The French Guy (Novel Excerpt)

He was naked, on top of the sheets, I underneath. He reached over my body and switched the lights on. No, no shut them off, I grumbled. In the dark, always in the dark. I thought of how he couldn’t come, not even after he rubbed himself, for over twenty minutes. I poked my head out of the sheets, squinting at the bright light.

I need a fag. I need to smoke a fag. Absolutely. (His favorite word – absolutely).

You have to have one?

Yes yes.

I don’t have a lighter.

I will go in the kitchen then. Where is it?

Turn right in the hallway, first door on the left. And please, be very quiet.

Will you be my friend?

What kind of friend?

A friend. You know, with respect. We can have sex sometimes, but always respect.

We’ll see.

But can’t you tell me now? Will you be my friend?

Let’s just take today, and see what tomorrow brings. We never know what tomorrow will be.

I’ll go light my fag now.

Put your pants on, just in case. I hope the alarm doesn’t go off. It’s so loud. It’ll wake my flat mates.

It can’t, it won’t. I have a smoke alarm in my flat too.

When he opened the door again, he was not quiet. He slid off his pants and stood there, stark naked, covering his member with one hand. He shrugged his shoulders and stood there uncomfortably, removed his hand and looked at me as if to say – so what do you think?

With the lit cigarette between his fingers, he lay back down on top of his side of the sheets. My naked body still underneath.

I need an ashtray. But you don’t have one do you?

He reached for my plastic cup, the one with the screwing lid. The lid was screwed shut with water underneath. He unscrewed it.

Here, I’ll use this. What do you use this for?

It’s to keep water by my bed, to take the pill in the morning, and some pills to heal my aching stomach.

Look, there’s cigarette ash floating in there. See, some guy has already been here before me.

There had been Anh Tien, the Vietnamese waiter I met a couple of weeks before. He had not tampered with my plastic cup. He did not smoke, and neither did I.

That’s not true. Where? I don’t see any shreds.

Oh yes.

The smoke. The alarm. Be careful. The alarm is awfully loud. Please be done.

Then everyone would know. Everyone would know.

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