"She what?" Will screams.
Alex, now shaving but still in the tub, a practice he picked up as a kid when he wanted to take as long as he could in the bathroom to annoy his four older siblings. He'd shave when sitting in there pretending to enjoy humming along to songs on the radio and twiddling his pruning thumbs, trying not to backslide into the transient mental state he often finds himself in. For Alex, the whole boredom thing is a feeling that's always seconds behind any moment that someone else would call calm or peaceful.
Sitting down, his face puffed with cream, he one-eighty-rolls his eyes at Will. "No, now, don't freak out, you oaf," he says. "HE likes HER, I didn't say a damn thing about what SHE likes, you boob. I don't know what SHE likes at all, about anything really." His fluff-free eyes traversed the vast landscape of Will's towering form. "Especially you, you weird tank."
Will shrugs off the insults from the knee-level Alex. "I feel really weird knowing this now," rubbing his shoulders anxiously and trying to think about the best possible route.
"Come on now, it's only Trevor. The drug-rugged, pharmaceutical-slinging, hemped- out Trev. Lee doesn't know anything about this. I also wouldn't worry about him anyway."
"He just told you this right now?"
"Yeah, he told me just now."
"He told you all about his feelings for Leland while you were in the bathtub, just before I came in here?"
Shaving his neck and speaking without trying to move too much of his face, Alex says: "Yeah, he was bursting in on my private time and just standing over me, lingering like a bad fart. Sounds like a familiar scene, doesn't it?"
He glared at Will, who cast a much broader shadow over his bathtub than Trevor had and once again didn't seem to acknowledge his biting remark. Will was standing over him with his fists clenched and an unmissable look of dithering and uncertainty, like the presumable look his mouth-breathing hay-hauler kin from up Pictou County had when they encounter road signs or a newspaper.
Will was the kind of attractive young specimen that was really difficult to describe because of his all-out genericism that just came out of him like sweat. He was the sort of tall, dark and handsome guy that bears too much similarity to more A-list alphas with that certain I-don't-know-what-weird-thing going on separating them from the pack. But with Will, you knew what you got—as if his family factory-ordered him. He was big, sturdy and never gave a bad smile. He looked like what you'd think of when you said the words "human farm equipment" to yourself.
Will, now biting his lower lip, with a brow slumping down almost over his eyes in deep and troubled cerebration, obviously not knowing what to do and curious as to why Alex would divulge this information, quickly said: "I gotta go."
Through a stiffened upper lip and an open mouth in an O formation, Alex sounds a "See ya later," omitting the S and the L.
A. Welnot came home late that night. All the lights were off in the house and he slowly dragged himself upstairs, carrying a large bag with him which he did not have before. When he got to the second floor, he passed his own room. He silently inched to Alex Stuart's door with his bag and for several minutes seemed to cease all bodily functions and remain totally silent. Soon he snapped, as if waking from a fugue state, and turned to his bedroom door.
The new chapter of Half-heard is published in The Coast—newspaper version—every Thursday. One week later it is published here online. So it's easy to catch up online, but best to stay ahead in print.