The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
- Virginia Woolf, English Novelist and Essayist (1882-1941)
Chapter 12: Johnny’s Pad
Johnny felt he’d hit the jackpot when a friend told him that Jerry was looking for a roommate and met the guy and found him to be the most laid back person in the world. He jumped on it and moved into the open room without hesitation.
It was a two-bedroom pad down in San Clemente, just a two minute walk from the beach and the San Clemente pier. If you standing on the street in front of the place and turned your head inland, you could see those million dollar homes up on the hills and it made him laugh to himself every time he thought about it – those million dollar homes a good ten or fifteen minute drive from the beach and here he was in his humble little apartment, just a couple minutes walk away. Yeah, up on the hill, they might have a commanding view of the Pacific, but if he craned his neck from the front balcony, he had a little sliver of a view of the exact same ocean as well.
Jerry was a long-haul trucker, leaving the apartment completely to Johnny for weeks at a time. Jerry would come home for three or four days, they’d spend a little bro time time hitting the bong and playing a little Madden on the Xbox, and then he’d be off again. Talk about the perfect roomie, Jerry was it.
There was a knock at his door and as Johnny opened it, he saw it was one the knock he’d been waiting for. Susan stood there looking radiant, her lips painted like ripe cherries and Johnny felt his heart flutter (if you’re allowed to say such a thing about a guy.)
“Hey, Susan,” Johnny tried to say casually, not even bothering to keep his big smile in check. “Come on in.”
Susan’s smile was genuine but demure as she said, “Thanks,” and stepped inside.
They’d shared lunch together earlier in the day at Carl’s Jr. Just two days ago, the first day of work after “the incident,” it seemed prudent for the three of them not to be noticed hanging out together, but now, only a couple days removed, it no longer seemed like their being noticed being together would unravel the events of that evening.
He’d let Susan order her lunch separately, not offering to pay. Sure, it was only a couple bucks spent at a fast food joint and the gentleman in him wanted to pay, but he held off, thinking that the moment you start paying for a girl, well . . . Johnny just didn’t want her to think that he was beginning to develop some sort of expectations.
Then of course, there was also that fact that Johnny had noticed he’d always had much better luck not buying women drinks at bars than he’d ever had offering to buy for them. It made him think how even when his reasoning for doing something might seem humble or wise on the surface, he could almost always find some underlying reason that was much more self-serving.
“You want something to drink?”
“Aren’t you going to show me around first.”
Johnny laughed. “Well, there’s not really much to show you. Here’s the kitchen,” he said, guiding her the fifteen feet from the entryway to the kitchen with a soft, gentle hand to the small of her back. He swept his other hand across the fifteen feet of grandeur that was the kitchen.
She gave the kitchen a quick glace over, the sink was half full with dishes, but overall, it was relatively clean for a bachelor pad. The counters, the linoleum flooring, the appliances, none of it was anything close to new, but it wasn’t exactly ancient, either. The only thing he thought to mention as he gave her the guided tour of the kitchen was the Sparkletts cooler.
“Here’s our water cooler.” He pointed to the plastic Sparkletts water jug coupled on top of a squat ceramic crock housed in a tall wooden stand which raised it up to waist-level.
“Right now it’s dry, but whenever we have a party, that becomes the vodka dispenser.”
She laughed at the thought of people lining up to dispense themselves a couple shots of vodka (or four or five) from the water dispenser. “We need one of those at work, that would definitely make the day go by faster.”
“Hey,” Johnny did in his best drunken slur, “lemme tell you about thish deal I can geshu on a cruish-ship.”
Her laugh was just two notes, but musical – angelic and lovely.
“Check it out.” They were both facing forward to the big window that looked down on front of the street, he put his hands lightly on her hips and guided her around in front of him to face the window on their right side. “If you look down the street, between the lines of palms . . . you have to tilt your head to the left just a bit,” and she did, playing along.
“If you tilt your head just to the left, you can see just a little sliver of the ocean there! Do you see it? Do you see it?“
She laughed at his lunacy. “Yeah, I see it alright.”
“Yeah, that’s right, ocean view, baby! OCEAN VIEW!”
He loved the way she could dismiss him without being some sort of queen bitch.
“We’ve got to talk about Darren and Carlos,” he said.