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



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.