The Elephant in the Room

Another Exciting Adventure in … THE GRIND
(Act I: All Wounds)
(Act II: The Status Quo)
(Act III: Covet thy Neighbor)



The best part of my schedule is that its irregularity allows for naps during the business week in an apartment free of roommates. Were it not for these naps, it’s likely that I would die from cumulative sleep deprivation. October was particularly hard on me, because there weren’t enough hours in the day for all the drinks that needed drinking, marijuana that needed smoking, and, alas, all the paychecks that needed earning.

And there weren’t enough hours in the day for all the sex that needed to be had with as many different women as possible. Don’t get me wrong–I didn’t accomplish these goals every single one of the past twenty-five days. That would be absurd, not to mention unhygienic. As far as I knew, no one in real life who wasn’t a celebrity could pull that off, especially without cheating. By cheating, I am referring to intoxication or deception, both of which are beyond unsavory. The challenge and satisfaction of my first three weeks as a twenty-eight-year-old came with meeting and seducing mostly sober women who didn’t mind a lack of follow-up.

This one-and-done streak ended officially last night. My fingers still ached from overuse, my scalp still throbbed from all of the yanking, the scratches on my back still burned, and my ribs chafed just a little from being rubbed so enthusiastically by the garters and fishnets of her French-maid Halloween costume. Best of all, the reason my quivering legs could barely make it home was that I’d decided that her being naked and sweaty was more important than her arriving on time to work, and she’d agreed.

Her name was Darla, and I was definitely calling her again–just as soon as I had a chance to sleep her off.

I’d almost drifted off into pleasant afterglow when my bedroom door thumped. “Are you there, chico?” asked my roommate Mitchell.

I smothered myself with a pillow, hoping that my lack of sound would answer his question.

The door creaked open, casting his shadow over me. “Are you sleeping?”

I held my breath.

He shook me anyway.

What!” I shrieked.

He lost his balance and fell to the floor. After he recovered, he told me, “So Cameron and I were hoping we could have a conversation.”

“I hate to disappoint you,” I replied.

“It’s really important,” Cameron said from outside.

Sitting up, I grunted, “Fine. Lead on.”

“Aren’t you going to put on pants?” Mitchell asked.

“No,” I said as I followed him.

“You should probably sit down,” advised Cameron from the loveseat, where Mitchell joined him.

I moaned. This was not going to go well. Still, there was no point in standing while having this kind of conversation. Besides, my knees had yet to stop shaking, so I sank into the easy chair. “Let’s get this over with.”

“What makes you think this is going to be bad?” asked Mitchell with forced, but sincere optimism.

“Please,” I said. “I’ve had a long night. And morning. Your tone is not promising.”

Cameron got to his feet and began to pace. “Look, Max, we’ve been… Mitchell and I have been… I mean. And you’re a great roommate…”

Oh, fuck. I knew where this was going. Darla faded from my heart as I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do without a home. I just moved in! Okay, so it was eight months ago, but it only felt like last week.

“I mean… you pay the bills and the rent on time…”

I wasn’t even on the lease, so they could throw me out today if they wanted.

“… and you don’t make a mess and you always buy the toilet paper and you cook for us sometimes…”

Then why the hell were they evicting me?

“But… there’s this thing that… um…”

Just tell me what this thing is!

“You’re straight!” Mitchell exploded.

Well, this was inevitable. “No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are,” agreed Cameron.

“It’s ludicrous how gay I am,” I told them.

“Chico,” Mitchell said, “you’re not even a little bit into men.”

“I fuck men all the time!”

“No you don’t,” he insisted.

“Just now I was resting up so I could go out and fuck some more men. Like I do. All the time.”

“Max,” Cameron sighed.

“I could fuck you right now, you know.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” he said.

“Not with your boyfriend here,” I clarified. “That would be rude.”

“Actually…” Mitchell stared off into space. “I’d kind of like to see that.” He cleared his throat. “But I won’t, because you don’t want to have sex with Cameron–“

“Says you,” I mumbled.

“–because you’re not gay.”

“Why would you even think this?” I begged.

“Max,” Cameron explained patiently. “We’ve known for a while. I mean, you spent most of the summer sleeping next door.”

“How would you know that?”

“Because we’re not stupid,” Mitchell replied.

“We had our suspicions,” Cameron agreed, “pretty much since you moved in, but we let it slide because we liked you.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything sooner?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Cameron said.

“Well,” admitted Mitchell, “it was kind of funny.”

Cameron snorted. “Remember when you tried to convince me you didn’t hear Emma getting it on because of noise-cancelling headphones?”

“Oh my God, I, like, peed my pants when he told me that one!” Mitchell giggled.

I frowned. “It gave you a bladder infection?”

“Laughing!” Mitchell said.

“Ah.” I considered this entire exchange for a long moment. “So… you’re not kicking me out then?”

“Why would you think that?” asked Cameron.

Mitchell shrugged sheepishly. “Yeah, I could see why you’d think that.”

Cautiously I clarified, “So… we’re okay then.”

“No,” Cameron replied, “we’re not. I think you owe us an apology for lying to us for months.”

“Yes, I do,” I agreed, “and I am genuinely sorry. I was desperate, and I don’t have a lot of morals.”

“You should cook more,” Mitchell told me. “Then we’re okay.”

Well, shit, that went better than I expected. Relief deflated the tension from my shoulders, and I said, “Deal.”

to be continued…

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