Ch. 2 - Houseful of Dudes

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One year and four months later

*Ray

Ray glanced around the dingy bedroom. It was a short-bike ride from campus but on the town side, so not so far from Waikiki, either, and it was the right price. As in, affordable on her tight budget.

This was her second year at college; she had lived on campus as a freshman, but one year was more than enough. She was a sophomore and needed some freedom with her new title. Movement on the floor jerked her back to the present.

A cockroach—the really big, juicy kind they grew in Hawaii—scuttled from the beam of light the open door allowed in and went straight for a crack at the sideboard on the wall. It was probably taking news back to the colony: alert, human presence. Watch for crumbs and sleeping girls.

Her gut dropped. Dust floated in the air and the smell of mildew tickled her nose. There were brown, circular stains on the mattress and one of the doors hung crooked on the closet. Two guys (other boarders in the eight-bedroom house?) shouted and banged furniture or something against a wall in the adjoining room.

The double window didn't have glass panes, only clear plastic slats like Venetian blinds that wouldn't keep out mosquitoes or traffic noise. And there was a lot of noise. In the short time she stood there, staring at the decrepit room, two police cars went wailing down the avenue at top speed.

Nice.

Felipe, the guy showing her the room, chewed on a fingernail, intent on getting every scrap of white gnawed off the root. He paused. "So what's it gonna be? I've got a guy coming later, but you have priority since you called first. It doesn't get better than this, I promise."

"I have my own shelf in the fridge, and there's a sign-up sheet for using one of the stoves, right? I'm vegetarian and like to cook my own stuff. I tried to go vegan, but I couldn't quite let go of the cheese. But I do cook a lot."

"Yeah. Fridge is half a shelf, unless you sublet the space from someone else."

"If you have two ovens, why don't you get two fridges so everyone can have their own whole shelf? And what about laundry? Just one machine for the eight of us?" She leaned against the door-frame, mirroring him.

"That's right. Well, actually there are eight other renters, but there's a laundry-mat at the intersection with Kapiolani."

"And a second fridge?"

"Keep dreaming. You want the room or not?" He found a new nail to attack, completely uninterested whether or not she accepted.

Rooms were hard to find in Honolulu for students, he probably had two dozen people on a waiting list to come and see it.

And it was only a bike-ride away from everywhere she wanted to be.

"I'll take it. Do you take cash for the first month and deposit?"

"Cash will do. Follow me downstairs."

He trotted off down the hallway. She took a last look at her new home. The cockroach hadn't returned with reinforcements, yet, which was good. The smell didn't seem as bad with the door ventilating the place and no sirens had passed by for a full two minutes. The mattress could be covered or replaced, and she had a secret weapon for the crooked door and lack of furniture.

As far as bugs went, better a cockroach than a biting centipede. Those suckers were truly evil.

A huge grin spread across her face. This apartment rocked. And speaking of suckers, she pulled out her phone as she skipped after Felipe, and found Beth's number.

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