The Boy Next Door

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Authors: Annabelle Costa
“You’re taking this very seriously,” I comment.
    “You show him one movie he hates and that’s it,” he says. “He’ll tune out for the rest of the session.”
    Jason ends up with a big stack of movies on his lap, which he ordered by the amount he thought Larry would like each movie. See, this is why Melissa had no reason to be jealous. Jason is making a genuine effort to help me connect with another guy. If we were into each other, I wouldn’t help him dress for dates and he wouldn’t help me pick out movies that Larry would like.
    As his top pick, he has Fargo , which he claims that Larry will like because, although it’s not foreign, all the characters have accents. (That made sense when he first said it, I swear.) Then his next pick is Pulp Fiction , because it’s the “ultimate guy’s movie.” Last, we had This Is Spinal Tap , because it actually is filmed like a documentary, which Larry apparently likes.
    “I’m jealous,” Jason says, fingering the DVD boxes. “You guys are going to have an awesome time. I haven’t seen Pulp Fiction in ages. Melissa thinks it’s too violent.”
    “Well, it’s pretty violent.”
    “No more so than real life,” Jason says, shifting in his chair.
    Jason and I watched Pulp Fiction probably a dozen times before Melissa came into the picture. We had this ritual we used to do when we watched the movie. There’s a scene in the beginning of the movie where Samuel L. Jackson takes a bite out of the Big Kahuna burger of the guy he’s about to kill. Jason and I always used to order fast food burgers and keep them in the bag until we got to that scene, then we’d eat the burgers with Samuel L. Jackson. And a tasty beverage to go with them.
    “I feel like a burger,” Jason says as he gazes down at the movie.
    “Me too,” I admit.
    So I make a run down to Burger King, which is down the block from me, and get us two bacon cheeseburgers, French fries, and two Cokes. Burgers are not a great way to maintain my figure, but what the hell. How often do I get to have burgers and watch Pulp Fiction with Jason?
    We lay out the burgers on the table and keep ‘em wrapped till Samuel L. Jackson starts eating his burger. We then each take big bites. Jason is so eager that a little bit of ketchup dribbles down his chin. I start laughing. “You’ve got ketchup on your face.”
    “Oh . . .” Jason swipes at his chin and totally misses the ketchup. I start laughing again and reach out with my thumb to get it for him. As my finger brushes against the slight stubble on his chin, I can’t help but feel like if Melissa were seeing this, she wouldn’t be too happy.
    “You shouldn’t worry about Melissa,” he says, as if reading my mind.
    “I just don’t want to lose you,” I say.
    “Come on, you’re never going to lose me,” Jason says. And I think that he believes it, but I’m not so sure. I think before Melissa will commit to him, there’s going to be an ultimatum, and it’s going to include my name.



Five
    Larry is gawking at my television set as Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta are unloading their pistols at the screen. Needless to say, we’re not eating burgers. To be honest, Larry looks pretty green.
    “This is so violent,” he says. “It’s horrible.”
    Damn. I told Jason it was too violent.
    “And they keep swearing,” Larry adds. “Like every other word.”
    Oh my God, who is this guy? My mother?
    “You really like this movie, Tasha?” Larry says in amazement.
    “Um, kind of,” I say.
    He didn’t like Fargo much either. Again, too violent. He had to leave the room during the wood chipper scene, presumably to vomit or something.
    We’ve got plenty of movies that aren’t violent, but I kind of feel like there’s no point in trying anymore. Larry isn’t going to like anything I show him. This is just painful.
    My cell phone chirps and I look at the text message, which is from Jason, Having fun?
    I text back, PF too violent.
    Jason writes

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