OCD

by Theodore Caputi

On my first day of college

My roommate walked in

Four times

In sixty seconds

 

“What's wrong?”

I asked

“Fuck” he screamed

But not to me

 

I extended my hand

With an excited salutation

He refused

Until I used half a bottle of Purell

 

His luggage was a Tetris game

Packed in too neatly

Not a sock out of place

All color coordinated

 

I asked him why

He didn't say

Instead he yelled “shit!”

But it wasn’t to me

 

--

 

Two hours later

His room is perfect

Every angle is 90 degrees

Even his laundry is folded

 

He sits at his desk

Staring deep into

A Post-it-Note

That looks like a Jackson Pollock

 

I make the mistake

Of disclosing what is not mine

“I think he has OCD”

I tell a friend discretely

 

“Dude!

You're so lucky!

My roommate’s a slob”

They don't know what I know…

 

I saw him stare at that Post-it

For three fucking hours

Damn it! He screams

And thrusts his fist into our wall

 

I invited him to

A math study group

“Just give me a second”

We left forty-two minutes later

 

We split up problems

0-10, 10-20, 20-30

Before he started we had finished

I was pissed

 

Can't you focus?

I screamed

Isn't that the only

Thing you can fucking do?

 

He stormed out

Without a word.

“Damnit” I said

and it was to me.

 

The demons of his mind

Played catch with his thoughts

It occupied his time. But he was but

The “monkey in the middle.”

 

-

 

We didn't speak too much

I was too embarrassed

He was too proud,

Too busy washing his hands.

A Post-It left on my door

 

"Had to had to

Had to take a leave”

 

He hasn’t been here for 3 months now.

His side of the room is still perfect.