Indie Author Answers #30: Dry Point of View

First up,

Let’s talk about the new cover art for the podcast. Go to jimheskett.com/compare to see the new and the old side by side. We’ll chat about white space, font selection, and how to choose an image that works at all sizes. Such fun!

5: Alex

 

In their formerly spotless apartment, the top of the kitchen counter, dining room table, and living room coffee table now swelled with the wreckage of beer cans and empty glasses. Rearranged furniture sat in unfamiliar positions, spilled bong water seeped into the couch, and muddy boot prints covered the carpet. This chaos came from the fifteen or twenty guests who had been partying in the apartment for the last few hours. Some of them new friends from classes, some of them old friends still living in Boulder, a couple of them neighbors from the apartment complex. Most of the guests at their apartment tonight were Alex’s people. Only a few came from Brian’s clique.

They had finalized the furniture arrangement, settling on a mix of their existing furniture, much to Alex’s dismay. He thought of his furnishing as modern, exciting, and evocative, whereas Brian’s were traditional, boring, and glum. Alex had provided most of the wall-art while Brian contributed only a framed picture of his little brother, which they displayed on the mantle over the fireplace. Brian was not much for ornamentation. They both had agreed that the black-and-white Bob Marley poster should hang in the most prominent position, above the fireplace.

Tonight, as usually happened at these parties, the bulk of the people had congregated in the kitchen. It started when Alex gave demonstrations of his “famous” pot milkshakes, and then people remained. An alternate group played the drinking game Quarters at the dinner table, and a few more stood on the balcony, smoking. Alex had tolerated Brian’s no-smoking rule in the apartment, at least while he was around. Whenever Brian stepped out, Alex did not care so much. He knew that, with all the pot smoked in the house, Brian could not tell the difference from the cigarette smoke.

Alex was trying to flee the kitchen and return to the corner of the living room where he had left Jessica, the redhead with the gigantic breasts from his Native American Studies class. Soon after preparing the first milkshake in the kitchen in front of a gathering crowd, she had appeared and asked for one.

He had become locked in a conversation with one of Brian’s friends as he nerded-out about the last Lord of The Rings movie. Jessica kept eying him from across the room, and he tried to steal glances at her from the corner of his eye, to let her know he wanted to get back to her. She would not be standing there alone for long, the way she had dressed tonight.

Salvation came for Alex when the front door opened and in walked Graham the Australian, his roommate from his first year in the dorms. Alex never thought that he would see that loser again, but at least it did give him an excuse to get away from the Hobbit-Nerd. Alex held up a finger to him with the I’m sorry, I’ve got to take this phone call look and strutted out of the kitchen. He sidled up to the cheery Graham. “Well, well, here’s Graham. What in the world are you doing here?”

“Hey mate, it’s good to see you. I’m just doing the old same-old I’ve been after for the last few years. Still in school, getting ready to graduate.”

“But what are you doing here?”

“Oh, I see. Ran into Brian the other day, actually. Just walking about on campus, spotted him outside the U. I just live in the apartments down the street.” Graham pointed at the door, as if that would help.

“Well, how about that.” Alex said, more a statement than a question. Brian greeted Graham and mentioned something about a small world. The level of corniness between these two approached the unbearable.

Alex said a hasty goodbye and then returned to his prospective conquest, whose name he now doubted was actually Jessica. It may be Julie. Or Jane. She was sitting on the couch, surfing through the TV channels. He slid next to her, draping one arm across the back of the couch, near her shoulders. An amateur move, but being quite drunk and even more stoned, his flirting abilities lacked finesse and he cared not. She stopped changing channels once she landed on the front-gate feed. The screen displayed a simple wall-eyed black and white view of the area in front of the parking lot’s gate. “You guys get your security gate on a cable channel?”

“Yep. Pretty sweet, eh? It’ll come in handy when the feds try to come bust in our door,” Alex said.

“You’re retarded,” she said with a smile. “Like the feds will wait at the gate for you to buzz them in.” She was cute, but her nose had a strange curvature and her sharp voice grated his ears. Alex figured that he could disregard all that, at least for tonight.

“Well, we’re planning on using it to screen people when we set our VIP guest list for admission to our apartment. It’s going to be a very exclusive club. Velvet rope, bouncer with a clipboard; the whole deal. We’re currently taking applications; do you think you might be interested in becoming a regular here?”

The redhead giggled and demurely tilted her head. That’s it; I got her. And then, interrupting significant progress in Alex’s quest to hook up with this girl whose name he could not quite remember, Brian shouted to get the group’s attention. He stood in front of the door, arms open wide, as if preparing to announce something momentous.

“Hey! Who wants to go mess around on the construction equipment next door? There’s nobody out there tonight. It’s all just sitting there. Let’s go see if we can get that bulldozer to start.”

Brian must be drunk because this activity sounded way off base for him to partake, let alone suggest. Alex would, but he was only ten feet from his bedroom, and he had cooked the redhead to nearly the right temperature. Then Alex’s suspicion about Brian’s inebriation was confirmed when Brian picked up the fireplace poker and playfully jabbed a few people standing around him, sniggering all the while.

For a second, Alex thought maybe he could convince the girl to stay behind with him while everyone else went outside, which would be even better. But his mouth dropped open when she shouted in agreement with Brian, then jumped up along with everyone else.

A familiar Jeep pulled up to the front gate, and Brian watched it on the TV. Brian relaxed his grip on the fireplace poker, which then fell to the floor. “Alex, is that Wiles?” he said.

The Jeep’s tinted window rolled down and Wiles leaned out, entering a code into the front gate controls, which opened the gate. He looked around before rolling up his window, and then he drove through.

“Yup,” Alex said.

Brian furrowed his brow. “Did you give him our gate code?”

“Settle down. It’s just Wiles. He’s just coming by to drop some stuff off.”

Brian’s expression remained unchanged. Alex did not understand this sudden uneasiness about Wiles. He and Brian used to be tight, and something must have happened, because Brian had not uttered single a word about him since Alex had reconnected with Brian at that bar. But upon further consideration, Alex realized he did not care about Brian’s opinions on the subject; Alex invited Wiles over, so he was coming over.

The redhead donned her coat and looked to Alex, waiting to see if he would join. He sauntered over to her, and with a quick wink, said, “you go on down there, I gotta meet up with my friend real quick. We’re just going to discuss some business; it’s nothing you need to worry about.”

Alex’s mystery-laden bravado did not seem to impress her. She shook her head and walked right out the door with the rest of the party.

Maybe not tonight, then, but soon enough.

 

 

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