Zell was giggling.
“What’s so funny? Why did you bring me to the museum?” I asked suspiciously.
“Surprise!” Zell whispered to me. “It’s a setup! You see that guy over there? That’s your date!” Zell giggled and looked pretty pleased with himself.
“My what? Date?” I wheezed. Oh god, I wasn’t mentally prepared for this. I didn’t understand how Zell could dive into these situations with such careless abandon.
“Don’t worry.” Zell’s eyes suddenly drifted towards my neck. “Wow, your heart rate’s speeding up isn’t it? Your blood’s really pumping…” He quickly cleared his throat. “Uh, I mean, you got this, roomie.”
“Go get ’em, champ!” he shouted after me. “I’ll be right here if you need me!”
I was terrified. But the thought of Zell being nearby somehow made me less terrified. Honestly, he was so supportive, he almost made me believe in myself.
I sat down next to the guy at the bar, and I tried to introduce myself,
but he just looked at me like I was an idiot.
And the harder I tried to make conversation, the more awkward I became, to the point where I could barely string together two coherent words, and I couldn’t even look at the guy anymore. I was praying for it to end.
Finally, he sighed. “Look dude, you’ve been acting super weird all night. Zell said you’d be fun to hang out with, but he was clearly wrong about you. You should go.”
So I did.
Zell was waiting for me at the bar, eyes wide. “So? Tell me all about it!”
I sighed. “I blew it. It was a dumpster fire.”
But then Zell got up and gave me a big hug.
“Aww, Benji!” he said. “But, hey, it’s his loss. Anyways, if your night is free, which, based on the summary of your date, I’m assuming it is-“
“–hang out with me instead! Forget about that guy! He’s not even that good of a friend, anyways. And- wait. Wait. I’m having the best idea…”
“We’re going to karaoke!” Zell pointed behind me with a huge grin.
“Karaoke?” Panic rose up in me. “Oh no, oh god, Zell, you’ve witnessed my crippling social anxiety, you must know I can’t sing in front of people…”
I appreciated that Zell wanted me to feel better, but this was too much.
“Aaand that’s why I got us a private room!” he flashed an irresistible grin at me. “C’mon Benji, get up here!”
Oh, no. Zell was so excited, and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.
“Ok, one song…”
“Lass Frooby Noo?” he asked.
The tune started. Zell started belting. He was really good.
…well, I got into it.
By the end of the song, I was laughing like an idiot. “I didn’t expect to have this much fun, Zell.”
But he was suddenly quiet.
“Zell? You ok?” I repeated.
“Uh yeah, I’ll meet you at the bar.” He was doubled over and looked like he was about to vomit. “Just give me a sec.”
(Was I so bad at singing that it made him gag?)
It was late and I was getting sleepy. When Zell finally emerged, he looked like he was covered in a thick red haze. I rubbed my eyes. I was so tired, they were starting to play tricks on me.
I yawned. “Are you ready to go home, Zell?”
“Almost, I need one more thing,” he said. “But I think I just found it.”
And I was pretty sleepy, but I do remember he crept up to a stranger at the bar…
…and started kissing their neck.
“Really, Zell?” I was tired and wanted to go home, but now I had to wait for him to finish making out with some guy’s neck.
But then something even weirder happened.
Zell let go, and the guy keeled over.
What just happened? I turned to my roommate. “Uh, Zell, what the fu–“
I followed him and gravely asked, “Zell, did you just roofie that guy?”
“Oh my god, no!” Zell responded. “He’s fine! We’re good, this just, y’know, it happens sometimes…”
I wasn’t buying it. The man was lying unconscious on the ground. “No Zell, we’re not ‘good’! He’s unconscious! I don’t know what you did to him but you can’t do that!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Zell suddenly looked distraught. “I- I can’t help it sometimes! I’m trying to be better, I swear, but you have no idea how hard it is…”
I almost yelled at him again, but Zell looked genuinely upset. In fact, he was quiet the whole way home, which was unlike him. I worried that I was too hard on him, but then I remembered he had rendered someone unconscious.
What did I get myself into?
Who was my roommate?