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Today's Story by Nathan Graziano

Did you say you dumped him for being disrespectful to you?


While splitting a pitcher with Toby—it was around noon last Tuesday—Toby started telling me how this girl he’s been seeing calls pain pills “beans.” He said this girl, who is half our age, crushes the beans into a powder, cooks the bean-powder on tin foil with a lighter, and then smokes the bean-rock from a glass pipe. Toby scores the beans for her from someone at the bar, but he won’t tell me who it is.

This girl Erin, she can’t legally order a drink. She’s only twenty years old, Toby said to me, grinning. I don’t think you know her, Nick.

I do know her, I said. She used to work here as a waitress.

Yeah, yeah, Toby said, I forgot about that. She did work here.

Then Toby told me that the other night, this girl Erin called him up asking if he could score some beans. She told Toby, however, that she was broke that week because she had to pay rent to her grandparents. Toby said she lives with her grandparents in an old house around the corner from the high school, not far from the apartment where I now live with no one. Six months ago, I had a job and lived in a house with my wife and two kids. Now, I’m unemployed and live in an apartment with no one.

Anyway, Toby told this girl Erin that he could score her beans and she didn’t need money, as long as she had a mouth—he winked at me. Toby then scored her the beans from some guy at the bar—I still don’t know who it is—and this girl Erin went over to Toby’s apartment to pick up the beans. Toby said as soon as she closed the door behind her, she dropped to her knees and started sucking him off.

I said to Toby, I need to find a twenty year-old girlfriend.

That’s not all, Toby said. It gets better.

And here comes the weird part. From what Toby told me, all of a sudden, this girl Erin stopped sucking his cock and took a phone call. She stood up, held a finger to her lips, and then walked into the other room. Toby said he zipped his pants and grabbed a brew from the fridge and sat down to watch the basketball game. Ten minutes later, this girl Erin came stomping back into the living room, spiked her cell phone on the couch, and kneeled in front of Toby.

Toby said he asked her what was wrong. Her eyes and cheeks were streaked red, like war paint, he said.

So this girl Erin looks at Toby, rubbing her eyes, and said: I just broke up with my boyfriend. The asshole called me ‘a dumb bitch.’ Talk about being disrespectful.

Did you say you dumped him for being disrespectful to you? Toby asked this girl Erin.

So she told him the whole story. She said that earlier in the day her boyfriend told her that he could smell cigarettes on her clothes, and this girl Erin had told him that she quit smoking. The boyfriend is really against doing any kind of drugs, so they started arguing about it on the phone and he called her a “dumb bitch” for smoking again.

But you smoke, Toby said to this girl Erin.

I know, said this girl Erin, but it was still a disrespectful thing to say to your girlfriend.

So Toby asked her how long they had been dating, and the girl told Toby she had been dating this guy, Whatshisnuts, for two years. Then Toby took a bean from his pocket and placed it gently in the palm of her hand, like it was a diamond ring.

Only two years? I was married for almost ten, I said. So, I asked.

So what, Toby said, as the waitress at the bar brought us another pitcher—it was my turn to buy.

As I was handing the waitress a ten-spot, this girl Erin sent Toby a text-message and wanted him to meet her someplace. Toby asked me if I wanted to meet this girl Erin and one of her friends at Applebee’s at three p.m., and then go back to his place to drink beers and smoke beans with these twenty year-old girls.

I looked at Toby, then at my beer, then at the white circle on my ring finger where I had worn my wedding band for a decade. I knew what I was going to do. I have hated myself lately, and even though I still love my kids and my wife, I hate myself. My hair is dusted gray, and I’ve gained weight, and I’m tired of sending out resumes.

Sometimes, the pain is too much.

Sometimes, we all need a bean.


Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is the author of three collections of poetry—Not So Profound(Green Bean Press, 2003), Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press, 2007) and After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press, 2009)—a collection of short stories, Frostbite (GBP, 2002), and several chapbooks of fiction and poetry. A chapbook of short prose pieces titled Hangover Breakfasts was recently published by Bottle of Smoke Press this fall. For more information, visit his website athttp://www.nathangraziano.com/.


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