“Shit!” Kevin exclaimed as his ancient 16mm movie camera detached from its tripod and crashed to the floor. He scrambled over to it, sighed with relief that nothing was broken, and turned the device on. He adjusted his glasses and smiled at the camera before panning over the rest of the room. There wasn’t much to see other than an illegal wood burning stove with an exhaust pipe crawling up to a skylight in the center of the loft. All the electrical appliances, a telephone, a guitar amp, a hot plate, and a couple of lamps were connected to one long extension cord which snakes out a window. After sweeping over the whole space Kevin turned the camera back to himself.
“Hi! I’m, uh, Kevin Lynch, and my roommate over there,” He said, pointing the camera to a corner where a young man with an untrimmed beard was trying to tune a guitar. “Is Aaron Hotchner. We live in an industrial loft on the corner of 11th street and Avenue B, the top floor of what was once a music publishing factory. It's December 24th, Nine PM Eastern Standard Time and we are fucking freezing because we have no heat.” The small fire in the stove crackled half-heartedly before dying.
“And we’re out of firewood.” Kevin sighed. “Anyways, my old stuff has been kind of shitty so I’m trying something new and shooting without a script.” He zoomed in on Hotch who was frowning and fiddling with his guitar.
“First shot -- Hotch tuning the Fender guitar he hasn't played in a year.”
“This won't tune.” Hotch grumbled, brow furrowed in frustration. The guitar made a noise like a dying cat.
“I can tell.” Kevin said, wincing, as he turned the camera back to himself. “He's just coming back from half a year of withdrawal.”
“ Are you talking to me?” Hotch called from off screen.
“ No.” Kevin lied, swinging the camera around so it was pointed right at Hotch’s annoyed face. “Tell the folks at home what you're doing Hotch…” Hotch blinked at the camera uncertainly and gestured at the un-tuned guitar
“I'm writing one great song -” The ringing of the telephone cut him off. “ Saved!” He muttered under his breath.
“Zoom in on the answering machine!” Kevin said excitedly, doing just that.
"Speak" ... ("Beeeep!")
“That was a very loud beep.” An older woman’s voice said. “I don't even know if this darn thing is working. Kevin -Kev -are you there, are you screening your calls? - It's mom.” Kevin groaned quietly, slumping down on a dilapidated green sofa.
“Anyways, we wanted to call and say we love you and we'll miss you tomorrow. Your sister and the kids are here -- send their love. Oh, I hope you like the hot plate. Just don't leave it on, dear when you leave the house. Oh, and Kevin, we're sorry to hear that Penny dumped you. There are other fishies in the sea sweetheart, if she wants to be a lesbian then it’s her loss.” Hotch snickered quietly from his seat.
“Love Mom!” Mrs. Lynch concluded in a cheery, festive voice, before hanging up.
“Okay, take two.” Kevin said, face slightly pink with embarrassment. “Tell the folks at home what you're doing Aaron.”
Hotch looked forlornly at the camera, realizing he wasn’t off the hook after all. He cleared his throat uncomfortably.
“I'm, uh, I’m writing one great song -” The phone rang again, much to the young man’s relief.
"Speak" ... ("Beeeep!") The answering machine chirped.
"Chestnuts roasting ---" A familiar, deep voice sang. Hotch looked up from his work as Kevin practically dove across the room and picked up the phone.
“I'm downstairs.” The two men raced to the window and looked down. An attractive black man in a skullcap poked his head out of a payphone and waved at them.
“Throw down the key.” He called, holding his hand out. Kevin pulled out a small leather pouch and dropped it from the window. Morgan reached out his arm and caught it. Kevin hurriedly turned off his camera and stowed it away, grinning excitedy the whole time.
“Oh this’ll be great!” He exclaimed. “Just like old times. I mean it would be better if we had some food or some booze but-.”
“Uh, guys.” Morgan said into the phone. Out of the corner of his eye he saw two sketchy looking men carrying clubs moving his way. “I may be detained.” He quickly hung up the phone and turned to face his would-be-attackers.
“What does he mean...?” Kevin asked in confusion as the line suddenly dropped. The phone began to ring again seconds later and he picked it up on the second ring. “What do you mean ‘detained’?”
“Ho ho ho.” A decidedly female voice replied.
“Strauss!” Kevin hissed, covering the mouthpiece of the phone.
“Shit!” Hotch cursed. He moved closer to Kevin so they could both hear the conversation.
“Gentlemen I’m on my way.” the voice continued.
“Great!” Kevin responded with fake cheerfulness.
“Fuck.” Hotch groaned.
“I need the rent.”
“What rent?” Kevin said indignantly.
“This past year’s rent that I let slide.”
“Let slide? You said we were ‘golden’.”
“When you bought the building.” Hotch added, anger clear in his voice.
“When we were roommates.” Kevin agreed. “Remember? You lived here!?” Strauss could be heard exhaling wearily.
“ How could I forget? You, me, Morgan and Penelope.” She said the last name with distaste. “ How is the drama queen doing these days?” Kevin bristled; he and Penny weren’t on the best of terms, not after she’d torn out his heart and broke it into a thousand pieces, but he still automatically lept to her defense.
“Well she’s performing tonight.”
“So I’ve heard.” Strauss said, obviously unimpressed. “Are you still her production manager?”
“I was.” Kevin said dejectedly. “Up until two days ago.” Hotch shot him a sympathetic look.
“I take it you two are no longer dating.”
“Um,” Kevin stuttered, chewing his bottom lip. “The thing about that is, uh, we didn’t really, I mean-.”
“She dumped him.” Hotch said bluntly. “She’s in love.”
“A new man in her life?”
“Not exactly.” Kevin said glumly.
“What’s his name?”
“Jennifer.” The two men said in unison. There was a moment of silence before Strauss started laughing, a deep throaty laugh that neither man had heard in a long time. She quickly regained control of herself, voice once again taking on a professional tone.
“ Rent, my friends, is due.” She said sternly. “Or you’ll leave me no choice but to evict you. I’ll be there shortly.” Without further ado she hung up. Angry, and more than a little embarrassed Kevin slammed the phone down on the receiver. Hotch defiantly picked out Musetta's theme from Puccini's La Boheme on the guitar. Moments later a fuse on his amp exploded. The lights flickered for a moment before the flat plunged into darkness.
“And now the power’s out.” Kevin said. “Joy to the fucking world.”