I realized I was staring at him and made a conscious effort to change my demeanor. Although Sam had never been a good friend, he was always one of those guys that was just around, the truth was that it was nice to see a familiar face. The last thing I needed was to be left alone to sulk and drown away in my sorrows. I asked him to join me, which seemed to make up for the cold way I had greeted him because he laughed out loud and yelled “Hell yea, of course I will.” We grabbed a table in the corner next to the front window.
I ordered us a round of beers and he insisted I bring him up to speed. So I told him of my better days. He sat listening with complete interest, slouching onto the table, his hand holding up his fat face. By the time I got to the end, I was ready to leave.
“And apparently you can't go unemployed and still pay rent in DC on just military disability,” I said, trying to finish my story.
Sam perked up, fighting against his own body to sit up straight.
“Can't find a place to stay? Interesting. That's actually the second time today I've heard someone say that.”
“And where was the first?”
“Down at the lab, near the university. I was there this morning and a friend, well, more like an acquaintance, was complaining she had found a great apartment near Dupont Circle and can't find anyone to go in half for expenses.”
“Honestly, I don't think I can afford to live in Dupont, even if I'm splitting it,” I confessed.
“I guess she's got a great deal lined up. She said she knows an old lady who owns a bakery that has a large apartment above it that's not being used. It's not on the market so nobody else is going to rent it. She just doesn't want to take on the cost alone.” He paused and I could see him thinking about something. “But, the more I think about it, I'm not sure she's the type of person you would really want to live with.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well,” he started, shifting and moving in his seat. I stared as his jowls shook like a bulldog; I was waiting for him to slobber, “She's a little odd. Extremely intelligent and spends a lot of time studying different subjects, but nice enough, I guess. Different, that's what she is, different.”
“So she's a student?”
“Oh, no. She doesn't go to school at the university, she just sort of hangs out there sometimes. And the lab isn't a part of the school anyways, it's more of a hangout than anything else. She studies and reads a lot and is really good with a computer, I know all that. But I really don't know what she does.”
“You're friends, and you've never asked her what she does?”
“We're not really friends. We just know each other. I'm not sure she has any real friends.”
“Either way,” I said, confused and irritated by the conversation and Sam's constant fidgeting, “I'd like to meet her and get the specifics.”
“I'm sure she's still down at the lab, we could drive over now if you wanted. Where are you parked?”
“I didn't drive.”
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Genre – Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Rating – PG13