“How’s it going, little man?” Janine whispered, turning the blinds shut. She had long ago made a game of memorizing the creaky spots in the floorboards and could pad through the apartment nearly silently.
Shaun surely appreciated this skill today, as his head was pounding. “You can’t let me drink that much, oh my lover,” he moaned. He didn’t even make a dent in his girlfriend’s pillow.
She spun gracefully upon the ball of her bare foot, and the mattress sighed heavily as her hips sank into its edge. “It’s impossible for me to tell how much you’re getting, buddy. Sometimes you can handle one full drop from the eye dropper, sometimes that’s too much.” She leaned over her tiny boyfriend with tender care, her forearms framing him on the pillow. “Did you have enough to eat beforehand?”
“Fats and proteins… like always… A crumb of sharp cheddar and a shred of beef stick. I don’t know what went wrong.” One spindly arm rested dramatically across his brow; otherwise he was motionless.
Janine tsk-tsked at the crumpled little guy. Sunlight struck the nightstand in thin beams, sharing enough ambient light to cast him and the bed in a rosy glow. But even with this hue, he managed to look sickly and wan. She asked if he needed an aspirin or ibuprofen; he assured her that he could use a coffee, once the room stopped spinning.
She leaned on her elbows and lowered her head down, sniffing at him gently to see if he’d puked in the night. “What was the occasion, anyway?”
Slowly his head and forearm rolled back and forth. “No reason. Just… wanted to cut loose. I had a little and it felt good, and I wanted more to feel better.” His tiny chest rose with a long inhale, which he held for half a minute before letting it hiss out. “I can’t do that, it’s too unpredictable… If I’d known…”
Her long fingers ran so gently over his pajama bottoms, sensing his kneecaps and shins beneath the soft fabric. “Do you remember what you said to me last night?”
There was a long pause, then Shaun’s arm fell to his side. “Oh, fuck,” he groaned. His eyes were wide as they stared at the ceiling. “Please, no, no, no…”
She grinned gently at him. “It’s okay, I knew you were drunk. I didn’t take it seriously.”
His eyes rolled to hers, so dryly she could almost hear them grinding in their sockets. “Oh, Janine, I’m so sorry. Whatever I said, it wasn’t true, please believe that. If I was offensive and stupid, please, it doesn’t reflect how I really feel. I need you to trust that. Booze doesn’t unlock any doors in me.”
“So you don’t really love me?”
“Did I say I loved you?”
The tip of her tongue briefly stroked her upper lip. “It’s all you could talk about for, like, an hour. I kept trying to change the subject and you’d bring it right back.” The fingertip of her index finger smoothed out his superfine hair. “You were even belligerent! You yelled at me for not letting you adequately express your love for me,” she said, giggling.
His tiny chest rose and fell slowly. “Well, at least that’s true.”
“You made up a song, do you remember it?”
“A song?” His face strained with recollection.
“I have a video of it. Do you want to see it?”
He moaned. “I absolutely do not.”
“Good, here you go.” Janine shifted to one hip and dug out her smartphone, unlocked it, and called up the video file. Shaun tried to turn away, but at hearing himself he was compelled to witness the spectacle as she held the phone on the pillow.
In the video, Shaun was standing on the dining room table, on an over-sized postcard of junk mail. He was jabbing his finger with wide gestures at something just above the camera. “−who’d fuckin’ die for the kinda love I’m givin’ you! You know that? They’d fuckin’ die for it!” He ran his palms over his starchy dress shirt. “All this love, so much fuckin’ love in this tiny li’l body… all for you… an’ you don’ even wanna hear about it.”
“I know you love me,” said Janine’s off-camera voice. The treble in her tone indicated she was smiling broadly. “I just wanted to know if you had anything else to say.”
Drunken Shaun partially lost his balance, the slick postcard for lawn care skidding beneath his stance, but he recovered. He glared in exaggerated disbelief at the wielder of the camera. “Other than how much I fuckin’ love you? Yer a piece o’ work. I don’ ba-leeve this. I got so much love for you, and you’re all… pfft! Pfft!” His hands flew up sharply in a show of dismissal.
On the pillow, Shaun’s minuscule fingers covered his tiny mouth in horror. “I am… so sorry,” he started to say, but real-life Janine hushed him.
“Why don’t you show me how much you love me, then?” Digital Janine’s voice was playfully challenging. She was curious to see where this could go, if he wanted to embarrass himself so badly.
The tiny little sot took a moment to focus on her, off-camera, then to stare at the phone itself. “Okay, I will. Easy!” he shouted. “Whaddya wan’ me to do?”
“Uh-uh, my sweet pet. You have to come up with something on your own.”
“Fine!” He folded his arms and wobbled slightly for a few moments. When he spoke up again, he burst into the tune of Violent Femmes’s “Blister in the Sun.”
I love Janine / She’s super keen / And she’s fuckin’ tall
I’m tall as her foot / I’m super cute / And that is not all
Lemme go cra-a-a-awl like a mouse between your tits
Lemme go cra-a-a-awl, I promise you won’t feel it
When she sits down / She sits around / And she covers me
I’m stuck in her crack / Wedged in the back / Her butt is all I can see
Lemme go cra-a-a-awl like a mouse between your tits
Lemme go cra-a-a-awl, I swear you won’t feel it
The Shaun on the smartphone screen then vocalized a guitar solo and launched into some dance moves: timed kicks, shimmying shoulders, low-swinging hands and finger snapping. As ferocious as he’d been a minute before, his face was positively radiant with hilarity now. The view zoomed in as he bit his bottom lip and ducked his head in time to his own music, before digital Janine exploded in laughter and the camera zagged awry.
Real-life Janine was also cracking up, trying to stifle it for her hungover lover’s sake. She let the phone slide to the bed and leaned back, palms clasped over her mouth as she shook. Diminutive Shaun only rocked with the pillow, his face as livid as though he were ready to die on the spot.
“Oh, my sweet little lover-man,” Janine said after recovering a bit. She scooped him up gently in her palms and cradled him against her chest. “Oh, my sweet little rockstar! No, don’t be embarrassed! You were wonderful! I wish you’d do that more often!”
Shaun only allowed himself to tumble in her clasping hands, suffering to slump against her warm shirt. “Lemme go play with the dog next door,” he mewled. “The yappy one that chews on everything.”
“Oh, no, no, no! I can’t let my little rockstar get away from me!” She grinned down at him, her torso slowly turning back and forth. “You belong to nobody but me! Nothing but private concerts and limited engagements.”
“You want me to dance for nickels?” His voice was muffled in her shirt.
“You’ll dance for kisses, my sweet song-and-dance man.” She lifted the tiny man up to her face, in front of her broad smile. “And then afterward… you have to deal with your horny, overly enthusiastic groupie. Got it?”
Propping himself up on one elbow, one bare shoulder peeking from the neck of his pajama shirt, Shaun grinned up at her from her palm. “Your, uh, rockstar needs a little downtime, but that sounds−” He was interrupted by a chime from her phone.
Janine turned her phone over, tapped out her code, and smiled at the message. “Looks like Kristi liked−” She cut herself off. Her smile disappeared and her eyes went huge.
Shaun blanched. “You… did not… show that… to your friends. Tell me you didn’t.”
“Only Kristi, I swear.”
Then her phone went off again. And again.