The Long Lost Roomate

The Long Lost Roomate

A Story by Heyns

I've been using a book by the San Francisco Writers Grotto to spur my writing. This is one of the many exercises


It had been years since I had seen Roger. The days we spent in that summer so long ago seem a distant memory from a lost life, but they were as real as life, death and taxes. We experienced life in those three long months. We escaped death in short moments that are tattooed on my brain somewhere deep and recessed. Now that I think back on those days I miss the freedom and the life we lived. 

He sat there in a gray twill cardigan, bumpy with imperfections and wear, sipping his coffee. His jeans displayed how thin his frame was, plagued by his habitual lack of appetite caused by the coffee and cigarettes. They were gray and faded by the miles that his busted shoes had traversed. He had the new scarf I had brought him draped over an old denim shirt his father had worn on the midwestern prairies that his family cultivated. If you saw him you might write him off as a hipster, but he was the model that the fad emulated. This was the man everyone was faking, but there was nothing fake about Roger. Everything had a story, and every story had something tangible that he'd tie it to. 

We didn't cover those stories this time. We joked and laughed reminiscing the cool summer nights we'd down a couple bottles of wine and call out to the girls as they passed our balcony. There were a few times we even got them upstairs and Roger would put on some Cole Porter vinyls and we danced them into our beds. I can still feel there tanned skin under my finger tips - nameless fancies that we entertained for an evening and would smile at in the streets. They never came back, we were the American fancies that some found too tempting to forgo. 

I told retold the episode when Roger found a orange Tabby and named it Hemingway. It loved the attention and quickly bonded with us, but whenever our rather rotund land lady would come to "check-up" on us - usually early in the morning before either of us put on any real clothes and without warning - she would scream and apologize for the stray. Roger always tried to get Hemingway out of the way before she ever came over, but she had her own key and never knocked. I was once so drunk from the previous night that I didn't realize I was only wearing socks. Yet, despite these episodes that became barometers for my hangovers, Hemingway had a way of helping us with the late night visits of the ladies from below. Once, this girl that I had been eyeing walked by with her friend. This friend was known as the town beauty, I had no eyes for her - which was great for Roger because he worshipped the ground this beauty walked on. We had already polished off two bottles and I had just returned with a third, when he hopped on the drain pipe and slid down. He took this girl's arm and they sprinted off. I called down to the friend telling her to come up. 
         "I am not a cat," she said. Her words betraying her beautiful French accent. I had spoken to her in Italian, since we were in Sicily, but she chose to respond in English showing she was smart enough not to be taken advantage of.
        "Maybe I should come down?" I didn't want her to leave.
        "I like Cole Porter," she responded. I stood there dumbfounded. She smiled. "Drop the keys and I'll let myself in."
We danced. We drank. We made love. It was beautiful. In the morning I made her coffee, it was all a dream until the knock on the door. The police took us both down to the court house to get our friends. They had been arrested because they had decided that after making passionate love under the moonlight on the lawn of the mayor house the best thing to do would be to sprint to the piazza and bathe naked in the fountain. 

Roger smiled and hummed "Night and Day". He sipped his coffee and mused, "Remember the day after though." I did, the last three we spent with those two girls. We rented a boat and sailed around, island hoping and making love in dunes and under trees. We walked about the town eating gelato and buying last minute gifts for family and friends. But the day after they were arrested was an adventure. Camille realized she had left her necklace in the mayors lawn. This necklace was a gift from her boyfriend in London were she was at university. So, Roger strolled up to the guard told him all about it, walked over the lawn, found the necklace and walked out without a bribe or further police involvement. When Camille asked how he down it smiled and said "Magic!" but later he told me that he had told the guard he was with Interpol and trying to make the mayor didn't get in trouble, that his mistress had left a necklace on the lawn to blackmail him. The guard laughed and waved him on, wishing him luck keeping the mayor out of hot water.

Roger shook his head. If those days were a lifetime for me, they were an eternity for him. He looked at me with swelling eyes. I knew it was coming. Our last day was the worst. See we were the escapees from a school program that was traveling the churches of Europe. It was a collective of several schools from the US. Roger was from Portland I was from Atlanta. He had taught me so much in those months, but we had always stopped short of breaching the hot topics of religion and politics. That last day I had asked him if we could stay in touch, he blew it off and said life was too short to stay friends. He wanted to live life to the fullest and not be held back by memories. My mother had always taught me that life was short but eternity was long. Roger didn't believe in that. At least both agreed that Bush was a bad move for America. Yet, life had changed Roger. 

"I just wanted to apologize."
"I'll already forgiven you, I'm sorry too."
"I know you didn't mean to call me atheist racist, or a baby killing b*****d. I know, I was an a*s and deserved it."
"I still shouldn't have said it. You were the best friend I ever had."
"Don't make me feel bad."
"I'm sorry."
"I forgive you, thank you for forgiving me."

There was a break, a pregnant pause.

"If you want, I'd like you to meet my wife and kids," I said breaking the silence.
"Artie, I'm dying of aids. I picked it up in Nigeria when I was working for CNN."
"So. If you want you can meet my preacher, too."
"I'd like that."
"I've lived a long life. I'm not so sure I was right back then. I was an arrogant son of a heartless father. I've tried so many things Artie! None of them worked. Maybe this will work, it worked for you, why won't it work for me."

© 2012 Heyns

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Added on October 8, 2012
Last Updated on October 8, 2012
Tags: love, drama, memories, youth, spirituality, religion, life, life and death, sicily, aids, dancing



Portland, OR

Trying to figure out if writing is just a hobby or a love that can take care of me and my little family (wife, cat and me). Otherwise I crunch numbers, lame. Any constructive criticism would be gre.. more..

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