Coasting – Part Three
Von arrived at the local pub. It didn’t take him long to detect his three friends boisterously laughing on the other side of the place. He waded towards them and removed his scarf, which was met with numerous jokes about his style.
6 beers later
Brent: “I don’t know, sometimes I feel like I should just save up a bunch of money, train my ass off, and become a punter.”
Reed: “Shut up, dude. You don’t just become a professional athlete.”
Brent: “I know. That’s why I said punter.”
Laughs. Sips. Gulps. Laughs.
CJ: “Hey, ‘nuther pitcher? Yeah? Yeah. Hey! ‘Scuse me fair lady, could we get another pitcher over here? The brown. Gratzi.”
Von processed the words and reached out his hand.
Von: “Hey, I said I’d get this round. Let me get this one.”
CJ: “Oh, I’m not stoppin’ ya! I just figured I’d order it since you’re over there lookin’ like a lost cause.”
Brent: “Yeah what’s up, man? You doin’ alright?”
Von tilted back the last of his frothy swath and took a look at his best friends. True blues, each and every one of them. He felt sincerely lucky to have them in his life. It’s the most important thing in the world, having that tight-knit group around you. Consequently, hiding something from them made him feel dreadful. But in his heart he knew he was the most complex of the lot, and that was okay. That was neither something to hold over their heads, nor a heavier cross to bear. To him, it meant that it was his responsibility to keep the carpet vacuumed and immaculately swept, regardless of how dusty it may be underneath.
Von: “I’m good. I’m good. I just haven’t seen you guys in a while. It’s nice to just sit back and listen.”
Okay, maybe it was a little heavier at times.
Reed: “Aww, man. Look at my eyes, I’m tearin’ up over here! Look at ‘em!”
Back slaps exchanged, beer glasses clinking over barbarically jovial laughs. The waitress, with an aquarium of foamy brew in her clutch.
CJ: “Hey, Mister Pitcher! We missed you. Pass me your gents, glasses!”
As the next round was being distributed, he checked his phone. Missed call from Darren Dammit, I missed him. Text him later. Missed call and voicemail from Mom. Ahh, Mom. And two texts from Milly. Wait. They hadn’t planned on meeting up tonight, and she never texted him twice.
“It’s brisk. Clear night tonight. We should go for a drive. Your car.”
And, forty-two minutes later;
“Are you there?”
He read it again.
“Are you there?”
DEFCON 1. Cocked pistol.
“Are you there?” The words rang in his head. There hadn’t been even the slightest insinuation of emotion across the airwaves until now. Was she hurt? Did she and Mr. Great Lakes call it quits? He imagined her crying in her underwear and a sweatshirt on her bed, the sleeve stretched over her cupped hand. Her underwear. He had never been drunk with her before and didn’t necessarily want to be, but he didn’t worry too much. The thought of a new side of himself possibly coming out tonight excited him. Besides, the sex with her had been pretty animal recently, so he looked forward to something more passionate. But, “Are you there?” What was he supposed to do with that? There, where? Naturally he was somewhere.
He felt a cold meandering on his left hand and looked up to find his glass being topped off as the group watched intently the beauty of the pour. In that moment he realized two things. Three things. One, that he had to be a cool boy. Cool like Riff. It was Saturday night and the guys deserved his full attention for a couple hours. Two, that this last pitcher was going down in a hurried unison, judging by the eagerness on the faces of his mates waiting for the last glass to be filled. Three, that the same glass that he was holding in his left hand was responsible for how shaken he found himself at the moment, and that reminded him to just enjoy himself for the time being. (See enlightenment number one) Besides, he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was getting laid tonight. So why worry? Sweep, sweep, sweep.
Milly applied her makeup with care, as if it were one of those rare Friday afternoons when some uncontrollable, external force made her cave-in and give a shit about herself, about something. She scrunched her hair up a little, but quickly gave up on that idea. That just wasn’t her style. She surveyed her back through her shirt, craning her neck to do so. Her lines were still surprisingly intact, but she needed to get back to her usual workout regimen or else they would fade into her history, not an apologetic word to be found in the epitaph. She pressed her hand into her stomach and let it drift south, pressing tighter as she went, doing her best pop video impression. She couldn’t imagine doing that in front of an eager film crew, but saw the appeal. She threw on a new jacket that her mother had sent her last week. Thanks, mom. I should text her on the way over, she thought. Milly ambled out the door, which turned to a mosey down the stairs, which turned to a saunter on the sidewalk. Only after catching a lecherous stare or six did she decide to step ball change to a more purposeful gait. I really should stop testing my luck on these long walks at night. Well the makeup doesn’t help. Dammit. She tisked her naiveté. Pulling out her phone to distract her from the vagrants, she began to text her mom.
next: COASTING – PART FOUR
previous: COASTING – PART TWO
more by SANDY DODGE
photograph by Lsantilli