Volume 2 of the Something in the Water series arrives Tuesday, January 30!

Of Curtain Rods

Of Curtain Rods

“Well, shit,” Danny said, and Matt nodded emphatically as they surveyed the scene of destruction.

They had tried to put the curtain rod back up, but it fell down again and smashed through one of the potted plants somebody—Danny didn’t remember who, but suspected it might have been his mother—had given him as a “house warming gift.”
There was dirt all over the floor, bits and pieces of the plant everywhere, and the curtain rod was lying in the middle of the room.

That would be well and fine, Danny thought, if it weren’t the bedroom curtains. Any other room of the house, fine. They could live without curtains in any other room. Well, maybe not, but the point was that these were the bedroom curtains and they needed to go back up on that fucking wall now, because Danny couldn’t sleep without blackout drapes (especially before a game), and he really didn’t want the neighbors to know what they got up to.
Even if most of them already suspected it, partially because Matt was a bit of an exhibitionist and had no qualms with showing everybody everything that belonged to him.
Really, they’d just need a new curtain rod or a new … whatever the hell made the curtain rod stay on the wall, which just meant a trip to the hardware store, but the initial fall had happened while they were gone for the weekend, and the cat got at them—the curtains were now doing a good impression of Swiss cheese—and then, when they tried to put them up again, Matt lost his footing and fell and clutched at the curtains, which, of course, tore them.
So they were wrecked.
Which meant they needed new ones.
Which meant they had to go shopping.
Danny would say they could just send the housekeeper, except they didn’t have a housekeeper. Matt had said they could send Danny’s mother, but Danny really didn’t trust her judgment. Last time they’d asked her to get them something that fell under the category of “home decor,” it was atrociously floral-printed. And pink.
“We need new curtains,” he said blandly, looking forlornly at the ruined drapes.
“Uh-huh,” Matt agreed.
“I guess … we should go. To the store. That sells curtains.”
“I don’t even know which one that is,” Matt informed him, and he sounded quite smug that he’d never needed to know where to buy curtains before.
“Neither do I.”
They both deflated a little. Danny supposed that was what they got for horsing around. He sighed.
“Okay,” he said. “Shopping.”
So they went shopping. They drove around for bit because, instead of using Google or something like normal people, they just hopped in the car without the slightest idea where they were going.
Danny got them lost a couple of times, because he sucked with directions, and when Matt finally got sick of that, he drove. But Matt drove like a maniac at the best of times, which was why Danny objected to him driving in the first place. His argument was only strengthened when Matt nearly got them killed a couple of times.
They finally, finally, finally ended up at some place that looked like it sold curtains. They wandered around the store for a few minutes before determining that the place sold furniture, not curtains.
They were about to escape, when a sales associate approached them. “Afternoon gentlemen,” he said in that Virginia drawl. “Can ah help ya with something?”
“We’re just browsing,” Danny said automatically, and he felt like his mother. Matt snickered at him.
“Ah, all right. Well, just t’ let ya know, we’re having a sale—”
And they got sucked right into the vortex of sales pitch.
“—dining room sets. This un here is solid oak. Comes with two extra leaves—”
“Leaves?” Matt asked.
“Extensions,” Danny said flatly. “They go in the table and make it longer.”
“Here, siddown. Seats got a lotta cushion in ‘em, unlike some chairs. Ya wanna be comfortable when yer eatin’, right?”
Matt nodded; clearly he thought the salesman’s logic was good logic. He glanced at Danny. “Sit down,” he instructed.
Danny sighed, but sat. He frowned. It was comfortable. Unlike the chairs they currently had. He looked at the smooth, polished wood of the table.
“Nice, ain’t it?”
“We don’t spend lot of time at home,” Matt said, leaning back. Danny rolled his eyes. The moron was gonna go ass over teakettle one day, and Danny was just going to laugh when it happened.
The salesman looked a little bit disturbed by that, but continued. “Oh, no? Not yer thing then? Well, come over here, I think I got somethin’ fer you.”
Of course he led them right into the death trap, which was to say, the living room furniture.
“Danny!” Matt cried. “Look at that TV!”
“I can see it, Matt. I have eyes in my head.”
“Look. At. It.” Matt stretched his arms out and grinned gleefully at Danny. Danny eyeballed the thing, guessed it was probably about 60″, and he thought of how much fun it would be to play video games on it.
But they didn’t need a TV. They were supposed to be curtain shopping.
“Tell you boys what, this is a special deal we’re havin’. Ya buy any three pieces of livin’ room furniture—an’ that includes yer sofa, yer recliner, an’ yer loveseats—”
“Loveseats?” Matt had that dumb look on his face again.
“Never mind,” Danny grumped.
“—and ya get the TV fer free.”
Danny was pretty sure his expression mirrored Matt’s, even if he didn’t want it to. Free TV? Who could pass that up?
“Whaddya think? Take a look around, see if there’s anythin’ ya like.”
With that, the salesman took off, and Matt had apparently forgotten their mission. “Look,” he said, pointing to a sofa, “black leather.”
“We’re supposed to be looking for curtains. And we’d have to paint the living room.”
“Not in the living room, stupid, in the basement—the man cave.”
“Oh. Yeah. That would look fuckin’ sweet.”
Matt practically collapsed on it. He frowned, wriggling around a bit. “Too short,” he surmised, kicking the side of the sofa with his feet. His knees were over the arm.
Danny flopped down in a recliner. “How about this?”
They must have spent the better part of twenty minutes looking at furniture before Danny said, “We’re supposed to be buying curtains. Why are we looking at living room furniture?”
“Free TV,” Matt said instantaneously, pointing.
“We have a TV. And furniture.”
Danny sighed. “It’s not a deal if we’re buying stuff we don’t need, Matt.”
“But,” Matt said.
“I know,” Danny said. “Free TV. Pretty sweet, right? But … if we want the TV, why don’t we just buy the TV?”
Matt really didn’t have a comeback for that.
“And besides,” Danny said, “we’re not shopping for TVs. Curtains.”
“Curtains are boring.”
“Yeah, but I dunno, I like being able to sleep.”
“That’s only because you need complete darkness to sleep.”
“Oh, so you can sleep with light shining in your eyes?”
“I can sleep through anything.”
“I know,” Danny groaned. “You’re such a jerk. And you snore too.”
“So do you.”
Danny stuck his tongue out at him, because he was a mature individual.
“Let’s go look at beds,” Matt said.
“What the hell for?” Danny asked, but followed Matt anyway, mostly because he figured if there was a way to get into trouble a furniture store, Matt would find it.
Matt sprawled out on a massive four-poster bed, then sat up. “Whaddya think?” he asked.
“I think you are crazy.” Danny enunciated every syllable, hoping to get his annoyance across. He didn’t want to be curtain shopping, but he really wished that Matt would stop screwing around so they could go to a place that actually sold curtains so they could be done with it.
“I think you need to lie down.”
Danny heaved a sigh and sprawled too, because there really wasn’t any sense in fighting with Matt. They laid there and stared at the ceiling for a moment or two.
“This is pretty comfy,” Danny admitted finally.
“Uh-huh,” Matt said.
“Shut up, you’re not allowed to be smug.”
“I found a good bed,” Matt countered. “Don’t think I don’t hear you. Every morning, crack, crack, crack. Huh.”
“Uh, yeah, ‘cause you cuddle.”
“I do no such thing.” Matt stuck his nose in the air, and Danny punched him in the arm.
“Oh yeah, sure you don’t.”
“If I cuddle, then you do too, Daniel.”
“I do not.”
If Matt hadn’t looked smug before, he looked smug now. Danny turned away with a huff. He didn’t want to start a fight in the middle of a furniture store. That would be immature. And he was not immature.
Okay, so maybe he was a bit immature, but Matt was just as immature, so Danny blamed him entirely when he punched him in the arm and Danny shoved him, and that devolved into a wrestling match in the middle of the furniture store they weren’t even supposed to be in because they were supposed to be shopping for curtains to replace the ones they wrecked by doing this very sort of thing.
The salesman gave them a very weird look when he returned, like he wasn’t sure whether he should phone the cops, chew them out, or run away screaming.
“Good springs,” Matt said, and Danny groaned and turned red because Matt really had no shame whatsoever.
The salesman looked disgusted now. Danny shoved Matt off him. He was very proud of himself when he actually looked the salesman in the eye. “We’re supposed to be looking for curtains,” he said. “‘cause the cat tore up the ones we had—”
Matt looked confused, but Danny gave him a look, and Matt, for once in his life, was silent. He was starting to learn.
“Would you happen to know where we could get curtains?” Danny finished lamely.
The salesman hurriedly gave them directions—anything to get them out of the store, it seemed. They walked out without making a purchase, and Danny was very happy until they slid into the car and Matt said, “Shit, my wallet.”
Danny hung his head and Matt disappeared back into the store. Danny tried to amuse himself by finding out exactly what was on Matt’s iPod—mostly death metal and trance, which Danny thought was the weirdest fucking combination ever. He snickered when he found the Spice Girls on the damn thing.
He turned it up and waited for Matt to return.
Matt did, and he stared at him, then slid into the driver’s seat. “You,” he said, “are such an asshole.”
“Mmhmm. And you listen to the Spice Girls.”
“I do not—”
“Why’s it on your iPod then?”
“‘cause. It was a bet.”
“Oh, yeah, I believe that—”
“Just like Timmo and your sparkly pink jersey.”
“Shut the fuck up about that already, Jesus.” Danny glared out the window and Matt changed the song.
“Did you get it?” he asked when they stopped at a red light.
“Your wallet.”
“Oh. Yeah.”
“Nothing missing?”
“Nope, everything’s there. All good.”
“Okay, let’s go get some goddamn curtains and go home.”
“Cranky, are ya?”
“We could be wasting our time in way better ways! Video games, eating, sleeping, watching, I dunno, football, or baseball, or a movie where lots of stuff blows up.”
“Yeah, shopping for curtains is stupid.”
They pulled into another plaza.
The next sixty minutes were spent arguing over the drapes—something Danny never, ever thought he would do. Matt didn’t like this color, Danny didn’t like that cut, that print was terrible and tacky, Matt was offended because it looked like something in his grandmother’s house or something, Danny didn’t know, those ones cost too much, those ones wouldn’t hang right, that one looked like the cat threw up on it and they hadn’t even taken it home yet.
They ended up deciding on white drapes, which were terribly gauzy and looked like something out of a bad commercial for Barbados (which, Danny reminded Matt point-blank, was somewhere he would like to go at some point in his life), but they had a heavy blackout drape behind them and Danny was happy and Matt was happy because how can you go wrong with white?
They forgot white stained easily, but that’s a story for another time.
They bought the curtains and the rod and the thing for putting it on the wall so it actually stayed there (brackets, Danny thought, which reminded him of math class, so long ago), and then, they went home.
And Danny was all for putting up the brackets and the curtain rod with their new curtains, except there was a truck in their driveway and Danny arched an eyebrow and Matt looked far too shady to be innocent.
“Matt,” Danny said.
Matt was practically bursting with glee. Danny really wished he’d explode, except that would be a bitch to get out of the interior and that would be a shame, ‘cause it was a nice car.
“What did you do?”
Matt bit his lip.
Danny sighed.
They waited for the truck to leave. Matt tipped the guys who moved the furniture in, and Danny thought Matt really must have been a spy or an evil mastermind or something to have successfully engineered this while Danny was preoccupied with his iPod.
He fully expected to find a new living room set and a 60″ television gracing the wall. He frowned when he didn’t.
There wasn’t even the new dining room set, and Danny found that terribly suspicious. He headed to the bedroom, leaving Matt to struggle with bringing the unwieldy curtain rod into the house.
They had acquired a new bed.
“Matt,” Danny grumbled.
“No more cracking in the morning, yeah?” Matt dropped the rod and the curtains on the floor in a heap.
Danny didn’t reply.
“More cuddling, hm?” Matt asked, wrapping Danny in a bear hug from behind and hanging on, even as Danny—half-heartedly—attempted to escape.
“No, no more cuddling, because I don’t cuddle. I’m not a cuddly-kind of person.”
“Pffft, okay,” Matt sneered. “You’re not cuddly.”
Whump. They ended up in a heap on the bed. The plastic was still on the mattress and it crinkled angrily.
“You are such an asshole,” Danny spat.
“And you’re a dick. We go together, yeah?” Matt gestured crudely.
Danny rolled his eyes. “You’re also a pervert.”
“So are you. Point is?”
“You’re pissing me off, that’s the point. The bed we had was perfectly fine, no need to get a new one—”
“I told you, no more cracking in the morning.”
“A new mattress would have fixed that, moron.”
Matt just shook his head. “Danny, we have a new bed.”
“Yeah, so?”
“We should break it in.”
“God, is that all you ever think about?”
“That and hockey.”
Danny grinned. “Moron.”
“You think just like me,” Matt said, returning the grin. “Don’t even lie, Danny.”
“Yeah, but at least I don’t say it out loud.”
“If I don’t say anything, then we both think and think and never get anywhere. And I kinda like where this is going.”
“Can we put some sheets on the mattress first? I don’t want stains all over it first thing.”
“Like we won’t stain sheets either.”
“At least those can be washed. You wanna wash the mattress?”
“Then sheets.”
“Fine. Jeez.”
Matt stomped into the hall and Danny tore the plastic sheet off the mattress. Maybe shopping wasn’t so bad.


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