View Full Version : Checking In (Short Story)

30th January 2007, 01:56 PM
Warning: Language.

This is a story I wrote last night. Any criticisms are appreciated.
Checking In

Kevin left his two-bedroom apartment. He drove past his favorite grocery store and gas station. He sped through yellow lights, past his college campus. He stared straight ahead while passing his favorite bar. A few more miles and the airport appeared. Kevin watched a plane take off, darting his eyes from the plane to the road. Next came the fields of soy bean and corn, all in neat rows, swaying identically from the morning breeze. The fields extended to the horizon like an ocean where no one can see the next coast, but can only imagine what it looked like.

“You are now leaving Columbia, Missouri,” Roman read the sign out loud from the passenger seat. “Tell me you’re as psyched as I am.”

Kevin glanced at his roommate and back to the road. He kept driving with his left hand while searching for his mp3 player in the glove box. He connected the player to the radio and started his classic rock mix. A wild medley of guitar and drums exploded from the speakers.

“Now I’m psyched!” Kevin honked the horn twice and rolled down his window. They cheered at the road ahead of them. The music blasted through the first verse and chorus before Kevin turned the radio down. “This is gonna kick ass, man.”

“Are you kidding, dude? No school for three days and nothing to worry about but fishing and drinking the whole trip? Fucking right it’s gonna kick ass.”

“Hey, check the back and make sure we got everything.”

Roman unbuckled his seatbelt and checked the back seat for the fishing poles, tackle boxes, food and cases of beer. “We’re good.”

“All right. Let’s hope we win this thing.”

“Kev, c’mon, we’re gonna win this thing. What we gotta do is get up really early, man. Last time I went the ones with the most bass got up around four in the morning to fish.”

“Jesus. Four?” Kevin said. “I’ve slept in every weekend. How the hell are we gonna get up at four?”

“Doesn’t matter, man. We have to if we wanna win!”

“What’s the prize again?”

“What?” Roman leered at his roommate. “Five hundred bucks, man. I told you that.”

“Right, right.” Kevin checked his rear-view mirror for any oncoming traffic. He relaxed his grip on the steering wheel and let his shoulders sink a bit. “Whatever, man. Win or lose, we’re getting outta town. Just leaving a line in the water with a beer in my hand, not worrying about shit – that’s all I want. It’ll be awesome.” Kevin spun the volume knob on his radio to catch the end of the rock song.

“Believe it, man. Don’t worry about shit. This is a vacation!” Roman air-drummed the end of the song. “Is it on shuffle?” He reached for the mp3 player.

“Yeah, there should be tons of songs on there. Some old stuff but I stayed up last night and put tons of good shit on it.”


Kevin tapped the wheel until the signature opening riff of “Layla” by Eric Clapton came over the speakers. “You can pick whatever you want on there, man. Go ahead.”

“I’m OK with this,” Roman said. “Clapton’s always good.”

Kevin kept quiet until the chorus. “Change the song, dude.”

Roman picked up the player and found something more upbeat.


It was early afternoon once Kevin and Roman arrived at the lake. The roads had changed from pavement to dirt, lightly marked by tire tracks. The sunlight filtered through the forest’s canopy which kept the trails cool. Cars and SUVs traveled the trails, overstuffed with fishing equipment visible through the windows. The two roommates checked in with the competition committee and followed directions to their cabin.

They unloaded all of their equipment as soon as they arrived to the cabin. The walls, floor and ceiling were all wood, but dark, sturdy wood. The natural nicks in the material would not allow any leaks. The rooms were completely empty aside from a bed and a furnace. The floors did not creak loudly and the ceiling fans ran perfectly, no dust on the blades.

Kevin unpacked in his bedroom while admiring the view from his window. The trees separated to show a motorboat on the lakefront, tied to a dock’s guard rail. The water rippled from the wind, sparkling with sunlight. Kevin stared at the wooden dock and the blue water framed by bark and leaves until Roman grabbed his shoulder.

“You all right?”

“Yeah, fine. I’m fine.” Kevin spun around and rubbed his hands together. “You all unpacked?”

“Yup. You wanna get some practice for tomorrow?”

“Let’s do it.”

They ran back to Kevin’s car for their rods and tackle boxes. Roman also grabbed a trash bag, a thirty pack of beer and some sandwiches. They unfolded a couple lawn chairs onto their dock and hurriedly strung up their rods with live worms. Lines in the water, beers in hand, they laid back and listened to the locusts.

Kevin sighed. “This is the best. I owe you for coming up with this idea.”

“Tell you what. You catch a shitload of fish the next couple days and you don’t owe me anything.” Roman finished off his first beer, crushed the can and tossed it in the trash bag. “You can also try and keep up with me here.” He leaned over to grab two more beers from the case. “Here. And finish that one off.”

“Cheers.” Kevin raised his can and chugged the rest in three gulps. He smiled and cracked open his next one, gazing at the setting sun past the tree line. “This place is amazing.”

“I told you, man. It’s just what we need, ya know?”

“Yeah, I know.” Kevin reached in his pocket and brought out his cell phone. “Barely getting any reception here.”

“That’s a good thing,” Roman said. “You don’t gotta answer any phone calls this weekend. From anybody.”

“I know, but what about my folks?”

Roman stared at Kevin and motioned for his phone. Kevin handed it to him. He pushed a few buttons until a ring tone played across the lake, quieting a few locusts.
“There we go.”

“What’d you do?”

“I set your family numbers to that ringer. Now you’ll know it’s them calling if you hear that ringer, but if you hear anything else you don’t have to pick it up. Cuz it’s not them.”

“C’mon, man,” Kevin said. “I’m not gonna pick up if it’s her. You don’t have to-”

“No,” Roman cut him off. “What I think is the best thing to do is to just not mention that bitch the whole trip. We’ve talked plenty about it and now we’re on vacation, so let’s kick back, catch some fish, and get fucked up!” He held up his hand and Kevin high-fived him.

“You’re absolutely right, man. That’s the last time, and fucking punch me if I bring it up again.”

This reminded Roman of the time he accidentally punched Kevin in the nose in the sixth grade. That reminded Kevin of the next year, when he broke his nose playing soccer from a ball hiting him in the face. The stories followed one another, always backed with laughter. Some stories they’d told each other a few times already, but they told them anyway with some exaggerated details. They retold their funniest high school memories. They picked two girls and decided who they’d rather do and sometimes why. They made fun of people they knew until the sun disappeared completely. Neither of them caught a single fish, but most of the thirty pack was gone by the time they packed up and went to bed, ready to win the fishing contest, starting 4 A.M. the next morning.


Kevin’s phone alarm woke him up at four. He got up, drank a Gatorade and took a multi-vitamin. With his eyes still half-closed he knocked on Roman’s door, but got no answer. Kevin opened the door and smelt the puke before he saw it in Roman’s trash can.

“What the fuck, man,” Kevin covered his face with his hands. “You can never fucking hold your liquor. It’s four, we gotta get going. You said this is the best time. Get up.”

Roman smacked his lips and squinted at his roommate. He groaned and dropped his face into the pillow, muffling the rest of the groan.

“Get up!”

Roman’s face shot up from the pillow like he just heard a siren. He slowly lowered his head, facing Kevin. “Dude…I feel like shit, man.”

“No shit. This always happens. C’mon, man, take some Gatorade and get up. You wanna win this thing, right?”

Roman groaned again and slowly fell back asleep.

“All right.” Kevin threw his arms in the air. “It’s all up to me then.”

He shut Roman’s door and went back to his own room to change into warmer clothes. He shivered the whole way to his car. The wind had picked up since yesterday and the temperature had plummeted. Other than the wind rustling the leaves, everything was silent since none of the locusts were buzzing. It was still dark, but light enough to see the motorboat from the cabin. Kevin clenched his jaw and loaded up the boat with everything he would need. He started the engine and cut through the lake, away from the dock, but he made sure to keep the dock in sight. Once he found a perfect distance, he dropped anchor and got his rod hooked and baited. He cast and let his line rest underwater. Comfortably positioned in the boat, Kevin took a deep breath and scanned the nature around him. The morning was getting brighter, but the clouds that had moved in overnight cast gray over the whole scene. The water was a dark shade of cobalt, and Kevin eyed his fishing line sticking out of the surface.

Kevin’s eyes locked on his line for one half hour. The line didn’t jerk once, no sign of life on the other end, but Kevin kept staring. His trance broke once his teeth started chattering from the cold. He stayed a few minutes longer and reeled in his line. He examined the limp, dangling worm at the end of it, and he set the worm aside to pull up the anchor. Once he arrived back at the dock he positioned his pole through the wooden guard rail and dropped the bait into the water. With his pole wedged tightly into the dock’s rail, he released enough line to let the bait carry downwind to deeper waters. He cupped his hands over his mouth and breathed warm air, examining his fishing rod one last time before jogging back to the cabin.

Kevin rushed into his bedroom, breathing easier in the warm air. He had left the pole unattended, but he checked the window and assured himself it was securely connected to the dock. The wind pulled at the line, bending the tip of the pole. Kevin saw the leaves trembling but he could barely hear them through his cabin wall.

He felt a vibration against his leg, and then heard his cell phone ring. This ring was different than the family ring Roman had set up for him. The screen read “Blocked ID”. He closed his eyes and held his thumb over the “Talk” button for a few seconds before pushing it.


“Hey, it’s me.”

“Hey! Kayla, what’s up? What’re you doing?” Kevin walked to his door and shut it, then returned to the window.

“Nothing, what’s up with you?”

“Um, I was fishing, but what are you doing up so early? It’s, like, three in the morning over there right now, isn’t it?”

“I know, I know. I was actually at this party and I just walked home and I thought, hey, I haven’t talked to my good friend Kevin in a while so why not give him a call!”

“Heh, yeah it’s been a while.” Kevin focused on his fishing pole outside. “Like a few months?”

“Two. About.”

“Right. Hey hold on really quick.” Kevin tossed his phone onto the bed and slipped out of his jacket. He threw his jacket onto the floor and rubbed the corners of his eyes with his fingers. After glancing out of the window he sat at the end of his bed and looked up at the ceiling. “Checking in then? Like always?”

“Um,” Kayla sighed. “Yeah, kinda.”

“How’s it kinda?”


“How are you checking in, kinda?” Kevin crossed his arms, keeping the phone to his ear.

Kayla blew into the phone. “I dunno. Just…what’s new?”

“Nothing’s new.” Kevin looked back to the window just when the tip of the fishing pole shot toward the water. Kevin jumped from his bed and rubbed some fog off his window. The pole’s handle struggled against the dock’s rail but remained stuck. The line jerked back and forth while the pole scraped against the wood. “Hey is there anything else you wanted to talk about because I’m kinda busy over here.”

“Are you mad at me or something?” Another pull bent the pole toward the water like a bow. Kevin snatched his jacket off the floor and tried to maneuver it on while keeping his ear to the phone.

“Well, we talk maybe once every two months,” Kevin said, struggling with the jacket sleeves, “so it’s kinda hard to be mad at you over anything, right? I gotta go right now.”

“No, no, wait. I wanna talk about that.”

“Hold on then!” Stuffing his phone in his pocket, Kevin raced through the cabin to get outside. He sprinted to the dock, the cold air whipping against his face. The pole looked possessed as it strained against the rail, and the handle finally scratched its way loose. The pole sailed into the lake as soon as Kevin’s shoes clapped against the dock’s floor. He dropped to his knees and watched his fish swim away with his pole. The pole plunged into the lake, lost from sight, while Kevin gasped cold air.

His phone rang a few feet away from him. It had fallen from his pocket during his dash to the dock and vibrated against the cold earth. Kevin kept kneeling. He listened to the ring and watched one spot on the lake for several minutes. Then, he stood up and walked past his ringing phone, back to the cabin to catch up on some sleep.

Mega Horny
30th January 2007, 02:18 PM
Thought it was great, for a short story of course. I could really relate two those two frats and found the descriptions very believable. I was sure Roman was going to have a Jimi Hendrix or something though.

Sike Saner
8th February 2007, 07:48 PM
I had a good feeling about this upon finding it, given how much I enjoyed the last thing of yours I read, and I wasn't let down. Great writing style, as before; I really like the attention to detail here, and the characters are totally believable, like guys one could actually know.

Also, you get bonus points from me for mentioning "Layla". :D

16th February 2007, 02:36 AM
thanks for the comments guys. in the re-write i'm gonna make kevin's character stronger, a few people who read it felt roman was a stronger role and they get pissed when he kinda disappeared from the action.

also this was kind of an exercise in writing a story without getting into any character's head. i think i'll get more into kevin's head with the next edit.