I had some warning that Benny and Annette were on their way, although I mostly ignored it. The first time was because my phone said "Ravi" and I'd had enough of him calling and saying I should come to Baltimore and share a bed with him, and since it was late i didn't even think about how those calls usually come in on Deirdre's phone and always as "Gary". The next time, I realized who it was, and deliberately ignored it, because who wants to get into all this shit? But then Annette sent a text saying they'd be in at around nine, and there was no ignoring it. I suppose I could have gone to see a movie or something, but then they could just come in and make themselves at home.
It was closer to 9:30 when they actually arrived, although I was playing Xbox with headphones on and didn't hear them knocking on the door until Annette finally gave up and used the key, calling that they were coming in and to please not be naked, like I just sit around playing with my pussy all day. It was kind of weird, because she sounded just like Ravi but not - like he was impersonating someone. Then they came in, and...
Benny was me. It was the most messed-up thing I've ever felt, seeing myself standing there, seven or eight inches taller than me and kind of large. He reached out a hand and I folded my arms, not wanting to take it. "Yeah", he said, " this must be weird for you."
I didn't say anything. Annette/Ravi looked around the front room, said it was crowded, and then asked where Ravi's room was. I pointed and then she wheeled her suitcase over, opened the door, and then called back, saying it was a petty tight fit. Benny walked over agreed, looked at her, then back at me. I didn't say anything.
Annette shrugged, said it had been a long day and then found the bathroom herself. That left me with Benny, who looked at the TV, Xbox, and stereo. "Pretty nice setup."
I didn't like the way he said it. "Don't get any ideas."
"What do you mean? Oh! Hey, don't worry bout that, I was just, you know...". He looked around. "So, is there, like, a sleeping bag or something?"
"Do I look like I camp?"
"You never know; I dated this little spitfire once who-- Oh, you mean do I look like you camp? I guess not, but, again, you never know." The bathroom door opened and Annette came out, asking about towels and whether they were shared or if Ravi had his own. I said we each had our own, but it was no big deal.
"Cool! Mom's been on me about stuff like this all summer, saying to keep things separate...". She talked off and then came up with a very un-Ravi-like grin. "Huh, looks like I skipped right over dorms and this is my first apartment. Not exactly what I was expecting, or when!" She took out Ravi's phone, backed into the doorway, and took a picture. Then it was "c'mon, one of all of us together!"
I said I was not fuckin' dealing with that right then and went into my bedroom.
I rated in there until I heard the outside door close the next morning, then crawled out to the living area only to be confronted with the crazy sight of myself eating breakfast.
Just like with Annette, Benny didn't sound quite right to me. Part was just how hearing a recording of your voice is different than when you speak it, because of it arriving via the air rather than your jaw or some shit, but part was that he spoke too slow and sort of had a Maine accent, although he says a real one is way thicker. A different accent, although I don't know if anyone who didn't know about body-morphing hotels would pick up on it.
"Uh, hey." I wasn't sure what to say.
"So, Annette's weirdly excited, but she's a really good kid. Eighteen, but crazy smart and with her act together."
"And what about you?"
"Twenty-three, and I don't think I'm a screw-up. I won't get you in any sort of mess for when we change back."
"Yeah, I'm probably going to need your driver's license. I mean, you can't really use it, and since this apartment really isn't big enough for two Jordan Changs, I might need it to find my own place, unless you want to keep me around."
"And why would I want that? You creep me the fuck out."
"Personal trainer, bro. Annette figures we can get our old lives back if we make reservations in backwards order next year, and wouldn't you like to come back to being a guy in better shape?"
"Are you calling me a fatass?"
"Dude, I'm the one carrying it around, so I think it's okay to say maybe you could afford to lose a few pounds. Besides, look at you now. Put the whole girl thing aside, and don't you just feel better?"
"No, I don't feel fucking better as a girl!"
"Hey, my bad. I just figured you're trim and seem to be moving around pretty well. Anyway, I also figured you might be ducking phone calls or something, and it might be handy to have me around when that happens. Unless they're in Chinese, in which case I can't help."
That made a certain amount of sense. I'd been able to keep work stuff on Lync, but I supposed that I had been kind of lucky there. "Fine. You can have my license, and I guess we can find a cot or sleeping bag or something." I found my wallet, extracted that card, and then swallowed deep as I also pulled out my debut card and told him the PIN. "I'm going to be checking the balance every day."
"Totally fair. Annette is getting a new set of keys, but if you've got a spare, I'd like to go for a run. Gotta get back into the habit."
He was back fifteen minutes later, asking about the shower, saying something about how he meant no disrespect but that this was going to be a challenge.