Roderick was cleaning up a cardboard box in his cramped attic. He took out various things from inside; dusty books, photo albums, old game cartridges, Magic trading cards. All of these things were piled next to his best friend, Simon, who was admiring the vintage feel, especially the literature.
He asked Roderick about buying off the stack of Huxley novels. “He’s a brilliant one. I’ve been looking for Doors of Perception for quite awhile now.”
Roderick ignored Simon and proceeded to go through even more photo albums. It was the bottom of the box and a smile crawled across his face. More legroom here meant more alone time. Something Roderick desired since his new neighbors moved in with a nightclub’s trance lineup.
He picked up a photo album from the box, flipping through the well-aged pages. Many of the photos were from his high school years; from football games to the senior prom. The Casanova of four teenage years with more drama than daytime soap operas and yet he embraced those years. After that, reality decided that he had little to be popular for and gave him meager pay to be the bastion of everyday grumpiness.
He flipped through the photos a second time, admiring the varsity victories and homecomings once more. Then, the flipping stopped. Roderick gazed at a photo; monochrome in all its glory and on a page all to itself. It was a senior prom photo with him and his partner on the dance floor.
Roderick thought back to that night; dinner, dancing, and the love of his teenage life. It was the first outing he ever had with her, which turned out to be the only outing after word was spread about the years of dedication he put into obsessing over her. This was more or less business as usual for Sir Stud Roderick, as Simon called him. Ironically Roderick blamed him for his failed dates.
“So, how much for the books,” Simon asked.
Roderick threw the album across the attic floor, ending up at the tips of Simon’s shoes. He looked down at the famed picture.
“Lost in time again,” He asked. “You have to move on at some point. Higher academics, career ladders, new relationships, you can have something better than high school if you just build foundations.”
Roderick grunted, “But she was my life!”
“Like the many other women you dated during high school. I remember the speech about the ‘centers of your world’. How many times was I forced to hear that? Oh yeah! Countless!”
“Well maybe if you understood-”
“What is there to understand; that I was to be at beck and call when you broke up?”
“What about understanding what it means to be my friend? Have you ever thought about what’s in it for me, ever!?”
Simon remained silent, thinking about their high school friendship. He had a less optimistic view about their relationship even with the good bits at the pizza place in the mall. Most of the conversations had more to deal with Roderick’s woman-finding skills more than anything else and they were not the best either. Simon was consulted many times to conclude the woman search episode of Roderick’s high school life.
Cassandra Volpe, Roderick’s senior prom date, was the only success story from those countless search requests. Only successful because of the combination of threats Simon received from Roderick going beyond the hopelessly desperate romantic speech. He played as a go-between between Cassandra and Roderick. The latter giving out the most love notes in a game of hard-to-get over with. Cassandra tried to negotiate her way out of this ordeal.
“He’s such a stalker,” She said. “He’d probably ogle me the whole time with his lame jokes.”
Simon, who couldn’t agree more with her sentiments, had no other choice. Those fists did major damage and a neuron massacre was out of the question.
“Sorry, but Sir Stud has spoken,” He said, trying to imitate a royal servant.
Nothing happened between the three parties until prom night. Simon hid among the dinner tables with Sophie; a best friend he could depend on. Roderick was not playing games. He prowled the venue looking for his servant and his mistress. Not like a lion or panther, but more like a bagger with forgotten items in tow.
Simon was not worried about an impending doom at Roderick’s fists. He drank his punch, pinky up, and chatted about with Sophie. However, instead of talking of high school drama, celebrity gossip, or the marvels of the BBC, it was all about Lady Volpe.
“I thought she was a ‘hell no’,” Sophie said, glancing behind at another table.
“Tells you what I know,” Simon replied, sigh of relief on its way. “At least I wasn’t punched to death. That would have sucked big time.”
“But then what happened?”
“You think,” He paused, looking left and right then leaning in. “Sir Stud went mad?”
Sophie shrugged, “Probably. I don’t know. I thought you were his bro-in-arms or something.”
“But would a ‘bro-in-arms’ just use his friend as a punching bag and a hook-up professional? I’ve got standards you know-”
The lights were dimming and a man appeared on stage. The spotlight shined down. The dinner party of high school seniors remained silent; it was as if their favorite rapper entered the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” He bellowed. “The votes are in and the Prom King and Queen are…”
The silence of anticipation.
“Roderick Holland and Cassandra Volpe! A royal dream come true!”
The silence broke into whoops and cheers. The applause was as deafening as a heavy metal concert in a crowded room. Simon and Sophie looked at each other, surprised and baffled.
Baffling was also the same thing Simon thought about Roderick’s ‘what’s in it for me’. He stared intently at the picture then closed the photo album.
“As a friend, I’ll give you advice,” He said. “Being a Prom King doesn’t work on a resume."
For Flash Fiction Project Prompt 35
For Flash Fiction Project Prompt 35