Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
It's 3:15. Soon the buses will be leaving. But now the parking lot is swarming with campers. Ross is doing the robot in the middle of it. Grant is crying near the bushes. Allyson is bouncing a soccer ball on her head. Eric is digging in the sand, as usual. I don't know who the twins are, but they won't stop poking me. Where the fuck are all the counselors? I shouldn't be left by myself with hundreds of children moving around a parking lot filled with soon to be moving buses. Where is AJ? Christine? Diama? Fuck, I'd even settle for Bernard, just SOMEONE. Then, the rabbit bus starts backing up. A child screams. I start to run over, but now the goat is backing up, then the skunk bus, then the turtle, then the zebra bus, and the unicorn. I don't know which direction to run in. All the children are screaming. Stop the fucken buses can't you see the children are my curtains being pushed back by the fan. The beeping buses, then, must be my alarm clock. I pull it out of the wall. No, not my alarm clock. What, then?
"What the fuck?" Sole Remaining Gay Roommate Dale asks.
"Is that the fire alarm?"
"What do you think?"
I can never resist answering a question with a question. "Is the house on fire?"
"Do you smell smoke?" Dale and I may be more similar than I'm comfortable admitting.
A brief check of our bedrooms and our bathroom reveals firelessnes. Ditto the kitchen, the living room, and the two bathrooms. "Do you mind checking Bikey's room, while I investigate the basement?" And before he can protest, I bound down the stairs, where there is not so much as a spark.
From upstairs, I hear "Oh. My. God." So the fire is in Bikely's room.
I race back up the stairs. "Where is the fire extinguisher? Have you called 911?"
Dale is standing on the threshold of her room. "Have you ever seen such a sty?"
"So, it's not on fire?"
"Would I be just standing here if it was?"
"Do you think the fire is in the other apartment?" A couple of weeks ago, Dale left some pork roasting in the oven while he went canoeing in the Amazon or something, and the smoke detectors went off. Bikey told me we had to be careful because our smoke alarms were connected to the ones downstairs, and we wouldn't want to wake up our downstairs neighbors late at night. "Right," I said, "Let them burn."
"Are our smoke detectors connected to theirs?" Dale asks.
"How long have you lived here?"
We walk down to their front door. "Should I knock?"
I roll my eyes at him. "Do you think they're home?"
He pounds on the door. "Nope." He says. "Nobody's home."
"Ha!" I say. "That was a statement, I win."
"Dude, our house is no fire, and you're playing grammar games?"
I blush. "Weren't you?"
"Do I need to answer that?"
I cup my hands around my eyes and look in the window. "Do you see any smoke in there?"
I didn't. But there was a fire somewhere in the house, and it probably wasn't getting any smaller. "Isn't there a door in the basement that goes into their apartment?"
Dale cocked his head. "Do you think it's unlocked?"
It wasn't. We took turns trying to batter it down with Law & Order style shoulder lunges. When that failed, I attempted a few kung fu style kicks, with much the same results. Though, I did almost fall down the stairs a couple of times. "Wasn't one of their windows open?"
"Are you giving up on the door?"
I went outside, and cut the bottom of the screen with my key. I then pried the screen off.
"Isn't this breaking and entering?"
I rolled my eyes again. "And trying to break their door wasn't?"
I lifted myself up, and was halfway into the window when Dale asked "What if the neighbors see us?"
I froze. "Do you hear anything?"
"Their alarms aren't going off. Just ours. The fire is in our apartment."
"Ha!" Damn. "Do you think I should call the fire department?"
"Do you have a better idea?" I asked.
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
We took a break from our game so he could call the fire department, and I could replace the screen, hoping they wouldn't notice the gaping hole at the bottom. I joined him on the porch when I was finished. "Is this not the worst way to start a day ever?"
"Could be worse." I said, conceding our contest to make a point. "At least you don't own that car." I said, pointing to a car with a busted window, and a pile of broken glass under it.
"Ha!" He said "Wasn't that a statem--wait, I do own that car."
After he ascertained that nothing but his radio's faceplate, and a few CDs had been stolen, he called the police to make a report. "Didn't you just call the fire department?" The woman on the other end of the phone asked. When he conceded yes, she asked for his registration number.
"It's in the house." He said.
"The one on fire?" She asked.
When she was done laughing at him, he hung up and lit a cigarette.
"Do you really think you should be smoking when the fire department gets here?"
He put out the cigarette on the railing, and shot me an evil look. "Do I care?"