Arts & Entertainment
2 min

An excerpt from Basement of Wolves

Today is a brand new morning, but my heartburn starts once Tim pulls the chair in front of me and sits at my table.

“You,” I say.

“Don’t act too excited.”

“You ditched me the other day.”

I sound upset, but I’m actually happy to see him.

“Dude, you were fine. It was a good thing to find your own way out.”

Today he’s wearing black jeans and a plaid long-sleeved shirt. It’s wrinkled and smells like sweat. I shuffle my slippers and they bump into skateboard wheels.

“What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same question, but I don’t,” Tim says, giving me attitude. Those eyelashes must be two miles long. “I guess I just like it here. And you’re interesting.”

It’s the merry-go-round. Young hustler has a tired ruse I decoded two decades ago. Maybe I even invented it. Soon enough, his knee will graze mine. If I move away, he’ll split. If I hold the thigh firm, it’s a clear invitation. Our interaction was scripted before we ever met.

Yet, under the table, all I can feel is the skateboard, the edge of the sandpaper grip on the top of the plank against my shin. His long legs have seemingly disappeared.

“Wanna go on the roof tonight?” he asks.

“Don’t you have any wild parties to attend?”

“The Doctor doesn’t call me anymore. We can bring Jack Daniels and Coke up there.”

“You want me to buy it, I guess?”

“If you want to, that’s cool. I can pay for it.”

“No, no, I insist,” I reply a little too sarcastically.

I can’t achieve subtlety before two cups of coffee. I take forty bucks out of my bathrobe pocket and slip it to him.

“That’s really not necessary,” Tim says.

“Don’t be silly. See you at eight.”

“It’s gonna be a blast, you’ll see.”

After Tim leaves, I realize he’s got me where he wants me. I can’t ask any questions about his life, though I’m dying to know. Does he work? Go to school? Where does he live, and what frees him to spend his days with me? I can’t ask him, because that would license him to probe my hot air balloon. Until pop. Can’t let that happen. Maybe this arrangement is for the better. I prefer silence to lies. My immediate and most pressing worry, however, is that we didn’t set a meeting place, and I’m not sure if he remembers my suite number.