Everything was the same as it had been. Even the bed sheet looked like someone had just slept in it, sweaty and crinkled. The last time Raymond was there had to have been at least five years ago, when he helped Eddy pack for college. Most of the stuff was still missing from the bright orange shelving – old car magazines, bad action movies, the little metal superhero figurines – all of it probably packed away in a storage unit by now, maybe sold off or given away to goodwill. There wasn’t much left, aside from some old kiddy toys in the small and cramped closet along with a few-off color dress shirts worn to church and school dances. They were just hanging there, smelling like dust.
He had to find something, something to take. Eddy’s parents were real intent on this. Raymond had been Eddy's oldest friend. They called him up just yesterday, insistent that he come by to take something from their son’s room. A keepsake, some kind of tradition, it would really mean a lot.
But as Raymond looked around, he didn’t see anything that he really wanted. There were plenty of intangibles, though, like the foot-sized hole in the dry wall that had been the result of an all-too-vigorous round of fake kung-fu fighting. Briefly he considered how much trouble it would be to just cut out the wall around that hole and take it with him. Then, of course, there was the extremely faint, but ever-present, smell of cat piss, an ancient leftover from the week when Eddy so valiantly attempted to keep a stray kitty in his room, secret from his very allergic mother. If only, Raymond thought, he could bottle the light aroma and carry it around his neck. And he could not forget the dark spot on the hardwood floor, a splattered pattern of acidic stain from that day they brought home those little red peppers from that cramped market on Lawrence, the ones which they had an eating contest with to see who could consume the most heat. Eddy had won victoriously, spewing victoriously his spicy insides all across the bedroom floor only seconds after.
He crouched beside the small twin bed frame; reaching blind underneath it, he pulled out the small locked metal cash box. Its key, as always, was sitting in the lock. Inside the box was the same collection of worthless fantasy-themed trading cards, movie ticket stubs, and a few dollars and dimes left behind in a heap. Again Raymond reached beneath the bed to find that the large green plastic tub had been moved from its usual dwelling. Inside the tub had been a steadily growing collection of porno tapes and magazines, many of which had been donated by an understanding father who believed nothing could be healthier than a ten year-old boy jerking off to naked women. No doubt its contents now occupied several black garbage bags strewn about a landfill somewhere.
Crouching there beside the bed, Raymond thought to himself how ridiculous the whole idea was. The idea that some piece of junk from his friend’s childhood room would help keep the guy alive in his mind. Years of good times were stored readily in his brain, always there to be played back at a moment’s notice. He knew their reasoning, Eduardo’s parents, they wanted him to pick something that would make him choke up to touch, something that he could just catch a glimpse of and laugh about for hours, remembering all that was great about their son while at the same time feeling the pain of losing someone who wouldn’t be coming back.
Raymond didn’t want a piece of plastic or wood or metal or whatever to remember the day the two of them learned to drive together – nearly rear-ending a school bus – or the winter Eddy convinced him to take up diving nearly naked into an icy lake or the look his friend gave him after he shot a fist into his eye at that bar. If he had his way he would march down there and tell Eddy’s parents that their son was now just a lifeless hunk of meat that no longer existed. He’d tell them that all the stuff up in this room was just stuff, clutter that wasn’t worth anything more than the price of their base component parts. A slap in the face or a good-old fashioned beat down would be well worth the satisfaction of dispelling their myths and unhealthy attachment to the dead.
In the end though, he took a pillow case, a red and blue polka dot one from deep within the white-wood painted dresser that he remembered his friend using on those nights when he was able to get away from his house for sleepovers. It was just a pillow case, and it had been washed quite a few times since its last use years ago, but it still smelled just a little bit like his friend. Not that Eddy had a smell. If he did though, it would have been a little like that pillow case, he thought.