I slide over for another Two-Hearted. I’m with Rosie. I just met her, so I get her one, too, because Hoosier hospitality. Rosie is in her early twenties, like me.
We’re at The Dorothy in Plainfield, Indiana. This place is lit like the bar in Cheers. They’ve got pub burgers and greasy fries. That Goo Goo Dolls song is on.
We start talking.
Rosie grew up in Urbana, Illinois. I think about how see-through a city named after being a city must be. Then I consider Plainfield.
My girlfriend works the 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM shift at an IBM call center. She gets home every morning and puts on a pot of coffee. She drinks a few cups before bed. The caffeine makes her dreams more vivid, more alive.
I show Rosie a photo of her on my iPhone. She bobs her head up and down.
Then we’re quiet.
She nods again. This time it’s because her beer tastes good, I guess.
She’s a journalism student. Interns for a newspaper.
My glass is all foam, so I get another. I go “ahhhh,” after I take a drink.
The bartender switches the TV to a local station. On the screen, this dude holds a giant check in front of his fat gut. $500,000. The studio audience roars for him, but the sound’s off in the bar.
The caption reads [ Applause ].
Rosie asks, “What would you do if you had that much money?” I look around the room. I tell her what I can come up with.
Rosie breathes in brightly, pulls a pen from her pocket, scribbles on a napkin. She fills up one square with words. Grabs another, then a stack.
I try to ask.
She shushes me and scratches something out, replacing it with a scrawl floating on the edge.
I close my eyes to see under her skin where her wrist bones jostle and the meat of her hands crinkles.
Her typewriter (that’s right) is in her backpack, and it takes a full-bodied thrust to get this honking case on the table. While she’s doing that, I dish out for two more beers. I look over at our table like, “What the?” thinking, “People still use those things?”
It takes her ten minutes to churn out a page. She slides the sheet to me the way some people do just before they say, “This is my offer.” And it feels like that.
It is a newspaper story about me if I won the Hooiser Lottery. Rosie worked the case thoroughly. Shed serious light. I read it. Then scan over it again. The second time through, the marrow deep inside my arms vibrates like I’m growing.
Now she smashes keys again, so I ask what she’s doing. This one’s a copy for her portfolio.
I ask if she’ll autograph mine. She stops typing and squiggles her name at the bottom of my page.
She finishes and the typewriter dings. We clunk our glasses together, then, in mouthfuls, finish our drinks. She flicks fizz from her lips. Gets a glimpse of the clock, nods at it like an ex-boyfriend or an old neighbor, someone who has seen a lot of her back when but who doesn’t have much to say to her now.
She puts on her jacket. We hug. Something smells ripe like produce.
The sun isn’t up when she swings open the door to leave.
But I can tell it just rained.
When I get back home, my girlfriend’s Keds are by the door. She is sprawled across the bed, stomach down, arms out. A cinnamon candle flickers on the end table.
I scoot her over gently. Her breath is heavy, powerful, deep. I graze her back with my fingertips, spell out her name like always.
I read the story again. I get to the end, and I follow the loops of Rosie’s signature. My eyes hit the head of the page, rereading top to bottom.
I shuffle for a pen in the nightstand drawer. My girlfriend rolls to her side and whines something in gibberish, and I sign my name right next to Rosie’s.