Author's Note: I'm back on this site after being gone for like 6 months. I found an old picture that inspired this. Will take a second to introduce characters. Dedicated to my old friends. No idea how explicit this is going to get. Short chapters. Content warning: will feature some LGBT characters, some drugs, some drinking, some mistakes. If you don't like it, you are free to leave, I'll still love you
Voyage of the Rust Bucket
A Cold McMuffin
"I'm going to kill myself."
"Then do it. I'm sick of hearing about it."
A half-empty Gatorade bottle being slammed down on the coffee table is what finally prompts me to look up from the stack of research papers in front of me. I glance at the man responsible for threatening to kill himself – again, for the third time this week – and see that he's sweating bullets and ready to vomit. It's sometime after 5pm. He just woke up.
"I really am," he says.
The person who eggs him on had been sitting quietly with me for the past few hours, typing away at his laptop, uninterested in the rest of the world. At some point around 3am last night (this morning?) the two had barreled into our shared apartment with as much noise as a marching band, having spent the night drinking and clubbing. Such things were a regular occurrence on Friday nights. It would repeat itself tonight, I'm sure.
Before I moved to this god-awful city I grew up in a small, conservative town. Mountains were visible from the back porch, their snowcapped glory the backdrop of hundreds of acres of untouched land; the only signs of human civilization were the jets that left their trails in otherwise clear skies. No one in my hometown knew what a club was. If they had ever seen one, they'd probably pray to their God that it would burn down, ridding the world of such a sinful place.
"Hey, you say that, but are you gonna find someone who could pay my share of the rent?"
This guy – the hungover, wishes-he-was-dead, annoying brat – is Ted. He was my first friend when I moved here. We met at a local production of "RENT" when we both got awkwardly seated next to each other as singles and newcomers. Sometime during intermission he struck up a conversation with me, as natural as could be; and I found out fast that he's a charming, charismatic bastard who tears down people's defenses within seconds. I was quick to either deflect or reject anything resembling flirting and he took it in stride. We ended up going out for drinks and it turned out our personalities are compatible. It was a natural friendship.
He makes good money as a freelancer writer. Somehow, he manages to bring in almost six-figures a year prattling about on internet news sites and publications about social issues he has no business talking about. He's one of those jackasses who writes endless articles about the underprivileged despite being the definition of privileged. Prep school, private tennis lessons, college tuition paid by mommy and daddy, new car for his sixteenth birthday...
"Honestly? It won't be that hard."
The man who seems disinterested in Ted's life is my other roommate, Justin. It's been several years since he started living here and his added income has been a blessing in this expensive shithole. We had known each other briefly while attending college together, but it wasn't until we bumped into each other at a local volunteer event that we became friends. Bit by bit his things started appearing in our apartment until one day he had taken over half the living room. Then he handed me a third of the rent and utilities. Thus, without a word, he moved in.
I have no idea what he does for a living, but I know he was in school for web design and marketing, so I just assume. I hate prying. Maybe he sells shit illegally. I have no idea. He causes less problems than Ted or me, and he's reasonable, mature, and easy-going. I couldn't care less about what else he's up to unless he's willing to share.
"I feel like shit," Ted mumbles.
Yeah, dude, you're suffering from alcohol poisoning. "There's a McMuffin in the fridge. I grabbed some this morning because I knew you'd be like this," I tell him. I try to turn back to the paperwork I need to focus on.
"Warm it up for me," he demands, rather than asks.
"Microwave is broken," Justin informs him.
Ted lets out a noise that sounds like a dying walrus as he flops over the side of the chair he's in. Tranquility sets in and I relax. It doesn't last.
"Let's go out. Gotta cure this hangover," he says to Justin. "Out" means go to the club, which for Ted means getting hammered to the point of near death and trying to find a new woman. Sometimes those romances last a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, but rarely longer than that.
"Can't. I have a date tonight," Justin answers.
"Bring your date."
"He's not into that stuff. You know he hates crowded places."
Another dying walrus howl, this time louder and longer.
"No," I cut him off immediately. I know what he's going to ask and I'm not interested in going out. I hate clubs more than anyone. I'm in my mid-20s; I outgrew that scene and I wish he would, too.
"I was gonna ask how your homework was going, woman," he mumbles. He wasn't. Nice try.
I made the idiotic decision of going for a PhD in psychology. I don't even like psychology. When I moved to this city, I wanted to be playwright. I don't even know how I ended up in this degree field anymore. Student loans and paltry paychecks from part-time gigs are the only things that keep me fed, housed, and clothed. Everything has become so meaningless in the seemingly never-ending and pointless quest for a title that the years have blurred together. When was the last time I did something other than work?
Ted sighs. "Based on your expression the homework's not going well," he says.
"Hmm? No, I was thinking of something else," I say. That's not a lie.
"Need to talk about something?" Justin asks, having stopped clacking away at his noisy laptop.
Talk about what, exactly? How I hate this city, hate my jobs, hate doing schoolwork every night? How I wish I could pack it up, shove it all into a backpack and leave, never looking back? How when I was fifteen, I thought I was going to be directing Broadway plays. How when I was eighteen, I wanted to backpack across Europe but only got as far as this faux-progressive, nasty, dirty town full of pompous assholes and grifters? What's the point of just sitting around in this overpriced apartment, paying rent and bills to make other people richer? What's the point of hiding the fact we're miserable by burying ourselves in work and alcohol? What the fuck are we doing?
"Fuck it," I say, dropping the stack of papers onto the table. "Let's go."
"To the club?" Ted asks, suddenly alert and awake, as though his head isn't pounding and his gut swirling.
I want to go farther than that. But I guess - for now - that'll do.