Erick marches angrily down the carpeted hall of a Westside apartment building. He takes a breath and knocks calmly on the door numbered “227”.
Anthony, Erick’s former office crush, looks through the peephole and immediately wishes he hadn’t as he slowly opens the door.
“What do you mean, ‘you don’t have it?’” Erick says emphatically as he storms into the apartment.
Anthony slowly closes the door and leans against it. “Hey, Erick,” he says nervously.
“Don’t ‘hey’ me. I’m not here because I miss seeing your face everyday at the office,” Erick retorts.
Anthony begins to walk through the living room toward the kitchen. “Can I get you something to drink?”
Erick blocks Anthony’s path. “I’m not particularly thirsty right now,” Erick replies with a condescending smile. “What do you mean, ‘You don’t have it?’”
Anthony shrugs. “I don’t have it,” he says flatly.
One afternoon several months ago, Anthony came into Erick’s office and asked if the two of them could go out for a cup of coffee. The invitation wasn’t exactly out of the blue but it certainly was out of the ordinary. Erick developed quite an office crush on Anthony almost immediately upon meeting him when he started temping at Lefty magazine about 18 months ago. As most crushes go, it was far from requited. In fact, Erick’s playfully suggestive comments generally made Anthony somewhat uncomfortable – especially those that made any reference to his sexuality. Though many assumptions were made as to whether or not his spinach was buttered, there was no general consensus so an overall question mark lingered over Anthony’s head.
Erick and Anthony walked across the street to the Buckstar Coffee Shop. Though Erick’s crush on Anthony had waned significantly since he and Chris started dating, Erick still found something intriguing about Anthony. Perhaps it was the ever-questionable sexuality. Perhaps it was the fact that Anthony himself was dating a transgendered individual. Perhaps Anthony embodied all that was complex and fluid about human sexuality as a whole. Whatever it was, Erick was happy that Anthony hadn’t invited anyone else to this meeting – as he typically did whenever Erick extended him an invitation to afternoon coffee.
That happiness was short-lived as Anthony quickly revealed his true purpose for calling that meeting. Erick had suspected there was a hidden agenda but wanted to give Anthony what turned out to be an unwarranted benefit of the doubt.
Outside of work, Anthony performed in drag at various bars, clubs and special events. He was becoming quite popular and a bar in Long Beach wanted to sign him up to perform in a weekly show with several other drag performers. Now that he was ascending to a higher level of performance with a higher caliber of performer, it was suggested by the bar’s manager that Anthony upgrade his wardrobe. Though no longer a temp, Anthony’s salary at Lefty still prohibited such a sudden and dramatic upgrade. A few months prior, Erick accidently caught one of Anthony’s performances and was quite impressed. With this in mind, Anthony thought Erick would be amenable to loaning him the money with which to upgrade his wardrobe.
Erick had only seen the one performance, but he was touched by the grinny, wide-eyed passion with which Anthony talked about his burgeoning side career. With certain conditions and guarantees made by Anthony, Erick agreed to the loan.
“I loaned you a pretty substantial amount of money back in SEPTEMBER. You’ve had eight months to have it. Why, all of a sudden, do you NOT have it?” Erick presses.
“I never had it,” Anthony answers softly.
“So the time you told me that you’d have it on a certain date was a lie?”
Anthony nods his head slowly.
“And the times that I had to follow-up with you about the status of the repayment of this loan when you told me you were struggling to come up with the money was also a lie?”
“Technically…no, but yes.”
“What is technical about a ‘no’?”
“Well, I was struggling to come up with the money.”
“And what was this struggle?”
“I wasn’t making enough at Lefty or from performing.”
“Did you share this information with the person who loaned you the money?”
Anthony shakes his head.
“I was embarrassed.”
Erick begins to circle around Anthony. “Ah, so borrowing money wasn’t embarrassing enough, but telling said person from whom you borrowed said money was?”
“It wasn’t easy to borrow that money.”
“It wasn’t easy to lend it to you either.”
“I really appreciate it.”
“That’s lovely. But I don’t want your appreciation. I want my money back.”
“But I can’t pay it back.”
“Did you ever intend on paying it back?”
Anthony considers this for a moment. A suggestive look comes across his face. “I could pay it back in a different way.”
A look of disgust flashes across Erick’s face that gives way to a deep, guttural laugh which ends just as suddenly as it began. Erick sits down in a nearby desk chair and stares intently at Anthony. “I don’t like being played – especially when I think I’m doing something nice for someone.”
Anthony stares blankly at Erick but doesn’t respond.
“You do realize I was laid off from Lefty, right?”
“Which means that money you owe me could come in very handy right now.”
“I just don’t have it,” Anthony says with a smirk.
If a look could slap a smirk off of someone’s face, Erick had it on his. “Well, if you lied about paying me back in the first place, you could be lying about not having it as well.”
“I don’t believe you. In fact, I’m not even sure I believe you actually upgraded your wardrobe. Hell, how would I even know if you’re still performing?” Erick charges as he looks around the room. “Some of these items look pretty new and upgraded to me.”
Anthony stares at Erick for a moment. “I think you better go.”
A smirk creeps across Erick’s face as he stares back at Anthony. “I never thought of myself as a vindictive person, but I don’t like being taken advantage of. And I don’t like liars.”
“I’d like you to go.”
“I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to see me off.”
“I’ll put it to you this way. I’m going to give you one last chance to write me a check for the amount you owe – right here, right now. And if it clears, I will forget this entire situation ever took place.”
“There is no ‘or’.”
Anthony snickers. “There’s always an ‘or’.”
“In this case, it’s just a choice. I want my money back.”
“I don’t have it.”
Erick gets up and walks toward the door. “Alright, you don’t have it.”
“I’m sorry, Erick,” Anthony replies as he follows Erick to the door.
Erick opens the door. “Don’t give me that bullshit. But just so you know, this matter is now in the hands of karma. Karma, little man, is a MUCH bigger bitch than I ever could be – and far more intimidating than any collections agency.”
Erick walks out the door and closes it gently behind him. The top screw from the wall mount of Anthony’s LCD flat screen TV comes loose and the entire unit falls to one side, leaving a deep semi-circular scratch in the wall. The unit swings back and forth as it hangs for dear life a couple of feet off the floor – held up by a weakening bottom screw.
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