Saturday: An Ottawa Story - Three


The man-child gone for the time being, David swept Richard's bag to the floor and flopped onto the cracked yellow leather of the chesterfield, burying his face into the cushions to let out a prolonged, muffled moan. In less than ten minutes his Saturday tranquility had been utterly shattered, its shards trampled upon, melted down, and then skillfully blown into a glasswork manifestation of chaos. Richard had that effect.

In some forgotten recess of his mind, David knew he shouldn't have been surprised. Richard's impromptu cohabitations had been increasing at a near-exponential rate during the past year. Every argument, every bender, every combination of both would see Richard Costello showing up at David's door, grin stretched across his features, the measure of apology in his words and mannerisms decreasing each time. Thus far none of Richard's lodging requests had been turned down, in part due to David's obligations as a friend but also because Richard didn't destroy the house during his brief occupations, tending to keep his mess to a three metre radius surrounding the basement couch. He came, he shot the shit, he ate a little bit of their food, slept, and left, and thus far none of his visits could have been described as truly problematic.

Thus far.

Now David turned his head, letting one cheek feel the rough scratch of the couch leather as he looked toward the desk nestled in the basement corner. Upon it rested the massive Acer laptop, currently in sleep mode, that contained his partially-completed story. He groaned again. Any other weekend--any other day--he could have weathered Richard's odd couple houseguest routine, but he had to come today. And, of course, David had to say yes, and if he had a reason for acquiescing he wasn't quite sure what it was. Nearest he could tell, he was looking for an excuse to procrastinate and Richard's incessant jackassery was his way in.

He got up--an overstatement, as the action more resembled rolling off the couch, grunting in mild discomfort as his torso made sudden contact with concrete, and rising to his knees--and made his way over to the desk. He hit the enter button on the keyboard, logged in, and came face to face with the unstructured 304-word POS that qualified as his barely-touched story. For a few moments he sat there, contemplating the blinking cursor next to the most recently typed character, and said, "Goddammit." He needed chemical motivation.

He braced his hands against the edge of the desk and pushed off, his rolling office chair carrying him across the floor--the concrete was still there for a reason--toward the mini-fridge parked in another corner. One hand on the fridge door, he glanced at the time on his cell phone screen: 9:30AM. Too early on any occasion... but this wasn't any occasion. He flicked the cell phone shut just as his other hand wrenched open the fridge and retrieved a can of pop.

Three seconds later David had wheeled back over to his desk and cracked open the can, bringing the fizzy mixture to his lips and taking a swig that eliminated a good third of its contents. A moment passed, wherein he felt the sharp bubbles make their way through his chest cavity, and then the guilt set it. "Jesus," he half-burped. "That was a terrible idea." Nevertheless, he finished the can and turned his attention back to the Acer's word processor.

The Keystone, the subject of David's struggle, was a 60-year-old playhouse that was to reopen its doors sometime mid-November after having been shut down for a decade. A mandatory inspection had revealing wiring, fireproofing and load-bearing members so past their respective due dates that it hypothetically could have made a civil engineer weep. Lacking the funds to convert the playhouse into something capable of safely housing human beings the owners declared bankruptcy and for the past ten years the structure had sat vacant on a stretch of Somerset.

...and that's where he had stopped. Well, maybe not in so few or words--and definitely not those words in particular--but there he was. He ran a hand through his hair, clicked his tongue, and reached for the keyboard.

"Now, under new ownership..." The thin vertical line of the text cursor blinked on and off next to the final 'p.' On and off. On and off. David knew what the next word was. He could feel it floating about in his head, waiting to take shape be it in speech or text. All he needed was the right stimulus, the right cue...

And then he was back on the couch, head once again buried in the cushions, moaning again but this time for a different reason. The twin gods--demons, rather--of procrastination and bad timing had come and successfully bitten him in the ass and it hurt.

Giving up for the time being, David let himself sag further into the couch, forsaking muscle control in the process. As a result, his arm flopped over the side and came to rest in Richard's open overnight bag. Out of boredom and idle curiosity he began to thumb through its contents, finding another ball of socks, a ratty t-shirt, a pack of cigarettes and Richard's cell phone. David briefly considered leafing through the last item's store of text messages, to see if there was any trace of Richard's argument with his better half and what exactly was said, but tossed the notion--and the phone--aside in reverence of good taste.

David sighed, another in a series of many that day. He was poking and prodding at a plastic baggie and wondering why in the world would Richard need to lug around a large measure of baking soda when he realized he was looking at 10 grams of cocaine.

"Monkey fucker!" he shouted and rolled off the couch once more. Rubbing his head, which had cracked against the floor in the fall, he came up clutching the bag of pure, unadulterated stimulant, gazing at it as though it was a malformed kitten. The baggie brought with it no less than five questions, but they were all competing for attention in David's head at the moment, leaving him with a nebulous mental din that did nothing to ease his utter shock and confusion.

Reason gone for the time being, instinct took over. He shoved the coke back into Richard's overnight bag, and rearranged so they maintained some semblance of their original position--as if Rick would notice. Pacing about, David debated confronting Richard about this discovery up front or going for the soft sell. Plus, the idea that this Ziploc was stuffed to the brim with cocaine was still only an assumption at this point. Maybe it was baking soda, and Richard planned on baking his hosts some cookies for compensation.

No, that wasn't Richard.

David sat down again, sighed yet again, and doubted that those 1200 words would ever come to be at any time that day.

More next Saturday! Parts one and two available.

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