Housesitting

“What are you wearing?” Annie asked through the phone.

“That’s a pretty personal question.”

“I just want to make sure you’re not bare assed naked in my living room.”

“Oh, well yeah, obviously I am.” I said back. On the other end of the phone there was a moment’s paused, clearly she wasn’t sure whether or not I was joking. I was.

“Well just make sure you don’t let Whisper see you naked, she’ll get the wrong idea.”

“What, you think I still have a shot with your pussy?” My entendre didn’t go unnoticed.

“You don’t have a hope.” She chuckled.

In truth I hated cats and they hated me right back. Whisper was no exception. She was an obstinate thing with long fluffy white fur, like the cats from the toilet paper ads; but this one had claws that liked slash at you in the dark. She was especially bad when you were sleeping and happen to let your feet stick out from under the covers.

Since I was tall and Annie’s couch was short, my feet stuck out a lot.

“I told you that you’d need to cut her claws! If you did that she wouldn’t be able to scratch you!” Annie must have had that parasite that cat owners get causing them to be dumber and therefore happier.

“I would cut those talons except she slashes me whenever I get close.” I had tried, but the red striations all up and down my arms were evidence of my previous attempts to woo the cat. She was unwooable and I was worried that one morning I wouldn’t wake up because of blood loss.

“Well you should do it at some point so she can’t claw at the furniture!”

“Better the furniture than me!”

She paused, again likely not sure whether I was joking or not. This time I wasn’t.

“Well I’m sure once you two bond you’ll be begging to come over and see her whenever you can. Anyway, I should probably get back.”

“Sure. See you when you get home.”

“Yeah. Thanks again Charlie.”

“No problem, bye!”

“I mean it, I really appreciate it.”

“I know, the invoice and my medical bills will be on the table when you get back.”

“Bye.” She chuckled.

She was a shrewd woman who liked long goodbyes, even on the phone when it’s costing her long distance on her cell and landline. It seemed strange to me that she had a landline, but that didn’t stop me from taking advantage of it and giving my iPhone the time off.

I was house sitting for her while she was off with her parent’s place back east somewhere for a family emergency, but didn’t ask where back east was, nor what the emergency was. I was just eager to get out of my house. From what I could gather it wasn’t all that serious since Annie had been in good spirits whenever she called – which was a daily occurrence. I hung up the phone, which was, for once, not a misnomer as Annie’s landline had a cord and cradle.

Whisper wasn’t staring at me anymore, undoubtedly she was off plotting her evening’s maneuvers in the War on Exposed Flesh. I looked around the apartment, but didn’t trouble myself too much, cats were more cunning than their owners could perceive and I had accepted that this cat would probably be the one that leads the revolution against humanity.

I lifted my feet and sat cross-legged on Annie’s couch, my de facto bed while I housesat for her. She had said I could sleep in her bed, but like a good gay, I declined her offer. I felt that other people’s beds were off limits when they weren’t there. Even when they were present it was no guarantee that I would sleep there. No, I told her firmly that I’d prefer the couch so that I would remain blissfully unaware of her sheets until our wedding day. She laughed.

I went back to my laptop. I had just settled down to writing when she’d so rudely called to make sure I hadn’t killed her cat through negligence or more nefarious means. Now my tea was cold. I peered into the kitchen and tried to will the kettle to start reheating the water, but gave up on my still latent psychic powers.

Striding over to the small kitchen left my feet vulnerable to attack, but I chanced it. It was difficult writing without the exact right conditions. It was almost a ritual really. Before bed, I put on some sweat pants and take off my socks. I liked to feel the cold on my feet, even if it was chilly. I took off my watch and the two rings I wore so that it wouldn’t click against my keyboard. Earl Grey tea was next, I usually had a pot steeping under a cozy so I just had to pour one when I was ready. Lastly, I’d sit cross-legged on my bed with a blue knit shawl over my shoulders.

Then, with a steadying breath, I would turn my music on and do my best to write. Some nights were unproductive because of either writers’ block, Facebook, or porn. Most nights I was okay though; writing for about an hour or so before realizing it was time for bed.

Writing was one of the few things that I would do these days that made me feel good.

The kettle boiled and I began pouring it into the teapot as my phone started vibrating on the coffee table in my temporary bedroom. It offered a light blue glow illuminating the dark room for just long enough to see a small shadow dart under the couch. I finished pouring letting the call go to voicemail. I figured that I could at least scald Whisper if he swiped at me when I walked back into the living room.

Annie’s kitchen was cramped and didn’t offer any of my usual tea paraphernalia, which I would’ve opted for at my own apartment. Her teapot was cheap and metallic, and didn’t have a cozy so I draped a tea towel over it to try, in vain, to keep the heat in longer. The tea itself was from a bag, which would have to do since I had neither loose leaves nor a strainer.

I didn’t think of myself as a snob, so much as an old soul. I couldn’t help that I was set in my ways and that tea was an integral part of that. I sighed as the red LED on Annie’s coffee maker mocked me. She was a coffee snob, having formerly been a barista, and so she too had beverage quirks. She claimed it was why we could never marry.

At the time I didn’t have the heart to correct her that the real reason was because I was a Mary. Eventually she figured it out, and although she denies it, I think she was a little bit disappointed.

The tea steeped for long enough, so I ventured back to the living room carefully on the lookout for Whisper. I settled down onto the couch and check my phone thinking that perhaps Annie wanted to wish Whisper a good night.

Instead it was a call from my roommate Daniel Cho. I listened to the attached voicemail, which was 15 seconds of what sounded like his pocket. I was glad that he hadn’t actually tried to call me, I needed a bit of a break from his shit.

He wasn’t the worst roommate I had had, that dubious honour went to the guy I shared a room with during my first year at university. Liam had seemed like a good guy when we first moved in together which even let me overlook his criminal wardrobe populated by Old Navy polo shirts whose collars were perpetually popped. These same polo shirts, as well as his socks, underwear, jeans, and shorts were ones, which frequented my laundry loads. When I called him on it he inevitably feigned ignorance and ‘apologized’ with a “My bad, dude.”

That is, until one fateful day he found out I was gay and all of his garments, under or otherwise, never came near my half of the room even when he was wearing them. It turns out he was the kind of budding frat boy that didn’t frolic on the beach during a game of football with his half naked bros. When I suggested this homoeroticism existed he got noticeably upset and requested to be transferred. My bad, dude.

Unfortunately the residences were full and we had to spend the rest of a miserable year together. At the best of times we ignored each other and at the worst of times we ignored each other when a date was brought home. I’d like to think I won this game by having very loud and drawn out sex with Taylor, one of his frat brothers whom I’d seduced after an arousing game of beer pong on the quad.

Taylor was kind of a dork that worked for the both of us that one special night we spent together. He told me he’d never ‘done it’ with a guy before, but the way he bottomed said that he was either lying or very drunk. Regardless it was a meaningful overnight relationship. I wonder what Taylor is doing these days, maybe he’d be up for a little housesitting couch sex. My intuition said probably not.

In any case, I currently split the second floor of a house with Daniel Cho, at least I did when I wasn’t housesitting for my classmate and her demonic cat. I found him on Craigslist, so I suppose I was lucky to have a sane, non-serial killer roommate at least according to my parents. At the time, Daniel Cho seemed so reasonable. He even went so far as to tell me that he would be paying more rent because he had the bigger room with hardwood floors. It was fine with me. I noticed that the hardwood had a few loose floorboards that shifted if you slid your feet across them.

We got to know each other fairly well over the first month, and even hung out a little bit. Inevitably the honeymoon period wore off, then the polite phase wore off, and finally the passive aggressive phase started.

Most recently I asked him not to be so loud when he gets home at whatever time he gets home at.

“Look, I was trying to get some sleep for my double shift that I had today but you came home and your floorboards were really noisy so all I could hear was you doing whoever it was that you were doing.”

“Maybe if you didn’t drink so much damn tea you would be able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.”

Apparently we were now aggressively passive aggressive.

It was just good luck then that Annie’s family had their emergency so I could spend a week away to cool off.

I even left him a note.

“Housesitting, see you in a week, C.”

This is the first bit of a story I’ve been writing for a couple of years. We’re on a break, but I was too busy to write anything so I decided to that it for the time being. Hope you enjoy!

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