I have been working on short stories – this is a piece of one – that is a piece of another – that I think wants to be a backstory in yet another – and so, probably, will never end up in any of those places. So, I’m putting it here. Goodnight.


just come in come upstairs dont have lot of time

Fear implanted from too many Lifetime movies: This is a set-up. It’s not really the man in the picture who is messaging me. It’s somebody setting up an unsuspecting friend. I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and the man there won’t know who or what I am. Or, I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and get the shit beat out of me by a gaggle of redneck fagbashers. Or, I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, find a dead body and the police will burst in, my DNA will be found all over the place because a previous trick saved it and planted it on the victim.

you close

I walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and it’s the guy in the picture, albeit fifteen pounds (at least) heavier, absent the two white dogs, camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, and shotgun he had in the photo. I notice things.

i dont have a lot of time

There is as little decor in the room as there is punctuation or intonation in his messages, or, frankly, his speaking; he requires interpretation. Which is fine with me. I would rather imagine him. Real life is too hard. Stranger’s rooms games are much easier the less one knows. Names are never allowed. He does have the same smile as in the picture. Not that it was his smile that convinced me to risk death by walking into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom. It was the dogs. I love dogs. Especially white dogs. I suspect from his camouflage couture and gun in the picture, he likes white things too. I think this must be a guest room. It’s just a futon mattress on the floor and nothing on the walls. Nothing anywhere. I notice things.

you dont look forty-six –

I’m not, of course – which I don’t say because I don’t talk. I notice things.

– i mean you look younger than that which is weird cuz people say i look older than twenty-six –

I’m terrible with age. As in, I lie a lot about mine. No. I’m not forty-six. I’m considerably older than forty-six but it seemed a safe enough deceit — or, conceit — having seen enough people claiming to be forty who looked – I thought – older than me. No one uses their real ages in these walking up the stairs and into stranger’s rooms games. So, what does twenty-six look like anyway? I thought it looked like the guy in the picture with the camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, the two white dogs, and the shotgun. I think it was a shotgun. Is a rifle a shotgun? I don’t care really. When I walked into this room expecting a dead body or a beat down, he was wearing black sweatpants and a t-shirt from Big Pecker’s Bar and Grille in Ocean City which I’m betting he got during senior week eight years ago because that’s what rednecks do around here — go to Ocean City and buy disgustingly vile t-shirts and spend all week trying to get drunk and laid, the latter of which won’t be a problem today because that is the only reason I am here and now he has removed the sweats and the Pecker-shirt and stripped to a surprising pair of green and white checked boxers which appear to be almost British in cut. I know my boxers. I know my British. He’s rubbing himself through them. If he’s uncut I’m going to want to ask what he did with his accent. I won’t ask. I have learned that one of the rules of these games — as far as I am concerned and in the version I play — is not to make jokes the other players are not likely to get or appreciate. So, mostly, I don’t talk. I notice things.

you wanna –

No need for details. I did not wanna but I did want to. Which is why I was there. And we did. Not for long. And there was no reason to ask what he’d done with his accent. And the not for long, I think, was not because he didn’t have a lot of time, but because he never, probably, takes long once the almost-sort-of-British boxers are removed and the wanna gets going. I am considerably older than forty-six and considerably skilled at wanna. I ask where the dogs are from the picture. I have heard no barking. No whining to be let out of another room somewhere or in from a yard. I notice things.

you like dogs –

I do. But I don’t like real conversation. I am trying to go. I don’t, I tell him, have a lot of time either because I need to get back to take a shift with a patient I care for and I can’t be late so thanks. He wants to converse. I notice things.

oh yeah – i know about that – my wife’s a med-tech

What? As soon as I get out — which I do almost as fast as he came — I check the picture he sent and there with the camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, two white dogs, and shotgun, on the hand holding the gun, there it is, a ring.

I did not notice that thing. I want to feel awful and guilty but a childhood devotion to Susan Hayward films results in me feeling a little bit glamorous and romantic. He will probably want to leave his wife for me. I will not let him bring the camouflage outfits or the guns. But, the two dogs can come along.

Oh, what the hell, bring the shotgun.