Jake English had always thought his next door neighbor Dirk Strider to be a rip-roaring and capital, however eccentric, fellow. It was an otherwise quiet suburbia that surrounded them in that little town in Wisconsin. Jake, however, delighted in Dirk's irregular antics. Crowds would gather from miles around just to see him water his cactus, like he was some celebrity.
As Jake peeked out from his blinds to an identical window just across the yard, he could see why. Dirk was a master of mechanics. With nary a year spent in any sort of technical school, he was getting calls from all over the nation for his superior robot models, and occasionally, for a lecture on time travel.
Despite his cocky, devil-may-care outward appearance and mannerisms, Dirk was a private person. Sometimes Jake would invite him over for pizza and a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff marathon. However, Dirk was hesitant to share his own living space. From what Jake could see of his two-story house, which was very sleek and turn of the century, the upper floor held a nondescript living room, with some moderately-priced electronics, including speakers and a television, even a gaming console. There was also a well used couch. The entire space was immaculately clean. Dirk was never one to shirk details.
As Jake pondered the intricacies of Dirk's house, his eyes came to rest on Dirk's mailbox. The doohickey was up, which meant only one thing: Mail.
Jake yawned, stretched, and threw on his favorite green flannel button-up. Maybe today would finally be the day he would unearth the secret, masculine god-cave of the Strider, have a good wrestle, and then snort at hipsters on the internet. It would be the ultimate bromance.
He made a note to never use the term 'bromance' in future inner monologues, and proceeded down the steps to the foyer.
On the way out to the mailbox, Jake chuckled, recalling the various ways in which he had received mail. Dirk had a habit of 'rescuing' Jake's junk mail, folding it into paper planes, and sending it cruising right into Jake's bedroom on the second floor. Usually, they contained smartass remarks from the blonde. Sometimes, though, they would contain messages like 'chill?' indicating that he wanted to hang out, or still other times, messages that Jake could have sworn were legitimately heartfelt.
Dirk, however, was an enigma. For all his proverbial pulling of legs, Jake could never quite separate the genuine from the comical. Though he would never, ever tell him, Jake had kept a handful of the more headache-inducing epistles for a rainy day. Sometimes he'd spend hours poring over them, trying to deduce the true meaning behind them. It was maddening, but Jake preferred to think of it as a great adventurous mystery, waiting to be solved, much like the bedazzling and dangerous puzzles of one of his favorite adventure movies: Indiana Jones.
It was a gorgeous spring day, with nary a cloud to disturb the vast azure sky. A crisp breeze swept through the quiet suburb as he plodded to Dirk's mailbox. They were friendly neighbors, Dirk and Jake. They often did the courtesy of dropping each other's mail in their respective slots; more often than not, one or the other was away due to a college lecture, or in Dirk's case, volunteering at the robotics museum.
Most people would have thought that a man as intelligent—and astoundingly cool, by most people's definition—wouldn't bother with something so charitable. However, if there was one thing that Dirk possessed, more than a seemingly infinite amount of edgy hipster greatness, it was heart. Dirk loved giving tours of the robotics museum, especially during the school year, when the elementary schools had their field trips. He always had an ear turned for any questions from the kids, whether it be serious or silly. The other staff were consistently astounded that he never got tired of the same questions, one in particular.
"Why are you here?" the little boys and girls would ask. Surely someone so smart and beloved had better things to do. He would always give them the same answer:
"Because it's not time to go yet."
They would always pry for an answer why, and when, and what for. He would only smile and usher them out the doors, back to the big yellow school bus, much to their protest.
Jake, on the other hand, still attended college, and probably would for the next decade at the rate he was going. Majoring in paleontology required intense study, but try fitting that in with trips to the gun range and wrestling, and sometimes it just didn't work out so well. He managed to scrape by with A's, somehow. Dirk usually credited his freakish capacity for remembering things, almost like he'd already done it once before. He just couldn't settle for a sample of knowledge; Jake was always hungry for more. Besides, after his Nana died, and left him a considerable sum of money, he had vowed to use it to better himself, rather than purchase frivolous items.
Jake hadn't always lived in the tiny Wisconsin suburb. He was originally an exchange student from England, and had decided to settle in Wisconsin for several reasons, the cheese ranking pretty high on the list. In all seriousness, Jake admired the American people and their pride, their love of freedom, music, and a friend he'd met online years ago, when he was first exploring the exchange program. The name timaeusTestified was very close to Jake.
He had greatly enjoyed his host family; the Crocker's were kindly folk. It felt almost like he had never left home a lot of the time. He and Jane shared the same passion for roguish adventures, she with her suspense and mystery, and he with his gritty hellfire bravado. They had fit together like a glove. Jane still came to visit sometimes, always with some sort of baked confection. Jake always looked forward to her macaroons. She always seemed to be on the verge of telling him something right before she left, but then she would just smile a little wider and hop into her vintage Volkswagen Beatle. He'd given up on trying to understand women a long time ago, no matter how entrancing they were. All those mixed messages and double meanings drove him up the wall.
He'd had the odd date here and there, a couple of semi-steady girlfriends, and once he tried a one night stand. College had a way of bringing out the wilder side of people, and Jake was not much of an exception. He'd just been worlds more gentlemanly than most. Now, he was the second-most eligible bachelor in the suburb, next to Dirk of course. There were days when he genuinely enjoyed being single—he could walk around the house naked if he wanted, he didn't have to share a bathroom or his bed, nor his food, and the whole place was decorated to his own personal tastes.
He boasted a large gun collection, almost all of them classic guns from the forties onward, but he also kept a smattering of more sleek and modern models, and the more nostalgic early 1900s models. Most had been inherited from his Nana, but a select few he'd bought himself. His favorite, though, was the Trojan. It was an eloquent .45, with just the right mix of classic and contemporary. Besides that, he kept a few mounted heads in his living room from various hunting trips with his bullet-carrying babies. Whenever he went out hunting, he imagined himself as a sort of Teddy Roosevelt, braving rugged mountains despite asthmatic tendencies, and bringing home impressive kills. Roosevelt was a great idol of his, and Jake emulated him in any way he could.
But at the present moment, Jake was at Dirk's mailbox. He tugged the flap, and unsurprisingly, a wad of what Jake liked to call 'funny mail' tumbled out on to the ground. The locals would call it junk mail, or, if they were uppity hipsters—spam. There was, however, one letter enclosed from Dirk's little brother, Dave. It was bereft of any comically inappropriate and utterly ironic doodles, as was per Dave, so it must have been important. Jake decided it would be better to deliver it in person.
His hiking boots made loud clunks on the cement stoop. He jabbed the buzzer with his thumb and waited, rocking back and forth on his feet, half expecting an ambush. To his surprise, and marginal disappointment, Dirk appeared in the doorway in his usual attire. An orange cap seemed to have been slapped on top of his head, with errant tufts of sandy blonde sticking out this way and that. He was clad in a plain grey tee with a dark musical graphic made to look vintage, black athletic shorts, and flip flops. It was a stark contrast to Jake's more formal look, with an open collared shirt in pale green, a plain tee, and khakis.
Jake adjusted his glasses, a broad smile curling his lips. "Dirk, mate. This came in the mail for you. It's from your brother." Even after over five years of living there, Jake retained a lilting accent.
One of Dirk's eyebrows arched over his excessively shiny sunglasses. "Sup," he drawled, lazily swiping the letter from Jake. "My little bro, huh? Must be pretty important if he doesn't even have time to ironically draw a dick across the front." He made a curious huh noise before stuffing it into his pocket. "Thanks." A small smile appeared on his face.
"Hey, also, I was wondering if you were up to anything today?" Jake asked.
"My little bro's got a gig tonight, I was thinking of crashing it," Dirk replied. A smirk curled his lips, showing his dimples. "Wanna come with?"
Jake wasn't much for parties. He always felt uncomfortable in a large group, having been so used to being by himself most of his life. However, Jane had always encouraged him to get out of the house and socialize, however hesitant he might be.
"Are you sure? You know, I'm not overly fond of your brother's… shindigs, I think he calls them?" He scratched the back of his neck, uncomfortable, but also not wanting to disappoint Dirk.
"C'mon, this town's two most eligible bachelors, at the biggest party in town, on the same evening? It could only be great. A little whiskey and you'll cut loose just fine."
"You know I abhor that vile concoction." Jake preferred rum or straight scotch. He pulled a face, his eyes pinched and tongue out.
"Aw, c'mon, English, at least be my wingman. I'm gonna need help fending off the mob. Plus, there'll be beer pong. Your favorite game. Whaddaya say, Captain Adventure?"
Jake fiddled with the last button on his shirt, contemplating.
"I do royally kick your ass at pong."
Dirk grinned. "'Atta boy."