Maxim climbed the steps of the building up to his apartment and sighed apartment. Same door. He frowned as he heard Rob Zombie music blaring from the inside and he put his ear to the door. He blinked. A voice sang along with it. He opened the door and watched as a tall, brown-haired man danced through his apartment in a white button down dress shirt, a silver tie and a pair of bright yellow happy face boxers. Maxim took off his coat and made his way to the stereo, which he promptly turned off. The yellow-clad underwear man stopped abruptly and scowled at Maxim. “Hey! I was listening to that!”
“So was the rest of the building,” Maxim muttered. He frowned. “Nice shorts, Jeff.”
Jeff grinned and admired his boxers. “Thanks!”
Maxim yawned. “Why did I ever give you a key?”
“Because you love me.”
Maxim rolled his eyes. “What are you doing here?”
Jeff snorted. “I was on my way to work and my donut detonated all over my pants. I needed to wash them and you were closest. Since I didn’t get to really eat either, I’m cooking breakfast too!” He flashed Maxim a wide, warm grin. Maxim smiled and sat down on his sofa.
“Where were you anyway?” Jeff asked, going to the stove.
“I took a walk.”
Jeff pulled open a drawer and the handle busted off. He stared at it, frowned, and set it on the counter. After retrieving the fork, he was after, and closed the drawer. He started to hum to himself and opened up the refrigerator. “Geez, Maxim,” he commented. “You have less food than me. What do you live off of?
Maxim smiled and picked up a book he had recently bought. He flipped through the pages absently, then set to reading it, stealing another glance at his brother. Jeff closed the refrigerator with somewhat of a slam and some debris fell from the ceiling. He stared for a second, then went back toward the stove. He stepped on a floorboard that bowed in the middle and frowned. Dang,” he muttered, “what’s up with your floor?”
“Water damage,” Maxim replied.
He shook his head and returned to his breakfast, but jumped back. “Holy crap!”
Maxim closed his book with an annoyed scowl and looked back at Jeff. “What is it?”
“You’ve got a granddaddy cockroach on your counter! Gimme a shoe! Where’s a shoe?”
Maxim rolled his eyes and stood. “You don’t need to kill it. He’s not hurting anything.”
Jeff stared at his brother in complete bafflement. “That’s sick, dude!” He glanced around, then seized a pot and slammed it down onto the kitchen counter. The clanging rang through the apartment and sent the roach running for its life.
Maxim winced as he rushed over to his brother. “What are you doing? Not only am I pretty sure that you woke up everybody on the floor, but now I’ll never catch the roach.”
Jeff ignored him and continued to blindly bang at the counter.
“Stop it!” Maxim shoved him out of the way and grabbed a cup. The roach scurried frantically, in search of a dark place to hide. Maxim tried to put the cup over it, but it dodged him.
“Don’t you have any spray or anything?” Jeff asked. He opened up the cupboard under Maxim’s sink and let out a triumphant shout as he spotted a half used can of roach spray. He pulled it out and took aim. Jeff!” Maxim cried. “Are you out of your mind?” He yanked the can out of Jeff’s hand and threw it aside right as he managed to corner and trap the roach. He looked up at his brother, who was giving him a very perplexed look, and scowled. “Sure, just spray pesticide all over my kitchen counter. Poisoning me is a new torture you haven’t tried yet.” He scooped the roach into the cup, opened the window and flung it out. “I have to get along with my roommates,” he said, turning back to Jeff. “Otherwise, they might turn on me.” Jeff screwed up his face.
“Gross, Maxim! How can you live here? This place oughta be condemned!”
Maxim frowned. “It’s fine. I like it here.”
Jeff’s eyes bulged. “You like things spontaneously breaking off? You like asbestos falling from your ceiling? Maybe one day you’ll fall through the floor and then get a clue!”
Maxim glanced at his brother, but said nothing.
“You bring girls here?”
Maxim cocked his head to one side and looked slightly puzzled. “What’s a girl?”
Jeff put his hand to his face. “Holy cow,” he muttered. “You embarrass me sometimes.”
“Love you too.”
“You need a life, Maxim!” Jeff cried. “This thing you’ve got going isn’t working out so well!”
“Your eggs are burning,” Maxim stated with a sniff.
Jeff let out a strangled cry and ran to save his breakfast. Maxim took the opportunity and went back to the couch and his book. He did have a life… A boring, terribly lonely life, but a life nonetheless. The last thing he needed was a lecture from Jeff. He blocked out his brother and lost himself in the words of Henry David Thoreau.
“Maxim,” Jeff said with a sigh, bracing his hands against the counter, “I have taken it upon myself to give you a bit of a push.”
Maxim frowned. “Do you mind? I’m trying to read about Walden Pond.”
Jeff ignored him. “You know my business partner Alex?”
Maxim turned a page, making a noncommittal noise.
“His sister Alyx got really hurt last night.”
“Alex has a sister named Alyx?” He looked up at Jeff in confusion.
He sighed. “She’s Alyxandra and he’s Alexi. Their mother really liked the prefix Alex.”
“I guess,” he muttered, turning another page.
“Anyway,” Jeff continued, “she was beat up real bad by her now ex boyfriend.”
Maxim raised his eyebrows. “That’s terrible.”
Jeff nodded. “She’s gonna get out of Oregon for a week or so. Her best friend Javan just won five tickets to go see Bleeding Passion in San Francisco on the 18th, so they’re gonna go.”
Maxim nodded. “That’ll be good for her.” He noticed Jeff steal a sidelong glance at him and then wince as if expecting a blow. An uneasy tingle worked along his spine.
“Yeah.” Jeff cleared his throat. “It’ll be good for you too, considering…Itoldthemthatyou’dgotoo.” He sped through the last part and turned to Maxim with a cheesy grin plastered on his face. Maxim’s eyes bulged. He threw his book aside and jumped up. “You what?”
© Brieanna Robertson
The Road Less Traveled
Author: Brieanna Robertson
Publisher: Whimsical Publications, LLC
Five concert tickets won on a radio contest seem to be the perfect solution for Alyx to get away from her abusive ex boyfriend and turn a new page in her life. Quiet, antisocial Maxim is not the sort to want adventure, but when his brother volunteers him to go on the trip to the concert with Alyx and her best friend, he suddenly finds his world turned upside down, especially when it comes to the way Alyx affects him.
Taegen is having trouble dealing with the death of her brother and finds herself wanting to shut out the world, until she meets a mysterious stranger who shows her that she can, in fact, still feel something inside her wounded heart.
Thrown together in a bizarre and hilarious set of circumstances, these five strangers come to realize the true meaning of friendship, love and being true to oneself.