“Yes mom. Yes I will. Of course. Yes I bought vegetables. Well of course, I’m following tHe cookbook you gave me. Oh damn it!” Tin lamented when the elevator door refused to open and the warning light turned from green to red. He pressed the opening button repeatedly to no success and tugged on the door handle, but the elevator refused to move. “Nothing mom, it’s just the elevator again, I’ll have to take the stairs. Yeah sure, bye bye.” Tin placed the phone into his pocket and picked up the large fully loaded grocery bag into his arms. The only other option for him was to take the staircase but Tin wasn’t fond of it at all. Not because he lived in the fifth floor, it wasn’t that high, but because the staircase was just filthy and kind of creepy. Most of the lightbulbs were smashed, there were cigarette butts and needles everywhere and various graffiti plastered the messy walls. The rest of the building was quite clean.
Tin leaned against the door with his hip as he refused to touch the dirty door and begun climbing the stairs. It was still sunny outside so the place was illuminated through the old windows, but Tin was still spooked by the dark figure laying on the mid floor between fourth and fifth floor. A homeless guy? Tin stood in front of him, questioning whether the guy is drunk sleeping or dead and if t was rude to just step over him. “Uhm excuse me, could you move? I’m trying to go upstairs.” He said. The guy on the ground squirmed and groaned as he opened his eyes and stared at Tin. He couldn’t have been much older or younger than Tin, in fact he looked about the same age, but he definitely had a bad character vibe. A tribal tattoo decorated his face while a big colourful rose was covering a good half of the skin on his neck. Tin cleared his throat.
“Geez just fuck off, can’t you see I’m napping?” The guy groaned again. He moved closer to the wall and leaned his back on it before rummaging through his pockets until he found a packet of cigarettes. He lit up one right then and there and a puff of smoke traveled to Tim’s face, causing him to cough. “Are you gonna stay here and stare at me or should I help you to piss off? Get lost already!” The guy shooed Tin away. Tin quickly stomped the last few steps to get to the fifth floor and into his small condo. He locked both bottom and top locks and placed a chain over the door just in case.
The building was old and this part of town was shabby and shady, but it was within walking distance of his university and his parents thought it would be cheaper buying a little condo than spending insane amount of money on gas if he had to drive to university every day. Not that they wouldn’t be able to afford it, they definitely could buy Tin extra three cars if he asked, but they thought this would be a nice change of pace for their son as he only grew up with silver spoon in his mouth.
Tin unpacked the groceries and with his mother’s cook book he started preparing a simple spaghetti dinner. He tried to enjoy eating, being alone didn’t seem so bad, by the peace and quiet was disturbed before his first bite could reach his stomach. There were children in the apartment above laughing and playing loudly and directly below were two voices just shouting at each other. Tin always heard the two argue at random times of day and night, it was distinctly male voices, one older and one quite young. The old one always sounded drunk and just generally angry at everything. Tin guessed it was probably a father and a son, and by the sound of things being smashed and some slapping he figured there was definitely some domestic violence going on.
As everyone else in the building Tin remained rather ignorant to that matter as he was instructed by his parents to not meddle in other people’s affairs to avoid getting into trouble. Still he felt a tinge of sadness whenever he heard the older man spouting stuff like ‘it’s good your mother is dead because she doesn’t have to see what a piece of shit you are’ to his own son.
Tin sighed and tapped the video call icon next to his best friend’s LINE username. Pete took quite some time to pick up and when he did, Tin immediately apologised as he saw Ae hastily dressing up in the background. “Wow, sorry, I should have text you before. You said to call you at 8, it’s already 8:15 so…uh…sorry.” He quickly turned his gaze to the plate and awkwardly smiled. Pete laughed. “Nah I’m sorry, I kind of forgot. Ae’s team won the football match so we got bit busy with celebrating.” Pete blushed, fixing his hair in the reflection of his phone. “You know people usually go for drinks or something to celebrate.” Tin took a bite of spaghetti. “Oi, don’t listen to him baby, I really liked your ‘congratulations’.” Ae chimed in, kissing Pete on the cheek and giving Tin a thumbs up. “So what’s up?”
“Oh right, the English report!” Pete snapped his fingers. “I’ve finished the graphs and the polls, could you summarise it and finish the footnote? I accidentally deleted deleted the save file with my summary and footnote, but I wrote some points under the polls. I tried my best to write correctly but your English is better than mine so if you could fix any grammar mistakes that would be great.” Tin nodded in agreement and Pete clapped his hands. “Thanks, you’re the best.” “I know.” Tin chuckled with mouthful of food. There was another shout and a loud sound of door being slammed from below and Tin sighed.
“Do you really have to live there? Those neighbours sound awful.” Ae leaned over Pete’s shoulder, frowning. “There’s still some spaces in our dorms, you’d have it even closer than that shitty building.” “Ae, language!” Pete slapped his boyfriend’s arm and shook his head. “Tin, I agree with Ae; that place isn’t good.” Tin scraped the last bit of food off the plate and took a while to chew, thinking. “I don’t think my parents would want that; my mom took care and time to furnish and decorate my condo, I’d hate for her efforts to go to waste. Besides it’s only been two months. Also I’m not really keen on the idea of having to share the room with a roommate.”
Tin stood up and quickly washed the plate before returning to the table with his laptop. He opened the email with Pete’s part of the report and begun writing and correcting the things that needed fixing. “It’s not so bad; you’d have a friend to talk to and have fun sharing the space.” Ae shrugged. “Don’t you always complain about the peace disturbing pervert Pond you share the room with? No thanks, I really don’t want that. Hey Ae, you got a little niece right? My nephew is the same age, I’m taking him to the fun fair on Saturday; would your little family like to join?” Tin asked, furiously typing. “Oh my brother doesn’t really like going out for the whole day because he’s gotta tend to the restaurant.” “I meant you and mama Pete. I can pick you up at noon and we can take the kids for lunch first.” Pete laughed and smiled at Ae. “What do you think?” “I think Nong Yim would like that. I’ll talk to my brother and let you know tomorrow.” “Okay, talk to you tomorrow. Bye.” Tin smiled and hung up.
Downstairs was quiet so Tin decided to have a relaxing bath before slipping into cozy home clothes and tidying up the condo. He didn’t want to waste time in the morning so he tied up the garbage bag and went to throw out the trash before going to bed. Luckily the elevator worked and he walked out of the building still clean, no rubbish on his shoes from the dirty staircase. After throwing out the trash he swiftly wiped his hands into a tissue he threw in the bin too. He heard a scoff behind him, and he recognised the voice. Tin heard it just few hours earlier on the staircase. He turned around, seeing the guy from before leaning against the building, smoking. Tin didn’t want to talk to him but the guy stepped into his way.
“Can I help you?” Tin raised an eyebrow. As the guy stepped into the light Tin noticed a red spot on his jawline what could only be a slap mark turning into a bruise. Damn, was this guy the one living directly below him? “You got any money?” He asked. Tin raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Huh? No I don’t.” The guy clicked his tongue. “Bullshit; you’re totally a rich guy. Even your damn pyjamas are Gucci.” He beckoned towards Tin’s shirt and opened his hand. “Gimme.” “I don’t have any money on me. Anyway, I don’t even know you! Why are you bothering me?” Tin took a step back and continued to walk back into the building. “So you don’t want this back, Tin Medthanan?” The guy laughed and Tin swiftly turned around, only to see the guy holding something in his fingers.
“My uni ID! Give it back! Where did you even-?” Tin reached out but the guy quickly dodged his arm. “You dropped it on the stairs earlier. I’ll give it back for…let’s say 5k?” “Five thousand baht? Are you crazy?” Tin reaches for the card again, unsuccessfully. The guy looked him up and down before grabbing Tim by the arm and dragging him back into the building. He was shorter and slimmer than Tin but still quite intimidating. Reluctantly Tin opened the door and the boy invited himself in without even taking his shoes off. “Woah you really are a rich guy.” He gasped as he looked around, touching everything. Tin grabbed his wallet and bit his lip. “I don’t have that much in cash.”
The boy opened his hand and Tin slowly placed little over 2000baht into his open hand. He pocketed the money straight away and resumed his snooping around. “Food, nice. Don’t mind if I do.” The guy laughed as he opened a pot on the stove with remaining spaghetti.
Tin watched in shock as the slim boy devoured what was supposed to be three meals for tomorrow and wiped his mouth into the pristine white dish towel. “I’m sleepy; where’s your bedroom?” He asked, kicking off his shoes in the kitchen and walking further into the flat. ‘As if you don’t know it when your place is directly below me’ Tin thought and followed the boy. Of course he found it straight away and Tin stared at him when the guy jumped into his bed, hogging all the pillows and most of the blanket. “Hey what are you-?” Tin stepped closer, but the boy was already dozing off and snoring quietly. Tin sat at the edge of his bed and give the guy a little poke in the shoulder but no response. “What in the world was happening?