Thursday, May 21, 2020

COVID Closet (Part 1 of 3 Parts) blog post #390
Courtesy of

After the little ditty about Zack and Zel, it’s time to return to a proper short story. You can thank my reader (and friend) from Palm Springs for the following story. In an email exchange one day, he mentioned that all this social lockdown stuff might provide material for a story. So here you have it. Blame him; not me.


          Bruno Hadley fought to keep his voice calm. “What do you mean I can’t leave?”
          The college provost looked comical decked out in full protective gear, including one of those powder blue gowns. His navy pantlegs sticking out below the hem were capped by wood-brown leather oxfords. The idiot had no sense of style at all. And why had he brought the college doctor and a security guard with him? Or at least, that’s who Bruno suspected lurked beneath the camouflage garb.
          “Unfortunately, your roommate has the COVID-19 virus,” the man replied. “Too bad it happened before classes were dismissed and everyone went home, but that’s the way the ball bounces, as they say.”
          Bruno’s belly knotted. The slug didn’t even attend college sports—baseball, basketball, football—hell, even tennis tournaments—so how’d he know anything about bouncing balls?
          “So I’m going to be cooped up in here?”
         The doctor spoke up. “You and Cooper will have to isolate for a while. You’ll have the run of the empty frat house, but that’s all.”
          Bruno snorted. “Hey, man, I gotta be home by this weekend. My family’s got a big get together planned.”
          “Not anymore, they don’t.” The doctor’s voice sounded downright sinister, making Bruno wonder if that was really the medic hiding under that outfit. “Large gatherings are a banned now.”
          “Even family members?”
          “The virus doesn’t recognize family ties. It goes where the wind blows. Well, that’s not strictly true. Probably—”
          “Yeah, yeah,” he said, eyeing the mute figure who hadn’t spoken a word yet. Probably Mickey Mahaney hiding under all that gear. Bruno and the security dick ran afoul of one another a couple of times this past term. Beer was usually involved in one fashion or another. Bruno gave his nose a swipe. Might as well test things right now. “Well, I’m going home, and you’ve got no right to stop me.”
          That motivated the Mick. “Got every right, Hadley. The governor issued a proclamation.”
          Bruno almost snickered. “So the governor can override the constitution with the flick of his pen?” He turned to face the slight figure standing six feet to his right. “Don’t you have anything to say, Cooper?”
          Harry Cooper shifted from one foot to the other and dropped his gaze to the floor. “Like they say, we’re quarantined.” He raised his blue eyes. “For how long?”
          “Ten days,” the doctor said. “At a minimum.”
          “Ten days!” Bruno exclaimed. “No way.”
          “Let me explain something to you, my pugnacious young friend,” the doctor said. “Your roommate is in the hospital. Like as not, in a few days he’ll be on a ventilator. Then we’ll see if he survives.”
          “Damn, I shoulda left yesterday,” Bruno said, regretting his decision to remain on campus one more day to be with Cherry, his cheerleader girlfriend. He grinned internally. After last night, she’d have to come up with a new name.
          “It wouldn’t have mattered,” the provost said. “We’re contacting all the members of this frat house and putting them in isolation, in situ, so to speak.”
          “At least, I’d be at home.”
          “Where you could infect your entire family,” the doctor said.
          The skin prickled on Bruno’s back. He’d have to rethink walking out the door the minute these three stooges were out of sight. “You’re serious?”
          “Dead serious. And I chose that word deliberately. People you know are going to die from this outbreak, possibly starting with your roommate.”
          “Okay, so what do we do?” Bruno asked, accepting the inevitable.
          “Remain in the house. One hot meal will be delivered each day. You can raid your fridge between meals. Take your temperature first thing in the morning and last thing before you go to bed. Keep a record of it. If it goes over 101 degrees, call the infirmary at once. If you lose your sense of smell or taste, call. If you experience any shortness of breath, call. In the meantime, go about your life as normally as possible.”
          “Yeah, right.”
          The doctor indicated Cooper. “You can interact but keep at least six feet between you. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Call my office if you have any questions. Oh, yes, wash your hands often. Thoroughly with warm water and soap. Wash at least long enough to—”
          “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard all the propaganda.”
          Bruno watched the men depart. Mahaney paused at the door and looked back. No doubt that was intended to mean the Mick would checking on him. Once they were gone, Bruno turned and looked at the guy standing to his right.
          Christ, being confined to the frat house for ten days was punishment enough. But to be shut in with the college queer? That was cruel and unusual punishment.

          Harry stared at the handsome brute eyeing him from six feet away. The guy’s hostility was almost rendered bearable by his physical appearance. A shock of honey brown hair that curled at the ends. Greenest eyes he’d ever seen on anyone… ever. Wide, square shoulders. Biceps rippling every time he moved. Pecs that took Harry’s breath away. Six-two at least, giving him at least four inches over Harry’s five-ten. He dropped his gaze. How would that translate in another inevitable comparison? He was startled out of his inventory of his companion’s assets by a gravely voice.
          “Don’t get any funny ideas, Harry.”
          “Too late. I’ve had them all semester.”
          “Being locked up in here with you doesn’t change nothing.”
          “The door’s not locked. You can walk out any time you want.”
          “More’n likely I’ll just throw your ass out.”
          Harry smiled. “You’d have to touch me to do that. Welcome to try.”
          “Keep your distance, you hear?”
          “You come too close, I’ll cough on you.”
          Harry had the pleasure of seeing the hunky guy recoil at the idea.
         Bruno glared for another moment and then stomped off upstairs. Headed for his room probably. Had it occurred to the dumb jock that his room was where his roommate, another jock, had spread the virus all over the place? When he went upstairs after reading a few poems from a book in the frat library, Harry discovered Bruno wasn’t as dumb as he thought. The guy had moved to a room that had been vacant before the college was closed for the corona virus. Harry smiled broadly when he recalled what he and Joe, the frat’s president, had done in that room—that very bed—not a week ago.

Okay, so we’ve got a overtly hetero jock and a bookish gay quarantined together in a college frat house after everyone else has gone home due to canceled classes because of the COVID-19 virus. What could possibly go wrong? All they have to do is social distance for ten days, right? Or the question might be, can anything possibly go right?

Check in next week.

Until then.

The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.

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See you next week.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I'll leave the comment up even though it's a come-on for a coronavirus test kit.


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