I am embarking on an A-Z challenge, this one featuring short pieces of fiction. Today's letter is A for Apartment.
Josh was nineteen and wanted more than anything else in the world to have his own apartment. It had been like that for as long as he could remember. His older brother had a good friend who had his own place, and it was decked out with all of the necessary accoutrements, including the Heineken sign which lit up when you flicked the switch.
The only problem was he knew from looking into it, that he would need more than $2,000.00 to get into one. There was first and last month’s rent, deposit for the one-room spot, plus a fee for having the utilities turned on. What with his truck payment, insurance and living expenses, he just couldn’t manage it, and there was no way his parents would lend him the money.
He’d had that argument too many times already to expect that they had changed their minds. “If you can’t afford to move into it, how can you expect to be able to maintain it, once you’ve moved in?” they had asked every time he had brought the subject up.
Sitting there talking to his friend about it, the whole thing had always seemed so unfair. “They just want to keep me trapped at home,” Josh would complain.
His best friend, Mike, would counter with, “It must be rough having parents who want to make sure you are responsible enough to do something, before they let you make an idiot of yourself.” Mike had some experience in the matter, having gotten in over his head when he and two friends had rented a house together, only to have the two friends flake out, leaving Mike with all of the expenses, including the disposal of a tattered old sofa, and a ton of clutter that the two had left behind, when they vacated the premises.
“It’s not the same,” Josh would say. “It’s just me, and I am not going to flake out on myself.”
“No, but what if you lose your job? Then you’d have to scramble, big time.”
“Why do you have to put a negative spin on everything?” Josh mumbled.
“It’s not negative-it’s reality.”
“Sure, like The Olive Garden is going to shut down, tomorrow. I’m just so sick of having to explain to my mom why I came in after midnight, or why I won’t be taking a full load at school. And I get so tired of my folks watching all of those WWII movies on the tube. You’d think they were retired colonels, instead of school teachers. When I ask them if we can just watch something from this century, they act as if I am some kind of imbecile. You’d think I was still in middle school.”
“Well, it could be like my place, where there’s no one ever home to ask the questions, or give a care,” replied Mike. It was true that Mike’s folks were rarely around in the evenings. They ran a restaurant that required that they be there from three in the afternoon, onward, six days a week. Mike himself used to work there, but like many others, he just could not avoid the squabbling that inevitably got in the way of a lot of kids trying to maintain a working relationship with their folks, if they saw too much of each other.
“What about you? You want to get an apartment with me? We could split the expenses.”
Mike snorted. “No way. Been down that road before, my friend. It’s paved with good intentions.”
“Are you implying that I am a flake?” asked Josh indignantly?
“No. I’m saying that I’ve been down that road before...” he left off lamely. “If you want my advice, you’ll save up your money and the day will come...”
And he was right. When summer came along, Josh got his hours increased, and lo and behold! He finally had enough to get into his apartment. He even found a Pacifico Beer Sign that lit up, which he made the centerpiece of his living room wall.
And he lived happily ever after.
Except that, after a month of being in his apartment, Josh started wondering why he had been so determined to live by himself? Where was everyone? When he found himself watching an old WWII movie one night, he realized that he missed being around the others.
When Mike came over one day, Josh shared his new realization with his friend. “Well, it’s just like my place, where there’s no one ever home to ask the questions, or give a hoot. I thought that’s what you wanted,” said Mike.
“Well, I thought so too. But I guess I was wrong. The question is, what do I do now? I can’t just move back home. They’ll laugh their heads off at me.”
“Ha! Your folks? They’d be thrilled to have you back again. Don’t kid yourself. Look, what you need to do is tell your dad that you are tired of living ‘The Longest Day’ instead of ‘The Best Years of Our Life’ and then make ‘The Great escape’ over ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai.’"
"They’ll be so happy that they will suggest that if you ‘Make the Long Voyage Home’ and arrive by ‘Twelve O’clock High,’ you can ‘Stand by for Action’ ‘Behind the Rising Sun.’”
“You’re right,” said Josh. “I’ll explain that I was ‘Too Young to Know’ that my apartment was ‘The Last Stop’ and that ‘Life Goes On.’”
So Josh moved home, along with his Pacifico sign, which he installed in his room, and was heard to declare, more than once, “‘No Man Is an Island.’”