Lond Ho Adventures One Shot: Pantophobia
“My fakking head is killing me! You guys got any Aspirin?”
Paco Villa Lobos rubbed his forehead with a tanned, paint stained hand as he stepped in from the deck and settled down on the end of the gigantic, puffy, black and tan coloured chesterfield in flat 1401 of London House apartments. It was warm in the flat, a little too warm for June, Hunter thought, as a light breeze blew in from the open patio door, causing the plastic duck’s head wrapped in six-pack can rings that hung from the chandelier to spin lazily. Mia Jones and her friend Charlize Townsend were still finishing their cigarettes outside so Bill decided to say nothing about Paco once again leaving the goddamn patio door wide open. Seasons by Chris Cornell was playing on the Sanyo CD player that Hunter had recently wired into Bill’s full sized, Kenwood component stereo system, and the flat had a bit of a “pre-party” vibe to it.
“We don’t have any Aspirin. Deal with it.” Bill instead grumbled.
Kelli was sitting on the chesterfield, uncomfortably close to Hunter, who was just finishing tying up his 14 hole Doc Martens, in preparation for a night out at The Underground. Hunter stood up and flopped over into his huge, caramel-coloured leather chair, as Kelli continued her story.
“Anyways, so we were out having a picnic, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at our place in cottage country,”
Hunter interrupted, “What does that mean? ‘Cottage country?’”
Kelli sighed, she was sure she had explained about her family’s cottage out at Muskoka before, and was pretty sure he was just interrupting for the sake of hearing his own voice. Before she could continue however, Mia stepped into the room, with Charlize right behind, sliding the patio door shut. This was the first time Hunter and Bill had met Charlize, and she was about as unlike Mia as one could get. She was a full head shorter, had bleached blonde hair with the roots showing, had spotty, blotchy skin that she covered with a generous amount of foundation, and wore plastic rimmed cat’s eye glasses without lenses. Her dress sense was also quite different, where Mia preferred the "punk rock" look of pleated tartan skirts, t-shirts, and Doc Martens, Charlize dressed in tight collared button down shirts and wore long, flowing skirts. Hunter couldn’t be sure if he found her attractive or not, but the night was young. Bill disliked her from the get-go, but couldn’t have said why. But then, Bill pretty much disliked everyone. He claimed it was just a "feeling" he had.
“Hunter, sweetheart, Cottage country is the summer holiday spot for a lot of people in southern Ontario. My parents rented a place out there a couple of times when I was young actually.” Mia said, picking up the half-finished bottle of Banff Ice Vodka from the heavy gauge cardboard computer box that was currently serving as a coffee table, and took a swig.
This seemed to annoy Bill, “Jesus Mia, we do have glasses in the kitchen!”
Mia dismissed the comment, “Relax Billy, I don’t have cooties.”
Bill almost said something about how much he disliked being called ‘Billy’ but bit his tongue instead. Out of all of Hunter’s friends, he actually liked Mia, and didn’t feel like arguing with her.
Kelli was losing the room, and felt she needed to get attention back to her if she was going to finish her story. This always happened when Mia was around, with her long legs, and bright red hair and striking good looks, she tended to dominate not only the room, but the conversation as well upon entering it, and Kelli hated her for it.
“Anyways!” She said a little too loudly, “I was telling a story here! Anyways, so we are eating outside on the picnic table, in front of my family’s place in Muskoka, and it was summer so there were a LOT of bees and hornets buzzing about. Oh yeah, did I mention we were eating Kentucky Fried Chicken?”
“YES!” Hunter, Bill and Paco grumbled at the same time, exasperated. It seemed to them Kelli had been telling this story for hours. Really it was only about fifteen minutes, but she had been interrupted several times…
Mia went to the tiny kitchen area and started going through the cabinets, looking for a glass, “Where do you keep your glasses?”
Hunter took the opportunity to jump up, “I’ll show you!”
Before Hunter was out of the room, Mia’s friend Charlize was across the room and taking over the huge leather chair. This was her first night at flat 1401, and she had not yet been informed of all the rules of the apartment yet.
“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you!” Warned Bill.
Charlize jerked her head towards Bill, “Pardon? What do you mean? Is it not safe?”
Kelli was fuming at yet another interruption to her story, as the music changed to Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg.
Bill chuckled, “Safe? Well I suppose that all depends on your definition of the term.”
Kelli jumped in during the pause in conversation, “So we were eating chicken, and my sister was peeling the skin off,”
Paco spoke, “Oh, but the skin is the best part! All those herbs and spices!”
“I KNOW!” Said Kelli, delighted that at least one person was interested in what she had to say, “So she was peeling the skin off and piling it next to her plate when this HUGE hornet, or wasp or something flew down,”
Charlize interrupted, “What was it? A hornet or a wasp? My mother is an entomologist, and there really is quite a difference between the two.” She said, adjusting her fake eyeglasses.
Beyond annoyed, Kelli stared at her for a second, seething. Fuck her and her dark roots and stupid fake glasses! This is my story! She rolled her eyes behind her own, real green-coloured cat’s eye glasses. “A hornet then.”
This seemed to satisfy Charlize, “Okay, go on,” she nodded.
Kelli raised an eyebrow, “Thanks. Anyways, a huge HORNET, flew down and snatched up a piece of chicken skin and flew off with it! How crazy is that?”
Battle of Evermore started playing on the stereo, and Kelli squealed, “Oh! This is Heart isn’t it? You know those two are distant cousins of mine!”
Bill looked confused, “I think you’re mistaken girlie,” he said grabbing the empty CD case from the table, “Yeah, see,” he handed the jewel case to Kelli, “it says The Lovemongers, not Heart.”
Kelli read the back of the case, “Oh well no matter, they’re still my cousins.”
“Well, my aunts are doctors.” Charlize said.
“They’re the same fakking group you morons! Heart, and the Loffmongers are Ann and Nancy Wilson!” Paco grumbled at the room.
Just then, Mia and Hunter were returning from the kitchen, “We brought some glasses and some Coke for the voddy, and – oh my gods you’re in the chair!” Mia said, amused. She had known Hunter for a while, and had visited Lond Ho many times, so she knew what was coming. She sat down on the chesterfield between Bill and Paco and started to pour herself a drink. She briefly wished she had some popcorn for the show.
Charlize looked up at Hunter, who was grinning like an idiot, “Okay then Hunter, what’s the story with the chair? Someone didn’t die in it or something did they?”
Hunter sat beside her on the thick, rectangular arm of the oversized chair, “Nothing so mundane. Actually it’s not so much a story as an apartment rule, if you sit in the chair, you have to sleep with the person that sat in it last. And in this case, that person was me. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules.” Yes he did.
Charlize seemed to think about it for a second before answering, “Do you find this approach usually works?”
“All the time.” It didn’t. Not one time.
“Because I haven’t slept with a man for a couple of years now.”
Hunter was curious now, “You’re gay?”
She shook her head, “No, but I’m in a place in my life where I prefer women. I still like men though.”
“So you’re bi?”
“I really don’t like labels.”
“Here Hunter, this ought to sharpen you up a bit for the evening’s festivities!” Mia said, handing him a glass she just mixed with equal parts vodka and Coke.
Hunter stood up, and hesitated, “Uh, could you just put it on the table sweetheart, I uh…”
Bill rolled his eyes, “He doesn’t like being handed things. It can get pretty ridiculous.”
“And your enochlophobia isn’t?” Hunter shot back.
“At least it’s a real condition!”
She placed the drink on the table for him, smiling, “I never would have pegged you for a nut-job Hunter! You learn something new every day!”
Charlize spoke up, “My aunts are doctors and I don’t think that ‘nut-job’ is the approved scientific term for Hunter’s peccadilloes.”
“Are we going out or what?” Kelli wanted to know.
Charlize continued, “Speaking of hornets, I remember a time when I was out visiting my aunts (did I mention they were doctors?) out at their cabin on Hornby Island and we had a HUGE hornet problem. Thousands of them in many nests all over the property. It got so bad that summer that in the end I had to don a bee suit and destroy all the nests with a can of brake fluid spray.”
Kelly looked over at Charlize, who was going through her bag, looking for her cigarettes. Did that dyed blonde bitch just try to one-up my story? “Well unless we’re going out, I’m going home!”
Mia said, “Kelli sweetie, it’s only ten past nine! We’re not leaving ‘till at least ten-thirty! Otherwise we’d be too early!”
Kelli was pissed off, she looked around the room, Hunter was sipping his drink and reading a magazine, Bill was fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, Paco was moaning about his headache, and Charlize had found her lighter, but not her smokes. The only person paying her any attention was Mia, and she was just being patronizing! “Okay bye then!” She turned on a heel, and stepped out the door, slamming it behind her. Mother Love Bone was singing Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns as she stomped down the hall towards the lifts.
Hunter looked up from the copy of Starlog he was flipping through, “What was that about?”
Bill put a cigarette in his mouth, “Who knows? I’m going for a smoke, anyone else want to come?”
Charlize said, “I will, if I can find my cigarettes.” She dug through her bag some more.
Paco was holding his head in his hands and moaning, “I’m not going out tonight with this fakking headache! I need some Aspirin!”
Hunter frowned, he didn’t want to lose another member of their party, then it struck him; he did have something in his shaving kit, it wasn’t Aspirin, but would probably do. He jumped up and in two steps was in the bathroom.
“Where’s he going?” Charlize said to no one in particular.
Bill shrugged, “When you gotta go, you gotta go. Come on, you can bum one off me.”
Hunter pulled his black leather shaving kit out from under the sink and dumped it out, among the shavers, several combs of various sizes and colours, (how did I get so many combs?), a travel toothbrush, and other detritus, were six two-packs of something called NonSpirin™, a cheap Aspirin knock off that Hunter had liberated from the first aid kit at work.
“Found them!” Hunter announced, dropping the packets in a pile on the cardboard table.
“Ah! Thank you sir!” Paco said, relieved. He began pouring himself a drink to take the pills with.
Bill and Charlize came back in from their smoke break, Bill sliding the screen door shut.
Paco tore open two packets of NonSpirin and downed the contents quickly with the vodka and Coke he just finished mixing.
Charlize sat back in the huge leather chair and watched as Paco opened another packet of pain relievers. “How bads your headache?”
Paco looked up and swallowed another NonSpirin and voddy, “Shitty,” he said.
“You know, my aunts are doctors and I really don’t think you should be taking pain relievers with alcohol.”
“Hunter, can I talk to you for a second?” Mia stood up from the chesterfield and smoothed out her short blue and green tartan skirt.
“Can we go in your room?”
“Yeah,” Hunter stood up, and finished his drink, following Mia into his bedroom. She closed the door behind him.
“What’s up kid?”
“Lets sit down.”
They sat down on the edge of Hunter’s small, rickety bed.
Mia began, “So you remember my fiancé Dave? Come on don’t roll your eyes! Well he’s coming with me to the Con this year. He really digs sci-fi and anime like we do and I thought it would be nice if you guys spent some time together.”
This stung Hunter a little. Months ago he and Mia had agreed to go to the Con-Version Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention together, and now here she was wanting to bring an extra guy! Even if it was her fiancé, and his relationship with Mia had never been anything but platonic, it still hurt a bit.
He shrugged, “Ah well, what are ya gonna do eh?”
“You’re okay with it?”
“Of course. How could I not be?”
“Ah thanks Hunter, that’s swell of you!” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and stood up to leave.
“That was it?”
“That was it. I just wanted to axe you if it was okay.”
Hunter got up and they stepped back in to the main room, Nearly Lost You by the Screaming Trees was just ending on the stereo.
Paco was leaning back, stretched out on the giant chesterfield, snoring.
“What’s up with him?” Hunter wanted to know.
Bill grumbled, “I dunno, he took, like six of those fucking NonSpirins then said he was feeling tired, he kicked me off the sofa and fell asleep!”
“Okay. So we wanna get going or what? All that cheap, shitty Underground draught isn’t gonna drink itself!”
“Yeah, lets get going,” Mia said pulling on her short waisted leather jacket and grabbing her undersized Hello Kitty "tin lunch box" purse.
“Okay,” Charlize stood up and went to fetch her shoes from by the door.
“You coming Bill?”
“You guys go ahead, I’m not leaving Paco here alone in a NonSpirin coma, you guys go. I’ll catch up later.”
“You sure?” Hunter hesitated by the door.
“Course I am! Get going!” Bill said, switching the stereo off and the TV on.
“Come on Hunter!” Mia shifted impatiently from one foot to the other.
“Okay, well later!” Hunter stepped into the main hall and shut the door to flat 1401.
Hunter, Mia and Charlize stood waiting at the elevator bank. The call button was lit up. Hunter pushed it again five or six more times.
The bell went off and the doors slid open before the elevator car had fully levelled itself with the floor. The trio entered the empty lift and Mia pushed the Lobby button, then the close door button, apparently unaware that the button was disconnected.
Apropos of nothing, Charlize spoke, “Okay, Hunter I will sleep with you, but only if Mia watches.”
Hunter grinned and looked hopefully to Mia, “Really?”
Mia shook her head, “Not. Fucking. Happening.”
Hunter’s face fell, “Curses!! Foiled again!” He mumbled like the baddie in a Scooby Doo cartoon.
Charlize shrugged, “Oh well,” as the lift shook, and jerked to a stop at the lobby.