Have You Seen This Man?
“You have a note,” Cedrick told Ben as they passed one another in front of the dorm on the following Wednesday. “I left it on your bed.”
“Some bloke came by asking for you and left a note.”
“Did he say what his name was? What did he look like?” Ben envisioned a handsome stranger inquiring about him. Maybe it was Jeremy. Jeremy wasn't a stranger, but the thought of Jeremy coming to look for him made Ben’s stomach leap. Still, that probably wasn’t the case.
“He had a beard and was wearing a hat. It’s deadly out today and he had a fuckin’ hat on,” Cedrick said. “Looked at me like he wanted to eat me.”
The note was lying on the bed, just as Cedrick had told him it would be:
It’s Edgar from up in
Hillside. There are a lot more Ben’s in Northeast than I thought there would be. Was wondering if you wanted to get together sometime? Call me at 5-6745.
Ben was on the phone to Dave within two minutes
“He knocked on every fucking door in the entire residential area looking for me,” Ben told him. “Can you imagine?”
“Aren’t you flattered?” Dave asked. “I mean, you were hoping to meet somebody and they’re throwing themselves at you in the second week.”
“Ha. I’d be flattered if he was hot,” Ben said. “This is creepy. I don’t care if I sound like an asshole.”
“Well, you’ve been talking about meeting a guy for years now, so here’s your chance.” Dave said.
“Ha ha. I don’t want to be mean to the guy, but I’m just not interested,” Ben said. “I’ll hide in my room.”
“That’s a mature reaction,” Dave said. “Come on, you’re saying you wouldn’t want to …”
“All right,” Dave said. “But what if this ends up being the only opportunity you get?”
“I’ll take the chance,” Ben said.
Todd arrived home from class to find the lamp broken in two, lying on the floor. Darin was sitting at his own desk, still in his bathrobe.
“Sorry about that,” Darin said. “I knocked it over by accident this morning.”
The lamp had been set back on the desk. There was no way Darin could have accidentally knocked it down. And why was Darin still in his bathrobe? It was five o’clock. He must have spent another day blowing off classes. Darin had dropped or rescheduled classes so that he wouldn’t have to get up before ten, but he still managed to miss several. Some days, Todd had come home after lunch and Darin would still be asleep.
“Could you maybe reimburse me for it?” Todd asked. “And clean it up?”
Darin snorted. “Yeah, like I have any money. You said it was cheap, you can get a new one.” Darin picked up a cigarette. He’d started smoking not long after meeting Maria, and now the stink of Marlboro’s never left the room. Some nights Maria and Darin would sit and smoke for hours, despite Todd asking them not to smoke in the room. Todd found Maria hilarious at first but after a while, she got on his nerves. She laughed too loud, blew her smoke around, and complained about everything. It got old quick.
Maria’s boyfriend Cedrick sometimes joined them, but he wasn't bad. He just sat there quietly while Maria held court; Todd was surprised that Cedrick could put up with Maria. On the nights would Todd would come in late from studying and find them all gathered on his side of the room as Darin’s side of the room was a mess and nearly uninhabitable. Cedrick was the only one who was ever apologetic.
Todd started studying at the Blue Book Café in the
to escape from the evening antics. He told Darin he didn’t want anybody sitting on his bed. Campus Center
“You need to loosen up,” Darin said.
“No, you need to learn that two people live here,” Todd said before going off to brush his teeth.
Min the RA had been no help. Min said there were no rooms available and nobody wanted to switch. Todd and Darin were stuck together for the semester and that was that.
Thanks for nothing, Min.
Todd and Darin had stopped fooling around, which was fine because Darin no longer turned him on; he’d had to fantasize about Craig the last few times they’d had sex. Darin had appeared one day with a new guy; a tall, good looking dirty blond with tan skin and hazel eyes named Lars who looked confused as to what he was doing there. Nevertheless, now Lars was there nearly every night of the week. Todd was relieved that Darin had found somebody new to play with, but was also a little jealous because Lars was hot. He had no idea what Lars saw in Darin. Darin who had just broken his lamp.
“Come on, it was a lamp,” Darin said. “You can’t have been that attached to it. This isn’t ‘A Christmas Story.’”
Todd opened the window. The glass was smudged with fingerprints; something he'd have to clean later. Darin made a mess out of everything.
“Close it. It’s too cold out,” Darin said.
“It’s nearly 70 today,” Todd said. “It’s been like this for a week.”
“Well, it’s too cold when you open the windows in the morning. I always have to get up and shut them.”
Maybe if you ever bothered going to class, you wouldn’t be cold because you wouldn’t be here.
Darin made no move to pick up the lamp, so Todd waited a while until Darin left for dinner and then cleaned it up himself. Then he made Darin’s bed and cleaned the window. The room finally appeared somewhat decent.
“Where’s stone face tonight?” Maria asked, interrupting her story about living in The Bronx.
“Who cares,” Darin said. “He’s my roommate, not my friend.”
“That’s too bad,” Maria said. “Roommates suck.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be here all the time,” Lars said, speaking up for the first time all evening. “It is partly his room. I don’t have a roommate, and neither does Maria.”
“No way,” Maria said. “Todd has to learn to share. I’ll bet he’s an only child.” So was she, but this wasn't about her.
“I don’t want to talk about Todd, or his lamp or anything else,” Darin said. “New subject, please.”