Somehow, being lost in the drywall seems so much worse than being lost in the barrens (ah, a literary reference) or the Antarctic (a scientific reference) or in space (a TV and movie reference). Spencer wishes he could transform himself into one of those other stories but he’s well and truly stuck here in the drywall.
He isn’t sure how it happened. What he does know is that, if he gets out, he will never say yes to helping with renovations again. Even if the person asking for the favor is the woman he’s been trying to get next to for almost five years.
He said yes because of her big brown eyes, her silky hair, her jaw-dropping breasts and perfect hips. He said yes because he’s been in love (or lust, at least) with Leanne for what feels like forever.
He didn’t know much about drywalling when she asked, but he’s a quick learner and the drywall guy at the Home Depot down the street was a genius at telling him what he needed to know. He and Leanne had no trouble lifting the big slabs into place and he was damn good – if he said so himself – at the taping and filling. But then something went wrong.
And here he is in some limbo between her apartment and his, surrounded by slabs of perfectly taped and filled drywall, the dust on the floor silencing his footsteps and making his eyes water each time he moves. He has tried yelling but the dust and the drywall throws his voice back at him. He tried pounding on the walls with the same result. Finally, he sits in the dust and ponders his situation.
The last thing he remembers was filling the final nail hole while listening to the chant Leanne crooned behind him and smelling the oddly scented candle she had lit to celebrate the completion of the job. It was an odd-sounding piece of music, certainly nothing he’d ever heard before, and an unusual scent. Together they made him a little dizzy. Maybe he fainted.
Spencer lifts his head and looks around one more time. He swears he’s been in this space for weeks but he’s neither hungry nor thirsty. And he swears he’s walked miles and never once re-crossed his footsteps. When he looks behind him, the indentations in the dust are clear but when he tries to step back into them, they disappear.
Something is keeping him here. Be realistic, he tells himself. Someone named Leanne is keeping him here. And he doesn’t know why. Except maybe she was a little upset when he accidentally brushed against her breasts for the fifteenth time. The look in her eyes scared him to death. He remembers that.
And he remembers occasionally thinking that he should maybe give up this job but each time he thought that, Leanne would say something or make a slight gesture with her hand, and he would forget all about it. He would remember how much he loved working with Leanne and how the sight of the drywall he helped her with, would ensure his success with her.
But it wasn’t too long after the chant and the candle that the dizziness started. He picks himself up off the floor and starts walking again. This time, he follows no plan, thinking that a completely random walk might lead him somewhere. Anywhere.
And it does. It leads him to a big black metal door. It’s slightly ajar and he pushes at it until it swings all the way open. There is a fire flickering in the room he enters and it’s warm. There is no dust. And there is no drywall.
Spencer carefully sits himself down in the leather chair on the hearth and takes a sip from the glass of water on the table beside it. He is a bit worried about poison but suddenly, the thirst he has been denying seizes him by the throat and poison becomes the least of his worries. He crams the meat on the plate into his mouth and swallows it without chewing. Spencer groans in relief.
A tall woman, taller than he and Spencer is considered a tall man, materializes at his elbow.
“Spencer. Have you figured out where you are? And why you are here?”
He shrugs and continues drinking and eating.
“You are here,” she says in a stern voice, “because of your bad attitude.”
“I figured it was something like that,” he says around a gob of meat. “I’m sorry, but I’ve been attracted to Leanne for years. I couldn’t help myself.”
The woman smiles at him, her teeth shiny and bone white. Spencer feels a frisson of horror but thinks about the days in the drywall and shakes it off.
“Go home, Spencer.”
And just like that, he is in his dining room, drywall dust falling from his clothes and hair and skin onto his mahogany table and matching floors. He can hear each droplet as it hits. Each time he inhales, dust invades his nostrils and his throat. He shakes himself like a Labrador puppy coming out of the water and the dust flies around him, coating everything in the room.
Spencer listens carefully but there is no one else in the apartment. He leans against the wall and hears nothing from Leanne’s apartment. He drops his clothes to the floor – no point making another room messy – and hurries into the shower.
The Chinese food – five different dishes – is delivered just in time to stop him from fainting again. He sits in his recliner and repeats his new mantra. Just say no. Just say no. Just say no. But the thought of Leanne in the apartment across the hall has him rushing through his shower. He wonders what he might help her with as he steps outside his door and into the dust.