At 10:30 AM a tinny, synthesized rooster’s crow rings it’s pathetic wail from my upstairs bedroom, down the carpeted stairs, and into the living room where Linfan and I finish up gathering what we conceive to be the barest and most convenient of necessities. I slump over our dumpster couch, sinking through it’s utter lack of lumbar anything whilst Linfan thoughtfully traces the rim of his empty coffee mug.
For a second, as the mechanized fowl-in-a-box ventures for round two of its squaking, I consider just letting it blow on for another minute or two before it shuts off due to the lack of anyone giving a damn. Unfortunately, today is one of those days that not even by my own jaded paradigms could I justify not giving one; that and the realization dawned on me that the periodicals Derek requested of me remained upstairs as well.
“Hey, I’m gonna run upstairs and grab those magazines real quick.”
“Tell your rooster to shut the fuck up while you’re at it.”
“Of course. While I’m at that, you mind making a quick tally of what we’ve got stocked up? In case we missed something, you know.”
Linfan nods at me and begins to sift through the two cardboard moving boxes that are almost overflowing with a variety of consumables and supplies. I raise myself off of my tattered seat and jog up towards the source of that persistent, infernal clucking.
I wonder why I thought getting an alarm clock programmed with the voice of a mechanical cock to be a good idea. I’m not even that heavy of a sleeper.
Once up in my room, I climb over a mountain of MCAT preparatory text books that have never once seen the light of day and clothes that never again would see the light of day. Fumbling through the cluster of wrappers and bottles, I catch hold of the beast, determinately shoving my finger down on the on the “ALARM OFF” button. I take a look at it, evaluating it’s immediate utility. Given that I already have a watch, perhaps a spare within one of the boxes, I decide to toss it, but not before I unsnap the back panel to reveal two relatively fresh looking double A’s which I swiftly pocket along with my cigarettes.
I exit my room and stride right into Sealey’s; it’s somewhat neater than mine, but only because it has a different sort of clutter to it: modems, USB cords, optical cables, circuit boards, empty graphics card boxes, a very 90’s looking keyboard, various DVD anthologies of aged British comedies, collector’s edition CD sets of Journey and Rush, a collection of printed “how to” internet articles that lay across the entirety of his bed spread, and, last but not least, a stack of twenty something magazines that, surely enough, sat adjacent to his black computer tower. Truly this was an engineer’s room if I ever were to have seen one.
Initially when Sealey mentioned the issues in post-haste, I thought little of them besides being an expendable source of textual and pictorial entertainment. This would prove to be something of an underestimation. Save for a few blithe copies of Esquire-their covers adorned with either highly chic actor demigods or international supermodels striking a variety of delightfully suggestive yet tasteful poses-the magazines seem remarkably topical if not potentially valuable for whatever mess I’m finding myself in.
Survival. That’s the word that is plastered in dramatic and bold lettering across almost each and every cover. Some are more directed towards a post-WWIII dystopia. Other appear more fitted for a natural, environmental disaster. However, upon flipping through the entire collection, there isn’t one issue that deals with…well, for lack of a better word, a necrobiological catastrophe. Not even in a facetious sense. Still this is far better than nothing, and so I scoop the stack up, tuck it into the notch of my right armpit, and turn towards the door.
On my way out, the vast array of articles smothering Derek’s bed catches my eye; curious, I place the magazines on the night desk and pick up one of the stapled packets of paper.
“How to make your own soap.”
Soap? I wasn’t aware of my roommate’s fascination with homemade hygiene. I pick up another article.
“How to construct a simple water purification system based off of a Tesla coil ionization module.”
Wait, what? That can actually be done? And it’s simple?
I continue to flip through the dozens of DIY articles he’s printed off. They range from methods of fashioning electromotive generators to molding wax candles to canning one’s very own vegetable and fruit preserves. Whether relatively trivial or almost definitely crucial, I take each of the packets and straighten them on top of each other to form a second stack. Surely he had meant for me to grab these as well.
With Sealey’s makeshift survival guide in hand, I walk out into the corridor and swiftly scale down the stairs. There I find Linfan scratching a pen across the open face of his yearly planner. He looks up from his writing as soon as I return to the couch, the guide resting in my lap.
“What’s that,” I inquire, motioning towards the planner.
“Inventory,” he replies as he hands it to me. “What’s all that? You looking to do some leisure reading?”
“If you’d like to call it that,” I answer as I shift the guide off my lap and onto his.
Somewhat perplexed, he looks at me and then at the pile, sifting through each magazine with his generally thorough demeanor. I, in the meanwhile, take a look at the neatly bulleted list Linfan came up with, taking mental stock.
- 1.5 crates bottled water (approx. 36 bottles)
- 3 boxes protein bars (15 total)
- .75 family sized box oatmeal
- 9 cans soup
- 1 unopened bulk package ramen noodles (48 packets total)
- .5 bag almonds
- 1 loaf wheat bread
- 1 five pound sack basmati rice
- .5 2 pound bag short grain rice
- 1 bag ground coffee
- 2 jars peanut butter (crunchy and smooth)
- .75 jar grape jelly
- 1 bulk box Pop-Tarts (60 total)
- 1 one pound bag turkey jerky
- 2 boxes whole grain pasta (spaghetti and angel hair)
- 14 packets albacore tuna
- 3 cans turkey breast meat
- 1 bag potato chips
- 2.5 boxes assorted cereal
- 1 pack AA batteries (24)
- 1 pack AAA batteries (15)
- 1 standard water filter (w/ one spare filter)
- 2 flashlights
- 1 box cutter
- .75 bottle mouthwash
- 3 toothbrushes
- 1 tube toothpaste
- 1 pocket sized alcohol based hand antiseptic
- 5 one subject college ruled notebooks
- 1 package ball point pens (10)
- 1 miniature screwdriver set
- 1 battery powered drill (rechargeable)
- .25 roll of duct tape
Having finished reading the list, I quietly close the planner and turn towards Linfan who intently scans through one of the printed survival packets.
“Dude, did you know you can purify water by using only a battery and a length of copper wire?
“Yeah, the tesla coil shit. Pretty crazy, huh?”
“Where’d you get these? Did Sealey print them?”
“What do you think?”
Linfan cracks a slight smile and moves on to packet beneath that one.
“Too bad we’re fresh out of copper wiring.”
“No shit. At least we have the Brita filter.”
“Which will last us what.. one month? Two?”
“We have a spare filter, man.”
“Hence, two months instead of one.”
“Okay, well the last time I checked it’s the people around us that are messed up. Not the water.”
“Yeah, that is until it gets to be rather balmy outside and the zombies decide to take a little dip in the local water supply.” I quipped, cynically.
“Come on man. Don’t say that,” Linfan’s voice lowering to his typical this-shit-is-serious tone
“What? Oh relax man, I’m pretty sure we get our water from a reservoir…”
“No. Not that.”
“So then…don’t say what? Wait, you mean the zombie thing?”
“Dude, what the fuck.” Linfan’s gaze was turning to a glare.
“Would you chill, L-fan? I was just joking.”
“Yeah, well it’s not funny. Zombies…” His voice trails off whence the word rolls off his tongue.
In fact, both of us fall to silence upon processing the word for the third time. To be honest I hadn’t even really given the concept any genuine thought. Not even when faced with the horrid travesty that was Lauren, the lovely, half-rotten cashier.
It was as if my brain-in having to deal with that awful, terrible, fucked up shit in the convenience store-had ceased to connect the dots, to establish otherwise logically derived conclusions. I had simply been coping with things in a purely phenomenological perspective; understanding my experience only within the context of the present (which really means no context at all). It’s sort of like if someone beside you is talking on the phone; though your ears are physically receiving the audio being transmitted, your attention is totally bereft and, as such, at the end of your conversation you remember little of what was said and understand none.
But now lucidity was beginning to stage a coup against rationalization inside of my head. Inside both our heads. And neither of us was having any of it.
“Goddammit. We’re really boned,” I grumble as I frustratedly run my hands through my coarse, unkempt hair.
“Boned? Seriously, I am telling you this isn’t some kind of return of the dead shit.”
“No, I mean logistically. Logistically speaking, you and I are boned. Add Sealey to the picture and were triple boned. Our non-perishable food realistically will last us about a month. Maybe two.”
“Well, considering if we ration it out efficiently…”
“Like I said. Maybe two.”
“You’re being pessimistic.”
“And what exactly about our situation beckons for optimism?”
Linfan looks at me, his shoulders heaving with a silent sigh as he picks up a copy of last December’s Popular Mechanics issue. He deliberately flips through the laminated pages until he comes across a vibrantly illustrated article titled, “Ten Crucial Guidelines for Surviving Anything and Everything.”
As if reading from a children’s storybook, he props it up on his leg and faces it towards me, his index finger indicating the very last guideline on the list. It reads:
“Guideline #10: In the face of even the most formidable adversity, never lose hope. Nearly all survivors of either natural disaster or man-made catastrophe cite optimism as being the single most important motivational force behind their mental and physical endurance under otherwise debilitating duress.”
Perhaps I’m the one that’s boned after all.
“I still think we’re boned.”
“Maybe. But not as much as Sealey.”
In an instant we both realize that our absent roommate left the phone on a a rather urgent note, a fact Linfan and I had neglected to remember while putting together whatever resource was to be had throughout the townhouse, which regrettably turned out to be somewhat lacking.
Immediately Linfan shoves the guide into the supply box, simultaneously fishing for the roll of duct tape with which to seal the boxes.
Whilst taping shut our emergency reserves he asks me, “He said for us to take separate cars, right?”
“Yeah,” I answer as I grip the box of food along the bottom edges and heave it up.
“Why? I mean doesn’t it make more sense of us to be carpooling? Conserving gas and all?”
“To be honest, I don’t really know. Nor do I think we have the time to spare for those kinds of questions. Damn it…we should have been out of here at least a half an hour ago.”
“Stay cool. This is Seals we’re talking about. Not a guy to be taken down easily. Certainly not within a half hour.”
Linfan’s reassurance stole away the growing knot of dread and guilt that had similarly afflicted me whence I had abandoned him for the milk. Maybe Popular Mechanics has a valid point after all. We haul the two boxes by the kitchen, grimacing as that dead, sterile stench wafts from our late and rather unfortunate acquaintance.
“What do we do about the body,” I ask with my nose digging into the relatively odorless safety of my sleeve. At this Linfan pauses as his foot props open the door. Gazing at the corpse with an air of near indifference, he shrugs.
“What’s there to do?”
The air outside still hangs with that sickly, clammy curtain of humidity as we throw our things into our trunks, the food in my car and supplies in Linfan’s. The sun still remains cloaked in monotonous blanket of clouds lazily rolling into one another. It’s getting colder.
I back out of the deserted parking lot with Linfan following suit. It’s strange driving down Alameda and seeing what seems to be a somewhat normal scene. I half expected there the road to be littered with cars with their doors dramatically flung open, the signs of desperate, split-second egress. Instead the street is pretty empty, as well as plethora of the restaurants, gas stations, and churches that dot the roadside; that is, of course, excepting the occasional looter or two, their legs dangling out the broken end of a storefront window. Men after my own heart, I suppose.
We drive past several stop signs and traffic lights, seemingly unhindered by anyone or anything. On the third light, I whiz by just as the light flickers from yellow to red, cutting Linfan off. I see his headlights shrinking in the water-spotted reflection of my rear view mirror, so I pull off into the gravely driveway of a First Church of Something. Suddenly, Sealey’s message concerning the radio station comes to mind. What was it? EAS? I set the radio to auto-scan through stations on the FM frequency, then the AM.
Nothing but static.
“The hell,” I mutter, mashing the console to the sound of worthless white noise. It’s only until I sling myself back against the headrest that I take notice of the half-ripped antenna dangling haphazardly along the side of my car.
As if things couldn’t deteriorate any further, my phone rattles around in the ash littered cup holder adjacent to the emergency brake. I slide it open to see one simple word.
Within not even a fraction of a second after reading the text, the silver blur of Linfan’s sedan rushes a good fifty to sixty miles per hour past the church, followed by an equivocally swift amalgam of black, white, blue, and red.
Up until this point I have never really considered the validity of the adage, “Fuck the police.”
Now, I can see why someone came up with that.
As the two cars swerve onto Porter, I yank the shift stick into reverse and peel out of the driveway, the tires screeching miserably as they struggle to maintain traction through that unpaved mess. Every muscle in my body clenches in the hope of making sense of whatever the fuck it is that I ought to be doing. Questions upon questions batter my brain ceaselessly.
Why did Linfan get pulled over? Moreover, why the hell did he take off like that? Do I go after him? But then that still leaves Sealey up shit creek without a shotgun…
God, I hope he’s thought of something.
I speed towards the intersection, riddling the dilemma back and forth in the seconds it takes to reach the red stop light. I jam on the brakes and look over to the right where I last saw Linfan careen away from his uniformed pursuer.
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.” I repeatedly stutter under my breath whilst I grip the life out of the steering wheel, my knuckles whitening with blood loss.
To the left is the University where Sealey could simply be seconds away from being over taken by those…things. My eyes intently glare at the light, then and now darting to the left and right. Without Linfan, we have no supply. Without Sealey, we have no insight, presuming he’s somehow been preparing for this kind of thing. At last the light flickers to green, yet I remain frozen in my seat. Glancing down at my phone, it becomes painfully obvious as to what needs to be done.
“Ditch you once, shame on me. Ditch you twice…” I trail off with a mix of resignation and resolve as I slam on the gas pedal and jerk the sedan in the direction of Boyd street, leaving Linfan, once again, to fend for himself.
In a matter of minutes, I find myself nearly crashing against wave upon wave of coupes, vans, SUVs, and trucks ebbing forcefully from the each and every corner of campus. A true, blue clusterfuck if I ever saw one. The closer I inch towards the football stadium, the more viscous the traffic becomes; the surprisingly slow, and controlled nature of this impromptu exodus feels somewhat contrived. If the familiar flash of red and blue in the distance is any indication, chances are that I’ll be inconveniently redirected in the opposite way.
Right now, I simply can’t have that happen.
Just before the twenty-five yard mark between myself and the checkpoint, I catch glimpse of a rare and incredibly slight window of space between the bumper of a tattered station wagon and that of a pick-up lumbering down the oncoming lane. Though it might not be large enough to slip through unscathed, I appear to have little to no recourse otherwise; in an almost automatic fashion, my car reels violently to the left, my teeth gnashing together to fend off the awful screech of the pick-up’s hitch anchoring itself into the grill. And just like that, my car grinds to a halt, and the tires uselessly spin into the asphalt.
Damn me. Had the pick-up been behind the wagon, this actually might not have turned out to be one of what’s beginning to seem like a cornucopia of fuck-ups. To top that the portly woman behind the wheel of the Ford T-250 doesn’t seem altogether to pleased at my failed Mission Impossible maneuver.
“What in the…aw hell nah! Bobby! Bobby git your ass out here!” She bellows as she attempts to rock herself out of the tight squeeze of the driver’s side.
Fuck me, I do not have the time to deal with this.
“Bobby! Bobby Ray, I swear to God almighty if you don’t…”
“Alright, alright! If you’d gimme just a damn second…”
“Does it look like you gotta second? If you weren’t so freakin’ lazy…”
“If you’re so worried why don’t you go take care o’ that shit yourself?”
“You’re gonna make your pregnant fiancee get outta the car? Are you really?!”
Pregnant? I would have never guessed.
In as quickly as I find myself between a rock and a fat place, I at least seem to be getting a few more precious seconds out of their bickering, and so I begin jarring the gears back and forth to try and wiggle my way out. Nothing. Not even an inch to gain. I search around frantically for any inkling of a solution, and it seems as if Ms. Piggy is at last successful at persuading Mr. Ray to deal with my transgression.
Well, shit. I slam my forehead against the steering column, slick with the cold sweat of my palms. Turning my head to the right, I can see the outline of the guy driving the wagon. His mouth hangs slightly agape, not knowing what to do seeing as I’ve effectively screwed him over along with myself. For a brief few moments our eyes meet through the tinted layers of glass, each second marked with the lethargic footsteps of the disenfranchised husband-to-be. Despite the fact that I can almost smell the cheap malt liquor of off Bobby Ray’s breath, I stare straight ahead, feigning obliviousness to what could be a disappointingly anti-climactic denouement; that is until I hear the station wagon rev up and back up swiftly into the series of cars behind him, triggering a domino effect of blaring horns and car alarms for at least a quarter mile long.
With a bit of a jolt, my sedan is released from the wedge and I’m, as they say, free at last. Or at least for now.
I instinctively slam down on the gas, ripping off the bumper in which the hitch was lodged.
“Get back here you sumbitch!” The words quickly fade away as Bobby’s flailing arms shrink in the rear view mirror.
Craning my neck through the window, I yell something to the extent of me owing Station Wagon Guy a beer, and I continue on the less congested residential side roads. Though the road remains relatively empty, the lawns of house after house are cluttered with families scattering about, trying crate upon crate to the tops of their rickety four-doors. The sound of children-anxious, bored, and confused-is superseded only by the piercing screams of their mothers and fathers, as if attempting to herd a flurry of sheep in the midst of a thunderstorm; the occasional parent covering the ears of said children in lieu of instructing me to “Quit driving like a fucking maniac, you fucking maniac!”
Why don’t you quit being so fucking redundant, you…redundant person.
Within about five minutes of zooming through the ever formulaic sprawl of Midwestern suburbia, the crimson colored silhouette of the football stadium emerges in view, almost scratching the bleary surface of the sky. Lucky for me it seems as if the expansive lot, normally packed beyond the point of realism, is fairly empty for once. To think that it’d take an apocalyptic circumstance to vanquish this town’s hard-on for football.
Whatever works, I guess.
I go from about sixty to zero in three seconds or so, giving myself a bit of whiplash as I pull sharply into the spot otherwise reserved for VIP’s or whatever. The wind, now having picked up a good deal of speed, freeze dries the perspiration spotting my brow with dew-like drops; and no, it does not feel all that comfortable. I make a swift double check of the food in the trunk, and, save for a few cans that got flung into the remainder of our bread.
I knew I ought to have put that shit in the front seat. But no. I didn’t want to risk looking like some poor, inane bastard rolling in a bumper-less Accord with a half eaten loaf of bread strapped into the passenger seat. It’s funny how self-consciousness persists even in times of relatively extreme duress.
I shut the trunk lid, heave a slow breath, and head towards Sealey’s lab at a brisk pace.
That is until the air is pierced with the sound of depression era tires whining as they burn into the pavement behind me. Though to my surprise, it isn’t a seemingly endless column of florid, acne flecked double chins that cranes out of the window, seeking to unleash it’s super-sized wrath upon me.
“Hey! Hey you, stop!”
What do you know? The Station Wagon Guy.
Technically speaking I’m fairly indebted to him. I at least owe him a beer, assuming that he heard me in the midst of my very swift, and last-minute egress; and here in front of me is the very agent of serendipity by which I managed to twist open that bitch of a pickle jar. And let me tell you, he is…how shall I put it?
He manages pull right beside my car with perhaps only an inch or two to spare between the side mirrors; yet he somehow overshoots the curb by nearly half a car length. The wretched jalopy groans as the underside crumples helplessly against the cement.
I stand for a second, bewildered by this randomness. Strangely enough, I simply swivel on my heel back towards campus. The sounds of Station Wagon Guy attempting to clamor out of his death trap of a vehicle rattle on as he once again tries to flag me down.
“Wait up, please! I need your help with something.”
Don’t we all.
I continue to ignore him as I round the abandoned ticket booths near the stadium gates. The guy seems nice enough, but to be quite frank, I really don’t have time to spare for anyone else’s crap right now.
He finally catches up with me, trying to implore me in between sharp, dagger-like breaths that appear to almost cut through his lungs.
“Dude, you’ve gotta help…me…come on man you said that…you owe me.”
I shoot him a jaded glance over my shoulder.
“You’re right. I certainly do owe you. A beer.”
“Okay, well I don’t drink so…”
“It would seem that you’re, how one might say, S.O.L.”
Hunched over with his bony fingers grasping his knees, he looks up and blinks at me with a haggard gaze.
“It means Shit Outta Luck. Are you not familiar with the…”
“The expression? Yeah, I am. God, are you really going to be like this? Right after what you tried to pull. I could have just let those guys ahead of you go Deliverance on your ass.”
“Alright, listen. As much as I’d like to help you out for emancipating me from the clutches of Jabba the White Trash Slut, my roommate’s holding up in a lab and I can’t waste my time…”
“Wait, you mean in the Physical Sciences building?”
“I don’t know. Probably.”
“If he’s in the same physics practicum as she, then yeah. I pretty sure it’s the only lab that’s scheduled for Sunday.”
“Her name is Kiley. She’s, um, kind of my girlfriend.” His gray eyes brighten up as the last few words pass his thin, cracked lips.
“Kind of? You don’t sound too sure of yourself.”
“No, I mean yes. It’s hard to explain.”
“That’s quite alright. Even if it wasn’t I rather you keep that to yourself.”
Seeing as my new friend’s asthma attack is over-for the most part-we begin to make our way across the fountains and flagpoles that adorn the lawn circumscribing the stadium. While perhaps a bit on the socially awkward side, this guy doesn’t seem too terrible. He stands at a height a few inches greater than mine, though even at that one can spot his half-foot slouch from a mile way. He’s almost incomprehensibly under-dressed for how chilly it is outside: khaki shorts, an holey Iron Maiden t-shirt, and a pair of sandal shoes with the sock scrunched halfway between the ankle and shin. His gaunt cheeks are pale, colored only by the scraggly patches of brown facial hair that spot his jawline discontinuously. A classical superficial profile of a geek; if nothing else I’m at least in the presence of somewhat familiar company.”
“My name,” he replies with a pale and lanky arm outstretched towards mine, “what about yours?”
I take his hand, though it turns out to be more of a slip than a shake considering how incredibly clammy his hands are. This guy practically outdoes Urkel when it comes to that kind of thing.
“My name is…irrelevant.”
“Your parents named you Irrelevant?”
I glare at him, unappreciative of his impotent sarcasm.
“Whoa buddy. It was just a joke, relax. But in all seriousness, why the confidentiality? You big into metaphysical philosophy or something?”
At least he isn’t stupid.
“Not so much. I’m more into psychology.”
“Very cool. So, like, what do you think Freud would say about this whole thing?”
Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem too brilliant either.
“What, about how I consider the exchange of nominal pleasantries to be incredibly inane in light of the present circumstance? Or the fact that the present circumstance is starting to appear very much like George Romero’s ultimate wet dream?”
“I’ll tell you what ol’ Siggy would say. First off, he would have nothing to say about the former. As for the latter, he would probably attribute all of this to some sort of hallucinogenic mass hysteria that’s rooted in man’s subconscious desire to destroy that which he cannot mentally come to terms with.”
Danny scratches at his hasn’t-been-showered-for-days hair, dandruff sprinkling his narrow shoulders.
“So, like, those rumors about I’ve been hearing about is just a load of crap? It’s just a bunch of people getting super paranoid about death?”
It suddenly becomes clear to me that he has yet to suffer the misfortune of having to witness just how wrong he is. The poor bastard is in for a less than pleasant surprise. Just as I begin open my mouth to enlighten him of the situation, my heart takes a free fall drop the pit of my stomach; it’s that smell again. I yank Danny sharply to the right, flinging him downwards behind the cover of the cement railings which line the staircase leading up to the Business College.
“Dude, what the hell? And you ripped by Iron…oh God what’s that smell?” he yelps as he pulls his half torn shirt over his nose to fend off that despicable odor.
As I peer over the edge of the railing to where the library stands, I glimpse dozens of slow, staggering silhouettes scraping across the South Oval. I slump back down to where Danny is on the ground, chuckling with the same sort of blase attitude Linfan boasted in the few minutes prior to our separation.
“That, Danny, is the smell of what stands between you and your better half, and for your sake I hope she’s worth the damn trouble.”
His eyes are now pried open with the disbelief of someone that has been told for the first time that Santa doesn’t exist or that love is a commercial farce invented by Hallmark.
Which it very well is, by the way.
“Yeah, definitely. What’s the deal with your roommate? You got something special going on with her?”
I shove my hand into the my right jeans pocket, extricating the still bountiful cigarette pack from it’s depths and slipping the filtered end into the slight part between my chapped lips. I motion the pack towards him, though I can already tell he doesn’t partake-the man wouldn’t even take up a free beer-and I fetch my lighter, cupping my right hand about it so as to shield from the miserable gust. Just as I flick the flint wheel I take notice, for the first time, its sick fluorescent pallor.
A white lighter. Go figure.
“First off I highly doubt that this ‘something special’ you’re talking about ever really occurs between anyone. And secondly the she is actually a he.”
We sit for a few seconds in uncomfortable silence, partly because of my implication that love doesn’t exist and partly because, in all likelihood, he probably thinks I’m gay. Though this isn’t the case at all, I find his newfound, standoffish behavior to be convenient. Hence, I don’t bother to clarify. I even encourage the notion somewhat, just to keep him quiet.
“You know sometimes it takes a man in order to take care of a man in the way that man really deserves, you know?” I whisper as if expressing something in confidence, patting his back gently for awkward effect.
Little does he realize that I’m referring to the act of one playing with oneself; something I don’t imagine either of us will be doing for a long, long time.