Today begins the first or many such talks…

NOTE: If you are not up to date on the story, the first two novels have been run in their entirety at revolutionsf.com.
The Transformation of Lawrence Croft: http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=1827
Chance of a Lifetime: http://www.revolutionsf.com/fiction2/condorks2/condorks2_00.html

One in a Million – Chapter 11

The First of Many Such Talks

Larry stretched and sighed, leaning back into Holly’s faux Victorian red velvet couch, an ornate and decadent reproduction that was all that remained from Holly’s brief flirtation with the Goth scene. It shouldn’t have been comfortable to sit on, but it was.

Holly was in her kitchen—make that, their kitchen—washing the dinner dishes. In the midst of their relationship and its unique set of growing pains, Larry discovered that he liked to cook, and moreover, was pretty good at it. On nights when they stayed in, a more frequent occurrence all the time, now, they took turns in the kitchen. Secretly, they both preferred the nights when Larry cooked. His food was usually better tasting, and Holly liked doing the dishes because it made her feel domestic. It wasn’t the traditional gender roles they played out; not completely. But both of them felt that they were hitting marks previously unknown to them in their personal development.
Holly dried her hands on a dish towel and then walked over to the couch and flopped down, half on Larry, and half on red velvet. She pulled herself up into his arms and they kissed for a few minutes. Suddenly Holly sat straight up.

“Okay, Big Guy, I can feel that you’re about to lose your focus.” She tried to get up, but Larry pulled her back in for another kiss.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

Holly kissed his nose. “You know, ordinarily I’d find the sudden appearance of King Arthur endearing and charming, but we have to talk about some stuff, first.” She rolled off of him and onto the floor, where she crawled over to the clump of beanbag chairs and burrowed in amongst them.

Larry groaned. He hated those beanbag chairs. It made for very difficult groping, not to mention there was no possibility of leverage with all of them shifting and sliding like they did. It was Holly’s preferred defensive position, the only thing that kept him at bay. “Okay, okay,” he said, propping his head up on his hand. “Let’s talk.”

“That’s the spirit,” Holly said flatly. “I just thought we should talk about this move. It’s going to happen soon, you know, and we’ve got a lot to go over.”

Larry’s brow furrowed. “What, moving? No, it’s easy. I’ll just get D.J. to repay the favor and we’ll move me in like we did to Deej last week. Simple.”

Holly smiled. “No, Babe, moving is easy. I’m talking about us living together. You know…co-habitating. You said before you’ve never lived with a roommate, right?”

Larry nodded.

“Well, I have,” Holly said, “and it was no picnic. Nearly cost me a friendship. If we’re not careful, and by that I mean, if we don’t at least talk about some of this stuff beforehand, we could be in serious trouble.”

Larry swallowed. “Okay, you’ve got my attention, now. What kinds of things are you talking about?”
Holly rolled around, twisting her body into a casually fetching pose as she groped for a spiral notebook and a purple pen on the nearby coffee table. “Funny you should mention it, but I have a list here,” she said. “This is stuff we need to go over. Ready?” She flipped the cover on the notebook and started in without waiting for Larry to reply. “The big topic: bills.”

“We’ll split it all down the middle, right?”

“Yes,” said Holly. “Or, we could transfer some of the bills into your name.”

“But if I pay some bills and you pay others, then it’s not an even split. Right?” Larry said, trying to be reasonable.

“Yes, that’s right,” Holly said slowly. “But that would mean you are taking some responsibility for this relationship.”

Larry bristled. “Responsibility for this relationship? What does that even mean?”

Holly kept her voice calm. She said, placing equal emphasis on each word, “It means that we’re in this together, and it doesn’t matter which of us is paying what.”

Blank stare from Larry.

“It’s a trust thing, all right?” said Holly. “It means, for example, if you’re in charge of the gas bill, I don’t ever have to worry about not having hot water because you love me enough to pay it.”
“Okay, I think I get it,” said Larry. “You don’t trust me as a roommate, so I need to pick up some of the bills, is that it?”

“Ye—No! Larry, you’re missing the point.” Holly leaned forward and put her hand on his leg. “I do trust you. I love you. But think of it this way: if I tell you what half of the bills are each month, and you fork over your money, then that makes me feel like a landlord. Or the responsible one in our relationship.”

“But you are the responsible one,” Larry said. “You’ve got your own business.”

“Yes, and it gives me fits. I don’t want to have to run the house, on top of that.”

“Okay, I can see that,” said Larry. “But I’ve got some questions of my own, too.”

“Good, great,” said Holly. “Let’s talk about your concerns.”

Larry took a deep breath and said, “So, what are we going to do about game night?”

Holly rubbed her temples. “I’m going to get a glass of wine. You want some?”

“I’ll have a beer, if there’s any left.”

Holly got up and walked to the kitchen. Larry stared after her, wondering what on Earth he’d gotten himself into.

***

They made love, and it was functional, if not spectacular. Larry was always grateful and appreciative. It was as if he’d learned a magic trick from Holly, and now he could amaze her with it. The student had become the master, as it were.

Afterwards, it was mutually understood that they would not revisit the conversation they’d run into the ground earlier that night. Instead, they fell asleep watching the comedy channel, their heads touching, like Siamese twins.

***

Larry was back in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, surrounded by the metal stall on all sides. There was graffiti in front of him, but he couldn’t read it, no matter how hard he tried. The letters just didn’t make sense.

Larry heard the door open, and someone walk in. “Hello?” he called out. “Who’s there?”

He heard whispers, and then giggles. Oh, no, he thought. They’re going to mess with me. It was his biggest elementary school fear, but even as he was dealing with it, Larry thought, what’s going on? I haven’t dreamed this dream in years.

The footsteps and giggling were closer, now. Larry tried again. “I can hear you, you know. Who are you?”

Suddenly the stall door was yanked open, torn off its hinges. Rhonda Halsey stood there, looking all kinds of gorgeous. She was actually glowing a golden light. Larry tried to cover himself as best as he could. She laughed and shouted, “In his bowels we find the key to life!”

Something unlocked in Larry’s head. “What?”

Fred Terkington appeared in the stall door, standing haughtily beside Rhonda. She leaned over and licked Fred’s neck, and then laughed. Fred joined in, laughing at Larry.

“Turk?” Larry said. “What the hell?”

“In his bowels we find eternal life!”

“Fuck this,” said Larry, trying to stand. “I’m out of here.”

Turk and Rhonda rushed him, grabbing him around the neck and shoulders and holding him in place.

Larry struggled, but they were both insanely strong. He heard splashing in the toilet bowl underneath him. He screamed…

And sat upright in bed. Holly stirred. “’Re you okay?” she mumbled.

Larry patted her arm. “Go back to sleep.”

“Mmmmkay.” Holly turned over and pushed up against him. It was a gesture that could easily have led to Round Two, but Larry wasn’t having any. Not right now. He was back.

“Stercutus,” he whispered.

The Author

Mark Finn

Mark Finn

Mark Finn is an award-winning author, playwright and essayist who is active in Robert E Howard studies. His biography, Blood & Thunder: the Life and Art of Robert E Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy award, and will be re-released in an updated second printing later this month. His comic books SCOUTS! Premeires in March from Ape Entertainment.

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1 Comment

  1. J_Michael_T
    January 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm — Reply

    OK, I’m really enjoying this story. Can’t wait to see where this is all leading to.

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