Dick moved in with Jacklyn on the Saturday morning the third week of September. Robin was really, really displeased about it.
“How have I helped you move three times and I only met you, like, four months ago?” He demanded. “How are you getting out of these leases? I won’t move you again. I refuse. You have to live here until you die.”
Dick didn’t bother responding. He didn’t really want to make a promise he couldn’t keep. For her part, Jacklyn was silently observing all of his possessions as they made their way past where she was standing just inside the kitchen. He was absolutely positive she only agreed to have him move in for the rent money. He wondered how she felt about him, especially now that they would be sharing a home together. Presumably she didn’t hate his guts too much or she would’ve said no. He doubted she liked money that much.
As was the nature of his job and the fact that he worked from home, Dick was at home almost always. Occasionally he had to go out for errands, like doing laundry or buying groceries. Other times, Miles would coax him out for the night to make sure he was getting proper socialization. Miles claimed he was doing Dick a service by not letting him become a hermit recluse. If Jacklyn minded that he was often at home, she never mentioned it. She herself would go to work at normal hours like a normal person, come home, and make dinner. Sometimes she would hang around the apartment, either in her room or in the living room. Other times she would go to the gym or meet up with friends. Dick found that they were often circling each other, not quite avoiding each other on purpose, but also not quite spending time together. It was like she was always just in the periphery.
Dick had been living there for a day and a half before he noticed something weird happening with Jacklyn’s cat. Jacklyn would leave the apartment each morning to go to work and then, about thirty minutes later, Snib would wander over to the front door and sit down. He stared at the door and waited. He waited for a long time. At first, Dick assumed he was waiting for her to return from work. On the first day, Snib eventually laid down, but remained in front of the door nonetheless. But then, when Jacklyn returned home several hours later, Snib didn’t seem to care. On the second day, Snib had been sitting and waiting at the door for about two hours when the door opened. Dick assumed it was Jacklyn, home early for some unknown reason. But no one entered the apartment. Instead, Snib just slipped out into the hallway and the door swung shut behind him. Dick got up from his seat on the living room couch and hurried out into the hallway after him.
In the hallway, Dick stumbled upon a very strange scene. Snib was now sitting and waiting patiently at the apartment door on the opposite side of the hall. Next to him stood a man in a terry cloth bathrobe, which was open, and a pair of flip flop sandals. The man knocked on the door and then began ambling down the hallway toward the elevators, not appearing to be bothered at all by Dick’s presence or indeed his blatant staring. He watched the man walk away until he disappeared behind the sliding elevator doors. Then the door across the hall opened and a twenty-something man with dark hair and a moustache dressed in a Bruce Springsteen shirt, which he had tucked into bellbottom jeans, bent down to pick up Snib. He turned to bring him into the apartment and Dick felt like maybe he needed to say something.
“Uhh…,” he broke the silence. The man startled and turned sharply to look at him. Dick was still standing in the doorway of his new apartment in a pair of sweat pant shorts and a muscle shirt. He was sure he didn’t look remotely formidable.
“What’re you doing?” Dick asked when the other man failed to say anything.
“Uh, good question,” he returned. He pointed at the door behind Dick. “Do you…know Jacklyn?”
He had clearly struggled to find the question he wanted to ask. He looked dissatisfied with what he’d settled on.
“I’m her new roommate,” Dick answered, not sure how much detail the guy was looking for. “Are you stealing her cat?”
“Uhhh…no? He was in the hallway.”
Dick hoped that his facial expression accurately portrayed how stupid that answer was. He couldn’t figure out if the guy was just giving him the dumbest excuse in the world to avoid being caught or if he was genuinely confused about how Snib had ended up in the hallway outside of his apartment.
“Did you think the cat knocked on your apartment door?” Dick asked skeptically after a moment wherein the pair of them continued to stare at one another across the otherwise vacant hallway.
“Some dude in an open bathrobe opened my apartment door to let the cat out and then knocked on yours and walked away,” Dick explained. The man’s expression immediately soured.
“Jesus Christ,” he grumbled. He dropped Snib, who trotted happily into the apartment across the hall. “I wondered how he kept getting out. Jacklyn needs to remember to lock her damn door.”
Dick couldn’t help but agree.
“I’m Gord, by the way,” the guy introduced himself.
“Richard,” Dick replied.
“Dickie!” Gord cheered and Dick cursed inwardly. “Do you want to come in for a bit?”
He nodded to his still open apartment door. Dick weighed his options. He could enter the apartment of a stranger or he could return to his own apartment to work on the same four minute segment of PokeMan Go, the porn parody, for the next two hours.
“Sure,” Dick shrugged. He followed Gord the rest of the way across the hallway and inside his apartment, which was full of bright colours, musical instruments, pointless knick-knacks, bizarre artwork, and cats. Snib was lying on his back in the middle of the living room. A second, much smaller, black cat was batting one his back legs around with its tiny paws. Robin’s boyfriend Finch sat on the couch above them, filming the interaction with his phone.
“Hey,” Finch greeted him, looking over his shoulder.
“Hi,” Dick nodded. “Do you live here?”
Finch looked at him like he was stupid, which felt pretty on brand for him.
“Robin might’ve mentioned that while he was helping me move in across the hallway,” Dick pointed out.
“I don’t know if you know this,” Finch began to reply. “But Robin’s a dick.”
Dick did in fact know that, but it was nice to hear other people acknowledge it as well.
About a week into living with Jacklyn, Dick emerged from his room one morning in the pale light of dawn to find a skinny man in a pair of ripped jeans and a white tank top standing in his living room. He was drinking a cup of coffee casually, as if he belonged there, and fiddling with a gold chain around his neck with his free hand. He grinned sharply at Dick in greeting. It was incredibly unnerving. Dick had only left his bedroom to go to the washroom and now he had to deal with this, whatever it was.
“Hi,” the man greeted him, still acting like he belonged there. “Joey.”
“Richard,” Dick replied, still confused. Joey’s grin turned amazingly even more wicked and Dick got the impression that he was about to be called Dick by yet someone else.
“Do you live up to that name, Dick?” Joey asked him. Dick couldn’t figure out how he was meant to respond because he couldn’t figure out if he was asking if Dick was a dick or if he was coming on to him. It felt more like a threat than anything else.
Dick didn’t bring it up to anybody until he saw Oscar, Priscilla, and Priscilla’s younger sister Tallulah a couple days later. The four of them were going to a concert together, but they went out for dinner first.
“Do you like your new place?” Priscilla asked him, making conversation.
“Yeah,” Dick shrugged. “I’ve been hanging out with the guys across the hall. Robin’s boyfriend and his roommates.”
“Finch?” Tallulah replied. “Terrifying man. Makes amazing butter tart squares.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Dick nodded at her.
“Man, Jacklyn must hate that,” Priscilla muttered. Dick wouldn’t know. He and Jacklyn still didn’t talk much.
“I also met her boyfriend,” Dick added instead.
“Her what now?” Priscilla asked.
“I didn’t know she was dating someone,” Tallulah said at the same time. Oscar remained unmoved.
“Oh, well I met some dude she’s sleeping with then,” Dick shrugged. “I don’t know. His name is Joey.”
Oscar, Dick noticed, was suddenly much more invested in the conversation.
“She’s seeing Joey again?” Priscilla asked, stunned. Dick shrugged again, at a loss.
“Joey is Robin’s roommate,” Oscar informed him, filling in the blanks. “You know, the one who used to sell crack.”
It began to make a lot more sense to Dick.
“I think he either threatened me or made a pass at me,” Dick admitted to the table.
“Yes,” Oscar nodded. Dick frowned at him. “Both. He probably did both.”
It was not very reassuring.