The next morning, back in my room, that asshole Carl glared at me. “So you’ve been hanging around with that fuckin queer, Pete Waters. Are you a faggot, too?”
I had been expecting something like this, although with trepidation. Pete and Carl had many computer science classes together. “Carl, my sex life is nobody’s business, especially yours. Unlike you, I don’t fuck everything that spreads open for me.”
“Now how do you know that isn’t exactly what I’d like you to do?”
“Bullshit. You’re not fuckin queer, and I know it.”
“And just how do you know that?”
“Because you’ve never come on to me or tried anything.”
“Maybe you’re just not my type.”
“Kiss my ass!”
“Again, that might be right up my alley, roomie.” I said with a wicked grin.
Without another word or any warning, Carl reared back his right arm and punched me in the face, knocking be backward onto my bed. My head hit the wall hard, and I blacked out.
When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was the face of the dorm’s Resident Associate, a graduate student who got free room and board for keeping an eye on us freshmen. The RA was looking at me with concern, and there were three or four other guys in the room.
My head was pounding, and my face felt like it was on fire. As my brain began working again, I asked with a pained voice, “What happened?”
The RA looked embarrassed. Some of the other guys scowled at me with disdain. “Well…” the RA began. “Carl says you tried to kiss him, so he decked you.”
“What? That’s ridiculous. He just accused me of being gay, and when I said I wasn’t, he hit me. Where is that son of a bitch?”
“Security took him downstairs. He’s being questioned.”
I tried to sit up, but my head was pounding, so I fell back onto my pillow. “Let me get this straight,” I said, trying to wrap my head around the whole fucking situation. “Carl accuses me of being gay, then knocks me out, then claims I tried to kiss him, and now he’s under arrest?”
“No. He’s not under arrest, just being questioned.” The RA seemed to believe what Carl had told him.
“Well, we can fix that right now. Pull his bottom dresser drawer all the way and have a look at what’s behind it.”
The RA looked over at Carl’s dresser, unsure what to do. As soon as I said that, though, two of the guys who were in the room with us beat a hasty retreat.
Noticing that, the RA rose up and went over to Carl’s dresser. He opened the bottom drawer and felt around inside it.
“No. You gotta pull it completely out!” I groaned loudly.
The RA did as I said and reached to the back. He removed three small cardboard boxes and set them on the floor. He looked at them as if they were bombs.
“Fuckin open them!” I insisted.
Instead, the RA turned to one of the men still in the room. “Get that security guard up here!”
The guard arrived with Carl in tow, screaming some shit about his privacy being violated. The security guard ordered Carl to stay out of the room. Then he closed the door and bent down to the cardboard boxes. Gingerly, he lifted the lid of the first. The box was tightly packed with plastic bags of marijuana.
“Oh my God!” the RA exclaimed.
The guard opened the second lid. Inside were more plastic bags, these filled with a white powder. “Shit! It looks like coke!” he exclaimed.
The third box was carefully opened, and it was filled with money, neatly stacked and wrapped. Packed right next to it was a small handgun. “Motherfucker!” was all the guard could say. He took the walkie-talkie off his belt and spoke into it. “Seventeen to base. We need the cops at the freshman dorm, room 304… it’s drugs.”
I lay back and fell asleep. I guess the effects of the crash to my head had not worn off. As I closed my eyes, I saw the RA and the guard looking at me with concern.
The next thing I knew, I woke up in an ambulance, with some kind of needle sticking in the back of my hand and two attendants looking grimly at me.
“Am I OK?” I managed to whisper.
“You just take it easy. We’ll be in the E.R. in five minutes, and they can take a look at you.”
I passed out again, and the next time I woke, I was in a bed in a curtained area with bright lights in the ceiling. A doctor had a stethoscope to my chest and a nurse was taking my blood pressure.
Seeing that my eyes were open, the doctor said, “you’ve had a concussion. Try not to move your neck.” Of course, I immediately tried and realized that it was held tightly in some kind of big collar.
The doctor got a penlight and shone it in my eyes. “Pupillary response normal,” he said to the nurse, who noted something on a clipboard. “What’s the BP?”
“150 over 100, doctor.”
He addressed me. “Mister Hobson, I realize you’re in a bit of pain right now, but we can’t give you anything for it until we’ve completed our examination of your head, neck, and brain. The less you try to move, or even think, the better you’ll feel.”
“Shit!” was all I could get out. Then I closed my eyes again.
The next two hours consisted of people wheeling my gurney from one testing room to another. I had x-rays, blood tests, breathing tests, and a shitload of other tests that I can’t remember clearly. Finally, I was taken to a private room and the massive collar around my neck was replaced with a much smaller one that was covered in soft foam rubber.
After a few minutes, the doctor came in and stood by my bed.
“Well, Mr. Hobson, you’re very lucky. There’s no sign of brain damage, and your neck bones and nerves are all just as they should be. You have a broken nose and a cracked jaw, but we’ll have to take care of those much later.”
I tried hard to take it all in and think it over, but my mind was still in a fog.
“What about Carl?” I asked, looking the doctor in the eyes.
“Is that your roommate?”
I tried to nod my head, but the collar wouldn’t let me. “Yes,” I groaned.
“I understand he’s been arrested.”
“I couldn’t say, but since you seem to be conscious and aware of your surroundings, there’s a policeman outside who’s been waiting to talk to you. Do you think you are up to it?”
I said I thought so, but the doctor looked dubious. “You’ll want your head to be clear when you answer questions,” he cautioned me. “There are some serious charges involved.”
“Against me?” I said with a mix of shock and fear.
“No, I think it’s your roommate, but you never know. I would advise that you ask the detective to come back tomorrow.” He thought for a moment, “and you probably ought to speak to your parents first – maybe get a lawyer.”
Even in my muddied state, the last thing I wanted was for my parents to get involved in this shit. I asked the doctor to tell the policeman that I wasn’t able to answer any questions, that my brain was still fuzzy and I needed a good night’s rest before I could speak with him. I heard them arguing in the hallway, but ultimately the cop couldn’t do anything except give up.
The doctor came back to me. “The detective said he’d come back first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, he has posted a uniformed officer outside your door.”
That got my attention. “Why? Do they think I’m in any shape to make a break for it?”
“No, not at all. It’s for your protection. Your roommate got out on bail and the police think he’s going to try to come after you. We’ve put his picture at every hospital entrance and Security is ready to prevent him from entering. I think the uniformed man is kind of the last line of defense to protect you from him.”
At first I couldn’t imagine why Carl would be coming after me, since he was the one who attacked me in the first place, but then I vaguely remembered telling the RA where Carl kept his drugs. That was more likely the reason he was out to get me. I thanked the doctor, who turned down the lights and told me to get some sleep.
The night passed quietly, with no sign of Carl. I was awakened every two hours, either for a change to my IV or to run me through the now-familiar brain-test questions.
As I was finishing breakfast, a tall black man in a suit entered and introduced himself as Detective Winston Buchanan. He said he had a few questions about Carl.
“He didn’t show up here last night,” I said with relief in my voice.
“I know all about that. I’d be willing to bet he’s in Mexico by now.”
“You mean he ran away?”
“And jumped bail – his friends who put it up are going to be pissed… unless they’re the ones who sold him the shit in the first place.”
I went over the details of our brief argument and Carl’s physical attack on me.
“It turns out he was high on cocaine,” the detective said. “We got some blood out of him and there’s no doubt about that.” With an odd look, he said, “you’re in the clear… about the fight.”
Concerned, I looked at him, “About the fight? What else is there?”
He cleared his throat. “Well, it appears you knew exactly where he kept the drugs and money, so I have to ask… were you in on it with him?”
Shocked, I sat up too quickly. My head suddenly pounded and some kind of alarm went off in all the gadgets attached to me. A nurse rushed into the room, gave the detective an accusing look and proceeded to settle me back down.
“Do you want me to ask him to leave?” she asked me.
“No,” I said softly. “It’s all right. He’s just doing his job.”
When she had left, but kept the door open, Detective Buchanan looked back at me. “Look, there’s no evidence at all against you, and I kinda think that if you were in it with Carl, he would have said so last night when we questioned him.” He paused and then sort of smiled at me, “of course, he’s not the brightest bulb on the porch!”
I laughingly agreed. “He was a son of a bitch, all right. It’s been a real pain in the ass living with him.”
“May I ask why you never requested a different room or roommate?”
I hesitated. “What I really want is an apartment off-campus by myself, and I thought if I just let Carl be Carl for long enough, my parents would see the wisdom in that and pay for it.”
The detective nodded his head understandingly. I looked at him. He was in his early thirties, short black hair, black eyes, a well-groomed mustache and a body to die for. He was wearing a suit that didn’t fit him very well, but even so it was clear that he had a muscular physique inside it.
I must have been staring at him, because he turned his head slightly to the right and gave me a wink. “Like what you see?” he asked brazenly.
I blushed a deep red, but then smiled at him. “If all detectives looked like you, I think there’d be a lot less crime.”
He cleared his throat, “Which brings me to the last question I have for you.” He thought a moment, “what, exactly, was it that made Carl punch you out like that? He told the RA and campus security something that didn’t make sense to them.”
I did my best to look completely sincere. “I have a gay friend – in fact, a few of them, and Carl saw me in town with one of them, and he accused me of being queer.” I took a breath, trying to sound indignant, “I told him he was full of shit, but I guess I also teased him about it a little, and he hauled off with no warning and decked me.”
“That was probably the cocaine. He had a lot of it in his system.” He made some notes on a little pad he was carrying. “Now, you said you teased him a little. What exactly did you say to tease him?”
I blushed again. “Oh, you know, the usual bullshit. He said ‘fuck you’ to me, and I said ‘maybe that’s what I want you to do’.”
He stopped writing and looked me in the eye. “And is that what you wanted him to do?”
“Fuck no!” I almost shouted. “He’s… he’s disgusting! He never bathes, he smells like goddamn cigarette smoke all the time. He brings hookers to our room and fucks them in my bed…” I took a breath, trying to calm down.
After a deep breath, I continued, “Even if I were gay, which I’m not, he’d be the last guy I’d ever be attracted to!”
As my outburst echoed through the room, I saw Detective Buchanan relax, close his notepad, and put it into his suit pocket. He gave me a warm smile and then proceeded to pull the privacy curtain around, between the bed and the door, which was open, so that nobody could see us.
Stepping over right next to the bed, he gave me another smile, put his hand on my arm, and gave it a squeeze.
“So if you were gay, which you are not, what kind of guy would you be attracted to?” His eyes twinkled with desire.
“Well…” I began thoughtfully. “It sure as shit wouldn’t be a creep like Carl.” I paused and slowly examined him from head to toe. “It would definitely be someone who is clean, who takes care of his body, and who acts like a real man… someone kind of like… you.” I looked up into his eyes.
“Thanks,” he said softly and smiled at me. Then he removed his hand, straightened up and reached in to his suit coat, withdrawing a small rectangle of paper.
“Here’s my card. If you think of anything else that you want to say…” he grinned again, “or if you move into that apartment by yourself… give me a call.”
He winked again, withdrew the curtain, and turned to leave. My eyes were glued to his back as he went out the door. “Nice ass, too,” I thought with a sly smile.