Mould In The Bedroom

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Wimpy Weaselwood's flatmate and best friend, Laurel Balmoral, becomes infatuated with a girl who works at a Chinese takeaways joint in their hometown of Oceanside. Is there hope of romance blooming on the horizon for Laurel, or a sea of gloom?

Submitted: July 11, 2019

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Submitted: July 11, 2019

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MOULD IN THE BEDROOM

 

It struck me as particularly odd, as I walked up the drive way to our council flat on my way back from my daily round of grocery shopping, that Laurel – my flatmate and trusted comrade – was slouching outside the front door and kicking at an empty packet of two-minute noodles that had escaped the rubbish bag (that we were supposed to take out about three weeks earlier) that a neighborhood cat tore open. His overall demeanor was that of a palm tree that had given up on the earth from which it grew.

'Laurel, old eel, what's the deal?' I said in my approach.

'Oh, hi, Wimpy.'

'Everything topsy turvy? You seem rather on the blue side. And what are you doing standing outside?' I said removing the key to the flat from my wallet and unlocked the front door.

'There's this girl I like, but I don't think she likes me, eh.'

I walked into the kitchen and began unpacking the four things I bought from the corner grocery store down the street.

'Who is this girl?'

'Her name is Ling. She works at the Chinese takeaways place that I've been having lunch at for the past few weeks.'

'Right. Interesting.' I said. 'And what makes you think she doesn't like you?'

'I think it's because I'm too fat.' he said, appearing somewhat on the meek side.

I looked him up and down.

'You're not that fat. You roller-blade everyday. You seem fine to me. Besides girls are into the personality. I think you're being too critical on yourself.' I said, opening a bottle of milk and made my way into the living room area of our apartment. I took a seat and kicked off my sneakers.

'She gave me a strange look today when I asked her how her day was.' he said and lowered himself onto the couch roughly at my ten o'clock.

I snorted, and milk nearly escaped my nostrils – but luckily regained my composure when I realized that we're dealing with a matter that most likely had been keeping the poor bird up for the past few weeks. Something about his aura suggested that this Ling girl really had him by the heart strings.

'She gave you a strange look and that's what makes you think she doesn't like you because you're too fat? Don't be absurd!'

Laurel sat and stared at the carpet with eyes that appeared as if though they had seen the Great Beyond and was thoroughly disappointed.

'I think it's all those sausages I've been eating in the past two months. I really regret that now. I'm pretty sure that made me gain significant amounts of weight.'

I've known Laurel for just over ten years now and he still looked the same as the first day I met him.

It was as we were sitting there in the peaceful silence of the late winter afternoon – him reminiscing over this Ling girl and me sipping away at my bottle of milk – that a rather solid idea struck me with the intensity one might observe in a bird who in attempting to fly through a house at full pace, fails to realize the deceptive presence of the large sliding glass door.

'I know!' I said, interrupting the silence. 'Why don't you go and apply for a job there?'

He looked up and tapped his chin.

'True.' he said, giving the thought some inspection. 'I've never thought of that.'

I smiled and returned to my milk.

'If you want, alternatively, I can always pop in and drop off your C.V. on your behalf and tell them that you used to work for me and that I highly recommend your services.'

A large smile surfaced on Laurel's face – revealing a row of white teeth. I knew that smile well. It was a smile of submission that let you know that what you had suggested was well below par.

'Good point. Good point.'

I smiled warmly and took another sip of my milk.

'Do you think they would fall for it, though?'

I quickly scanned my suggestion in my mind to see if I could spot any blemishes.

'Only God knows. Besides, what do we have to lose? Wait. Another idea just struck me. I could always apply for a job there if they turned you down. That way I'd be able to get a chance to befriend the girl for you, like I said, in case you don't land the job.'

Laurel stared at the foot of the chair I was sitting on in silence for a bit.

'What if both of us don't get the job?' he said.

I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that he had a point.

'True.' I said. 'That's a good point.'

'I like your first idea better.'

'Actually, yeah, same. Let's stick to my original idea instead.'

'Yup.' Laurel said, nodding his head. 'But what if they ask for some sort of proof or evidence that you were my previous employer?'

I gave it some thought.

'I'll tell them the business closed and that I disposed of all paperwork.'

Laurel hmm'd.

'I like the idea. I'm just worried that they might not fall for it. Can you imagine what perfect asses we'd make of ourselves?'

'I agree, I agree.' I told him. 'But it's worth giving a shot.'

'I suppose.'

'The Dancing Dragon.'

'Huh?' Laurel said, appearing rather stumped.

'I ran a Chinese takeaways called the Dancing Dragon for a brief stint back in 2008 before selling the business and relocating to Kansas in the U.S. to pursue a career as a chicken farmer and the reason I'm there dropping off your C.V. is because I came back to New Zealand for a week or so, found out that since the business closed in the summer of '08 you were still unemployed all these years later, and feeling sorry for you I felt I'd do you a solid by popping in there and dropping off an old C.V. of yours. How's that sound? I know it doesn't really sound realistic if you think about it – but so what, who cares? Of course if we pulled this move I wouldn't be able to apply for a job there later. But I think this is the most realistic chance of getting you in there and worth attempting.'

Laurel nodded his top with a serious expression on his face. It was the sort of nod that let me knew that he was following along and that the idea impressed him very much.

'A chicken farmer?' he said, breaking out of his focused state of mind with laughter.

'It's the sort of thing,' I went on, 'that when explained to someone in real life would, if pulled off with elegance, leave the impression that you're being straight up legit.'

He shot me a thumbs up. 'I think we should try it.'

'I think so too. Besides, like I mentioned earlier. We don't have anything to lose.' I said, then paused for a bit. 'Wait, what if she already has a boyfriend? Heck, what if the girl is already married?'

I tried not to laugh and ruin his visions of hope.

He swallowed audibly and looked at me weird.

'Do you think she might be?'

'Who knows, my man? She might not even be into the opposite sex at all. Who knows with girls these days?'

'True.' he said. 'I guess.'

'Yup.' I said, wondering how many pieces of bread to butter for my potato and leek soup later that evening.

 

*

 

The following morning I woke up barely able to breathe due to our cat Fluffles' body-weight suppressing the channels of airflow to my nostrils and mouth – leaving me with a mouthful of fur and a face that was on the verge of turning blue.

After carefully removing the feline from my face, I hopped up, took a shower, then proceeded to the living room where Laurel was busy doing push ups.

The intensity with which his face rattled after each push up was rather amusing but alas a cause for concern and lead me to speak.

'What number are you up to?' I said, through a nervous set of clenched teeth.

'Twelve...' he said, sounding constipated.

'Long way to go to three hundred.' I said laughing, then walked into the kitchen and made myself some toast.

By the time I returned to the living room while I was waiting for my toast to pop out, I found him lying face down on the carpet.

'I'm not feeling so good, eh.'

I chuckled.

'I think I drank too much water before hand.'

'Why, how much water did you drink?'

'Five glasses.'

'You had five glasses of water before you started doing push ups?'

'Yeah.'

'Why on earth would you drink five glasses of water before doing push ups?' I said, utterly perplexed by his thought process. 'Rather bizarre way of going about things, wouldn't you say?'

He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling.

'I need to see Ling again today.' he said, taking a deep breath then exhaled slowly.

'Wow,' I said. 'you're really taking a liking to this girl, aren't you?'

'I am. You have no idea, Wimpy.'

I proceeded to scratch my forehead.

'Not that I wish to dishearten you, Laurel, old moose – but you must keep in mind that this girl might already belong to another. Heck, for all we know she might already be married with five children!'

I could tell my words had somewhat of a soul destroying effect. Perhaps I should've settled on a more sensitive selection of sentences. Either way, what was said was said. Nothing could be done about it now.

'I don't care. I need closure. I've been losing sleep over her.'

'I can tell. You've been wearing this same shirt with the turtle on it for weeks on end now.'

I'm not usually one to pick up on these sorts of things, but on this particular instance it caught my attention.

'I have?' he said, rather taken aback by the sudden revelation. 'Wimpy, I can't get her off my mind!'

He lapsed into agony and exhaled a long sigh through his nostrils.

I left him alone with his thoughts for a few minutes as I quickly popped back into the kitchen to fetch my toast.

As I finished buttering my second slice of toast and I was about to place a slice of cheese on top of the melted butter – an idea came to me.

I placed my slices of toast on a plate, grabbed my energy drink from the fridge and stepped into the living room.

'Had any breakfast yet?'

'Yeah. I had some salt and vinegar chips and a caramel chocolate bar.'

'Cool. Hey, listen,' I said, lowering myself into the chair, helped myself to a mouthful of toast and entered into speech, 'an idea just occurred to me before.'

Laurel looked at me with a faraway look.

'How about you quickly go catch a nice fresh shower, pop on a fresh shirt and then we'll bounce down to the takeaways joint where this girl works and have ourselves lunch. While there I'll see if I can smooth talk the manager. See if I can sneak in a word or two expressing my fondness for their establishment. How's that sound?'

He held his chin and appeared to be running my suggestion through his mind. Then he turned and looked at me and smiled.

'Let's do it!'

 

*

 

We stepped into the oriental establishment freshly showered and smelling of cheap deodorant. We took a table in the corner and waited patiently for the people in line to place their orders while we decided on ours.

'I'll go for the five dollar cheeseburger.'

'I'm just gonna get what I always get.'

'K.' I said.

The line eventually vanished and we stepped up and placed our orders, then returned to our table.

'So, which one is Ling?'

'Shh! Don't say her name too loud!' he said, placing a hand on his head as if to guard an invisible hat from blowing off in a strong wind.

He shielded his mouth from the counter and leaned over towards me.

'She's the one wearing the red apron.' he said, then slowly leaned back in his seat as if to avoid any sudden movements that might give away his location.

I slowly turned my head in the direction of the counter in order to see if I could spot this female in the red apron.

'The one sporting the ponytail with the blue eyeliner?'

'And a butterfly tattoo on her right hand.' he added. His demeanor was that of one who was about to deliver a speech in front of a large crowd, only to come to the sudden realization that they had left all their cue cards at home.

I scanned the young lady up and down. I didn't want to break it to him, but from what I could gather she appeared a touch out of his league.

I looked at Laurel, then looked at the girl, then looked back at Laurel. Let's just say – she appeared well above his pay grade. I decided it best to refrain from voicing my opinion on the matter and instead decided to drive the conversation in a different direction.

'So, Laurel, say,' I said, 'where can you see yourself in, I don't know, let's say give or take ten or even twenty years from now?'

He gave it some thought, then leaned over to me and spoke in a loud whisper.

'Married to Ling.'

A nervous chuckle escaped me.

'Married?' I said, almost automatically, unable to think of anything else.

Both of us then drifted into a bout of silence as we waited for our orders to be prepared.

While I sat there in silence, as Laurel went up to the counter to collect his order, an idea came to me: As soon as our orders are ready I'm going to walk up there, ask if I can speak to Ling and make it known to her that Laurel wants to take her on a date. The reasoning behind this being that, if she says yes then Laurel will be the happiest chappy on earth and in the case of her saying no, then at least we'll have closure on the situation, thus allowing Laurel to slip back into his usual routine of washing his shirts on a regular basis. To hell with the original game plan, I thought to myself. Pull the blasted tooth already and get it over with.

A couple of minutes, consisting of dull conversation not worth mentioning, passed between us and eventually my order got called out.

'Excuse me.' I said as the person behind the counter handed me my food. 'Could I quickly have a word with Miss Ling?'

The person behind the counter – an angry middle aged gentleman of oriental origin – stared at me with dead eyes for a brief moment before yelling something in Chinese in a rather abrasive tone.

A few moments later the girl sporting the black ponytail, the blue eyeliner and the butterfly tattoo on her right hand made an appearance.

'Hi, how may I help?' she said in a perfectly typical New Zealand accent. I was expecting a Chinese accent for some reason.

All of a sudden things took an awkward turn and I became hesitant. My confidence, to say the very least, wavered.

Luckily I managed to rally the troops when I reminded myself that I'm asking her out on Laurel's behalf.

'My friend has been coming here for lunch for the past few months or so and he can't get you out of his mind. Basically what I'm driving at is: would you be interested in going out on a date with him?'

She raised her eyebrows.

'Which one is your friend?' she said, scanning the vicinity. 'Is he here right now?'

I turned around and pointed to the only individual on the premises with sun glasses on.

'Yep – he's the one with the shades on.'

'Well, why isn't he asking me instead?'

'He lacks confidence.'

'I prefer guys who have confidence.'

At this moment I knew I had to think quick on my feet.

'He used to have a lot of confidence when he was a child— '

'What happened?'

'—until a horse kicked him in the head.'

'Wow, I'm sorry to hear that.'

'He's never been quite the same since then.'

She glanced over at him for a moment or two then having scanned the counter – reached for a pen and a leaflet and jotted down a number on the back of it.

'Here's my number. I have to get back to work now.' she said, handed me the piece of paper then retreated back into the kitchen area from whence she came.

I returned to our table, sank into my seat and slapped the piece of paper on the table and pushed it in Laurel's direction.

'I got her number.'

Laurel jolted back into his chair. A look of sheer terror surfaced across his face.

'What? Wait – what?'

'While you were busy eating away, I asked her out on a date for you and she gave me her number.'

Laurel went visibly pale and appeared as if though he was about to throw up or something of that nature.

'No...' he said, slowly removing his sun glasses. His voice sounding haunted.

'Yes, yes, yes.' I said with an over-the-top ridiculously cheesy smile on my face.

His arms slumbered and the noodles came off his plastic fork and landed on the table.

To say that he appeared as if he was about to faint, would be to place things in a false light and although he was looking into my eyes – he was staring straight through me and possibly all the walls of the buildings behind me for the next ten miles.

He stared at the piece of paper with a look of dread, almost as if the little piece of paper was about to leap up at any given moment and bite him on the nose.

'Go on.' I said. 'Put it in your wallet or your pocket or wherever you feel like putting it.'

He dropped his fork, grabbed the piece of paper and quickly put it in the side pocket of his jeans.

'I'm surprised she actually gave it to me.' I said, chuckling.

'What did she say?' he eventually said after a longish bout of reflection over his noodles.

'Not much. She basically just asked me which one was you.'

'What did you say?'

'I pointed to you and said, “That one.”'

He placed a fork full of noodles in his mouth and entered into speech.

'Do you think I should text her tonight?'

I ran his question over my mind for a second or two.

'Yeah. Why not?'

'You reckon?'

'Fully. But I would say you should call her instead.'

His eyes popped.

'Should I?'

'Absolutely. Don't waste any time with this girl. Don't delay. You might be crossing the road on your skateboard tomorrow and then a car or a bus might hit you and kill you. Or even worse – a bus or a car might hit and kill her! How tragic would that be?' I said with a hint of urgency in my tone. I could tell this resonated with him.

'Good point.' he said. ' I'll ring her tonight.'

'Bally good chap!'

'What should I say to her?'

'What do you mean what should you say to her? Just say whatever you feel like. Just say whatever your little heart desires.'

'What if I say the wrong thing?'

'What on earth do you mean what if you say the wrong thing? You're carrying on as if you're going to a job interview for becoming the President of the United States.'

'You don't understand, Wimpy. I really don't want to mess this up.'

'No, I understand completely. I just can't help but think that you're slightly over-reacting. For all we know she might've given us her number plainly due to the fact that she felt sorry for you. Perhaps one look at you was enough to confirm to her that you have the striking resemblance of a rubbish bin. That is to say if a rubbish had eyes and a mouth and could talk and maneuver about the place and so on.'

Okay, perhaps that was a touch crude on my end – but I didn't want to get the boy's hopes up too high.

'I guess.'

'Ring her as soon as we get back to the flat and ask her if she'd be keen to go out for a coffee some time.'

The effect of my words appeared to have made him visibly uncomfortable.

'Coffee?' he said. 'I don't know any good coffee places.'

'There's quite a few around. If I had to take a wild estimate, I'd say that there's probably roughly give-or-take about fifty coffee shops around Oceanside. You can't walk — or skate in your case — for more than twenty meters before bumping into one.'

'True.'

We finished our lunch and talked about some other stupid random stuff not worth noting, then headed on our way.

 

*

 

That evening – roughly an hour or so before I had to make a decision on what to make for dinner, I passed through the living room area on my way to the kitchen in order to fetch myself a cool glass of water, when I noticed Laurel sitting on the couch, staring at his phone in both his hands.

'I just saved her number on my phone—' he said, 'and I'm going to call her now and ask her if she wants to catch the last screening of I Once Used To Be A Mole tonight at the cinema.'

'Do it!' I encouraged him. 'Absolutely go for it! Good lad!'

He tapped his finger on the screen of his phone a few times and held the device up to his ear.

I decided it be courteous if I removed some pressure from the situation, so I stepped into the kitchen, flicked on the oven, took out the frozen supermarket pizza I bought a few days ago and decided that I'll just go ahead and make the pizza an hour earlier than scheduled.

I was just about to place the pizza in the center of the oven when Laurel rushed into the kitchen with the air of an over excited poodle.

'Yes!'

'Yes, what?'

'She said yes!'

'Grand!'

'She said she'll come over in about two hours!'

'Good stuff!'

 

*

 

About two hours later, as we sat playing cards in the living room – a knock sounded at the front door.

I hopped up, opened it and found Ling standing there in her work clothes. She smelled like the Chinese takeaways place.

'Hi.' I said.

'Hey. Is your friend here?'

'He absolutely is. Step right in. He's in the living room.'

We stepped into the living room and all of the furniture, our pack of playing cards and my plate with my half eaten slice of pizza was present. Except Laurel.

'Wait up.' I said and zipped down the hallway to go and see if I could track down the missing person.

I found him standing in the corner of his room trembling like a lost seagull in the middle of the Antarctic plains that's come to grips with its fate. Though, before I could inquire about this questionable behavior of his, Ling appeared next to me in the doorway.

'Righto! I'll leave you two at it.' I said and slipped away to the living room, helped myself into a chair and listened to hear if I could eve's drop on their conversation.

'Listen, Laurel...' Ling said. ' I know I said I'll come on a date with you tonight, but the truth is: I'm not interested in you. No offense.'

A short silence ensued then Ling appeared in the hallway about to open the front door.

'Hi, Sam,' she said, holding the phone up to her mouth, opened up the front door, walked outside and closed the door behind her, 'I just went to that guy's flat and the dude legit reeks of a dead rat and there's mould all over the walls in his bedroom.' she said and exploded into laughter that gradually faded into the distance as she made her way down the driveway.

A few moments later – the booming sound of a male crying echoed through the hallway.

 

THE END.


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