25: coffin, subterfuge, chupa chup, patina, ululate

by Chris J

"You're on crack," said Chris, staring at the room. "You. Are. On. Crack. That's all I have to say about this." He flicked on the lightswitch, almost tentatively, and took a closer look. "Or possessed. That's also a distinct possibility."

"I'm not possessed." Joey surveyed his own room with a satisfied look on his face. "Or on crack, at the moment. Although the chupa chup I had earlier tasted funny..." He pauses and shrugs. "But I just blamed that on the pot, and chased it down with a bag of Doritos. So...?" He stares at Chris. "Well? What do you think, man?"

Chris hesitated, running his fingers over the textured wall. "It's...creative," he said finally, nodding. "Creative. Um...is that a coffin?"

"It's empty," Joey assured him, stepping inside and knocking on the solid wood. "See? Hollow. I've *always* wanted one of these." He crosses his arms over his chest and looks around proudly. "We're gonna be spending lots of time in here."

"'We', kemosabe?" said Chris, finally laughing. "You said nothing about 'we' when I told you you could decorate this room. This ONE room."

"You like it, right?" said Joey, sounding somewhat petulant. "Don't you?"

"Sure," said Chris evasively. "The lamp? That's a great lamp. Really bright."

"You don't," said Joey, his face falling. "Well...that's okay. There are lots of other rooms in the house, after all."

"No, no," said Chris, hiding his sigh. "It's very you. And I like you. So...I like it, too."

"I thought it was very us," said Joey, still down. "I thought you'd be excited." He gestures widely. "Is it really so bad?"

Chris sighed audibly this time. "Geez, Joey, it's...loud. And garish. You have a coffin for a coffee table, mismatched plaid couches, yellow wallpaper, and those lamps? They're naked ladies, in case you hadn't noticed. He pointed across the room. And that wall there...with the magnetic poetry. And that one, with...I don't even know what that is."

Joey frowned slighly, looking more and more unhappy. "That's...that's all about us," he said finally. He tugged on Chris' arm. "C'mere."

"What?" Chris stumbled along behind him for a moment. "Where are we going?"

Joey pointed at the wall when they reached it. It was like a collage, covered in random bits of paper of all sorts. "See that? Those are the tickets to the first movie we went to as an us. And the program from that play I did that no one else knew about. And that's one of the notes you wrote me when you lost your voice that time."

"So it's like...those trophy rooms that parents make for their kids. Only better." He looked over the wall, picking out other bits of memories from the overlapping papers. "I didn't realize..."

"I'll admit to having bad taste in wallpaper," said Joey after a moment, reaching out to play with Chris' hair. "But remember that story you read me that time I had the flu...about that crazy chick? I know it was before we were going out and all, but that was when I started to...you know." He wasn't good at the romantic, mushy stuff, so he hoped Chris got it.

"Yellow wallpaper," murmured Chris, still staring at the wall. "What was the name of that play you did again? You've got it covered up with that coctail napkin."

"Subterfuge," said Joey, chuckling. "How could you forget that? You spent two weeks after you found out pretending to be a spy."

"Oh, yeah!" said Chris excitedly. "That was fun! So, okay, show me the rest of the room then...I guess there's more to it than I thought, huh."

"Except the coffin," admitted Joey. "That was just because I thought it was really cool."

Chris laughed. "I could be convinced the coffin is cool. The lamps...probably not."

"The lamps," said Joey, "are the only naked ladies that you're going to be seeing anymore. Well, except the ones that show up in our audiences. But they're not legal so they don't count."

"And the stripper at Justin's bachelor party next week," said Chris. "I don't have to close my eyes right? I mean, I can watch? We can watch?"

"No, I'm going to blindfold you," said Joey, snorting as he tugged on Chris' arm again. "And doing you be mocking my poetry wall. It's the coolest part of the room. Besides the shag carpeting, that is."

Chris wiggled his toes in the carpet. "No," he said after a moment of thought. "I like the carpeting. I think we had carpeting like this when I was seven."

"You don't know how hard it is to find shag carpeting in this colour," said Joey, looking down at it.

Chris found himself wandering towards the poetry wall. He was pretty certain that it would take at least a half dozen packages of words to accumulate this many. Probably more. He began reading them, mostly the ones that were strung together in half sentences and incomplete verse. "What is this?" he blurted out suddenly.

"What is what?"

"These words," he said incredulously. "What, did you buy the Einstein expansion pack or something? I mean...ululate? How the heck are you supposed to use that in a poem."

"I bet JC could," mused Joey.

"It's not a sexual term," muttered Chris. "Did you write these things?"

"Most," said Joey. "Some of them Steve did when he was helping me install the carpet. Like that one..." He pointed to a string of words that curved into the shape of a pair of breasts. Nipples and all.

Chris grinned as he went to read it. "the underneath patina to a morning thou made triple manners." He frowned. "That doesn't make any sense."

"I don't think he was reading them," confessed Joey. "Actually, I'm not convinced he can read."

"Really?" said Chris, still staring at the wall. "He told me he bought those Playboys for the articles."

"Cause we all know how much Steve likes to read in the bathroom," agreed Joey. "So...you think you could tolerate spending some time in here with me? Once in a while?"

Chris pretended to consider that. "Can we hook up the Playstation?"

"Only if we can hook up the DVD player, too, and cuddle on my hideous couch, watching movies," countered Joey. "And write bad poetry."

"I can live with that," said Chris. "The Playstation and the naked ladies make it all okay."

Joey laughed. "Okay, then," he said. "It's a deal."

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