Home Sweet Home
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
“Thanks again for coming,” Archie said, chewing on his left index finger as he spoke. “I wasn’t really sure you were going to make it.”
Archie paused for a moment, shifting his mouth’s attention to the left thumb that had been a security blanket since he was a young man growing up in yearly rentals throughout the recently gentrified Washington D.C.. He looked at his guests, four men that he only knew as Joe - Joe, Bry, Mean Gene, and a guy who just liked to be known as “The Clapper.” Archie was terrified to upset Mean Gene, and didn’t even want to talk about why the fourth man was called The Clapper.
“You know why I asked you all here today,” Archie said, nervously glancing from wall to wall of his sparsely decorated Dupont Circle apartment. It was a spartan space, with walls stripped bare, two small coat hooks the only sign that someone resided there. For the time being at least.”
“Yea Archie, we know.” It was Bry who was first to speak. Bry was unafraid to break an uncomfortable silence, and Archie knew that he would be the first to spring into action the second it was time to do, well, to do what they needed to do. “That’s why I’ve got my truck, and why Mean Gene brought his tools.”
Mean Gene and those tools, Archie thought to himself. He remembered the first time he saw Mean Gene work those tools. He was quick with the hammer and even better up close with a screwdriver.
“Thanks for bringing those,” Archie said. “This would have been a lot more complicated if we just had to use our hands”
“It’s a lot of plastic wrap around here,” Joe-Joe said. “Are you sure that we really need it?”
“Is this your first time doing this?!” Mean Gene said, incredulous in his tone and waving arms. “This whole thing will get totally busted up if we don’t take any precautions. You know how easy it is to get caught. Remember what happened to Bry’s brother, Brian…”
“I don’t want to talk about it!” Bry shouted, jumping up from his folding chair. “Brian got screwed by that judge. Those pictures could have been photoshopped!”
“Please, Bry. What happened to that floor could NOT have been photoshopped”
“Shut up Mean Gene! Why don’t you just do the whole thing if you’re so smart!”
“NO!” Shouted Archie. “We’re in this together. None of us can quit until its over. I know that this is a complicated task. I know that we are all putting ourselves at serious risk of injury, and I KNOW that at the end, we’re going to have to part ways.”
“Part ways?” Joe -Joe asked. “Why can’t we stay together?”
“Are you crazy?!” Bry yelled “If Bry doesn’t get that truck back by midnight…Look, I’m just saying. We need to get this done before today ends, because I, I just can’t imagine having to come back here These were some of the worst days of my life. Now Archie, we’re here at your request. Tell us what to do.”
Archie took a deep breath. This was the moment he was dreading. He knew that the next thing he said, and the way that he said it, would define the rest of the job. One slip-up could destroy the group’s morale and he’d be stuck carrying out this horrible task himself.
Grow up Archie, he said to himself. These guys would never turn on you. They’ve been with you from the bottom. You know each others deepest dirtiest secrets, and they would never put that at stake.
With these bubbling thoughts pushing air into his vocal cords, Archie swallowed hard and said what he thought he’d never have courage to say.
“I was thinking we’d start in the bedroom,” Archie said. “The only thing is...I haven’t taken apart the bed and I think the screws are stripped.”
“Goddamnit Archie!” Bry yelled, nearly throwing the U - Haul key clear across the living room that was nearly barren. In fact, besides the ketchup stained sofa bed and several framed pictures wrapped in entirely too much plastic it was just the five guys and one box of pizza. “And who orders just one pizza for five guys?”
“I’m so sorry guys I know I should have told you! I didn’t realize it was stripped until this morning when I tried to take it apart. And by then Bry, I knew you had already picked up the truck for me. And Joe - Joe, I know you skipped your flag football game for me. I just...I’m so, so sorry.”
“‘No worries mon’,” Mean Gene chortled, using that classic fake Jamaican accent he’d been using ever since he watched Cool Runnings one Satruday on Netflix. “You should have just told me, I have a special wrench for situations just like this.”
Suddenly, they were all jarred by a standing ovation from their heretofore silent friend. “A round of applause for Gene. Let’s hear it for Gene everyone!”
“Classic clapper!” Archie laughed, hoping to break this horrible tension between him and the only people on earth who know about that time he clogged the bus bathroom on the school trip to Hershey Park. God that was so embarrasing. “What do you guys say? Let’s take apart this bed, get it in the truck and finish this Goddamn move.”
“Sounds great, Arch!” Bry shouted. “And hey, when we get to the new place, how about a few more pizzas?”
“Yea man. Joe - Joe needs his Dough - Dough!”
With that, the five friends walked laughing, arm-in-arm, into the bedroom. It turned out that Gene left his special screwdriver at home, and nobody wanted to wait an extra hour, so they broke the bed frame. The next day, Archie, Joe-Joe and the Clapper went to Ikea to buy a new frame. Archie treated the fellas to several rounds of meatballs. They remain close friends to this day.