I LEFT FOR work as usual – all empty stomach and in a hurry. My slumbering flat mate, head dangling off the sofa, was oblivious. He was there out of pity, not kindness, and with every day I grew to despise him. My time at work was spent concocting various ways to get rid of my legal squatter. A vice like bitterness squeezed me, knowing he was dossing about in the flat, eating noodles from dirty bowls using crusty forks, watching Jeremy Kyle, mocking the people, yet utterly unaware of his own parallel to the car crash drama. Afternoons were filled with weed, computer games and poorly aimed attempts at pissing in the toilet. The carpet around the sofa was pitted with cigarette burns, never an apology.
It was Friday today. A societal sigh of relief for many. Knowing what I faced when I got back, I would have worked for free over the weekend.
Shooggling my keys in the front door lock as a warning of my imminent arrival, I routinely dumped my bag just inside, threw my jacket at a hook, missed it and left it to crumple on the floor, glad to be shed of my outer skin.
Peering in the living room, Tommy was nowhere. There is a god… Then I heard the bathroom fan and an inner melancholy returned.
‘Tommy?’ I yelled.
No answer. I went over and tested the handle: open. Of course the light was still on, but Tommy wasn’t in there. Ya beauty!
Not one for singing, I burst out a few lines of The Killer’s, a true testament to my happiness at having some alone time. I grabbed a tinny I’d hidden from behind rotten cabbage and moulding broccoli in the fridge. Vegetables scared the shit out of Tommy, it was the only area relatively safe from his selfish chaos.
I switched on the TV which was usually in standby mode.
Beer in hand I plonked myself down on the black settee. For the first time all week I actually felt relaxed in my own flat. As the digibox’s blue LEDs booted up I took stock of the silence and my surroundings.
What in the fuck?
A ragged rectangle was missing from my black faux leather sofa. Not a small patch, perhaps caused by carelessness, an entire side was exposed, the nylon innards on display. Tommy had attempted to hide it by sticking two grimy cushions on top, like I wouldn’t bloody notice.
Fuming at his latest antics, I stewed until darkness fell, half-heartedly watching Storage Hunters on Dave: pointless scripted-reality pish. Genuine guilt washed over me at watching TV at all anymore. At some point I fell asleep, bored of life.
I woke up to hear Tommy and one of his functional junky mates, talking loudly, the usual nonsense, flicking lights on.
‘Aye his stuffs here. He’s probably asleep…fuckin’ arsehole!’ They cackled.
‘What’s in the fridge?’ This voice sounded like a guy who’d once introduced himself as Eggy. Fucking chancer.
Mentally I pictured what was actually in the fridge; rotting cabbage and broccoli, about 50ml of milk, not even enough for a cup of tea but surprisingly still in date, a few bits of bacon, one egg and a strange green black mouldy spore that sat at the back which was as close to a flat pet as we’d have.
Disgraceful. What would my mum think? Old friends? This was a sham of an existence. On Sunday, Tommy was leaving.
I heard footsteps on the floorboards entering the living room. The lampshade-free bulb went on.
‘Oi, Tonsil! You awake? Me and Eggy are wanting to watch a film, some Serbian horror thing, sounds mental.’
A small scene played out in my head during this dialogue, involving me shouting as loud as I could and ripping his head off followed by Eggy’s.
He strolled over past the sofa and squatted down to turn the DVD player on and put his disc in.
I inexplicably opened my eyes at this point to have my post-nap eyes first glimpse of the world involve Tommy’s exposed crack as he sorted his DVD out.
‘Fuck sake Tommy, get a belt!’ My vision adjusted to the light as a familiar feeling of depression overwhelmed me. Wait! Hold on! I looked back at Tommy who was now standing up and dabbing at his phone. He was wearing the most disgusting trousers I’d ever seen. Since when did he wear leather trousers? They looked ridiculous! BANG! It hit home in a nanosecond. I looked down at the sofa, just to double check. You bastard!
‘Alright Tonsil!’ said Eggy strolling through a can of cheap cider in hand.
I was just about to kick them both out for good in pure rage, when a moment of nap-induced clarity led me to look at the calendar pinned to the wall opposite. Four days until the end of the month. About the only thing I could count on was the standing order I had made Tommy set up for the rent. As soon as the rent hit my account he was out, no comeback. £300 was the least he owed me. It might buy me five therapy sessions if I was lucky, about half of what I needed after living with him for nearly a year.
‘Hi Eggy, have a seat..’ I smiled as I said it, vigorously patting the nylon next to me.