9: “Dick and Willie?”

Dick moved out of his parents’ house roughly three weeks after he had moved in and it was at least three weeks too late. If he had managed it better, he wouldn’t have even been there at all. His parents loved him very much, but they did not love each other barely at all. He had no idea how they had gotten together in the first place, as they were very different people, and it was only his mother’s pride and his father’s deeply religious parents that had kept them together. All of them would’ve been approximately ninety per cent happier if his parents had just divorced as they so clearly wanted to about a couple decades earlier. As they had remained together out of some sort of misplaced sense of nobility, their home was not a warm one or a very nice one to be in for an extended period of time. By the time Dick found what he considered a suitable apartment to move into, he was chomping at the bit to leave and be free. But while he was thrilled, his friends were less so, specifically Miles.

“You can’t live with someone you found online!” He protested while he and Dick were out for dinner with Oscar and David. David had spent the majority of the meal smiling benignly at all of them and repeatedly telling them how happy he was that they were all there together. Dick was beginning to suspect that he had either suffered some kind of brain trauma or was on some serious anti-anxiety meds.

“What’s the issue?” Dick returned, unable to see anything wrong with a plan that got him out of his parents’ house as soon as possible.

“Iggy did that and she ended up living with turtleneck-wearing, artistic weirdos,” Miles explained. Dick shrugged, not all that concerned about that. A turtleneck-wearing weirdo seemed like a small price to pay for avoiding his mother and father’s hushed bickering and stony glaring.

“Also Robin did that too and now he lives with a crack dealer,” Miles added, almost as an afterthought. Dick gave him a long look. Oscar put a hand on Miles’ shoulder.

“Next time lead with that one,” Oscar advised. David smiled at all of them.

Regardless of Miles’ warnings to the contrary, Dick still moved into the apartment he’d found as planned. He met up with the landlord to sign the lease at a coffee shop. His new landlord, Bert, was an immense gentleman with an immense beard and the deep, raspy voice of someone who had been steadily chain-smoking for thirty years. Bert bought himself an immense coffee and a donut, which he ate in two bites, shoving half of it into his gaping, immense mouth at a time. It was unsettling to watch. After devouring his donut, Bert gave Dick a quick rundown of the lease.

“No smoking, no pets, no parties, no religious gatherings,” Bert listed.

“No religious gatherings?” Dick questioned, assuming there was a story attached to that one, like an anecdote about some particularly aggressive Hare Krishnas, but Bert didn’t elaborate. He looked at Dick like he’d just slapped Bert across his immense face.

“That’s what I said,” he replied before promptly continuing his list of things Dick wasn’t allowed to do in his new home. “No tape or adhesive on any painted finishes, no using the premises for commercial purposes, and no drug labs.”

Dick wondered if Bert’s list of banned activities meant he was about to move into the safest building in the world or somewhere dodgy as hell. In either case, it was too late for him to back out now; he’d already signed the lease.

He moved in a week later with the help of Miles, who was still most distraught that he’d gone through with it, Oscar, a perpetually smiling David, and Miles’ friend Robin, who Dick had met at birthday parties throughout the years. Robin brought his boyfriend and a piss-poor attitude. Evidently, he felt he was only being used for his car. Dick didn’t bother arguing because, as far as he could tell, that was exactly what was happening. Dick went to his apartment first with an armful of clothes so that he would be the first person to meet his new roommate. His new roommate was waiting in the kitchen, drinking a beer at eleven o’clock in the morning, wearing Adidas track pants and a Chance the Rapper t-shirt. Dick nodded at him, still cradling his bundle of clothes to his chest.

“Hey, I’m Richard,” he introduced himself. His new roommate tipped his beer to him in greeting.

“Willie.”

Dick sighed inwardly. He knew before his friends even stepped inside the apartment behind him that it was going to be a thing. It was definitely going to be a thing. Miles and Oscar were the first ones through the door, each carrying the end of a bookshelf Dick was going to put in his bedroom. They set it down so that they too could greet Dick’s new roommate.

“These are my friends Miles and Oscar,” Dick informed Willie, finding himself experiencing a sense of doomed inevitablitly that could only come from being friends with idiots. “Guys, this is my new roommate Willie.”

Miles cracked first with a face-splitting grin.

“Dick and Willie?” He checked. Dick sighed deeply before turning back to his roommate.

“My friends call me Dick because they think it’s funny,” he explained. “I don’t love it.”

Willie gave him a very shrewd look.

“You don’t love Dick?” He replied and Miles laughed maniacally. Dick glared at him.

“Hey, don’t you think Miles looks like Scott Baio?” Dick asked Willie to get his own back. Miles immediately quieted. Oscar had told Dick that they’d discovered Miles looked like Scott Baio and, more importantly, that Miles hated having it pointed out. Dick couldn’t believe it had taken them over a decade to realize that. He felt a little bit sad for all the wasted opportunities and had vowed to make up for lost time.

“I don’t know who that is,” Willie replied.

“Hah!” Miles cut in triumphantly, but Dick wasn’t going to give up yet.

“Chachi from Happy Days,” he clarified. Willie gave him another shrewd look.

“Does it look like I’ve seen Happy Days?” He returned dryly.

“Hah!” Miles said again. “You know, maybe I was wrong about you moving in with a stranger. I like this guy. He clearly knows that I’m the coolest of us all.”

“No,” Willie said immediately and Oscar began laughing. “None of you are cool.”

“Yeah, that seems right,” Oscar said, still laughing. Dick didn’t know how he felt about his new roommate’s brutal honesty, but it was the life he’d chosen and it was at least better than his mother’s brutal honesty, which tended to involve a lot of very pointed criticism of his father and the way he loaded a dishwasher. If his mother was to be believed, his father had been doing it not just incorrectly, but irresponsibly for as long as Dick had possessed a memory.

Robin, David, and Finch turned up later with boxes of Dick’s possessions they’d unloaded from Robin’s trunk. Robin could be heard grumbling as he approached the apartment, complaining about having to help Dick move.

“Why am I always helping people move?” He asked as he entered the apartment. “How do I get roped into this? How can I change it?”

Willie, who was still standing in the kitchen, pointed his beer in Finch’s direction.

“He’s cool,” he told Miles, Oscar, and Dick.

“Yeah, that also seems right,” Oscar laughed again.

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