Trey didn’t go out again for the next few days. In fact, it was difficult to even find the energy and gumption to get up in the morning and go to work. He was spiraling down further and further into himself, into whatever and whoever he was Changing into, putting on more weight, looking at more porn, jacking off more and more–enjoying his own company, and the company of his computer more than anything else. He was close to giving in, and he could feel it, that thin membrane between one self and the next, when you slide from becoming someone into an uncoming, and lastly a final retreat away from a set of memories that you can no longer relate to, except as ghosts. He thought about Willis, though. He found some old pictures of him on his hard drive, more than…he remembered having before, and he found himself jacking off to those over and over, jacking off to him even as his memories of being with him were fading, finding it a comfort that now he was just an image. Flat. Now, he could finally be exactly what Trey wanted him to be, and nothing else. Nothing complicated.
He found the little note from Darren a couple days later, stuck to the fridge, when Trey decided to finally try and cook something for himself, rather than just ordering something in again. It had a phone number, and a suggestion that they go out again sometime (as themselves or as someone else), but Trey assumed it was just a polite gesture, but not a serious proposition, at least until he got a knock on the door late one evening, while he was busy at the computer, masturbating again. He simply assumed it was some food he’d ordered, and forgotten about ordering, cleaned himself up a bit and tucked his dick back into his underwear, and answered the door.
He didn’t recognize Darren at first, not because he’d done anything to change, but just because Trey had been in such a hurry that morning he hadn’t really bothered taking stock of the man he’d ended up going home with. He was older, somewhere in that middle age valley most men in the city settle into, a little pudgy, with a round face and square goatee. He had no food with him, and so, Trey had no real idea why this stranger had knocked on his door.
“Looks like someone could use another night out,” Darren said. “You doing ok?”
Trey just looked at him another moment, until it finally occurred to him who this must be. “Darren…right? Uh…why are you…here?”
Darren shrugged, “Well, you didn’t call or text, and I was nearby, and wanted to…see how you were doing.”
Trey found that difficult to believe.
“You, uh, need some company?” Darren asked.
Trey just gave him a side eye. “I’m, uh…not really expecting company, or anything,” he looked down at himself, at his rather slobbish, gross self at the moment, and then back at Darren. “Why are you really here?”
Darren sighed, “Look, I’ve been there man, most of us have been. You…obviously don’t want to be doing this to yourself, or you wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of getting a damn RuffHat. But you can’t do it alone, right? You need some company, someone who can break you out of your self-sorry rut. If you don’t want help, or even some company, if you just want to keep jacking off in there until you don’t want to do anything else, fine.”
It sounded rather final, and a bit harsh, but Darren didn’t turn around and go. He just stood there, until it was clear he was going to make Trey do the dirty work of telling him to leave, but he honestly was glad to see someone else’s face, and the fact that Darren had come all the way here to see him was touching. “I’m not doing anything else, I suppose, so come on in.”
Darren shook his head, “Nah, why don’t we go out?”
Trey heaved a sigh, “Look, I…I had a nice time, before, but that’s not something I usually do. It makes me…seasick, bouncing around like that.”
“Well you’re never going to be someone different that this if you don’t go out and be someone,” Darren said, “Look, I had an idea. Just give me one night with you, and if you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to do it ever again, and you can just keep being…this, if that’s really what you’d rather be doing.”
Trey didn’t have anything else to do, and so he stepped aside and Darren entered, looked around the place, before finding some of Trey’s work clothes on the floor, and told him to put those on. Trey didn’t get it. “I thought you wanted to go out somewhere?” he asked.
“Just humor me, come on.”
So Trey humored him, though they didn’t fit particularly well on his chubbier frame, since he’d bought them more for when he had his RuffHat on–and that was when it clicked. “Hold on, you just want to get me into the RuffHat, is that what this is all about?”
“What? No…I mean…alright, fine, you got me, but you have to admit it’s a good idea, right?” Darren said, “That’s what those hats do after all, the more you wear it, the burlier you get, right? You just haven’t been wearing it enough, obviously.”