Lila was almost home when she saw him. He lay beneath the flickering street lamp just around the curve from her apartment. His eyes were closed and there was a pool of dried blood on his shirt. Lila looked around. No one else in sight. She knelt and checked for a pulse. Nothing. His neck smelled like coffee. Lila checked his pockets. In his wallet she found an I.D. card from some talent agency. Travis, his name was Travis. Lila knew she should call the police, but he was so beautiful. And he looked light enough to carry, or at least drag. Lila lifted up his shirt. His ribs were visible around the wound. He was kind of dirty. She checked the road again, then looped her arms beneath his shoulders and began tugging him around the corner. His shoes made soft scrapes on the concrete. Lila took them off. My floors are soft, she whispered.
When they got to her building, Lila brought Travis through the back door. The hallway was–thank God–empty. She scrambled for her keys and unlocked her door and dragged Travis inside. His legs crossed the threshold just as her neighbor Kyle opened his door. Lila jumped over them and into the hallway. She tried to pull the door closed, but it caught on Travis’ feet. Kyle stepped out and smiled at her. She swung the door hard, knocking Travis’ feet aside, and pressed it shut. Kyle stopped in front of her and put his hands in his pockets.
“Hey Lila,” he said. “How’s it going?” He took one hand out and scratched the back of his neck.
“Hi Kyle,” Lila shouted. “I was just checking my mail.”
“For sure,” Kyle said. “No mail today huh?”
“I don’t know,” Lila said. “What I meant was, I’m about to check it.”
“Oh got ya,” Kyle nodded. “Totally.”
They stood in silence.
“I have to go,” Lila said, not moving.
“Oh for sure,” Kyle said. He stood for a moment, then started walking down the hallway. At the exit he looked back over his shoulder, smiled at the floor, and left. Lila hurried back into her apartment and locked the door.
Lila sat Travis on the couch. His head slumped to the side. She took hold of either end and gently centered it, leaning it just so against the cushion so that it remained upright.
She beamed. “Make yourself at home!”
~ Continue reading