looking for a roommate | [jofran méndez]



It seemed like a dream.
Or even a nightmare.

Is there something that lies between the two? I really don’t know. There has to be a word for it. For now, let’s call it an “experience”.

I had just moved to the city. My mother was a Professor of Aquatic-American studies, and my father was a biological engineer who was currently working on the effects of artificially generated diarrhea in field mice. Needless to say, they were doing pretty well in the financial department. When I told them I wanted to look further into becoming a gallery consultant for museums, they scoffed at the idea. They called it “the work of liberal degenerates” and that I was better off “becoming a prostitute in 1978 rural Beijing”. That last one made me want to read a history book. But whatever. I decided to move away and not tell them. They don’t need me, they have enough wet books and chronically shitting rats to keep them happy till they rot and die in their 3-bed, 8-bath penthouse.

Mother always told me that a woman my age should just focus on either “birthing healthy stallion children” or “rejecting my role in the patriarchy and establish a matriarchal anarchy.” I wasn’t in the mood to shoot horses out of my vagina or dismantling the government with said vagina, but I did need a roof under my head for the time being. After going to Starbucks and purchasing a reasonably priced $26 Mocha-Frappa-Expresso-chino, I took the opportunity to look through the classifieds section. I thought I could luck out and at least live inside something that wasn’t made of cardboard and store a refrigerator. I looked at ad after ad, easily pointing out the creepers, the weirdos, the guys who are way into Buffalo Bill reenactions. But then, I came across the most peculiar ad. It was weird, but it stood out among the rest. Like, the kind of weird that you don’t have to look at directly, but your peripheral vision keeps teasing you with it. It read as such:

LOOKING FOR ROOMMATE. I AM WHAT MANY WOULD CONSIDER “A HUMAN FEMALE”.  MY AGE IS THAT OF 20 PLUS A LITTLE MORE. THE SOCIOPOLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS HAS DRIVEN ME TO THE BRINK OF DESPAIR AND EXISTENTIAL DOUBT. I NEED SOMEONE TO HELP ME CARRY THAT WEIGHT. I WOULD LIKE TO BE PAID, PREFERABLY IN MONEY. RUBLES COULD BE CONSIDERED A FORM OF PAYMENT, PROVIDED THAT IT COMES FROM AN 84-YEAR-OLD LIBYAN WOMAN NAMED FATIMA. YOUR BEDROOM MIGHT HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF A BATHROOM. IT ALSO MIGHT SMELL LIKE A BATHROOM. THE POSSIBILITY OF SAID ROOM HAVING A SINK AND BATHTUB IS ALSO MORE LIKELY THAN PROBABLE. THE BED-BATHROOM IS AVAILABLE FOR RENT. IT IS SPACIOUS. FITTING A SMALL LABRADOR IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. AN ALPACA, HOWEVER, IS LESS PROBABLE. A BELUGA WHALE IS DEBATABLE. MUST ENJOY LISTENING TO THE DULCET TONES OF LITTLE RICHARD. THE BELUGA WHALE, I MEAN. IF YOU DO ENJOY THE DULCET TONES OF LITTLE RICHARD, PLEASE DISREGARD THIS AD ENTIRELY. APARTMENT LOCATED AT THE EAST SIDE OF EAST TOWN, RIGHT NEXT TO EAST CITY, UNDER THE RADIO SHACK. MUST PROVIDE REFERENCES AND BLOOD SAMPLES UPON REQUEST. I ENJOY WHALES.

It read like someone pretending to be a person. I imagined this woman being worn like a skin suit. Remember that alien movie with Vincent D’onofrio? The one where he was a giant cockroach man wearing some dude like a costume? Yeah, sort of like that. Except… no, pretty much like that.

I was immediately disturbed by the way it was written. The syntax. The oddly unnecessary descriptions. Everything about this ad just came off as a giant DON’T ANSWER THIS sign.

But she likes whales. And I like whales too.

So what did I have to lose?

I decided to answer the ad. Out of all the things she wrote, the one missing was a phone number. It just had the address. I didn’t want to be living like Oscar the fucking Grouch on my first day in the city, so I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and meet my tentative future roommate. 3 hours, 2 buses, and one coked out Uber later, I found the abandoned Radio Shack mentioned in the ad. When I looked at the building, my brain had a hard time processing what I was seeing. The entire building, sans Radio Shack, was the apartment. Every other floor was empty and had no windows. The only habitable apartment was in the top floor; everything else was just filled with cement. All I could think of was a wedding cake, but only the top part being edible and the rest was just circular, frosty clay.

I noticed the fire escape in the alley on the side of the building. I think the fumes coming from the sewer messed with my brain, because absolutely nothing stopped me from going up that fire escape. I climbed all the way to the top, my curiosity driving me more than the need for a living space. When I reached the end of the ladder, I felt like my eyes were lying to me. I didn’t blink. I barely breathed. All I could muster was a resounding “…Huh.” as I gathered myself together again.

The only way I can describe it was that there was a door where there should’ve been a window.

Against everything in the universe and common sense, I knocked on the door.

As I was about to hit the third and final knock, the door opened slowly. I was expecting something out a LSD laden Twilight Zone episode, but instead, I was greeted by seemingly normal 20-year-old woman. She looked a little like Anne Hathaway. I didn’t care for The Princess Diaries. Anyways, I was a little unnerved when she didn’t say hello. Or hi. Or anything for that matter. She just kept smiling. Smiling and standing directly in front of me. I asked if I could come in. She smiled. I made my way into the apartment. Smiling. She stood directly on top of my shadow, weirdly enough. As far as the apartment goes…well that was an undersell. It was a bedroom. The living room, kitchen, and bedroom were all in the same place. Not in the way a normal studio would be arranged. But in the way a teenager hoards all of his porn under his bed until the mattress is about to explode in a hailstorm of tits and sticky paper. There was a blanket on top of the stove. A mirror under the refrigerator. An unusual amount of Golden Girls posters strewn about the walls. And she just stood there, still smiling. I literally went around the entire apartment in less than 7 seconds.

And then… there was the bathroom. What was to be my room.

If you can picture HP Lovecraft and Franz Kafka injecting acid into their eyeballs and having abstract visions about roach men having disgustingly erotic intercourse with octopus gods, then you might need some serious psychiatric help. This image was also was I was expecting after seeing the clusterfuck that was this woman’s apartment. The bathroom was immaculate. The tub was big enough to stuff a small bed in it. It smelled like a field of roses sprayed with $700 Macy’s perfume. You know, the one that doesn’t smell like fermented cat urine. It was beautiful. I was even driven to tears, which was very peculiar. The only time I cried was watching a pigeon staring into the sunset for 20 minutes. Right now, I was that pigeon, and this bathroom was my sunset.

I went to look for the woman. I didn’t have to look far though. She stood right behind me. I knew she wouldn’t respond, so I tried my trump card. I pulled out a brown satchel and a stuffed whale plushie. The satchel had an assorted amount of monopoly money. I handed her both, but she didn’t move. She just stood there, still creepy, still smiling. I put them at her feet instead. She looked down, picked them up, and turned around. She sat on her bed, more serene than when I walked into the apartment. I didn’t know what it meant, but I decided to test it.

The next day, I started sleeping in the tub. She didn’t say or do anything.

I made her dinner. She ate it.

I didn’t touch any of her posters. Betty White greeted me every time I came back from work.

After months of working at a gallery as a receptionist, I got to curate my first galley. Creepy Anne Hathaway was there.

My parents weren’t there. She was.

I’ve been living with this woman for 3 years now. She is my best friend. I’m glad I bought her that whale. She sleeps next to it.

You can keep your projectile pooping rats, dad. I have horror movie monster as a roommate.

This is a fever dream I don’t want to wake up from.





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