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Not Exactly What it Says on the Box

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There was nothing Yamada hated more than hold music. It was like being endlessly stuck in an elevator with no hope of escape. He felt like if he had to wait much longer, he was going to start bashing his head against his kitchen table.

“Good morning,” a voice called out to him.

Yamada was excited for a split second until he realized that the voice wasn’t coming from the phone but from behind him. He glanced over to the clock to check the time and sighed. “It’s 8pm, Chinen. It’s not morning.”

The source of the voice, a short guy named Chinen and currently the owner of some very messy I-just-woke-up hair, stretched his arms while he crossed the room to plop down in the chair beside Yamada. “It’s morning for me,” he shrugged. “You still trying to call the company and complain?” He tried to bite back an amused laugh at Yamada’s exasperation, but he can’t stop a tiny giggle from escaping.

Yamada glared at him but before he could respond, the hold music abruptly ended and a bored male voice answers with “Customer service, how may I help you?

The suddenness of the interruption made Yamada sit up straighter even though that was a pointless gesture for a phone conversation. “Yeah, customer service?” he began. “There seems to be a problem between your website and warehouse divisions. You see, I ordered a new mattress, but I was sent a coffin…”

“Uh-huh. A coffin,” the voice repeated back. He didn’t sound very disturbed by the morbid mistake. How often did people call and complain about this kind of thing??

Yeah, a coffin,” Yamada rubbed his forehead, sensing the beginnings of a headache. “And you know what was inside the coffin?” He paused just briefly to see if the customer rep would respond to the mostly rhetorical question, but there was only silence. So he continued, mustering up all the annoyance he had with the situation. “A vampire!” he exclaimed. “And he won’t leave! I did not ask for a bloodsucking roommate. All I wanted was a new mattress.”

“Hey, I’m right here,” Chinen complained, pretending to be offended. But he was still in the process of trying not to laugh. The kitchen light reflected off of his fangs whenever he opened his mouth.

I’m sorry sir,” the customer service rep sounded completely unfazed, and frankly, not that apologetic. “But we have a strict no-return policy. There’s really nothing I can do.

“Seriously?” Yamada can’t believe it. “Have you ever had to live with a vampire before? Firstly, he’s awake all night long and watches TV really loudly when I’m trying to sleep.”

“Late night infomercials are very educational,” Chinen protested. “And I think you should invest in a DVR so I can watch some quality daytime television.” He stood up from the table and busied himself with the coffeemaker while Yamada continued his list of complaints.

Yamada rolled his eyes. “Secondly, he doesn’t have a job so he can’t pay rent.”

Mmm-hmm.” There was some background noise through the phone like the customer service rep was filing his nails instead of really listening.

Chinen looked up from where he had been staring at the slowly dripping coffeemaker. “I was thinking about getting a part-time night job. Maybe something like working the graveyard shift…” he paused a moment to let the pun sink in, “…like at a diner or something.” He looked pleased with his idea.

“You don’t even know how to cook,” Yamada gave him a deadpan stare. “Oh yes!” he suddenly remembered he was still on the phone. “That’s another thing. He can’t cook either. And don’t even get me started on all the blood-drained dead chickens he left in the kitchen yesterday.”

Chinen looked offended. “Those were a gift! I had dinner and then I left the leftovers for you to make your dinner,” he explained as if that was supposed to be obvious. “We could have this wonderful symbiotic relationship if you give it a chance.”

“I don’t want symbiosis. I want a new mattress,” Yamada grumbled. He directed his attention back to his phone call. “Please take the vampire back and send me the mattress I paid for.”

The person on the other end let out an overdramatic exasperated sigh. “As I said before, you’re stuck with what you got. I can’t help you.

Yamada groaned and just gave up, ending the call and then laying his head facedown on the table. That was actually not, in fact, Yamada’s worst experience with customer service ever, but he’d say it was pretty high on the list. As he was in the middle of composing an angry letter to the company in his head, he heard a loud thunk on the table. He looked up to see a steaming coffee mug in front of him and Chinen sitting opposite him again with a happy smile on his face.

“So I can’t cook and I’m terrible at doing housework and chores and stuff, but I can make a decent cup of coffee at least,” Chinen explained. “Can I stay? I’ll even try to find you a better mattress than the one you thought you were getting. I’m pretty sure I saw a late-night infomercial for mattresses last night.” He tried to put on his best charming face, showing off his fangs in all their vampire glory.

Yamada looked down at the coffee cup and then took a sip. “It’s not half bad,” he shrugged. “Maybe you can stay for a few more days. But no more dead chickens in my kitchen unless they’re already cooked.”

“Next time, I’ll just stop at a 24-hr McDonalds and get you chicken nuggets,” Chinen grinned.

“Good enough,” Yamada said, taking another sip of coffee. This new roommate situation could be potentially interesting, he supposed.

He was still probably going to send a complaint letter to the mattress company anyway.