“Why didn’t you just tell me?” Chaz says, the nerve of him. He found out about rent today. I mean— he found out I know he hasn’t been paying rent. Our rent. Not even my half.
That’s right: he’s been taking my rent money for three fucking months and he hasn’t been paying any rent.
“I’ll have my dad write you a check,” he says. What a fucking disaster.
“Why,” I asked, “haven’t you been paying rent?”
“I messed up bad— I’m bad with money— I’m sorry,” he said.
He blamed his girlfriend who was, by the way, crying and smoking all of our weed in the living room.
Chaz put his hand on my knee, like how your rapist uncle would. “Smoke a bowl, son,” he said.
“Okay,” I said.
“It’s on me,” he said.
“No, I think I bought this sack,” I said.
“I remember giving the money to Aaron,” he said, invoking the name of our Holiest of Drug Dealers. I pushed his hand off my lap.
“Who’s money?” I asked. Chaz was silent. Maybe he gets the point, I figured. The asshole. But he proved me wrong next by saying:
“With my money.” He started grabbing for my knee again; like your rapist uncle who is also blind. I pushed his hand away again and yelled.
“You owe me three thousand dollars!”
“Technically I owe the rent office six thousand dollars,” he said.
“You’re not even the least bit sorry,” I said.
“I told you I was.”
“But you’re not.” He wasn’t, I promise.
Chaz paused, his mouth agape. “You have to pay the rent,” I told him.
“That’s— I could pay up what I owe. My dad will write that check.”
“And then keep paying rent like you’re supposed to,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” he wasn’t, “I can’t keep paying rent” That was bullshit— he has a great job working for his dad’s company and for him to keep up paying rent he’d have to start paying rent in the first place.
“So what are you going to do?” I said.
“Move out,” he said, lighting a cigarette.
“You can’t do that,” I said.
“The lease doesn’t have to be renewed in August with me on it,” he said, taking a drag.
“No, the cigarette.” He took another drag.
“I can smoke,” he said.
“But not in my room. Get out,” I said. Chaz took another long hard drag and tossed his cigarette on the floor, stomping it out.
“You’re not being too cool about this, Charlie.”
“I smoke cigarettes too; I know what it takes to be cool.”
“No, you’re not being cool about the rent thing.”
“I’m being remarkably ‘cool’ about the rent thing right now.”
Chaz lit another cigarette.
“Stop that,” I said. He threw his cigarette down and stomped it out.
“I’m going to LA for the weekend, so we’ll talk about this later,” he said.
And just like that— like my father— he was gone again.