The last of my friends safely in their cars and driving away, I flip off the porch light, lean back against the front door, and survey the damage to my living/dining room.
It’s not that my friends are messy people, but when you’ve spent your Sunday afternoon and evening playing an epically long, six hour session of D&D? Yeah, my apartment is usually the biggest causality. Sighing, I push off from the door. I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t get this done tonight it’ll sit until at least Wednesday.
“Floor duty, Winston!” I call.
Immediately, Winston, my three year old American mastiff, uncurled himself off my couch and bounded under the table to begin scrounging for fallen Cheetos and Doritos. I very rarely feed Winston table scraps. He’s a big dog, it’s the way he’s made, and while he’s very healthy, I don’t want to risk his health by letting him get fat. D&D nights are his treat. He licks up all the crumbs—and I know my friends deliberately drop pieces for him—so I can Swiffer the floor, and then I feed him one of those quarter pound Hebrew National hot dogs he loves, and that’s it until next Sunday.
I ponder my stereo for a minute before deciding to flip on the TV, turning it to the 11 o’clock news. I keep an ear open as I start gathering up glasses and loading them into the dishwasher. I generally like to not appear like an uninformed shut-in—I’m not—and having a general inkling of what’s going on helps with that.
The dishwasher is running, pizza boxes and soda bottles—Dr Pepper, thank you. Despite the stereotypes, I’ve never been a fan of Mountain Dew—emptied and rinsed, respectively, and tossed into their recycling containers, and I’ve started wiping down the big butcher block table when something on the news catches my attention. I leave the paper towels on the table and grab the remote to turn up the volume.
“…disturbing story out of Huntington tonight. Yesterday, two men reported hearing screams while they were hiking. Police responded and located a cabin where they found a grisly scene. We’re going live now to Marc Jensen, who’s on scene.”
“Thank you, Victoria. I’m here in Huntington, reporting on a crime that local police are calling to worst in this town’s history. Today, police, responding to reports of screams, broke into a cabin to discover the bodies of three people. No details have been released yet, but from a source that doesn’t wish to be named, there appear to be signs of a violent struggle. And it gets worse. We’re hearing claims that the person accused and arrested for the crime, who was at the scene when police arrived, apparently ate the victims.”
I gag slightly. “God, people are sick,” I mutter. I click off the TV, done with my nightly fill of the news. My tummy is pleasantly full of pizza, Dr Pepper and snacks, and I want to keep it that way. I’ll read up on the story more tomorrow, probably at cnn.com. A story like that is going to make national headlines, so I don’t doubt they’ll have coverage of it.
I finish wiping down the table, toss the paper towels out, put the bottle of cleaner away, and nudge Winston out of the way so I can run the Swiffer over the hardwood, catching any remaining crumbs and removing the film of dog slobber he always leaves behind.
Winston has just finished swallowing down his hot dog and I’m drying my hands on a kitchen towel when I see the AIM box pop up on my laptop.
“you new englanders are sick, you know that garrett?”
I laugh, sliding into my chair at the desk. Jacob, my last ex. He used to be a regular at our game sessions, until his job took him out the Colorado last year. We tried to make a go of the long-distance thing, but it didn’t work. We’re still friends, though, and I do miss him at times, especially since I haven’t met anyone else for more than a few casual dates. Wanking furiously alone in my bed is not how I’d prefer to spend my evenings.
“It’s all that repressed sexual desire,” I crack back.
“good to kno you’re safe then.”
We chat back and forth for a little while, seeing what each other is up to, how our jobs are going, if we’ve met anyone. Jake says he has, maybe. He’s not sure yet, doesn’t want to jinx it. I wish him good luck, and he apologizes for ruining me with his perfection. If he were here, that would earn him a shot to the arm, but as it is, a “haha, you’re funny, kid” is the best I can do.
Winston comes up, leaning heavily against me and sighing mournfully. “All right, you big baby,” I murmur, wish Jake a good night, and sign off. Closing the laptop and leaving it where it is, I amble into my bedroom. Winston curls up on his huge dog pillow-bed thing in the corner, while I strip out of my clothes. My jeans, still good for another few days, go across my hamper while everything else goes in, and I slide into bed.
Sunday is also Clean Sheet Day, and I bury my nose in the pillow, breathing deep. God, I love clean sheets. It’s a little ridiculous, but I have five sets, and after washing them, I store them in the small cedar chest my mom bought me when I first got my own place so they have a whole month to absorb the smell. Growing up, Mom always kept our sheets in the hope chest that had once been her grandmother’s. By the time I was an adult, I couldn’t sleep well unless my sheets smelled like that. College had been a nightmare until I started buying those little bags of cedar chips to store in the Rubbermaid tub I used for sheets and towels.
Once I had my own place, Mom showed up with the chest packed full of bedding—a hope chest of my very own, every daughter’s (or in my case, gay son’s) dream—and I don’t think I’d ever loved her more than the moment I made my bed for the first time with those sheets.
I make a mental note to call her tomorrow and tell her I love her.