Breaking open, it slid across the white gooey carpet and down onto the semi-solid slab of green and lighter green. Picking up the top layer, there seemed to be no stopping the bright yellow flow. Plunging down into a deep sea of red, filling and flowing over a mountain of rough terrain. Streaks of red and yellow running together. Heat rushed into the porous landscape. A white thick cream oozed everywhere quelling the sting.
Jet removed the prongs of his fork from the broken yoke. A thick strand clung to the metal tip. He watched as it thinned, finally snapping back. A tingle ran across Jet’s back and down his arms. He placed his fork down resting it against the tip of the bowl. Reaching under the table he adjusted himself. It wasn’t often that he made himself Chilaquiles Rojos with a fried egg and cheese.
It was a special occasion that called for a special recipe. Jet shifted in his chair. His skin pinched against the wooden surface. Birds chirped outside, enjoying the return of spring. It all felt so familiar – the sunlight filling the kitchen, the charge of excitement, the various types of red laid out before him. He fixed his shirt, before taking a firm grasp on himself. Three years ago, Jet had cemented his commitment to himself and the remains of roommate underneath the back porch.
He and Doug had always gotten along well. Doug was a great roommate who always paid his rent on time and did his share around the house. It was something Jet had been leery of when he first decided to open his home to a roommate. He had lost his job for the second time that year. Jet had known he was different than most, but up until the following year he hadn’t thought it would interfere in his ability to work.
When Doug showed up for their lunch meeting, Jet had reservations. He was tall. Much taller than Jet. He was skinny, but had obviously once been a man of muscle. Jet studied him over lunch. There was a damage there that Jet recognized. He felt excited at the prospect. It made Doug more inclined to Jet unlike the rest of the fair-waging world. He even had a pet bird, Lucinda.
Jet despised pets, but a bird seemed to intrigue him. It lived in a ventilated cage. It didn’t shit or slobber around the house. If there was an end of times, it would be at least one meal. How different from chicken or pigeon could it be?
Doug accepted Jet’s offer. In two weeks Jet would have a steady source of income to pay his bills and could take his time finding a new job. More than that, he might even have a friend. Jet sat on the guest bed looking around the sparse room. Soon it would be filled with Doug. Jet felt excitement course through him once more. Freeing himself from the confines of his khakis, Jet gave into the moment. When he was done, he left the room and walked into the basement for the cleaning supplies.
Weeks became months. They learned each others’ schedules. They picked up on their habits – both good and bad – and remembered the small things that would drive the other mad. After two weeks, Doug was regularly making his bed and Jet would wait until there was a full load to run the dishwasher. Every Sunday at noon, Jet would shave Doug’s hair. They would both clean up together.
Doug had few friends outside of work. He was concentrated on his career. Something trendy that didn’t make much sense to Jet. It didn’t matter. After the first year they had Pizza Friday with a rented movie, and went to dinner and a movie out on Saturday. They alternated who picked what.
Jet would pack Doug’s lunch, something much healthier than whatever takeout he had been living on before. Doug would bring home a fancy case of beer for Jet to try. They talked about Sam, who had ruined Doug’s last career. They mourned the loss of Jet’s pet dog from adolescence. They talked loosely of Jet’s celibacy, and of Doug’s break from dating. They had accepted each other, not just as roommates, but as damaged goods.
It had been the first day of spring. Gloomy, wet, rainy – where Doug worked thick flakes of snow fell heavily to the ground. Jet had been laid off, again. Instead of letting it get the best of him, he focused on making something unforgettable for Doug. A buffet of his favorite recipes, including homemade chilaquiles rojos. He had just polished off the last of the bottle of red he had been sipping at when Doug walked in with a case of beer and a small box.
“Life can’t be too bad when there’s cake,” Doug had said.
He cracked open a beer for each of them, and brought them over to the couch where Jet had set up the coffee table buffet style. It had been Doug’s choice of movie, but instead he chose one of Jet’s favorites. A classic from the 80s.
They sat. They watched. They drank. It was colder that night than they had anticipated. Neither wanted to turn the heat back on – it was costly, and surely it the cold would pass. They shared a blanket. They watched. They drank. At some point they swamped the leftover dinner for cake.
Doug’s hand touched Jet’s thigh. It was cold, but Jet didn’t mind. They put on a second movie. They sat closer. They drank more. Christian Slater appeared on screen, as a psychopathic killer he always caught Jet’s attention.
For a moment Jet lost himself. A noise escaped his throat. He couldn’t do that in front of Doug. The room spun. He was in the kitchen. The marble counter was cold underneath him. Doug’s buzzed blonde hair tickled the palms of his hands. He felt himself being taken higher before fading away to the pain and the pleasure.
The next morning Jet woke up on the couch. The room was still swaying. He stumbled his way into the kitchen. Doug stood there, naked, in the glow of the sun, the night’s gloom gone away. The sound of rain and sleet replaced by the chirp of birds. Neither had much to say. Doug passed him a cup of coffee. Jet, only in a shirt, nodded and sat at the table. The smell of last night’s food wafted into his nose and began to turn his stomach.
Standing, he quickly walk to the other side of the kitchen. Closer to the coffee maker. Doug, in turn, moved closer. There was a gentleness that Jet hadn’t remembered from the night before. Doug was calm and intentional. Jet needed more. He pushed and was pushed back. The kitchen was a brilliant place to be… the hot stove to heat the metal blade. The searing sound of skin. Jet felt a true release of passion. Not since his office work party had he even come close to such a surge. That had been it since his dog. Jet was there. Shades of red splattered across the table. Gargling noises, sounded between grunts.
Jet softened, coming to. Around Doug’s throat was a muddled pool of red sauce and blood. Jet stood back letting Doug’s body slump to the floor. Sitting down at the kitchen table, Jet took a breath and captured the feeling. Jet grabbed a chip from the chilaquiles rojos, one not completed drowned in blood, and picked for a few minutes.
He walked down to the basement and got the cleaning supplies. At least this time he wouldn’t get an email from HR telling him, they had to talk. He would have to find a new roommate, but that would come in time. It was officially spring. The time of rebirth.
Jet released into his napkin. Looking down at his chilaquiles rojos, he picked up a chip. They were never quite the same as that day. But they were still his favorite. Later, he would be meeting a woman named Susan for lunch. She had recently lost her job due to mass layoffs. The whole country was facing them. Her landlord had evicted her. She needed somewhere to stay until all this was over and she her old job was able to rehire her. Jet had asked if she liked chilaquiles rojos in their phone conversation. It was one of her favorites.
Note from the author: want to make some chilaquiles rojos? Check out this recipe from Food & Wine. Looks pretty tasty from the feature picture, and I have to imagine it tastes better without a side of murder.