning,” I say. “I have to be there at nine-thirty. That room is huge. You could park a train in it and no one would notice.”
    “How many chairs will you have to move?” she asks.
    “I don’t know. Hundreds. Hundreds of thousands.”
    “So you might build some muscles or something?” It’s the first nearly funny thing she has said since the bus.
    Why is this computer so slow? There are other messages ... The Rats’ Nest, a comedy club, wants my team to perform on Saturday night.
    “Hey,” I say, and glance at Jess, about to tell her the good news. She is lying on top of the bed in the blue silk slip she had on under her prom dress.
    The one I got her from the second-hand store last Christmas.
    She’s so hot she could melt butter in that slip.
    “Wait a minute,” I

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