You live in a small studio apartment above a fish and chip shop; the smell of oil is your incense. There’s a large red couch that makes the room look smaller than it is. It’s a shit hole but you love the place. You need some help so you consider having a housemate to help with the rent.
But when Jesse moves into your apartment you notice idiosyncrasies. He walks about the apartment when he brushes his teeth. He rolls into his small bed the same way night after night and in the morning he departs it, cracks his back, looks up at the ceiling and clears his throat in that order.
He must not notice these little routines. You watch him sometimes and hope he doesn’t catch you. You leave for work in the morning and hope he will still be there later. He hasn’t been talking much lately. Over time you become less his friend and more his zookeeper. The apartment has become his sanctuary and you start to feel like an intrusion, an unwelcome new chimp in his cage. He occupies more space than you do on a regular basis. You confine yourself to corners and look out for him. He walks about the apartment with his toothbrush dripping water.
‘You can’t drip water. The floorboards are thin, it drips into the fish and chip shop,’ you tell him. He shrugs. You are a little scared to bring it up again.
You lurk about the grocery store next to the fish and chip shop, eating Golden Gaytimes outside. The owners look at you and whisper things and laugh. They can’t possibly know why you can’t go back upstairs but it feels like they do. You have let someone take your home from you. It’s time to go and reclaim it.
Back in your apartment and there he is, on your couch, in your area. The areas have not been officially assigned but in your mind they have; and you thought he agreed but now you see he isn’t here to assign areas. He is here to get rid of you.
‘How was your ice cream?’ He asks, like he really cares.
‘Fine,’ you snap back – hoping he notices the tone of your voice. But he either notices and doesn’t care or doesn’t notice at all. He turns his head back to the TV. You walk behind him and imagine hitting him with a lamp, choking him, watching the eyes roll to the back of his head. Your imagination is darker than it used to be.
‘I might move out,’ he says.
‘Okay,’ you say.