Jason sauntered into his flat-mate May’s bedroom. She was lying on her back, with her computer nestled up against her breasts, her arms retracted to reach the keyboard. Jason made his arms small too, and growled like a T-Rex, “Rawrrrr”.
“Shut up, jerk. I’m chatting with my buddies,” May said. He made a face and she threw a pillow at it, “You are like a walking cliché, you realize this, right?”
“First of all, I’m not. You are. Second, let’s go watch TV; it’s the law,” Jason said, finishing in a monotone.
“Come on, Jason, don’t pull that crap again, I just want to be alone for ten minutes,” May said. Her computer was full of chat windows, some blinking, some long dormant—the echoes of recent conversations. Jason was reaching for the drawstring on the blinds. He took hold near the top of it and slowly began pulling the blinds, one row at a time, up.
“Stop it, I’m not even dressed, Jason.” Light crept into the grey darkness. Shapes of furniture and piled clothes could be discerned. The room had no parallel walls. May’s bed was against the far sides of the room facing a blown-up picture of a Jumbo-tron showing May at a football game, cheering at the camera, with her camera-phone out in front of her. “Cut it out!” she screamed at Jason.
Jason stopped pulling and just as slowly began letting the blinds come down, his fist around the string rising. The light disappeared from the floor where it had been stacking up, and May grew cold with fright. “Alright. OK. Let’s go watch TV,” she said apologetically. She got up from her covers and walked to the dresser where she found some pajama pants and a sweater to cover her nudity.
“I’ll be in the other room,” said he.
“I’ll be right in,” she replied.
When she walked into the living room, Jason was logging in to the satellite. He asked May where she was sitting and aimed the web-cam so that it would capture her and him in the same screen. “Do you want anything to drink?”, he asked, as she came into view on the TV screen.
She said no. Jason entered the picture on the TV, sat down in his recliner, and cracked an energy drink. “What’s on TV?”
“I don’t know”
“Me neither,” he said, going up the channels one at a time: 41, 42, 43, 44 . . . Talk show, movie, weather, judge show, crime drama, headlines, history channel, news, local news, movie, cartoon, food, business news, lifestyle . . . 105, 106, 107.
“Is that movie on today?” Jason said.
“I don’t know. What movie?” May said.
“What day is today?”
“Today’s Thursday, buddy.”
“No that was yesterday,” he said to himself about “the movie”. He sipped his drink. 108, 109, 110, 111 . . . A basketball game came into view. Replay. 113, 114, 115.
The doorbell rang. “Did you order something, May?”
“Nope,” she replied.
Jason looked at her for a second, judging the veracity of her claim by the way she stared at the images of snow-laden conifers from a national geographic helicopter. Jason turned off the TV and went to the front door of the apartment behind the couch May was sitting on.
“Who’s there?” Jason inquired through the closed door.
There was silence.
“Hello? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” Jason said, shouting through the hollow steel door.
“HELLOOOo?” he shrieked. He could hear his voice echoing down the hallway of the building, like laughter in a prison.
There was no answer. Jason stood by the door, his head turned to the side to give one ear more of a chance of hearing footsteps or voices retreating. No sound at all.
After a minute Jason returned to his seat. “I have to get a peephole for that door,” he said, clicking the TV back on.
“Who was it?” May asked, in the least ironic tone she could muster.
Jason looked at her, and she looked back at the TV. He turned back toward the screen. 178, 179, 180 . . . They were watching a minute-long weekly news summary, when Jason’s eye caught the web-cam looking askew.
“Did you move the camera?”
“You?” he said in feigned innocence. “No, not you, May. Who else am I talking to? Am I losing my mind, or something. Like you don’t know who’s at the door? Like you don’t know who I’m talking to? Did you move the camera?”
“I didn’t,” she pronounced.
“Well, then who did, the guy at the door? Am I stupid to you?” He switched the tv input so that it showed what the camera on top of the TV was seeing. It no longer showed May, and only the bottom of Jay’s chair.
“Why did you move the camera?”
“That’s a leading question, Jason.”
“May, why won’t you answer my questions? Is that a leading question?”
“I didn’t move the camera, Jason,” she replied.
Jason got up from his seat, pushing down on the armrests for support as he rose. He stood for a moment and cracked the knuckles on his small, clumsy hands. He brought them to his face and pressed his palms against his eyes, the fingers pushing into his sweating forehead, and brought them down with great pressure, raking his features with the stubby fingertips. He moaned mightily. Then he went over to the camera. He repositioned it, guided by the picture on the TV so that it would show them both again. “Do you want anything to drink?” he asked, returning to his chair. May stared at her herself on the screen. Jason stared at May awaiting an answer. He blinked and then turned back to the screen. 181, 182, 183, 1, 2, 3.