My room, no mater if it's in Burlington, Boston, Cranberry Lake, or Florida, is always an altar to the God of Dirty Laundry. I never bring food into the room, or allow other public health hazards, but laundry be it clean or dirty, nearly always covers the floor. Laundry, notebooks and papers. I'm thinking of having a scavenger hunt: put together a matching outfit AND organize the papers by poetry/novel/miscellaneous unsent letters, and you'll win an autographed copy of The Long Dark Teatime of My Cock.
Though my room looks like it's in complete chaos, I can always tell when something is out of place, or, as is the case on that weird-ass Burlington night, when there's shit that shouldn't be there; Say, for example, Ernie's clothes, and no Ernie.
I envisioned Ernie running naked through the two feet of snow drifts, his feet frostbite blue. I threw on my blue jeans, and a t-shirt, shirt, turtleneck, and sweater, grabbed Ernie's clothes and jacket and piled them by the door. I went upstairs to take a badly needed piss before I left. The shower was running, so I crept into the third floor bathroom, got rid of the Cherry Coke backlog, and headed outside.
There was no Ernie in the park. No Ernie by the lake. No Ernie downtown. I debated checking out the police station, but if he wasn't there, and he wasn't naked but maybe wearing some of my clothes, I didn't want to have to deal with police officers. The last place I checked was The Loop.
When Zach had first told me about The Loop, I had mistakenly thought it was some sort of drug reference. The Loop was actually the place where the gay guys in Burlington met for anonymous sex. Random guys would wander around the block until a car, van, or red pickup truck would pull over and ask if they wanted a ride somewhere.
As a guy who had invited strangers he'd "met" over The Internet into his house to fuck them, I was horrified at the idea of The Loop. But I could see how it had an appeal for someone like Ernie who was "straight" and without Internet access.
Though The Loop was the logical place to find him, he wasn't there. He'd had more than enough time to have already been picked up.
I went home, tossed Ernie's clothes in my room, checking to see if he was back in either my bed or the living room futon. No.
I went upstairs to run some hot water over my cold ass, but it seemed someone had beaten me to the idea. I went downstairs to think and write for a while. Ten minutes later the person was still showering. I wondered if it was the same person who was showering when I'd left for ErnieQuest 2001 over an hour earlier.
I knocked. "Hey who's using all our hot water?"
No answer. I decided to go in anyway, if one of my crack addict roommates was in their fucking one of their hos, I'd take another piss, and walk out. It wouldn't be the first time. But it wasn't one of my cracked out roommates, it was Ernie curled up in the tub with the shower head washing over him.