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SATURDAY NIGHT BLUES, OR THAT ONE TIME FRANNY TOOK PATRICE OUT by Bob Raymonda

Patrice walks into her kitchen, opens the cupboard, pulls out a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, and sighs. She’s wearing a matching set of duck pajamas with a thinly rolled joint clamped between the corner of her lips. She runs the tap to fill a half-washed pot and lights the joint on the stovetop before setting the water to boil.

The clock on her microwave flashes twelve. The power went out last Wednesday and she just can’t bring herself to reset it. Her anxiety calms as she smokes and watches the bubbles start to collect at the bottom of the pot.

What the hell do you think you’re doing? The voice comes from nowhere and is husky like it’s had one too many Virginia Slims.

Patrice brushes a stray hair back around her ear and mumbles, “Making dinner.”

A stray tentacle creeps out from behind her back. It’s slimy and has thick black hair covering it. It’s wearing a gaudy wristwatch, which it holds unnecessarily close to her face.

Bitch, it’s 7 o’clock.

Patrice dumps the bag of noodles into the boiling water and turns down the heat. She takes another drag of her joint and grabs a can of beer from the fridge. “And your point is?”

My point is that we told Jessie that we’d meet her for tacos and tequila at 7:45 and you haven’t even taken a shower today.

In the blink of an eye, another tentacle appears and pulls the joint out of her lips, stubbing it out in an ashtray on the counter. A third removes the boiling macaroni from the burner and a fourth smacks Patrice directly in the cheek.

Get your game face on, girl. We’re gonna get it in tonight.

Patrice grimaces, trying her best to overcome the beast on her back.

“God dammit, Franny, stop that.”

She manages to strain the macaroni and dump in a pad of butter and the packet of Nickelodeon-orange powdered cheese into the pot. She dodges another smack from the fourth tentacle and gets her pathetic dinner into a chipped ceramic bowl. She gathers the bowl, ashtray, and the beer and brings them with her into her living room.

Franny is a gigantic parasite that latches onto Patrice with hundreds of tiny suction cups. Patrice has to cut holes in all of her clothing so she doesn’t suffocate, which has proven awkward in professional settings but works alright otherwise. Franny’s been around for as long as she can remember, but the two still can’t manage to agree on anything.

Patrice, it’s fucking depressing in here. We’ve gotta get out.

Franny and Patrice’s living room is covered in unopened mail and discarded takeout containers. There’s a Trainspotting poster on one wall and a shelf full of books on the other that were all Randy’s, but he hasn’t lived here in months and never came back for his stuff.

Patrice turns a Making a Murderer on Netflix. She settles into the pleather couch after kicking aside her electric blanket and says, “Franny, I don’t care what you or Jessie or that guy Chet you made us bring home last week have to say about it. Nothing is getting in between me and that murderer tonight.”

I’m not so sure about that.

Patrice snorts and grabs a throw pillow, putting it behind her head and muffling Franny’s voice. One of Franny’s tentacles starts to slither out from underneath her, but she bats at it with her fork before taking her first bite, followed immediately by a huge swig of beer.

Ahhhh,” she moans, burping, “that hits the spot.”

Come on, Patty, you’re not gonna really live until you get outta those ducky pajamas and into something much less comfortable.

“Fat chance,” Patrice says, relighting the roach and turning the volume up on the TV.

Franny gives Patrice a few minutes. Even lets her think that she’s going to get her way, letting those sweet-talking Wisconsin lawyers lull her into a false sense of security. The minute Patrice’s guard is down, all of Franny’s tentacles are on deck.

With the first, she knocks Patrice’s beer into the bowl of macaroni and cheese, ruining it.

With the second, she throws the remote at the television, cracking the glass, and knocking it off the wall.

“What the fuck!” Patrice shouts.

Franny, laughing, takes her third and fourth tentacles and inserts both of them into Patrice’s ears. The woman’s eyes glaze over with a milky white film and she stops resisting. She stands and walks like a zombie to the bedroom; Franny chuckling the whole way there.

When Patrice comes to, they’re in front of the mirror and Franny is putting the finishing touches on her make-up. The tentacles on the left tending to her foundation and lipstick while those on the right do their best to do anything with her hair.

“Come on, Franny, next week. I promise”

Jessie’s been blowing your phone up. We’re already late. Let’s go.

Patrice glances down and notices the hideous dress that Franny has them in. Bright turquoise and covered in hideous sequins and low cut in the back, so the parasite can be the center of every conversation like she always is. “I look like a fucking clown.”

Mmm mmm mmm, girl. You look good.

Patrice tries to seize control for a second, grabbing a bottle of rubbing alcohol and makeup wipes out of the medicine cabinet, but Franny notices and slides two her tentacles back into Patrice’s ears.

After what feels like moments, the two of them are walking into Harry’s Burritos. The Weeknd is playing over the loudspeakers and Jessie is sitting by herself, a plate of half-finished-half-congealed nachos in front of her.

“Where the hell were you two?” she spits.

Patrice goes to speak, but Franny pipes up, pulling out the tentacle with the watch and pointing at her heavily rouged cheeks: Someone tried to bail on you.

Jessie rolls her eyes and slurs, “I ordered us margaritas, but you took so long that I had to drink them both.”

“That’s alright,” she says. Patrice’s voice is so soft compared to Franny’s that she isn’t even sure if Jessie hears her.

This is my song, Franny says, her tentacles waving in the air. Patrice takes a sip of water and glances around the room. She catches the bartender’s glare as he’s staring at them. It’s Chet. She’s had a crush on him for months, and she really should thank Franny for helping her seal the deal, but she has a hard time thanking Franny for just about anything when she’d usually rather be at home sleeping.

Chet grabs a bottle of mezcal and four shot glasses. He fills them up and sets them on a tray, abandoning his post to join them.

“What’s up girls, how’re you doing tonight?”

Chet! My favorite man in the world.

Jessie gives Patrice a little wink, “Oh, we’re good honey, how’re you?”

Chet smiles at the three of them as he passes out the shots, saving Patrice’s for last. He grazes her hand as he says, “I’m doing great. Shift’s just starting, but I’m taking this one with you anyway.”

Patrice’s face goes flush, but she raises her glass with the rest of them and whispers, “Good to see you too, Chet.”

I’ll bet it is, Patty.

Franny and Jessie cackle and one of Franny’s tentacles reaches out and smacks Chet on the ass. Now it’s his turn to blush.

“Look, ladies, I’ve gotta go get back to the bar, but don’t you go anywhere on me,” he says, stacking the glasses and throwing a towel over his perfectly lanky shoulder, “stick around long enough, Franny, and I’ll let you eat the worm.”

I’ll bet you will, she whispers, Jessie cackling even louder this time.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Patty says, speaking up, “you keep talking like that and Franny’s got a worm of her own to show you.”

Chet shoots her another glance as he walks away, smiling with only half of his mouth. Patrice fucking hates how right Franny is; Steven Avery’s got nothing on Chet and she knows it.

For the next hour and a half, Jessie and Franny inhale twelve tacos between the two of them. Patrice enjoys two. Chet keeps sending them drinks and they keep drinking them, and before any of them know it, Harry’s is closing. Jessie stumbles outside to call a cab and Franny, for the first time all night, keeps quiet and lets Patrice do the talking.

“You wanna come by tonight?” she says, looking up into those big grey eyes of his and biting her lower lip.

Chet doesn’t say anything. He just turns the lights off in the bar and grabs Patrice by the wrist, leading her out to his car. He doesn’t even make a face as Franny slides her hairy tentacles all over his hips. He’s got one thing on his mind and one thing only: Patrice.

Back at home, Patrice is nervous for a minute that Chet’ll say something about the mess, even though it looks exactly the same as it did last week, give or take a room temperature pot of mac’n’cheese. Netflix asks if she’s still watching Making a Murderer, but she pushes Chet into her room and leaves the lights off. Franny hasn’t made a peep since they left the bar, only occasionally groping Chet, but still letting Patrice stay in control.

The three tumble around in the dark in her bed and Patrice wonders, for a minute, if it’s the part of Franny that’s snuck her way inside of Chet that gets him off, but she doesn’t mention it. Just lets the two of them pass out in a tangle of limbs and tentacles and sweat and condom wrappers and grabs her phone. It’s three o’clock in the morning on a Wednesday and she’s gotta work in a few hours, but she’s wide awake. She lights up another joint from her bedside table and looks at Instagram, immediately finding her way to Randy’s profile. She can’t stop obsessing over the new girl in all of his photos, even though Chet is still ass naked and only two feet away from her.

Franny, who Patrice is convinced is sated for the night, mumbles one last time before snoring: Aren’t you glad we went out?

Patrice, still scrolling through pictures of Randy’s new, slightly younger, slightly thinner, definitely more blonde version of her, answers: Yes.

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