When we cracked open the door, and the smell hit us, and Shawn went What the freaking Jesus is that? this was the smell of Ricardo Rezlik. We thought he was just a pile of clothes at first. He had slumped straight to the floor and wasn’t moving, but then Cathy poked him with her foot and he groaned. That’s a dude! said Shawn, and after our initial shock, we helped Ricardo up and took him out to the lounge room and got him a glass of water and some banana chips.
At first, Ricardo wouldn’t talk at all, and then he just made hand-gestures and I said we should get him some paper to write on in case he was mute but we didn’t have any paper because none of us had really unpacked yet so Shawn ripped some particle board from the kitchen wall where someone had tried to cover up a crack and Cathy found some lipstick in her pocket and we gave them to Ricardo and tried to show him what to do, but he just started drawing patterns instead of words⎯intricate, ever-repeating patterns⎯and eventually we gave up.
Should we put him in the tenant’s report? said Shawn drily. I was making us all toasted cheese sandwiches with cheese and bread I had bought from the corner shop at the end of our new street, and Cathy was sitting with Ricardo trying to draw a map of the world so he could point where he had come from. What if the people before us kept him as a slave or something? she said, suddenly worried. I told her we’d have to ring the real estate agent the next morning, but that it was too late to do anything now.
I was so tired after a day of moving, and I knew the others were too. Really, we should have called the police or something, but all we wanted to do was get to bed. Cathy and I hadn’t had our bed delivered yet, so we gave Ricardo the couch, and then we all climbed awkwardly onto Shawn’s futon. Normally, I suppose, this would be weird, but tonight w just wanted to sleep, no matter how or where. From the moment I lay down my head, I didn’t think of Ricardo once.
The next morning, we woke together, an embarrassed tangle of limbs and dry mouths. Hot summer sun waffled the uncurtained windows. We wandered out to the lounge, remembering, all at once, our mysterious house guest. Wonder if he’s going to talk this morning? said Shawn wearily. When we rounded the doorway, and when we saw what Ricardo had done, our stomachs tied themselves in awful sour knots.
What the hell? said Cathy.
That’s disgusting! said Shawn.
I’ll grab his arms, I said. Shawn, get his legs. Cathy, you open the cupboard.