Furqan was woken by sound of somebody quietly opening the door. He heard two hurried steps and felt that same somebody landing their big hand on his chest and shaking him violently.
“Hey, time to wake up!”
He shut his eyes open and stared, confused, straight at the Greek’s slightly curved nose.
“What time is it?”
“Already nine. Come on, I already fixed you coffee.”
He was gone far before his brain grasped around the fact somebody had made him breakfast or how much the clock was.
“Nine?” He had to be at the deanery by ten.
He took a good look at himself and realized he had wiggled out of his jean jacket he had on under his black coat and he was sweating. It was far warmer than he expected.
“I had a meeting at ten, I presume you’ll be called by ten, too. Move, if you want to be there in time!”
The way Anton shouted gave him a clue that Roshan was not here anymore. The man was like switched around – energetic and alive, definitely enjoying his voice echoing through the empty space. He didn’t mind much furniture in space, but he wouldn’t mind some now.
“I need a shower,” he groaned and pulled himself up. The bed was too soft, imprinting his nightly experience in his body with stiffness and pain climbing up the spine.
“You’ll have enough time for that, but you need to get moving.” He heard him shouting again from the kitchen mixed with different sounds of clashing dishes.
He pushed his aching body off the bed and started undressing. It wasn’t easy. He tried stretching his body, but it didn’t work and the pain resisted.
When he had managed to pull his grey t-shirt over his head, he sprang from his spot, hair on his hands standing up on thought of somebody breathing behind him, so close it could touch his skin. He saw Anton standing on doorway, slurping the coffee from his cup and crunched the shirt in his fists. Never in his life had he met a flat mate, who didn’t hold restrictions on somebody else’s body or showed such comfort to watch somebody undress. Neither did he seem to realize some would be very uncomfortable with the idea.
Anton wasn’t even looking him in his eyes and he relaxed. Why was it putting him on such edge?
“Bed is that bad, huh?” Anton asked, scanning his muscular body with compassion before wincing.
“Don’t worry – nothing better than hot shower before breakfast!”
Something in the kitchen caught his attention and he was gone the moment after.
“I don’t eat breakfast.” He said, but Anton either didn’t hear or decided to ignore it, shouting next over the gushing water in the sink.
“After few times you’ll find a good position!”
Furqan let it slide. He’ll have shower first and then see how he can tell the new flat mate he wasn’t eager on breakfast. But when pulling down his jeans and socks off, he felt his stomach grumble. Perhaps some other time, he decided, remembering he hadn’t eaten since at homeland, which was long ten hours ago. Besides, he sniffed the air, it didn’t smell like the food was burned, which gathered immediate plus points.
He shoveled through his bag and searched out his towels before heading in the shower. Fast dodge to toilet and soon he was already poking the tap to get the temperature right. It felt good to have the cold water flow over his drained muscles, cold sweeping over heated body and tossing down from his aching muscles. He wanted to stay there forever, but the time limit was pressing on and he didn’t want to be late on the first day.
The gel bottle broke out between his fingers and it landed, splashing some on his feet.
“Fuck!” he mumbled, pushing away from the soothing rain and pulled his fingers into fists, hearing the exploitative come back from the glazed tiles.
Everything echoed in this place.
“Fuck.” He repeated, with less enthusiasm, picked up the bottle and tossed it in the sink
He dried himself so he wouldn’t flood the entire apartment and wrapped the towel around the hips. Then he took a good look in the soap drenched mirror, but was disappointed by the image. Too tired.
It registered suddenly in his head that the sounds in the kitchen had perished. He left his washing gel in the sink, he was gonna pick it up later, but for right now he wanted to check what was going on.
Furqan pulled the door open and froze on the threshold. Roshan had returned and was just taking off his brown muddy-looking jacket. His eyes immediately fell behind him in the sink and Furqan knew he was far from liking the man.
“Are you going to leave it there?” he demanded, still half dressed. “You should always pick your things up after you finish!”
Furqan stared him straight in his bulky eyes and waited, then he dropped his gaze to his feet, where the footwear laid, scattered around his bare toes and worn out back bag. He had seen lecturers, but never someone, who was more suited to join the loafers on the street.
How polite, he thought, searching the Greek, but Anton wasn’t in site. Great.
“Good morning,” he said, remembering Anton’s warning from the night before. The man was obviously dismantled zebra and though he had no plans of being part of this game, he wanted to learn about him before he started any battles.
He walked out of there without looking back and got hit with his first good battle from many to come.
“Are you deaf? Why have you left those things there? I just specifically told you to remove them!”
He did like he hadn’t heard a word he said.
“I’ll pick them up in a minute.” He said, searching through his bag, searching for his trousers and new shirt. He picked up the classiest combination he owned and looked up right in time to see Roshan go in the bathroom. The door was shut closed with a bang.
He changed immediately and returned to the kitchen fully dressed, with jacket and shoes already on. The kitchen was empty and he guessed Anton had already left, but when he was grabbing the toast on the kitchen table, the man appeared from his room, also fully dressed.
“Let’s go!” he said quick and disappeared from the flat, beckoning him to follow.
After walking several blocks with his mind only on their flat mate, he finally took up his courage and gave his mouth a go.
“I haven’t been here for longer than a day and he already has picked me out.” He said, pulling the scarf more closed around his neck. He guessed this is how it would be here from now on – indoors like Morocco, outdoors weather biting your fingers off.
Anton caught, laughing lightly. “I’m glad.”
“What?” He hadn’t quite expected this answer.
“Before you, he only had one to deal with and I must say his fabricating mind wasn’t that amusing.”
Furqan listened his husky voice telling it as if a big secret, but the joking tone was only cover to the tired pain behind it.
“He picked on you?” He didn’t expect him to reply, but he just wanted to ask it out loud to see his response.
Before his lips smiled, he noticed his jaws clutch, before they eased again for a second and realizing he was hiding his eyes, he looked straight at him.
“Sometimes.” He paused. “Mostly it was the parties on the above that woke him up. I only added to this.”
The first impression he got didn’t help much here. He was cryptic and he wondered if he’d got it wrong this time and perhaps he was just another crooked fellow.
“Working late hours behind the kitchen table.”
“How does that disturb him?”
“Sometimes it’s the page turning, or I deliberately,” he shot up his fingers for the gesture, “bang my leg against the table or knock on the wall to make him think there’s ghost around.”
“He is… disturbed man, but he has his moments. But for now,” he pointed the Daremser street on the left, “your dean is that way,” he pointed to the white house shining between the dark firs, “and mine is over there.” He showed hi antique-looking key. “When you get through your meeting, search me out. Room nr 453. I’ll take you the tour I desperately needed when I first arrived.”
He nodded. “Thank you” came from his lips too late when he knew he couldn’t hear anymore, but it didn’t matter.
His meeting with his employer went fast. Neither of them had many question to start with. It didn’t mean there weren’t any, just not right now. He learned he would have personal assistant, who would help with homework and paperwork and that he’d have to come to school three times a week to teach and the rest of the time he was free to do his research.
Cheered by how fast it went, he went searching for Anton as he had promised and though he felt little guilty for pulling him off his work, he didn’t seem to mind it at all. They walked for hours after the late breakfast, which they managed to both miss at home, and he got to know everything from taxi stops to storage shop’s, including the market and far off little places, where he could take his bottle.
They reached back to apartment later that night and heard the shower. They removed their overcoats, when Anton suddenly stopped him and pointed to the ceiling.
“Ahaa! Listen!” he screeched quietly. Furqan listened carefully, but managed to get nothing besides the typical ventilation “Oh, but you do hear it!” he pointed his finger in his ribs. “That’s the party going on upstairs!”
Furqan didn’t want to believe this was all that was causing this fuss. “It’s just ventilation!”
“Exactly!” he murmured like a cat out for a lunch. “And that’s what gets him up the most.”
“Tell me about it!” He snorted and tossed his jacked over the coats hanging in the hall. “To think someone would freak out on that noise every time – insane!”
He laughed gruffly and returned to his room. He took things he’d bought from his red shopping bag and placed them one by one on the bed. The showering ended and he watched Rosh return from there, already dressed in shorts and old colorless shirt, his curled hair still sparkling from undried water. He hadn’t dried himself at all – the water was spurring through his damp clothing. He was about to physically forget him, when he noticed familiar spark of color in his hands and he turned to give him his full attention.
Rosh looked odd. Though he looked rather unattractive even before, then now, when returning from the shower, he looked surprisingly ugly. Like he’d got thousands little wrinkles added to his down arched heaps of skin. From his draped face, Furqan eyes turned to the bottles he was carrying instead.
His shampoo and shower gel landed on his bed, leaving notable spot on the freshly bought sheets. The black bottle was wet.
“I would’ve picked them up.” Furqan said to him when his slippers shifted his big body away. He got no reply and instead watched as he disappeared to the left.
Then he noticed the wet spot and reached after the bottle, lifting it up, yet to his surprise it came way faster than he had expected, weighed half lighter, too.
“What the hell?”
He hopped it in his hand, trying to figure out, what was so wrong in it, when it suddenly doomed on him. There was no other explanation to his steamed through clothes, wrinkled skin or the weight of the – the man had been showering from the moment they left for work!
He picked the other bottle up, watching the soaked place and had it land right back. The bastard hadn’t even closed the lid! Half of the content had flown inside the mantras cover.
His cheeks flushed with fury. The man was hardly a teenager with poor attitude, but grown up lecturer, who taught economics in higher level education!
This wasn’t him yelling, this was him being polite to his last minute, he promised himself so, but he doubted if seeing the culprit would make it easy.
“ROSH!” he yelled again, waiting for the man to appear from his room.
“What are you yelling about?” Anton was first to arrive to the scene and managed a mild gasp, before pulling his chin against his throat and pulling back. “That’s a whole new level,” he whispered, mouth dry, but feeling Roshan right next to his shoulder, he quickly pulled back and watched from safe distance what would happen next.
“What the hell is your problem? I told you I’ll put them away! You come and pour them on my bed?”
“I only put them on your bed,” he defended himself, eyebrows high and voice so calm it felt like he’d just received the white glove, “I didn’t know they were open.”
“Didn’t know?” he grabbed one of the bottles with his right hand, “By the looks of it, they never were closed! You’ve showered half of the content away!”
“What happened here is entirely your fault! Hadn’t you ran off, you would have at least closed the bottles! Don’t come blaming your mistakes on me!”
Anton stepped in between the two men and backed Rosh out of the doorway.
“Stop it!” he demanded and pushed Roshan back, out from Furqan’s room.
“How dare you attack innocent old man like me? What have I ever done to you?”
His voice nearly choked in his own breathing and disappeared seconds after, because Anton simply closed the door, sending him one very angry stare.
He was left alone with the sick pounding in his chest, his shower gel bottle and his newly bought ruined bed sheets. He was so angry he didn’t know where to start. For long time he just stood there and stared at the ruined sheets. The dark grey tone he had chosen didn’t go well with pearly liquid.
Suddenly the door opened and he saw Anton appear from behind it. He was holding something out for him. Furqan pushed his hand out and received a tiny metal ticket.
“The room last in the basement,” he instructed, “I’ll meet you there.”
The washing machines, he remembered.
He grabbed his things and went through the apartment without giving them another look. He heard Roshan yelling and younger man’s soothing voice trying to reason with him. It even made him feel guilty, but still he was glad that it was Anton and not him taking the this little mind’s idiotic explanations why he had acted so childishly. He would be feeding him fist right now instead and he didn’t want it.