Fleeing the basement and running back home for his Wings reruns on channel 051, Myles catches the clamour of a bottle cart behind him and looks back to make sure no one caught him hopping out of the window. He views two careworn and emaciated bottle collectors mowing towards him sharing the cart, and he thinks it strange that the vagrants are in good enough financial straits to start splitting profits from refundables right down the middle. In his head he tries to remember any movies he has seen with female bottle collectors to maybe flesh out this grim image from a distance.
Upstairs at the house, Alex is now nodding off in his bathwater under the flickering bathroom light. The radio is turned down low now and it is mostly a muddle of audio snow and two separate frequencies cutting over each other intermittently.
Not everyone feels the way Welnot does regarding Alex. Trevor doesn't mind Alex one bit, really. Trevor—who at this moment is standing over him at the bathtub—enjoys talking with Alex.
"Hey, Alex," he whispers to him, "You awake?"
Trevor continues to stand over him. He's thinking about something else, his mind elsewhere, and he's not considering the fact that his presence may not be wanted. After staring at the wall with his hands in his pockets blurts out, "Hey, do you think Leland likes me?"
"Like as a friend?" "More, like," he paused, reaching, "as a roommate?"
"Definitely not," said Alex, sparing no feelings. "You're ridiculous, you know that? Here, hand me a towel, I don't want you to—" Trevor casually tossed Alex a towel and overshot it into the end of the tub. Alex sighed and decided to continue to soak. Maybe if he closed his eyes again Trevor would start to feel bored and exit.
For a minute or two Alex heard Trevor softly breathing through his mouth and the sound of his hands fidgeting in his pockets, like he was digging up enough grit to speak again.
"Hey Alex?" "You're still here?"
"Do you think she could like me?" "As a what? As her 'Will'? Do you want to be Will?"
"What do you think I'd have to do?"
"Trev, I think you're missing out on something here, I think you're forgetting that she's involved with someone."
"Yeah, I know, but, don't you think she'd probably leave him if I told her what was up on my end of things, you know, that I really felt for her in this pretty big way and stuff?"
"No, definitely not."
"Where are you getting this information? What makes you so sure?" "Trevor, what?"
"You're saying that because she's involved with Will she doesn't like me. You're certain of that, as if you've maybe discussed this with her already?"
"No, I'm just saying that knowing her, and having the outrageous misfortune of knowing you, she probably doesn't want you sleeping in some bed beside her let alone you being in the same building as her, I—"
"So you're just guessing." "Jesus, Trevor. This is the first time we've been able to relax in this place since Welnot left and you're barging in here like it's a sauna and standing over me while I soak, and you want some advice from me before I even have time to de-prune. Can't you just tone it down a bit?"
"The barricade was down, I thought that meant I could just walk in."
"No, Trevor, and I'll tell you something else: No, goddamnit. No on all counts, no, no, no, you idiot. Do you think that the only reason she wouldn't be interested in you is that she's currently tied to some other guy, who we both know has nothing real special going on save for good skin and a mom who pays the $310 a month for their room, and that's the only barrier between her and you? As if her only purpose is just to hop from one better boyfriend to the next, like she's just meant to be someone's arm candy for all infinity and beyond, is that what you're thinking? That she's just waiting for someone better to come along? That she has no hopes, no dreams, no aspirations for anything else other than to be somebody's girlfriend? You think she's either a Person Interested in You or a Person Not Interested in You and that's that? That there's nothing else to her except what she means to you in your life? That she possesses no agency, she's just an object of desire that can either be requited or not? No, you creep, no, no, no, no!" The soap suds were flying now.
"So I probably shouldn't be wearing Will's cologne then?" "No, Trev. You can put that stuff away."
The new chapter of Half-heard is published in The Coast—newspaper version—every Thursday. One week later it is published here online. So it's easy to catch up online, but best to stay ahead in print.