15

123 18 17

"Fuck!"

Owen tossed his desk chair out of the way while Malcolm pulled the desk from the wall.

"Where'd it go, where'd it go?" Owen said.

"I can't see it!"

"Well let's find it because I'm not trying to be roommates with an immortal spider," Owen said, which Malcolm would've found funny if it wasn't such a real possibility.

They tore the room apart. They pulled the desk over on its side, looked through every drawer. Moved and stripped the bed, inspected the dust bunnies beneath it. They even tore posters from the walls, in case the bug was hiding behind them. There was no sign of the spider.

"What in the world is going on in here?" Serena said, her head peeking in the door. She tried to step further inside the room, but the door was blocked by a shifted chest of drawers. Her mouth was tense with concern.

Malcolm froze. He realized he was out of breath and sweating from the pursuit.

"Oh hey mom!" Owen said, to Malcolm's relief.

He was playing it cool. Malcolm followed his lead.

"We're just rearranging Owen's room," he said with a smile.

Serena tried again to push open the door, which didn't budge. She grimaced, irritated.

"At 11 o'clock at night? Your father and I are trying to sleep," she said.

"Sorry mom," Owen said, and the words seemed to smooth the lines on their mother's face. "We'll call it a day for now."

Serena smiled. "Okay. Maybe a little bit a change will be a good thing," she said.

Malcolm and Owen smiled as Serena said goodnight. When the door closed behind her, their faces fell.

"Fuck," Owen said.

Malcolm agreed. There was nothing more they could do, the spider had vanished.

"I'm not sleeping tonight," he said.

"You know what," Owen said. "Let's go get a drink."

Malcolm had to admit he could use one.

"Where? I'm not even 21 yet—"

"Relax, it's a Tuesday. Broney's will take any business it can get," Owen said.

Broney's was a run-down dive bar just a few blocks away. It was nobody's favorite bar, but it stayed in business thanks to two distinct groups: Middle-aged suburban dads and aimless 20-somethings with DUIs. The dads enjoyed the sports coverage. The 20-somethings liked that it was in walking distance.

The place was mostly empty when they entered the bar, the smell of stale beer was the only indication that anyone had been there that night. Malcolm and Owen approached the bar, where an obviously drunk bartender took their order. Malcolm stammered. Had he expected there to be a menu? He knew next to nothing about alcohol beyond the warm PBR that was customary at house parties.

Owen saved him. "We'll take two Long Island iced teas," he said, cash already in hand.

The bartender nodded and turned away to make their drinks. As expected, he didn't ask for IDs. Behind them, the door flew open and a group of young women joined them at the bar. Their shiny faces and club attire told Malcolm that Broney's wasn't their first stop of the night.

"That'll be eight dollars," the bartender said, reappearing in front of them with two orange-colored drinks. Malcolm's face burned when he saw the drinks were topped with pineapple slices and tiny polka-dotted paper umbrellas.

The Face in the HouseWhere stories live. Discover now