The guest room

March 10, 2010

Dr. Strangelove loomed over Joe’s head as he stretched his fingers around the neck of the old guitar. He strummed some mighty awful notes. He knew it was terrible but he played anyway.

The poster hung over his bed in the dark corner of the room. Two walls had been painted deep blue with white trim. The opposite walls, Todd’s side, were white with blue trim. Todd’s dusty baseball trophies sat on a bookshelf next to a poster of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Joe’s shelf held some old CDs and the Austin Powers trilogy. That was it. No computers, no math books, no half-empty bags of Cheetos or Gatorade bottles.

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

Joe put down the guitar and rubbed his fingers. He opened his laptop, typed half a dozen words, then pushed it aside like a silver throw pillow. He laid across the comforter, letting his head fall back over the edge. So quiet. Upside-down, the room looked like a hotel in the Land of Indecision. He flipped over, slid down farther and looked under the bed.

• • • • •

The door to Audrey’s writing studio was open. She could hear Joe coming up the stairs, and tried to finish a thought on the computer before it disappeared into conversation.

“Mom, okay if I put this up in here?” Joe asked. He held up a dartboard, the nubby plastic kind made for kids and soft projectiles.

“What’s wrong with your room?”

“It’s too nice.”

“Excuse me?”

“No, no, this is nice, but my old room is all fresh and clean.”

Audrey glared at him.

Joe hung the dartboard on a nail. “I’m just saying, the Toddster and me, we don’t live here anymore and so we don’t mess it up. I don’t want to put a nail in the wall.” He noticed the empty floor space along the wall. “Wasn’t there a couch here?”

“Don’t you have some work to do on your script?”

“I write better when I have something to do while I’m thinking. Helps my subconscious work out the rough spots in the story. Darts are ideal.”

Joe hung up the dartboard and took a few practice rounds. Audrey did the same. He was right; darts were ideal, not just for working out story problems, but for other kinds of problems, too. They were useless for learning the guitar, however.

©2010 Pam Wells

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