When Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire moves in with us, there is an adjustment period. Our place is not large. Our one spare bedroom has been used as an office, so when Richard takes up residence there, we have to relocate our computer and some lesser items.
We have an air mattress for the spare bedroom, not a legitimate bed, so we feel bad that Richard has to sleep on it. He assures us that he sleeps soundly, though. We wonder if he’s just being polite.
We only have one full bathroom, and Richard spends a lot of time in there cleaning out his face holes. It’s really disrupted our morning routine and made us late for work on a number of occasions. But we don’t say anything because we don’t want him to feel weird, and we know he’s been through a lot.
We wonder what Richard does while we’re gone all day. He says he takes long walks, but we suspect he is flipping through the pages of his weird scrapbook, gazing at the images therein. This makes us sad for him, and for humanity. We want to help Richard but we don’t know how. We cook him good meals. We take him out on the town to meet our friends. We tell him he can take his mask off at home if he’s more comfortable, but he does not.
Richard’s ability at darts is impressive, especially given his monocular vision. He trounces us routinely at Cricket. It is disconcerting when he drinks shots of Jameson and Malort and the liquid makes an odd gurgling sound in his throat.
Our friends attempt kindness toward him, but we can tell they find him off-putting. This only makes us love him more. For us, sympathy, pity, love and admiration are entangled, and we do not know how to begin to untangle the threads.
Richard does not enjoy Guitar Hero, nor is he particularly adept at it. We prod him to try dark, grungy songs but he shows little interest. He keeps going back to Franz Ferdinand, which we find inexplicable yet endearing.
He grows as protective of us as we are of him. When we speak of perceived slights at our offices, Richard offers to help. We chuckle and decline, knowing that his version of help would only exacerbate our respective situations. He insists that he can navigate corporate politics with delicacy and grace, but we are incredulous. We tell him to hold off, that the time for his aid will surely come soon enough.
We ask no rent, and none is given. We know that Richard’s veteran’s pension is meager, and we prefer that he spend what little money he has on creature comforts: a new cardigan from Nordstrom, a new pair of half-glasses from Warby Parker, a hot stone massage. We grow to love Richard. We crave his happiness more than our own. Our friends can be cruel, and they proclaim that we think of him as a pet. We defend ourselves angrily, and state with clarity that we know the difference between man and animal, between trusted friend and loyal servant. How dare they condescend so, to us and to him?
The spectacle of Richard eating a pulled pork sandwich is truly nauseating.
We don’t care for our neighbors. Their bourgeois ways irk us and their children bother us. One neighbor’s dog constantly relieves itself in front of our door. We ask this neighbor to curb his animal, to no avail. One day, Richard breaks into his condominium unit and scalps him. He brings us the scalp. We are pleased.
Eventually, Richard stops sitting in a chair off by himself when we watch How I Met Your Mother; he joins us on the sofa.