Sometimes Paul envied Teeth. There were no expectations of him. Teeth could be anything and no one would ever dream of holding him accountable. Teeth was always chance and people accepted that.
Their very first semester of college, Paul rarely saw Teeth even though they lived four doors apart. He knew him only as the sweet-looking boy who had borrowed his toothbrush and the week they got back from fall break, Paul was amateurishly drunk trying to fit in at a party in senior housing when he saw Teeth walk in and thought, “Hey, there’s the sweet-looking boy who borrowed my toothbrush.”
Then he felt the ground on his hands and knees and his insides pushing their way out. He lost his dinner to the floor and the looks he felt on him were bored and offended. As the wasted freshman, he had definitely fulfilled an expectation, but he had also just thrown up all over someone else’s living room.
As he looked up to say he was sorry, he noticed with the cloudiness of a vision Teeth unassumingly making his way to the center of the crowd, redirecting the focus of the room by virtue of his height and soft hair and calm way of being.
Once he got there, Teeth stopped and just stood. Within seconds, the space cleared and a wary circle formed around him; there was a streak down the leg of his jeans and a puddle around his shoes.
Teeth had just urinated in the middle of a college house party and everyone could only stare at him in varying degrees of intrigue and arousal. Paul envied Teeth for that.
Upon draining himself, Teeth walked out and Paul was certain he would never see him again. But a minute later, Teeth rematerialized with a mop in his hand. As Paul remained prostrate, Teeth approached with soft steps and gently swept up his vomit, then his own piss, which was in the vicinity. The floor now restored, Teeth returned to Paul, leaned over benedictorily, took his hand, helped him to his feet, and led him out of the house and into the greenery and air of the night.
As they walked down the path back to campus, Paul slurred, “Why did you do that?”
“It would have been very impolite not to clean up after ourselves.”
“No, why did you fucking piss yourself?!”
“Ah. No profound reason. I just felt like it.”
Paul envied Teeth for that. He envied the way he never looked anywhere for answers but inside himself and the way he made you trust that he would somehow find a way to take care of you. That was Teeth’s covenant with people.
After midnight a woman with a suitcase appeared in front of a man and they cried and kissed.
Where was Teeth?
“Do you have a girlfriend?”