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5 in the game of 4

By Viswa Sampreethi Pilla All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Romance

Chapter 1 – Desire

“…And so she was the only girl in my life” Krishna said. He sounded relieved. I was sitting on the couch beside him in the living room. He continued swaying his hand “But I don’t regret or feel bad about It.” he said. “So when did everything change?” I asked him out of curiosity. “I don’t know. It just happened suddenly. In fact the first and only girl in my life was a tomboy and I guess after that I realized I was not attracted to the girl but to the boy in her.” he smiled. Krishna was my new roomie in the two bedroom apartment in New York City. I was looking for a male roomie. It was about the food. I was a pathetic cook and men, they cook very well and gay was not bad too.

Krishna was gay and proud. He had moved in a day before on January 2nd 2014 and we were just starting to get acquainted on Friday evening at the apartment. Krishna was a tall guy, around six feet tall, fair looking and a tad skinny. His jet black hair was always spiked with gel. He was probably the only guy I had seen with really long eyelashes and big eyes. Man! He had pretty eyes and I wished I had those eyes. Since the day he moved in, I noticed that he wore a lot of snazzy, clingy clothing and that included his pajamas too.

The very same morning before the Friday-acquaintance-party, I helped him unpack some of his boxes. I observed that he had a box full of old music records of George Michael, Elton John, Robbie Williams and movies that featured only Adam Sandler. I was more of the Pink Floyd and the Quentin Tarantino kind. Now, imagine this; if I had a really crazy day, I would probably bottoms-up a beer bottle and listen to Pink Floyd’s - Comfortably numb song while Krishna would be dancing spilling beer all over the place listening to George Michael’s - Faith song. I could see that picture of polarity evidently in my head.

“Awesome Krishna! So how many men have you dated so far?” I asked him.

“How many times have I told you to call me Chris?” he squirmed.

I looked at him tight lipped and wide eyed. Then I held the tip of my ears with my hands gesturing an apology. “Okay. Don’t forget the next time dear.” he said in his gay-ish-intolerant tone and asked “Did you mean slept with when you asked that question?”

It wasn’t like I didn’t talk about kinky facts with my friends but he was my first and only gay pal so that was a little weird to talk about. “Whatever you are comfortable talking about.” I tittered as I felt a bit uncomfortable but Chris didn’t mind; I surmised he was used to people getting uncomfortable around him.

“It’s okay to feel tight. You don’t have to fake that smile. Anything that is different and new will always seem weird at first.” he grinned at me. “No...No...It’s not about who you are. It’s just that…it’s…When you said slept with, it was hard to imagine…you know?” I clarified. “I understand but you are going to love these conversations.” he said exuberantly and snapped his fingers. “Uh-huh! But let’s stick to dated.” I said and got up from the couch. I walked towards the kitchen which was to the left of the main entrance hallway and then opened into the living room.

“Anyway for both, it was only one.” Chris said while I was just stepping into the kitchen; I turned and asked “What do you mean only one?” because I didn’t understand – Did he mean that he didn’t get another date? I opened the refrigerator to find something to drink. “What I meant was…” Chris was trying to explain when I interrupted him and asked “Hey, beer?” looking at a couple of beer pints in the fridge

“Hmm, I might add a few pounds but I guess I’m fine with beer for now dear.” he replied. I reached for the bottles and picked them up from the fridge. I closed the door and set the bottles on the kitchen counter that opened to the living room. Chris walked towards the counter. I said “Go on. You were saying?”

I leaned forward and handed him a bottle. He stood with his right elbow resting on the other side of the counter in the living room and I leaned forward with both my elbows resting on the kitchen counter.

“I meant that I found my soul mate on my first date and we’ve been together ever since.” he said while I twisted and popped the cap of my bottle; my eyes popped out as well and I mouthed “NO WAY!” Chris smiled and popped the cap off his bottle. While I was still flabbergasted with my mouth open, we clinked our bottles together and sipped some beer.

“We’ve been together for five years dear.” he sort of blushed. For a moment I thought he was kidding because it was really hard to find someone who would stick around for a long time in an average straight relationship in itself.

“I don’t believe that!” I staggered. Chris raised his eyebrows and he looked at me as though I sounded crazy. “Okay. I believe it. So where is he? I am sure he is not here in New York or you wouldn’t have moved into be my roomie.” I said. “He lives in Miami. Have you been there?” he asked. Chris was from New Jersey and when he mentioned Miami, I became even more inquisitive about the whole aspect of it. “Nope! Would love to visit someday. So how did you guys meet?” I asked immediately. He took a huge gulp from his bottle “Now, that’s a lovely story to start with dear. By the way you can tag along with me there this summer. And now for my story, I took a vacation to Miami during the summer of 2009 and I visited this famous bar there, it’s called “Grapes” and that was where it all started. That’s where I met Andrew.” he said with twinkling stars in his eyes.

“Oh nice! So what does he do?” I asked him.

“He is a dancer at the bar silly.” Chris replied.

There was a brief moment of silence while I was trying to add it all up. “Wait a minute!” I said and took a sip of beer. I jumped up and sat on the counter and turned to face Chris with my legs folded up. “You are saying that he is a dancer at the bar?” I asked bug eyed.

“Yeah! Cool huh.” he was gratified with his partner.

“I don’t mean to pry but you are the editor of a popular magazine and he is a dancer and you are saying that you have been in a relationship with him for almost five years?” I asked bewildered. Well, it was hard to believe. Is it not for you? Chris nodded and said “I love him for what he is and that’s what makes him special. When you know you have found the right person dear, nothing else matters.”

He sounded all sugar and roses but that’s not how reality worked. “You are probably the only person I have known to have been in a relationship for so long.” I said. “Now you have got to be kidding! All my friends have been married for more than six, maybe seven years. The best part, I helped them find their best match darling. And you know what? Andrew and I will wed soon too.” he blushed again. My jaw almost dropped. I dated many men in New York and I never found a single decent guy. All I could infer from the conversation was that being gay is a virtue; at least they seem to have committed relationships unlike the rest.

“Wow! That’s even cool. Lucky you!” I said.

“Haven’t you ever felt that way for any one before? Like love? Soul mate sort of a connection?” Chris asked me.

“No.” I said bluntly but his question had me wander off to another world. Chris kept talking and suddenly everything blacked out for me and I was lost. I saw him again, walking forward into the light but I didn’t want to see his face. While I sat there staring into space, I kept telling myself – You’ve got to blink your eyes. C’mon blink! Snap the hell out of here! Chris waved his hand over my face “Hello?” he said which brought me back from the daze. He looked at me in an uncanny way.

“You okay?” he asked me.

“Yeah. I guess I should get some sleep. I have a lot lined up for tomorrow.” I said and got

off the kitchen counter, walked towards my room which was on the right corner of the

living room from the main entrance. When I stepped into my room, Chris said “Good night Kajal!”

to which I replied “Good night!” and closed the door behind me.


Kajal looked like she saw some ghost when she abruptly left to her room that night. My first chat with her was a month ago, December 2nd 2013 when I called her from New Jersey to find out about the apartment. The first and only question that she asked me was “What is your date of birth?” and I told her it was the 10th of August. “Number one! That’s Cool. I will email you the details and you can move in if you like.” she seemed totally thrilled. “I didn’t get that number one part?” I said bewildered. “That’s nothing. Bye.” she said and hung up. After that, I didn’t call her again and we only communicated through emails then later, I saw her on the day I moved to New York, 549 Bergen street #7 Prospect Heights on January 2nd 2014.

She opened the door and that was our first encounter. She was wearing thick black framed nerd glasses and had this dopey-eyed, attitude-oozing look on her face. She said “Yeah. Hi!” with the James-Bond-Sean-Connery face, absolutely straight and then she walked inside. That was it, I thought I moved in with the most serious geek on the planet. From what I saw, I guessed - No, let me rephrase that - I was sure she loved the color black because every piece of furniture in the house was black and yes, there was a bit of brown here and there. The couch, the center table, the micro wave, kitchen top, everything was in black except for the carpet, the cushions on the couch and the lamp shade in the living room were in brown. She probably missed Kindergarten darling because she knew no other color beyond black, grey and brown.

She even wore the same colors to work. Kajal probably had all shades of grey, black and brown clothes including night wear. I was sure she had the same colored under garments too. She seemed weird and I thought she should loosen up a little once in a while. Speaking of weird, there was a huge shelf, not to forget, black shelf that covered an entire wall in the living room that was filled with books.

I am sure you don’t think that’s weird but the best part is yet to come darling. All that she read was about numerology and astrology, more of numerology actually – Numerology and you, Truth about Numerology, Numbers and their Occult Power, the entire Linda Goodman series of course and many other books of the same genre. After I saw that shelf, I understood why she had asked me about my date of birth.

But from the day I moved in, she had been very nice, she even helped me unpack. While we were unpacking, I asked her out of curiosity “You read a lot about numerology?” She was sitting on the floor opening the boxes and I picked the stuff she handed to me and put them in their place. “Yeah. Kind of an interest.” she said as she cut open the tape on the box with a key. I noticed that she had a tattoo behind her left arm. It was a phrase in an italic sort of font, starting above the elbow going upward towards her shoulder that said – “Free Spirit Forever”. She suddenly looked up at me when I looked away pretending to stack up my DVDs.

“Is that why you asked my date of birth the first time I called you?” I asked her hesitantly.

She smiled up at me. “Yeah. It’s my way of getting to know people.” she replied. “Hmm. Unique approach.” I said. “It’s okay. I know it’s weird. You can say that but I feel it helps me understand people better.” she said in a low voice “And you know what? You will be changing a lot of things for me.” she exuberated. I didn’t know what she meant by that then dear and she probably had her own experiences that made her believe what she believed in. I was not going to judge her on that any more. Frankly, I didn’t understand her. She seemed reserved and nerdy, but her tattoo said otherwise. She seemed to be hanging in between but after a while, I saw the fun side of her which she had kept hidden most of the time - just the way she walked away to her room when our conversation was getting interesting.

***

The next morning, January 4th 2014, Saturday, I’d never forget that day. I heard the fire alarm blaring and woke up totally petrified. Before I could get to my senses and get out of bed, it stopped. After a brief moment, the alarm went off again “It’s going to stop. I know.” I said to myself but it didn’t. The next moment I was wide awake and ran out of my room panicked “Oh God! Fire! Fire!” straight to the main entrance of the apartment. Then I remembered Kajal and hurried to her room. I banged the door of her room and asked her to hurry out. As soon as she opened the door, I grabbed her hand and rushed. Kajal kept pulling back and yelled “Wait! Wait!” as though she couldn’t hear the alarm. I let go her hand and shrieked “Can’t you hear that? There’s a freaking fire. Let’s go!” But she put a deaf ear to me, went inside her room absolutely calm and brought her iPhone out that was ringing in extreme volume like a fire alarm. Probably no other phone in the world would have an alarm that would sound like that even in maximum volume.

I closed my ears tight. She then said something to me which I couldn’t hear because of the alarm blaring right in our ears. She left the phone inside and pulled me out of the room. She closed the door behind us and said on top of her voice “It got stuck! I am not able to stop it! I can’t switch it off either.”

I asked her “Is it special? A gift or something?”

She replied “No. Why?”

I quickly opened the door and walked inside the room. I picked the phone and rammed it to the wall “Because that’s how we stop it.” I said. “Oh!” she was obviously upset “…That was an IPHONE.” she fumed at me. “No shit! I am sure that was an imitation because they don’t sound like that dear. And why would anyone want to have an alarm like that in their phone that would wake them up early on a weekend darling? I mean what kind of an idiot would design that? I just saved you from that.” I laughed weakly. She looked at me through her nerdy glasses like she would strangle me and sat on the bed “I did.” she said.

I forgot to mention that about her. She was a mobile apps developer for IOS at iDream Technologies. It’s more like her own startup company but I had no clue why the hell she would create such an application and test it on her own phone. Her company gives her one to use any way. “Okay…I will fix this for you. How about I buy you a new one sweetie?” I said trying to make her feel better. “No. It’s okay.” she said disappointed. “You got to let me fix this dear.” I requested. She quickly replied “Okay but it has to be the same one and it has to be black in color.” For a moment I was puzzled since I was only trying to ease things but she made demands without hesitation. I had no choice but to nod.

I was curious and asked her “Why wake up so early on a weekend?”

“I will tell you. Since we are roomies and you will have to bear this alarm every weekend, I think you should know. I wake up early every weekend to find a date for the evening. Not a date but to find this one guy…You asked me right, about my soul mate? To find someone who would fit those words right. This time you will be helping me just like you helped your friends.” she said as though that was the only purpose she had in her life. “What! Every weekend?” I was dumbfounded.

Kajal twitched her eyes and said “Why? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just that my beauty sleep is going to be screwed darling. But tell me one thing- Did you not find any one close to this “Mr.Right” before?” I asked her with my eyebrows raised and anticipating an exciting story.

“Duh! Obviously not Chris. So till then, your weekends are going to be so much fun because you are going to help me with it just like you helped your friends.” she said. “And you know what? I am even developing an application for that.” I thought I was going to change things for her according to her numerology but it looked like she was changing things for me.

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