It wasn’t as though anyone plans for such things. After all, a man should be able to do whatever he feels in his own home, n’est-ce pas? That was what Nikolai had once believed, at least. He certainly paid enough money every month for the “privilege.” The privilege of the illusion, as it were. The illusion of being able to do whatever you pleased in the “privacy” of your abode. What a fuckin’ crock. Even when you “own” your home, you never really do. Always making some interminable mortgage payment designed to be in place until pretty much the day you’re about to keel over. That’s why Nikolai saw renting as no shame—not the way other “elitists” in his friend group did. The ones who “slaved” away at finance jobs to pay for their Lower Manhattan/North Brooklyn penthouse apartments. Still, in the end, apartments.
Nikolai was becoming less and less fond of orbiting that crowd. The only reason he found himself around them in the first place was because they had gone to high school together, and then college…for a time. Nikolai dropped out of NYU when he realized what a fucking scam/cult it was. Even the “art” majors only cared about business. About “monetizing” their talent. Money, money, money. That’s all anyone wanted to or could talk about. Nikolai supposed it was his own fault for moving to New York, world capital of capitalism. More to the point, capitalist cunts. Always prattling on about their salary, how much they could get, how much more they could get somewhere else, how much their rent was, how much it costs to go to their favorite restaurant, their favorite bar. Did anyone want to talk about something else. Revenge porn, for example? Nikolai’s masturbating medium of choice.
While he might not have worked in finance, he could still manage to afford a $1,200 a month room in Crown Heights, where he spent most of his mornings and afternoons wanking. The night was for bartending, the “sunshine hours” were for pulling it. So yeah, the cum rags next to his bed tended to add up. Pile up, rather. So high, in fact, that he had to start putting them on this small perch above his sliding-door closet, where excess stacks of books and DVDs (yes, he still collected DVDs) were placed. And, now, in front of them: the cum rags. An assortment of wads created from garden-variety “wipes,” paper towels and napkins. None of his roommates, with whom he barely exchanged an occasional acknowledging grunt, had informed him in advance of the imminent arrival of a real estate “agent.” More like real estate scab. That’s what they all were. Willing to scale in at any moment in a hurried bid to beat some other agent to the punch.
So it was that, one late morning, as he found himself engaging in his usual morning routine—stroking it intensely—he heard the sound of the key turning in the door. Unmistakable, loud…and completely ominous in that instant. Rushing to close his porn tab (one of many) and put some pants on, he practically fell over in his frantic state. The agent, perhaps sensing the intensity of such a frenetic presence, called out, “Hello?”
Reluctantly, Nikolai opened the door to his room and replied, “Hey…”
The agent, an uppity sort of white woman wearing a black skirt and matching blazer with a white blouse and “smart” tan pumps, automatically regarded him as though he were a rapist. A stranger in his own “home.” He, the assailant, and she “the innocent.” What a goddamn nightmare, he thought, as she stood there gaping at his shirtless body. Yeah, she wants me, he mused for a brief second. Forced to be the one to break the silence, he finally asked, “Can I…help you?”
Gathering her bearings, the agent introduced herself. “Um, hi there. I’m Clara. Did your…roommates mention that I would be stopping in today?”
Nikolai chortled and replied, “Obviously not, Clara. Hence, my confused reaction.”
Clara tittered nervously, the response all normies give when they’re confronted with brutal honesty—a person who can’t be bothered with putting on the so-called mask of civility. “Oh, I see. Well, if you wouldn’t mind, I’m just here to take a few photos and some measurements.”
“And why would you be doing that?” Nikolai demanded as he languidly entered the kitchen area to pour himself a cup of coffee into his “I Brake for Fat Asses” mug.
Clara gulped anxiously and explained, “The, um, owner is trying to sell the apartment. So he wanted us to give an estimate on what we think he might be able to get for it.”
Nikolai arched his brow. “That so?”
“Yes. It is.”
“Woulda been nice to know,” he announced as he sipped serenely from the mug. Much too serenely for someone who hadn’t yet busted his nut. In fact, it was a wonder he wasn’t reaching for the butcher knife right now in his current state of bottled rage that only an orgasm could release.
Clara shrugged. “Now you do…”
Nikolai sighed. “Fine, whatever. Get what you need and leave.” He was out of patience now. This was an egregious invasion. An affront to his relaxation time, which he worked all night to earn. But this bitch wouldn’t know anything about that with her cush real estate job. The one she pretended was difficult merely because she had to be in so many places at once and then condescend to open a door in exchange for an obscenely disproportionate-to-the-labor commission. It was enough to make Nikolai want to strangle the entitled slag and claim self-defense upon calling 911 afterward. But no, he would let her take her precious photos. He would let the owner of the building effectively tell him through this money-mongering agent that he was forcing Nikolai and his roommates to seek a new living arrangement. Because it was all but certain that the new owner would want to charge far more rent. And yet, as Nikolai glanced at the photos on the NotTooShittyNewYorkApartments.com website roughly a week and a half later, he wondered if the flagrant appearance of his many cum rags scattered in various locations close to his bedside might at least off-put potential interested buyers for a while.
But, of course, who was he kidding? In matters of city real estate, people with the necessary capital were wont to buy property even if there was a dead body visible in the listing’s images. In the end, the cum rags in the real estate photo of his bedroom would merely serve as posterity. A small slice of ephemera documenting the time Nikolai had once spent his hours cumming the day away in that apartment. One he had since heard was turned into an overpriced co-op building where the very finance bros he recently distanced himself from could move in for what was, to them, the price of a song. But still, what was the point of “owning” property if you were never even there long enough to build up a solid collection of cum rags? Always working and always blue-balled instead.