With both hands on the steering wheel, Chad’s girlfriend smiled at him over her shoulder as he pulled his luggage out of the back of her convertible.
“See you at seven, babe!” She waved as she drove off.
Chad watched her with a big smile on his face.
He took the elevator up to the seventh floor, bags in hand, whistling and rocking on his heels. He was so excited that he had no trouble finding the apartment door in the dark (more bulbs in the hallway had burned out since the last time he was there two days ago).
“Here we go!” He inserted the key. Or, he tried to. It wouldn’t fit. He tried it in every direction and then stormed downstairs in a rage to the security desk.
“My key won’t fit! Did you give me the wrong one?”
The guard who resembled a blobfish slowly looked up from her magazine. “Come again?”
“The key. It won’t work!”
She put out her hand and took it. She compared it to the key log on her clipboard for a long time and then said, “This here’s the right key.”
“It doesn’t fit!”
She held it up in the light to read the fine etching on it, and compared it to the list. “1B. It’s the right key.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m in 7B. Not 1B.”
“Says you’re in 1B, Mr. Chad.”
“That’s not what you showed me!”
“You wanted 1B.”
“We were in 7B!”
She didn’t move except to blink slowly. “Lease says 1B.”
He pulled out his lease agreement and punched it with one finger. “See?! 7B.”
She looked closely. “Says 1B.”
He grabbed it back and looked at it. “No! It says—” His eyes bugged out. “No!—What the hell?!”
There was a smudge by the apartment number, making the 1 look like a 7.
“Lemme take you myself.”
She led him to 1B and unlocked the door with the key. Chad pushed her out of the way and then stopped.
“Oh my God!” he shouted holding both sides of his head. “I didn’t ask for this!”
The guard studied him with one eye, and then the other. “Then why’d you sign for it?”
He threw his arms down and spun around towards her. “Why the fuck would I sign a lease for 1B WHEN WE WERE STANDING IN 7B?!”
“Beats me. Wondered why myself.”
Chad slowly walked around. His feet squelched in certain areas of the green, lumpy carpet. Everything was green or had dark brown faux-wood accents. He kept groaning “Oh my God” under his breath at every new sight he encountered.
Inside the refrigerator, a race war between white and black mold was raging.
And there was no room for his gym equipment.
What was also different about this place, besides everything else, was that there were two bedrooms, each of which had two rusty futons with busted springs and crusty stained yellow mattresses.
He moved on to look at the one bathroom. Chad had never seen a carpeted bathroom before. He lifted his arm to flex his bicep in the mirror, but it was too cracked to get a good look and he let his arm droop. Mildewed paper peeled and curled on the walls, and a little mushroom grew out of a crack in the ceiling.
The guard looked over his shoulder. “Your roommate’ll be coming soon.”
“Roommate?” He grabbed her by her sloped shoulders. “What do you mean, roommate?”
Each wide-set eye considered him independently. “Your roommate.”