"Hey, Roger, have you seen my..." Maureen trailed off as she pushed open the bathroom door.
She was looking for her blue sweater, but instead, she found Roger sitting on the edge of the old tub, a needle gripped firmly in his right hand. His left arm was stretched out, wrist resting on his knee, and even from the doorway, Maureen could see the veins beneath Roger's skin bulge.
Maureen blinked, looking from the needle to Roger's face and back again. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Fuck, Maureen. Don't you ever knock?"
Maureen turned and left silently, closing the door firmly behind her. When Roger emerged a few minutes later, Maureen knew there would be no point in arguing with him. His eyes shone brightly, and he was moving in a relaxed, graceful way that Maureen had never seen outside of the Cat Scratch Club.
Roger picked up a green mug from the kitchen counter, poured coffee into it, and came to sit next to Maureen. "Baby, listen, it's not what you think."
Maureen only pulled her knees closer to her chest and stared out the open window. A guy was sitting against the front window of the bar across the street, drumming on a bucket, and a small group of kids had gathered to listen to him play. Every few minutes, someone passed by the group and tossed coins or a crumpled dollar bill down onto the red jacket spread out next to him.
That guy's pretty good, she thought. He'd make better money if he wasn't in this shitty part of town, though.
"Maureen, listen to me," Roger said, setting his mug down on the windowsill and reaching to cup her face in his hands. "Baby, I swear, it won't happen again."
Maureen looked at him blankly and said, "Don't lie to me, Roger."
Both Maureen's hands hit Roger's chest, and she shoved him backwards as hard as she could. He landed flat on his ass with a surprised cry. "Don't give me that bullshit, Roger. Don't you dare give me that 'oh, honey, it was only one time, and I'm not really hooked' shit. We both know it's not true."
A knock on the loft door punctuated Maureen's statement, and she unfolded herself from the bench to answer it. Roger remained on the floor near the table that divided the kitchen from the rest of the loft. He didn't seem to notice that he was sitting amid toast crumbs and some spilled vodka from the previous night.
Maureen opened the door to find a young woman standing there, looking down at the floor, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other. When she saw that Maureen had opened the door, she took a step back, clearly surprised.
"Um, hi, is, um, is Roger here?" The girl asked. She smiled at Maureen weakly from under red-orange bangs. Cheap dye job, Maureen thought, noticing the girl's pale blonde hair growing out from her scalp. She probably did it to make herself look older so she could get into clubs without getting carded.
From behind her, Maureen heard a muttered but very distinct 'oh, fuck'. She pushed the door aside, and moved to allow the girl entry. "Yeah, Roger's here. Come on in."
The girl stepped past Maureen carefully, like she was afraid Maureen might slap her after she closed the door. "Thanks. Um, I'm April, by the way."
"Hi, I'm Maureen." Maureen said. "Roger's girlfriend."
April froze. She looked at Maureen, who only smiled cheerfully. "Oh. Um, nice to meet you."
Maureen nodded. "Listen, April, I know you don't know me, but here's some advice, just between us girls: if you're fucking Roger? You'd better have protection. He's using again."
"What?" April was clearly not expecting to hear this, let alone hear it from Maureen.
"It's true," Maureen said, waving a hand towards Roger. He was still sitting on the ground, his head lolling back against a table leg. For a guy whose girlfriends had just come face to face, he had a surprisingly mellow expression on his face.
April blinked and shook her head. She looked at Roger, confusion clouding her eyes. "You said you were clean."
Roger nodded, and stood up slowly. He walked over to the door, and both women glared at him. He reached for April's hand. "April, listen-"
Settling back against the door, Maureen rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. "Here we go again."
April pulled her hand out of Roger's grasp and backed away. She bumped Maureen's left shoulder as her back hit the door. "No. You lied to me; I asked you, Roger, I fucking asked you straight out, and you swore up and down to me that you were clean."
"Hon, I told you before-"
"Yeah, I know, it was just a one time thing after that gig at Webster Hall," April said, shaking her head. "You're full of shit, Roger."
She turned abruptly to Maureen, who had closed her eyes and was humming softly to herself. "How long have you two been together?"
Maureen opened her eyes and shrugged. "A few months, maybe four or five. But we've been roommates about a year and a half."
"Five months. Jesus, Roger-" April ran her hands through her hair and tilted her head back against the loft door, "-you've been cheating with me almost the whole time. Fuck."
April exhaled heavily and closed her eyes. Maureen gave Roger a dirty look, then nudged April's hip with her wrist. "Do you have anywhere important to be in the next little while?"
The younger girl opened one eye and gave Maureen a curious look. "Not really, why?"
"You mind waiting while I throw some stuff together? We can go for a walk, talk about a few things?" Without waiting for a response, Maureen began walking toward the bedroom area she shared with Roger. She rummaged under the bed until she found an old duffel bag, and started shoving clothes into it.
Roger walked over, and grabbed the canvas duffel with both hands. "Maureen, baby, please, don't go. C'mon, baby, please, stay."
Maureen yanked the bag out of his hands, pulled a pair of jeans out from beneath a corner of the mattress, and shoved them into the bag. "Don't touch me, Roger. I refuse to stay here and watch you shoot up in our bathroom."
Roger sighed heavily and leaned against the wall. "Fine, whatever. Where are you gonna go?"
"As far away from you as I can get in this city." Maureen grabbed her leather jacket from the floor, slipped it on, and hoisted the duffel over her shoulder. She turned to April, and managed a weak smile. "Ready to go?"
Neither woman spoke until they were a block from the loft, entering the park.
"So, I'm guessing you hooked up with Roger after a gig," Maureen said as they neared three boys sitting on a bench, sharing a joint. The oldest boy whistled at the girls as they passed; Maureen flipped him off.
April nodded slowly, unsure of how much to say to Maureen. "Yeah, uh, something like three months ago."
"April, listen, I'm not pissed at you. Really. It's not your fault Roger can't keep his dick in his pants," Maureen paused, wanting to gauge the other girl's reaction, then continued, "I mean, he's great in bed and all, but I couldn't fuck him every moment of the day, y'know?"
April looked at Maureen, stunned, and then both women began to laugh. "I'd agree with you, Maureen, except, um..."
"I never fucked Roger in bed." April lowered her gaze to the ground shyly, but Maureen could see that she had a slight smile on her face.
"Ah. Bathrooms at the clubs?" Maureen asked, grinning. "That's how I met Roger, you know. A friend of mine dragged me to a show at CBGB's, and Roger was there with a couple guys from his band. My friend was dating the drummer, so she introduced Roger to me. An hour and three drinks later, we were in the men's room, and everyone had left to go for coffee without us."
They lapsed into silence then, and continued walking. Only when they neared their destination did Maureen speak.
"Well, here we are." Maureen indicated the building on their right, and April gave her a surprised look. "I don't know how long Roger's been using for, or how safe he's been. We need to know."
April nodded, and both women entered the clinic.