I had never heard the song before that night. My right ear was on the ground, my body, eager to hear the words, was parallel to his vibrating ceiling where he looked up every night. I shut my eyes, reached my arm up to the bed and dragged the quilt over me, careful not to lift my ear from the floor for one second. I had only seen him once. Sitting on the steps, cigarette in his mouth, between a short man and a tall man. He was medium height, and they looked like they had a cellular-bar seating arrangement.
“How many bars do you have?”
His hair was messy. His short beard, messier. His eyes brown and not very still.
The next morning, I walked to my first college course with my roommate. It felt like someone was following me, but it was almost never who I’d hoped it would be. I ignored who it was, until the brown eyes crawled on my back, I imagined, through my blouse to the carpet indention on my skin. My face flushed, and my roommate forced me to turn around. His beard smiled, and he introduced himself. Even though it was who I had hoped, I allowed my roommate to do all the talking.
I heard the music again that night along with two other voices, and my roommate asked me to come with her downstairs to let ourselves in. She was always more bold. I voiced hesitation, though she never allowed anyone to say ‘no.’ Her voice invited everyone she met to declare, as though they were the first, “You should be a phone sex operator!” Along with the size of her breasts, she was every college man’s fantasy, but truth be told, she scared the wits out of them. After that night, his door was never locked.
Between undressing his records, he droned on about Interpol, Morrissey, and Billy Corgan, and how I was missing out. I told him I wasn’t. I liked Radiohead. The next day, I purchased the Radiohead poster I had eyed for a year and hung it above my bed. Then, I put my ear to the ground when I turned out the light.
His tall friend followed me upstairs one night, after my roommate and I let ourselves in. He pulled his long, awkward body on my bed, the only seating arrangement I owned. His calves dangled off the edge like undercooked spaghetti. While pointing his finger at my new Radiohead poster, he invited me to lie next to him, and said, “Nice. Good girl.” He adjusted so that his face was closer to mine, and I invited him to go back downstairs. I could hear Morrissey crooning faintly downstairs, aiding middle man’s sleep.
Middle man poured me my first glass of whiskey, and for some time, I stared at the same ceiling, the vibrations inviting movement, for the first time.
And now, I always listen to the music downstairs.