Denny and Sam hated each other with the passion reserved only for terrible roommates.
Sam hated that Denny ate his food even when Sam wrote his name on containers or put leftovers in his own unique purple plastic storage-wear. How many times did he ask, beg, and threaten the younger man hoping that one day his wishes would be at least considered, if not honored? So far, no dice.
Denny, for his part, believed that Sam might be the devil. Not in a Biblical way, of course, but he went on and on about how the carpet needed vacuuming and the fridge needed cleaning, how Denny’s laundry emitted the particularly musty odor of stale sweat and athleticism.
Sam complained about Denny’s girlfriends spending the night, and yeah, maybe they got a little loud, but it wasn’t Denny’s fault that Sam was too worried about cleaning and eating sweets to ever get laid.
Besides all of that, Sam was also just downright mean to Denny, calling him lunkhead and moron, telling him he was a waste of space and water. “You’ll never be anything, Denny-boy! You’re too fucking stupid!” That rightly smarted, and Denny, usually very mild and passive for all his supposed obnoxious behavior, got mad.
The day Denny drank some of Sam’s chocolate milk right out of the carton, Sam watched from the living room with a scowl as Denny chugged then wiped his mouth clean. Denny then picked up a small bag of powdered doughnuts from the counter and tossed the bag to Sam. If Sam saw Denny’s grin, as the milk carton crumpled in his hand, Sam might not have eaten any.
But Sam didn’t see it and only smiled back.
“What are these for?” he asked as he pulled the first doughnut from the bag. His joy was almost creepy, making Denny more scornful than usual.
“Just because. I get it now, that I shouldn’t eat your food.” He shook the crumpled chocolate milk container. “Sorry about this. I promise to be better.”
“No reason to bother,” said Sam through a mouth of doughnut. “I actually got that for you. I don’t mind if you eat some of my food. I’ll just tack the cost onto your rent and shop accordingly.”
“Really?” said Denny, feeling bad for the first time since he devised his plan.
“Yeah, I feel like all of our problems with each other are going to be over real soon.”
“I guess so.” Denny wore a hangdog look. Too late to turn back. Maybe he should’ve thought this through a little longer. His mouth went dry, and he took another big swig of chocolate milk, feeling suddenly and strangely tired.
“So, um, I lied…” Sam said. He began coughing. It turned to choking. Piece of doughnut must’ve gotten lodged, he thought, clutching at his throat.
“Sorry, man,” Denny said. Sam started turning blue. “You aren’t choking, your throat is closing up because of the--”
Denny cut off as the room began to pulse and spin. He looked at the half-empty milk carton, as Sam, through his gagging, expelled a single rusty hinge giggle before he began thrashing in his chair.
Denny dropped the carton to the floor, lost his footing and crashed forward, landing in Sam’s lap. Before Sam’s world went black, one more dry, grating, airless chuckle escaped his throat as Denny’s body relaxed. In death’s final convulsion, Sam’s arms dropped from his throat, his right hand landing on Denny’s head.
“In an apparent double suicide, two men, living as roommates, were found dead in their midtown apartment. Suspected of ingesting poison, leaving friends and relatives shocked and confused, Denny Riggs and Sam Hendricks died holding each other. Sandy Riggs, Denny’s sister, has stated that the tragedy was preventable, as both the Riggs and Hendricks families would have shown support for the men’s relationship had they known about it.”
About the author:
Shayne K. Keen lives in Northern Michigan with his boyfriend and their two cats. His work has appeared recently in the anthology "A Walk in a Darker Wood" published by Oxygen Man Books and in the "Weirdbook Zombie Annual."
Free flash fiction on the first and third weeks of the month.