Manuscript ready. Looking for a publisher.
Quirky, humorous, and deeply disturbing, Coffee, Shopping, Murder, Love is both a thriller and a satire on consumerism and our addiction to social media.
The plot follows the misadventures of two gay men for whom it didn’t get better: Jignesh Amin, an overweight Indian-American full of resentment who spends his days mortifying the young office intern, and Charlie Haycraft, “a rather short, thirty-seven-year-old white homosexual from Leitchfield, Kentucky” as he self-describes, with a penchant for bling. Both dream of finding true love but are trapped by the bitter reality of their ordinary lives.
Read a fragment below:
22. Gage Weston’s ballsack
I’m sitting on the living room couch with my legs crossed. If I smoked, now it would be the moment to light up a Virginia Slim, take a deep drag and exhale with a whimper.
It’s been two months since Jignesh moved in with me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about his reasons to buy the freezer, first, then keep it in my garage all this time and forbid me to ever set foot inside, but with him moving in, and taking care of a few things—paying some of the outstanding bills, sending Murat to repaint the kitchen, and of course, paying his share of the rent on time, I completely forgot about it.
I mentioned it once to Lucille. She told me to be careful.
“He could have a dead body inside,” I replied, then took a long sip of my pumpkin latte. “I don’t care.”
I really didn’t.
You see, there have been many men in my life. Tall, short, kind, and abusive. Mostly abusive, and let’s not forget about that miserable rat, the Belgian bastard, but Jignesh is the first one with money. I didn’t want to ruin it with stupid questions about a freezer.
Was I curious? Of course I was, but so were Bluebeard’s wives and I am no Jean Parker. Therefore, I decided not to give it another thought. Why, with Jignesh and I doing so well as a couple? We still have separate rooms, he said he didn’t want to hurry up things, and I respected his decision. Yet every once in a while, with him feeling lonely and I always horny, we’ve been sharing more than the couch for watching TV. But then this evening I returned home after having spent Thanksgiving at Lucille and Marco’s carrying more turkey leftovers than could fit inside the refrigerator.
“I guess I could put the rest inside Jignesh’s freezer,” I sang to myself, in my best interpretation of Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives, then sashayed my way to the garage. I was in such an excellent mood. Lucille, Marco, and I had spent the whole afternoon listening on Spotify to Wilson Phillips.
Jignesh hadn’t returned from his parents yet. Therefore, I couldn’t ask him for permission to unlock the freezer. I didn’t need a key, anyhow, just a screwdriver to remove the latch. One felt so manly, setting up a ladder against the wall to reach the top shelf, taking down the toolbox, selecting the right screwdriver—was it a Phillips head or a flat one? I had to go down and check twice. If my father could see me now, I thought. “He’d be so proud,” I laughed—I bet I snorted too, I always snort when I laugh. “He would think I mended my ways and stopped using cosmetics.”
I’m certainly glad my father wasn’t there to see me, though, because it wasn’t frozen Alaskan crab what I found inside that darn freezer.
Well, I’ll be damned, I remember I thought for a second. This is a human body. Then I screamed louder than Nicole Kidman in… well, any of her movies!
I shut the lid and, following my first instinct, I ran to the middle of the street where I tried to scream again. Out came only a muffled bellowing. I stayed there gasping and mewling in pain for a few minutes. If anyone had heard me scream before, no one came to my rescue. #CityOfAngels. Eventually, I reckoned I wasn’t in any immediate danger. Jignesh wouldn’t be back till late, his mother doesn’t do as Lucille who starts cleaning and packing up leftovers in Ziploc bags the moment she puts the pumpkin pie on the table. I went back inside and searched for my phone, planning to call the police. I couldn’t find it. Then I remembered that I had connected it to Lucille’s stereo, so we could listen to music on Spotify, and realized that I probably left it there.
I sat down on the couch and cried.
Oh, boy, did I cry. Louder and more crestfallen than a Mexican soap opera actress who suddenly discovers that the man for whom she left everything behind, including her father’s fortune, is a cold blooded murderer. I know, calling Jignesh my man is rather a stretch. The French would refer to our relationship as plan cul, which is but an elegant way to say that we have no real attachments. Still, I felt shattered.
Again, it’s not that I didn’t have my suspicions. Jignesh can be rough sometimes. He’s arrogant and unkind and envious of other people. Then again, most men I talk to end up being rough, arrogant, and unkind too. I assumed that Jignesh was but an ordinary man with ordinary man urges. Forcing me to stay in my place felt like his man prerogative.
I stood up. I should just go and call the police from the neighbor’s. But then the Men of Colt calendar on the wall that Lucille’s husband gave me as a joke for Christmas—the joke was on him; I actually liked it—reminded me that today is only November 22. Jignesh never pays his share of the rent before the 30. And the mortgage is due on the 4.
“What should I do?” I asked, looking intensely at Gage Weston’s ballsack.
If only I could wait a week to freak out… Then I would call the cops immediately.
Just last Monday, Tunisha reprimanded me for prattling over the phone with a client about our wedding.
“We’re going to elope to New York,” I was telling Dr. Kurash. “Just imagine, a beautiful, sunny day in Central Park, with lots of children running around, a butch lesbian wearing a dark suit officiating the ceremony, and us two, wearing white matching suits from Dolce & Gabbana… No, it wouldn’t be recognized in California, I’m afraid, but maybe one day, cross your fingers…”
Thank God that Jade had just sold Dr. Kurash a new membership and had asked me to make conversation with him while she finished the paperwork, otherwise, Tunisha would have fired me on the spot.
Anyways, that was Monday. What I did today is return to the couch and whimper some more. And I’ve been here ever since, sobbing my soul away, flinching at the slightest noise, puzzling over whether I should go to the neighbors’ to call the police or pretend I found nothing. I only stood up to go pee, play on the computer Chi mai, which is the only tune that could properly serve as musical accompaniment to my current state, so crestfallen, and to serve myself a slice of pie. Lucille’s pumpkin pie is so delicious, nom-nom. I wish I had whipping cream.
I wish I had asked Jignesh to pay in advance for the last month too. That would have given me some time. I’m going to keep Jignesh’s half month deposit. The hell I am. Why shouldn’t I? He’s been hiding a body inside my garage. Oh, but I imagine he’ll have a lot of legal expenses once he gets arrested. He’ll probably want it back, and other than bringing a dead woman into my house he didn’t cause any damages. He may end up asking me to repay for all the expenses he incurred since he moved in. He paid for the liner to build the fish pond too. Oh, and what if I get in trouble too? I raise my t-shirt to clean my eyes. What if he says I was his accomplice? I start biting the tip of my fingers. I sold him the freezer, n’est-ce pas? His boss saw me the day we went to his office… Oh, no! Did Jignesh kill Manuel too? No, that couldn’t be. That was an accident. Wasn’t it…? His parents saw us too, trying to put the freezer in their garage. Maybe they know. No. That old couple is so sweet. I can’t imagine them helping Jiggy commit a crime. Although you never know with foreigners, maybe killing is a sport in West India. If I were to blame anyone, I would blame that horrible sister of his, Sita. Jiggy detests her…
Oh, my God! I stand up, horrified. The body inside the freezer is hers! Jignesh killed his sister!
No, that cannot be. The woman inside the freezer looked white, I think, sitting back down. Although… Anyone will look white when frozen… I need to go and check… Oh, no. I cannot make myself open that freezer again.
I cannot stay here either. I start walking across the room and back.
“Did Jignesh kill his sister?” I ask Gage Weston’s penis.
Now, even if I had the guts to go and check, I don’t remember what Sita looks like. I’ve seen her once. That’s all. Who’s coming next month? I turn the page of the calendar. I don’t know this guy’s name but he sure has a back side that looks yummy. Oh, there’s a special offer for 2013. Should I order the Couples or the Butt Beautiful?
Okay, Charlie, relax. Breathe in and breathe out. You need to calm down. This is what you’re gonna do: You’ll fix yourself a cup of chamomile tea first and pop a Xanax, then you’ll light a relaxing candle, sit down, turn on the TV, and pretend that you saw nothing—just until Jignesh pays the rent. That woman is dead. A few days more inside the freezer can’t hurt her. Then, and only then, you will call the police.
“Why did Jignesh have to be a crazy murderer?” I fall on my knees, crying. “Maybe we weren’t meant as a couple, but he was the perfect roommate!”
Gage Weston’s magnificent hard-on remains silent.
I cannot stay here. I need to go. Where? I should call Lucille and tell her. Maybe I could stay with her for a few days. Where is my phone? Where did I leave my stupid iPhone? Oh, yes, I left it at Lucille’s. I should go back to her house… Can I drive? I can’t. I can’t even breathe, how could I drive? I’ll call a Lyft. Where is my phone? I walk through the house looking for it. Where the fuck did I leave it? I enter my bedroom. Where the fuck did I put that stupid phone? Oh, God, I left it at Lucille and Marco’s. I’m not thinking straight… And what am I going to say to Jignesh? He still needs to pay his share of the rent. Maybe I could ask him to leave a check on the kitchen counter. Then I’ll ask Marco to come and pick it up while Jignesh’s at work… But what if Jignesh attacks him? Lucille would never forgive me.
I hear then a car pulling into the driveway.
It’s not even seven, yet. Jignesh must have gotten into another fight with his sister. Should I run? I can’t. My legs feel so brittle… Men of Colt, please protect me. Give me the serenity to pretend nothing happened. “How was your day, Jignesh?” I’ll ask. “Mine was extremely nice. I didn’t find a dead woman inside the freezer. How was my day, you asked? Well, I didn’t find a dead person inside that old freezer I sold you, how was yours? Terrific. No, I didn’t find any frozen body, why you ask?”
I hear Jignesh insert his key into the door lock.
Maybe he’s armed. Maybe he has a knife. Maybe he’ll kill me.
“Mr. Charlie!” He sings, coming in. He’s carrying two canvas bags full of food. “My mother sent us a lot of leftovers. We won’t have to cook for a week.”
I must remain calm. I must pretend nothing happened. He doesn’t need to know I found out. OH FUCK! HE’S GONNA NOTICE I UNSCREWED THE LATCH! I got so scared I forgot to screw it back. Sweet Southern Baby Jesus, I can’t let him enter the garage! But why would he go? He doesn’t have a reason to go. Does he? It’s full of junk. He can’t park inside. I’ll scurry in tonite, screw the latch, and pretend nothing happened. That’s it. Sit down, Charlie, be pretty and remain calm. Just imagine you’re Audrey Hepburn in that first scene of Roman Holiday, trying to put on that damn shoe wile presenting a straight face to the public.