Where Reality and Fantasy Blur

  Issue 8, January 2011

Rooms for Rent: Men Only
By Bob Thurber

Read about Bob Thurber and his writing in his interview in this issue of LI Online

My first night in that cramped, attic room I didn't sleep. Not a wink. I simply lay on my back, still as a corpse, sunk deep into the bowed, rank smelling mattress. I studied the water stains on the slanted ceiling and thought about a great number of things, including my wife, while listening to the sounds of mice scurrying through the walls. Of course, I didn't know they were mice. Like a fool I mistook the scratchy noise for the tapping of summer rain upon the roof.

The room I'd rented was a windowless space adjacent to a filthy kitchen shared by eight other roomers, all men, all of us running away from something. Each night mice traveled past my room and squeezed though holes and cracks to raid our kitchen. Previous roomers had plugged many of these entrances with cardboard and scraps of wood, but they hadn't gotten all of them, and each night the mice came and went pretty much as they pleased.

Every morning we would assess the damage — the half-gnawed boxes of corn flakes, oatmeal, pasta. We'd follow the path of mouse droppings back to some new entry point. Then seal that hole as best we could.

There was more to it, of course. The agonizing day-to-day, the petty arguments and drunken fights. Sometimes a death due to a heart attack, or an overdose. But essentially that is how we lived, tracing trails of mouse shit, discovering holes then blocking them, setting traps, spreading poison, working collectively, until someone moved out or got themselves evicted, or returned to his wife, leaving the rest of us to carry on, battling things we could not see.


BIO: Bob Thurber worked at writing every day for 20 years before attempting to publish. After over 200 hundred publishing credits later he is the recipient of 40 Awards & citations, including The Barry Hannah Fiction Prize. His first novel Paperboy will be released in May 2011 by Casperian Books. Learn more about Bob Thurber, his novel and his various short fictions at bobthurber.net.

Click here to pre-order Bob Thurber's novel PAPERBOY from Barnes and Noble