I lived in a largish house that my foster parents left me. It was run down and stood close enough to the overhead rail-line that dishes rattled when a train passed. The neighborhood was sketchy, but so was I, so I felt a certain peace there. There were two bedrooms upstairs, the master where I live, and a guest bedroom that my roommate had claimed as an office. I had bolted the door shut and done what I could to secure things, but I suspect he roamed around when I wasn’t home. Still, he paid his share of the rent and I hadn’t seen him in years so the arrangement was somewhat workable.
May, who was not my roommate, was on the couch when I got home. She’d shown up hammered dunk a while back insisting that she’d been invited to a party at my house. I was the only one there, had never met her before, and had been sleeping when she knocked, but when I pointed all of this out she claimed the party was dead “because I was such a dick all the time” and that she’d get things banging. We spent the next four hours watching YouTube videos and drinking fortified wine with no shirts on. If she had dug men at all I would have married her and ruined both our lives. At some point she declared herself my protege, but I wasn’t doing a whole lot. I assume she had a job and a home, but for someone who read my email to make sure I wasn’t talking shit about her she was remarkably tight with the details of her personal life.
“ How was work?” May asked.
I tossed my scrubs in the hamper and grabbed a beer from the cooler by the couch.
“Harry died,” I said.
May took the bottle from me, banged it open on the edge of a badly gouged coffee table, and handed it back. There was barely any foam or spillage, she had a gift.
“Was he the one who’d give me pills?” May asked.
“ The one that gave me pills, which you’d then steal? Yes, though that’s kind of a shitty epitaph. Here lies Harry, he got a couple people a bit higher than they otherwise would have been.” I said.
May scooched down the couch to make room for me.
“I mean, it’s not great but it could be, like, “Here lies Isaac, he touched forty kids and died jammed in a window trying to sneak into a daycare”.
“I think that sort of post-mortem libel is frowned upon” I said.
May followed the thought.
“If I died I’d need a giant tombstone to put all of my deeds into perspective. I don’t want anything whitewashed.”
I found that hard to believe.
“I thought you wanted to be cremated and have your ashes flung into the faces of your enemies, during important life moments.” I said.
May conceded, somewhat.
“Yeah, I definitely said that. But you could still get one for the backyard so you’d have a place to weep. I’m sure I’ll die first. Likely in a murder suicide, after a lovers quarrel with an untameable woman.”
I sipped my beer while she elaborately mimed both parts of her tragic end. Somehow she made each party sympathetic.
“There is a hundred percent chance you will be the murderer in the equation” I said.
May took this in stride.
“And the suicide! I’m doing all of the work, it’s no wonder the relationship fell apart.”
I nodded sympathetically. You don’t win arguments against May, but I’d learned to steer them gently to shore. We sat in companionable silence for a bit before she remembered her big ask.
“Hey, can you get a date for Friday? I want you to come to a thing, but if you don’t bring someone people will think we’re together.”
I didn’t see the problem.
“So, just tell them I am your friend.”
May dry heaved and swatted at invisible cooties.
“Ok, that is only slightly less embarrassing than bringing you as my date. Do you really want to look like a deluded straight guy, that failed at grooming his way too young lesbian friend, but follows her around anyways hoping she’ll gets drunk enough to forget he’s sexually repulsive. Fuck that.”
This was May asking for a favor.
“Have a nice time, I actually have a date already.”
I didn’t, but May didn’t know that.
“I know you don’t, because you didn’t drop ten bucks to get your shitty legoman haircut touched up, and all three of your presentable shirts are in the bottom of your laundry hamper” May said.
May’s empathy was suspect, but her intel was on point.
“Fine, I am free, but Aubrey and I are on the outs so I don’t know who I’d bring”
May pushed my Legoman hair back and turned my face under the light trying to find a good side. After a few sighs of compromise she stepped back and snapped a picture with her phone.
“Well, you shouldn’t bring Aubrey regardless, as she is married and her “Trial” separation has been going on for three years. And since your next move will be going to one of three bars, where everyone already knows you are damaged goods, we are going to have to take some drastic action.”
May tapped at her phone, occasionally humming and grunting. She had the look of a chef cooking with roadkill they couldn’t bear to waste.
“Are you making me a tinder profile?” I asked.
May shook her head.
“No, you don’t present well in a visual medium…you’re like, normal plus. In person you’ve got this aloof and off-putting vibe that can read as confidence, but you are a tinder five and no one is going to an unsecured location with you. I am signing you up for speed dating. Tonight.”
This was a terrible idea, but I could use a date, and May was the closest thing I had to a female friend with social instincts. I‘d made a lot of progress, but spending the first thirteen years of my life negligently home schooled left gaps in important areas.
“Fine, but if I become the victim part of a murder suicide I want my epitaph to read: This is basically May’s fault”.