To Open the Door, Part 2
Posted by Rystefn on December 17, 2008
Part Two was going to be significantly longer: about 15 pages typed and double-spaced. I thought about breaking it down into smaller portions, but I there aren’t so many good places to do it, given how busy the beginning part of the story is. I’m trying to introduce most of the major characters, set up the plot, and include some action, mystery, and romance… in the process I planted the seeds for a much deeper story than I had initially planned. Lucky for you, reason won out, and I’m chopping it into smaller segments. Five pages seems a bit more reasonable for this format, don’t you think?
I had always been curious about Eric’s past, but I never pushed him about it. He would tell me when he was ready, and I was perfectly willing to wait. When he felt the need, he would come to me, and I would be there for him. Until then, it was enough for me just to be with him. Whatever it was that he was running from, however bad, it wouldn’t matter – I loved him. I could handle it. I was ready…
How very wrong I was.
To this day, I still don’t know why he told me when he did – why he chose that particular moment, but he was right. I don’t think anyone can ever really be prepared for something like that, but there are times when we are better able to handle it.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start from the beginning.
Long before I met Eric, I had heard stories about him. He was something of a local legend – a figure of romance and mystery who blew through town like a storm at unpredictable intervals. Sometimes he would tell someone he would be coming, but more often he would wander into a bar or restaurant or just show up on someones doorstep completely unannounced.
That’s how I met him, in fact. At three o’ clock in the morning, I was awakened by a loud knocking on the front door. Looking through the peephole, I could only see the shadowy outline of a tall figure standing on the porch – the outside light had burned out a few nights earlier and had not yet been replaced.
“Who is it?” I called, more than a little angry that anyone would come around at that time of night.
A low, almost growling voice answered through the door with a single word: “Eric.”
I didn’t know any Eric, and was about to tell him so, but Laura, my roommate, was practically shouldering me out of the way to open the door for him. The blanket she had wrapped around herself fell to the floor, but in her hurry she either didn’t notice or didn’t care. I did notice, however, that Laura had apparently been sleeping nude. Even the chill of a Portland December blowing through the open door didn’t seem to phase her as she threw her arms around our visitor and pulled him inside. I have to admit that I was rather speechless – Laura had always been pretty flirty, but I had never seen her do anything like this, hanging naked all over some guy right in our living room.
Eric was just over six feet tall and built like a swimmer, thin and muscular with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. His blond hair fell straight to his jawline, loose and unkempt. He was wearing boots, blue jeans and a black T-shirt with a tattered leather jacket like a pilot out of some old movie. A duffel bag hung over his shoulder, and if he hadn’t been clean and freshly shaven, he would have looked like a drifter. Somehow, Eric made it look rakishly charming.
Technically, Eric was a drifter, though. No one knew what, if anything, he did for a living; he just rode in from God-knows-where on his motorcycle, stayed for a few days or weeks or months, then rode away again.
I watched her pull him across the room amid a stream of cheerful “how have you been?”s and “what have you been up to?”s. Laura was giggling like a teenager as she pressed her naked body against him, her long black hair brushing the hand casually resting on the small of her back.
She had run cross-country in high-school and four evenings a week at the gym ensured that she still had the body of an athlete. Laura sometimes complained that she had to work extra-hard to get men’s attention because she didn’t have large breasts, but I’ve always been jealous of her long, shapely legs so I guess that makes us even… besides, as I was now seeing for myself, her breasts may be a little smaller than average, but they were certainly firm and perky, and unlikely to ever sag.
In addition, she had exotic features that made her look like some sort of Middle-Eastern or Indian princess or something: long, silky black hair, high cheekbones, and huge almond-shaped eyes so dark that the iris and pupil tended to be indistinguishable. Laura never had to work for anyones attention.
Even now I think they look very good together, her dusky skin and dark eyes contrasting with his blond-and-blue, not to mention the same sort of easy smile and mischievous sparkle in the eye.
By the time I had recovered enough to speak, he was lounging on our recliner with Laura sprawled naked across his lap, purring her pleasure that he came to see her as soon as he got into town.
“I’ve seen Laura answer the door a hundred times,” I began, “but she almost always wears clothes – does she always greet you in the nude, or is this a first for you, too?”
Laura blushed darkly and seemed to sink into herself, looking across the room at her fallen blanket, then to me. “I’m so sorry, Michelle,” she began, “I didn’t even think…”
“First time,” Eric interrupted, his tone as casual as if he were discussing the weather. “I find I rather enjoy it and hope it begins a new trend among all beautiful women.”
“Whatever,” I said. “You two enjoy yourselves; I’m going back to bed.”
Even after I woke up in the morning, it hadn’t really sunk in just who it was that had come to our house. Maybe it was annoyance at being awakened in the middle of the night or the shock of seeing Laura naked in our living room, but my brain simply didn’t connect the stranger of the night before with the Eric I had heard so many unbelievable stories about.
After a quick shower, I threw on my bathrobe and followed the smell of frying bacon into the kitchen. “Since when do you cook?” I asked Laura… only Laura wasn’t in the kitchen, it was Eric.
“I’ve always cooked,” he flashed an odd sort of half-smile at me, “in some places it’s the only way to get a decent meal. You’d be amazed at what they have the audacity to call food.” Deftly flipping the bacon onto a plate with one hand, he began cracking eggs into the skillet with the other, swiftly blending the yolks and the whites. “What do you like in your omelets?”
“Omelets? How can you make omelets without mixing the eggs before you put them in the pan?”
“Talent.” The crooked half-smile again.
“Don’t let him fool you, Michelle,” Laura said from behind me. “He’s never yet managed to do it without making the most incredibly ugly omelets you’ve ever seen – all broken up and mixed together… and utterly delicious.” She slid past me to stand behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist.
Thankfully, at some point during the night she had dressed herself. Sort of. She was wearing a man’s blue dress-shirt, the top half unbuttoned and open, exposing her flat belly. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing anything under it, but if she was, it didn’t cover anything left exposed by the shirt – which was most of her.
“I’m sorry, but you’ve missed the window,” Eric said, seeing me looking at my roommate.
Shocked and embarrassed, I started to stammer an explanation, but he interrupted me, half-smiling with a look I was quickly learning to associate with his quirky sense of humor. “You took too long deciding,” he said as he flipped a small bowl over the skillet, dumping the contents into the eggs.
“First plate goes to Laura; I know how she likes it,” he continued, winking rakishly and earning a playful slap for his trouble.
“He really is an excellent cook, Michelle,” Laura said, cuddling against his back, “you should appreciate this – he usually only does it for people he knows very well.”
“Laura exaggerates… I simply tend to only find myself in a position to cook when I’m either alone or among close friends. I suspect most people are the same.”
“You left out lovers,” Laura interjected, “rumor has it you always cook for the women you sleep with.”
“I do,” he answered, flipping her eggs onto a plate. “I simply tend to only find myself sleeping with women who are also my close friends. I suspect the world would be a better place if most people were the same.”
“There you go being deep again,” she replied, taking her plate to the kitchen table, “it’s too early in the morning for philosophy.”
“It’s never too early for philosophy,” he laughed, putting several strips of bacon into the skillet, “and you certainly weren’t complaining about how deep I was last night…”
“If these eggs weren’t so good, I’d beat you,” she giggled, “and if you didn’t make comments like that, I might actually sleep with you.”
“Please, woman, we’ve slept together hundreds of times.”
“Yes, and maybe one day I’ll let you have sex with me.”
“You see what I have to put up with?” He turned to me, “between her jibes and innuendo and your stubborn refusal to tell me what you want on your eggs, it’s a wonder I don’t just commit seppuku and be done with it.”
Suddenly drawn into the conversation, I didn’t really know what to say. I must have stared blankly for a moment, because Eric gestured vaguely and asked again, “Your omelet – What would you like on it?”
“Oh… um, ham and cheese will be fine, I suppose…”
Not my most glamorous moment, I’ll admit, but given the circumstances, I think it’s understandable. I had barely exchanged two sentences with Eric and already I had been woken in the middle of the night by a stranger at the door, offered two home-cooked meals, had one of them given away, seen my roommate naked and giggling like a schoolgirl, and had someone threaten to commit ritual suicide if I didn’t tell him what I wanted for breakfast.
This was part of the reason Eric moved around so much – with most people, the occasional taste of wildness is fun and refreshing, but they can only handle it in small doses. Wildness followed Eric closely always, so he always moved on quickly. His other reasons I wouldn’t know for some time: it was to protect us from a different sort of wildness.
I will admit one thing, though: Laura was right, the eggs were delicious.