Starring Erick Davidson: The Visitors
Submission by Terrence Moss. Terrence is a short fiction writer and media commentator with articles featured on Associated Content and Suite 101. More “Starring Erick Davidson” stories appear in the blogosphere section of www.frontiersweb.com. Other works can be found at www.terrencemoss.blogspot.com
Erick Davidson is an early thirtysomething from New Jersey who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade.
Erick and Chris had been invited by April and Grayson to a Fourth of July party at her friend Ashley’s apartment in the Palms section of West LA. Since Erick had just returned from a weeklong trip to New York and Boston, it was fully expected that their fashionably late appearance at this party would only last a couple of hours — enough time to exchange pleasantries with the hostess, eat and mingle with the other guests before the weekend took its toll.
Five hours later, Erick, Chris and Grayson watch from the living room couch as the last of the other remaining guests say their goodbyes to Ashley — with April in the midst as if she herself had thrown the party. As the three of them get up and head toward the door to say their own goodbyes, April and Ashley walk right through them and take their places on the couch to continue whatever conversation they didn’t think they didn’t seem to have time for before now.
Erick, Chris and Grayson look at one another. Chris heads back to the couch, sits next to Ashley and promptly goes to sleep. Grayson walks over to the couch, sits down next to April and stares stone-faced at the television, which has been set to Music Choice’s classic 80s channel. Erick stands by the door for a few minutes, hoping that will hint toward a departure.
“Erick, please make yourself at home. That armchair over there is very comfortable.” Ashley offers.
“It’s fine. I ate more than I should and I read somewhere that standing aids in the digestion.”
Ashley smiles. “Well, the chair will be there whenever you are ready.” She and April return to their conversation.
Erick looks around the living room at the various wall pieces. A bird flying across the window catches his attention. He walks across the living room and out onto the balcony to investigate. “It’s like going toward the white light,” Erick comments to himself.
Erick watches the yellow-orange sun slowly but progressively descending upon the horizon and hopes that he isn’t still standing here when it finally disappears. He’s come to realize in recent months that he enjoys having small gatherings at his apartment rather than attending larger parties. Ideally, he’d prefer to sit at home and watch television with Chris or read a book at a coffee shop while Chris skims through the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and USA Today.
Throughout much of his twenties, Erick always felt the need to have plans after work so he kept his social calendar pretty full during the week. Oddly, he felt no such pressure on the weekends and often found himself home on a Saturday night save for the occasional party when he would be among the first arrivals. He’d hold court with the other partygoers for several hours before spending another hour saying his goodbyes.
Since turning thirty in 2007, he’s settled into the habit of showing up to a party relatively on time, finding a choice spot in the kitchen where he would wind up meeting most of the other partygoers and then bowing out gracefully after only a few hours as some people were still arriving.
Erick thought about speaking up but neither Chris nor he drove. He also doesn’t want to embarrass April or offend Ashley.
Erick steps off the balcony and walks through the living room into the kitchen.
Ashley sees Erick come into her sightline and notices him rustling around the kitchen. “Do you need anything else?” she asks.
Erick looks up, startled. “I’m good. Thanks. I just thought I’d clean up a bit.”
“You’ll do no such thing. You are a guest.”
“It’s not a problem, I promise.”
“It’s a problem for me. Please, come in here and join the conversation. Next time you visit, you’ll be considered family and I’ll expect you to clean.”
Erick scrunches his face in defeat, walks out of the kitchen and into the living room where he takes a seat in the very comfortable arm chair. He pulls out his cell phone and checks for text messages.
The sound of light snoring is heard coming from Chris. “We should get Chris home so he can get some sleep.” Grayson blurts out.
April looks over. “He’s sleeping fine right here. Are you using him because you want to go home?”
“I was trying not to be rude, but yes. It’s time to go.”
“Oh,” a slightly surprised April replies.
“Well, none of you are leaving me with all this food,” Ashley states as she and April get up from the couch and head into the kitchen.
Erick turns to Grayson. “Thank you,” he mouths.
“I don’t see why we didn’t leave with everyone else,” Grayson responds.
“I wanted to say something but I didn’t drive and I didn’t feel it was my place.”
“Well, from now on feel free to make it your place.”
Erick walks over to the couch and lightly shakes Chris. “Chris, wake up. We are leaving.”
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’m gonna be pissed,” Chris replies without opening his eyes.
“I promise we are. April and Ashley are in the kitchen packing up food for us to take back home with us,” Erick assures Chris.
Chris is silent for a moment. “I hear more chatting in there than packing.”
Erick and Grayson look into the kitchen to see April and Ashley whispering, but not packing. Erick and Grayson look at each other. “Let’s just grab shit and go,” Grayson asserts.
Grayson grabs a bag of with a s’mores kit that he and April brought but wasn’t used. Erick grabs the one bag of leftovers that April and Ashley packed as Grayson hands him the s’mores bag. Grayson hugs Ashley, says ‘thank you’, takes April by the hand, walks out of the kitchen, takes the s’mores bag from Erick, rushes out the door and heads down the hall.
“I had a lovely time,” Erick says to Ashley as the two shake hands.
“Thank you for coming,” Ashley replies.
“Chris, we are leaving,” Erick announces.
Chris rises up quickly and drifts toward the door. “Thank you very much for the hospitality,” he says as he high-fives Ashley on his way out the door.
Ashley steps out of her apartment and sees April shuffling toward her. “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ and to apologize for rushing off like this,” she says as she gives Ashley a hug.
“It’s alright,” Ashley responds.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into Grayson. I’m so embarrassed.”
“I get it. He’s tired and wants to go home.”
“Well, let’s get together for brunch soon. What does your schedule look like?”
As they discuss each other’s upcoming schedules, Grayson hands the s’mores bag to Chris, comes back down the hall, picks up April and carries her away. “How about I just call you?” she says as she hold on to Grayson’s shoulders.
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