Maybe this had all been a mistake. What had Logan been thinking when he had decided on getting a ticket on the first train out of his city to a town he knew almost nothing about except that he was sure he would be able to get a place with a reasonable enough rent that he could pay with the first job he had landed.
(It wasn’t anything remarkable, but the hiring manager had said nothing about recognizing Logan’s last name, so he took it. He had only that one round-way ticket for the weekend out of his city, and it had been the fourth interview he had been on in between the banking meetings that he had been sitting in on for his mother. Besides, he was sure he’d be able to earn decent tips as a waiter. At the very least, he was hoping to make back what he would pay in motel fees before finding a more permanent place to stay.)
Logan leaned back in his train seat, trying desperately not to miss his friends too much. He needed to focus on what he was going for, on what he was after, on getting a roof over his head before he could start even thinking about sending out texts and calls, wondering what they were up to, if they missed him just as much as he missed them.
(A glance at his watch revealed that the graduation celebration wasn’t even scheduled to be over for another two hours, most of them probably didn’t even know he had already disappeared, what the hell was wrong with him for being so sentimental already.)
(In hindsight, if he wasn’t so damn sentimental, he probably would still be in his mother’s house–)
Logan shook his head, as if the physical act would rattle in thoughts into some sense of order, and dug around in his carry-on bag for his tablet. He scrolled up and down countless pages of apartments, condos, and rooms available for rent in his new town, and he spent the next three hours of the train ride comparing rent prices and his new job’s hourly wages. His car was being shipped along with the train, so he wouldn’t have to worry about public transportation and bus schedules when it came to his job’s shifts, but he did have to think about if he would have his own parking spot at whatever place he could afford to rent.
He saved a few potential places until he started going cross-eyed from staring at screens with pictures that looked like the same damn empty room with the one window and one lamp swinging from the ceiling and too many dollar signs and obscene prices for one bedroom (honestly, he would barely be able to fit a bed in some of the rooms, why would he pay monthly for sleeping in a closet?). With a deep breath, he began to weed out some of the saved ones, looking for whichever places seemed to hold the most promise.
There was a particular place that was reasonably priced and actually had a few decent pictures of the room for rent from different angles. What really caught his eye was the image where there was one with a small black splotch at the corner of the ceiling and wall. The caption accompanying it read, “Sorry for the remnants of squashed spider guts by the ceiling, we’ve tried everything to get it off, but the soul of the spider will probably forever haunt this room. Hope you don’t mind a spider ghost sleeping with you.”
(Well, Logan figured living with a spider wasn’t any different from living with a bitch, so he may as well take the chance.)
Logan scanned the rest of the ad, finding the description of the place rather amusing: “Two people looking for a third roommate after we finally kicked a psychopath out of our lives (don’t worry, the room was thoroughly cleaned and fumigated). Six hundred bucks a month, which includes water and heat, but not the electric bill — that’s divided up each month. We don’t have a landline, so it’s mainly the Internet and television, and you’re on your own for your cell phone bill. The room up for grabs is 9×9, comfortable for a single bed and just enough room if you decide to haul a double mattress in there. Everyone shares the kitchen and the bathroom, so clean up after yourself, but you do have your own shelf in the fridge and bathroom closet. There’s also a third spot in the driveway (no garage, sorry) for your car, motorcycle, bike, scooter, whatever, if you want to use it.
“It’d be cool if you shared any allergies that you may have ahead of time. Unfortunately there’s no more room for pets in the place – we already have two dogs (dachshunds) and a long-haired cat. You can also probably count the quartet of crows that tend to gather around the living room window near sunset every few days since we started leaving a little bit of old bread out there this past winter. Be nice to them since they tend to bring back shiny trinkets for us as payment. We don’t ask where the trinkets come from and, if they happen to bring back a quarter or two, we put it in a jar towards getting them a bag of their favorite bird seed.
“We honestly don’t care where you are on the gender or sexuality spectrums, all we care about is if you’re comfortable so be sure to let us know if there’s certain pronouns you prefer or if something may trigger you somehow or whatever else you deem as important. There’s no smoking, no illegal drugs, and no underage drinking in the place. The fastest way to get your lease ripped up if down the line you’re trying to figure out how to get out of here is to bring home a bag of cocaine or get too drunk too often. The landlord is a good friend of our uncle (hence why he’s trusting us enough to pick out a third roommate, or he just doesn’t want to deal with interviews himself), so if you end up being like our previous psychotic roommate, be warned in advance that if we have trouble kicking you out, we have two guys who have worked in the same construction company for years together to kick your ass.
“If you made it all the way down here of this long-winded description, congrats, you passed the first test (or second if you already looked at the room pictures and didn’t freak out over the squashed spider guts). If you’re still interested in the place, email Glenn and we’ll set up an in-person interview at a public coffee place and we’ll go from there.”
The email was listed neatly at the bottom of the page and Logan opened up a new email to send a polite inquiry about the place. He figured meeting up with Glenn wouldn’t be a bad thing, and he’d rather get a feel of people in person instead of a simple call over the phone.
(He had tried that the weekend before, sneaking phone calls to potential landlords and roommates. The first question one had asked was about how cool Logan would have been with the landlord’s girlfriend coming over there all the time. Logan questioned about why the girlfriend herself didn’t just move in, and that opened a floodgate of ranting against the previous roommate and how he hadn’t appreciated anything that the landlord had done for him, and Logan tried to get a word in for about fifteen minutes before just hanging up.)
There were a couple of other email inquiries Logan sent out as well, but his mind kept drifting back to the room that may have the spirit of a spider haunting it, figuring that it had sounded the best out of the other ads he had seen. The description of the room and the general rules of the place sounded fairly normal, even with the few quirks about the place, and whoever wrote up the ad didn’t sound like a stiff. Logan hoped that he would at least hear back about the place.
It was during the fourth hour of the train ride that Logan noticed a new email in his inbox, and he got tentatively hopeful when he saw that it was a reply from Glenn. The first line of the reply was, “Damn, your email sounds so formal. Here’s hoping you won’t get scared off by us when we meet.”
Logan’s lips twitched upwards in a smile as the email continued with a friendly, casual tone that described a couple of meeting times and places in the next week that Glenn was available for if Logan was. Logan compared them all with his week’s schedule at the restaurant and settled on the first date, eager that he would be able to make it during the first time slot. The sooner he met Glenn, the sooner Logan had the chance of not sleeping in a dim motel room.
Glenn replied almost right away when Logan had sent back confirmation that he could make the first time meeting. “Sounds great then,” Glenn’s email read. “There’s a Starbucks at the corner of Main and Kingston Street with a little sandwich board outside that usually has some sort of coffee pun and cartoon drawing on it to get people to go in. You’ll know me by my gray baseball cap with the Batman logo on the front.”
Logan chuckled at that and tried to think if he had any easily-recognizable clothes or accessories packed away. Nothing sprung to mind except for a friendship bracelet that Aidan had made partly as a joke for their group of friends.
(“Logan, yours is in blue because it’s your favorite color,” Aidan had said as he gleefully yanked Logan’s wrist close enough to tie the woven bracelet around it.
“Aw, I thought you were going to say how it matches my eyes,” Logan teased.
“That too,” Aidan had agreed easily, the tip of his tongue poking out of his mouth as he fastened the bracelets. His own was woven with threads of greens, the ends of them dangling down from his skinny wrist and tickling Logan’s arm as Aidan worked.
“What made you make us friendship bracelets?” Carter asked with a chuckle, even as he admired his own woven creation. Reds and oranges, like a fiery sunrise.
“He couldn’t have done them just because he loves us?” Seamus asked before Aidan could respond to Carter. Seamus was smiling softly at the deep purples and one thread of bright yellow that Aidan had used to make his. “Thanks, man. I’m going to always wear this.”
Seamus did, even throughout graduation.
Aidan had looked up from Logan’s wrist to give Seamus a grin before answering Carter. “Was babysitting my little cousins, you know, the twins. Callie and Hailey, and apparently their entire class, are all into this friendship bracelet making stuff. It’s all they wanted to do, so I figured I’d join in. You should have seen how awful the first few bracelets I made were, ha! But I think I got the hang of it—There ya go, Logan.” Aidan patted Logan’s wrist where the bracelet was tied with a crooked bow.
Logan gave his hand an experimental shake to be sure it wasn’t loose enough to fall off, not wanting to risk accidentally losing it. His smile is genuine as he says, “Thanks, Aidan. I’ll always treasure your hard work.”)
Logan glanced at his wallet next to him on the train ride, a piece of navy blue thread poking out of one of the inside pockets. Logan would have worn it as often as Seamus and Carter had, had his mother not spotted it after school that evening. She had rolled her eyes and slid a pair of scissors across the counter at him with a sharp, “Cut it off.”
He took the scissors and went to his room, carefully untying the knot and placing the bracelet snug in between a couple of pictures in his wallet. He used the scissors to snip off a couple of loose threads from his blanket and a pair of jeans to make a show of tossing them out in the wastebasket when he returned the scissors to her.
(He still remembered the brief flicker of a frown that had crossed Aidan’s face the next day when his friend had seen Logan’s bare wrist. It still hurt.)
Logan settled on telling Glenn that he would be wearing a beige shirt and dark-washed jeans with a venti vanilla Frappuccino in his hands. If he could help it, he’d find a couple of seats for the pair of them by a window. Glenn had sent back one last email saying that it would be great to meet Logan and to not be late.
Logan spent the last half hour of the train ride meticulously trying to tie the friendship bracelet back around his wrist.
(It was impossible to do so with one hand.)