It’s not what it seems

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She talks to me about her relationships.  She’s special this one. Sometimes I think we need to define our friendship and draw boundaries but I think we are already three orgasms past that. I don’t remember if it was Fred or Mike or both of them on the same night. But she tells me all about it. I’m not gay, I like boobs as much as the next guy. But we’re friends right? Friends don’t care about other friends boobs. She’s beautiful though, fair skinned, thunder thighs, lithe waist and broad hips. Her behind looks like two balloons stuffed under her flesh. I see why men are crazy over her, I once was. Her name is Patty.

You see I’m not your usual kind of guy. I’m shy, very shy. How we became friends is beyond me. She’s outspoken, loud and obnoxious at, scratch that, all the time. Being around her I cannot be invisible. People see me, they notice my awkwardness and exploit it. Guys have asked me many times how I let my girlfriend misbehave like that. I try tell them she is nothing like my girlfriend but they laugh. There’s something wrong with you pal. They say. You ain’t hitting that? Then they give me a dirty look and walk away. She likes you, can’t you see? Some will say. She wants you to be a man and reign her in. You don’t know women. Like they do? Women don’t even know themselves. Explains all those hours in front of a mirror. They are strangers to themselves. But I let them talk, I can’t argue. Plus, she says I’m her boyfriend.

I’ve lost count now, of how many times she’s referred to me as her boyfriend or even her actual boyfriend. Last I recall it was Ted. The guy with a white Toyota and an apartment in a lush suburb. He’s nice, he bought me drinks and brought along his female friends to keep me company as he wet her face. Those two were like high school kids. Not in love, no, but reckless. They did things with abandon and it was kind of scary. You don’t want to be in a club and you’re worried about being kicked out for indecency. But it worked for them. His friends were nice too, they asked me polite questions like if I had a girlfriend. Not that it would count on the third drink but they asked.

But one day in my room as she tried a new shade of lipstick, burgundy I think, she let out a long burdened sigh. When she does this I know she’s about to ask me a question. Trouble in paradise maybe.

“What do you think of Ted?” She asked

“I don’t know much about him. What’s there to think? Isn’t the sex great?”

“Yes but…”

She paused as she smacked her lips admiring their new look. The color brought out their fullness and she took a moment to admire them. I swear she was about to take out her camera and take a picture so I coughed, letting her know I was in the room. Apologetically, she turned away from the mirror.

“I think he’s seeing someone else.”

“You mean like you and Fred?”

“Yes. I mean no. It’s different with me and Fred .”

“How? He’s your boyfriend in law?”

“No. I love them both.”

“What makes you think he doesn’t love the other woman?”

“You’re joking right? It’s me. He won’t love anyone else.”

“That lipstick looks good on you. ” I said to change the topic. “You think it will keep him?”

“I haven’t lost him I just don’t want to share him.”

“But he should share you?”

“Yes. I mean no. You don’t get it.”

“I think I do. You want to eat your cake and have it.”

“I love cake. You know I love cake.”

“This isn’t a joke.”

“The joke is your sex life. When was the last time you had a girl? God! Fred, people will talk. Get laid. Do something, and not with your left hand.”

“Yes they will talk. But about you.”

“What will they say?”

“Not what they will say but what they are saying.”

“What are they saying then?”

“That I should get a new girlfriend.”

“You don’t even have one.”

“Yes but you say you’re mine.”

“Do you want to be?”

“No! There’s Ted and Fred and I’d be the second Fred!”

She hates the fact that I don’t like her or show that I do. She calls me a white whale. Her white whale. Makes me feel like Moby Dick and her Ahab. That’s funny, Ahab wants Moby’s Dick. No? Okay. I’d just tell her that she’s a slut but I care too much about her feelings. Yes, I’m that kind of guy.

***
Behind his Toyota, apartments and strikingly good looks Ted is a good guy. He has a genuine love for Patty. You’d expect him to philander given what he has but he doesn’t.  I don’t like talking to him because I lie. He knows I know something. He knows Patty talks to me.

I get a call from Ted. He wants to watch the game with me, over a few beers and maybe some meat. It’s at his place. I’ve never really been but according to Patty he has one of those curved televisions that pull you in when you’re watching watching a program. But me and Ted aren’t tight. Other than  the nights at the club we haven’t really hang out. So it’s weird. I want to call Patty and ask her but I know she’ll say no she’s an insecure bitch sometimes. So I go, what’s the worst that could happen? I mean it’s guys and beers and sports.

“I think she’s cheating Fred” Ted asks at half time. He is toying with the beer in his hand holding it by the neck. It looks like he wants to choke it with his fingers.

“What makes you think so?” I ask cautiously sipping on my drink to mask any uncertainty.  My eyes are glued on the television. An ad is on. I can’t help but admire the crisp picture the screen displays. I should come here often I tell myself, or get one.

“Sometimes you just know. You know?”

“You could be wrong.”

“Am I?”

“I don’t know. Why would I know?”

“She tells you everything.”

“She hasn’t told me this.” I lied “But you’re a guy. You don’t have a…” I started to change the topic. Put him on the spot, watch him buckle.

“A what?”

“You know… Plan B?”

“Do you have one?”

“I don’t even have an A”

We laughed and glued back to the screen. The game was on. Between us there was an air of  uneasiness. I knew something he didn’t and he knew I did. Maybe he should’ve been a little bit more tact. Gotten me drunk and brought up women and relationships and eased his way into Patty.

“Shots, let’s do shots” He said breaking the silence as the final whistle blew.

“I’m not sure. Maybe next time?” I said. Showing my reluctance as I emptied the last of my beer bottle

“Don’t be such a thong” He jeered

“What’s that even supposed to mean?”

He walked to the liquor cabinet and took out a bottle of Captain Morgan’s. It looked like I didn’t have much say. I looked at my car keys instinctively. Ted noticed and reiterated that he had spare rooms. I could leave in the morning if need be or call a cab.

“Your car will be safe.” He said with finality as he poured a double and handed it over to me.

***
The thing with drinking with a secret is you never know when you’ve said too much. A paining head and a sore tummy was how I woke up. I was in bed, the soft sheets caressed my sore body and the thick curtains kept the room dark. My head felt like a war zone. Like two gods fighting for supremacy. Like Thor going head to head with Hades and losing. The phone rang and the sound pierced through my brain like a hot rod. For a moment I thought it might be Patty. Oh god, Patty. What did I tell Ted? Turns out it was only my morning alarm. It was 6.30. From the sounds that seeped into the dark room it felt like it was a bright day. Birds chirping, kids playing et al.

I had to find out exactly what I’d told Ted.  I had to call Patty. I had to get over a headache and head to my place. But I had to wait, I couldn’t leave that early. I wasn’t about to do the walk of shame from a guys house.

If anything Patty tells me is to go by Ted would be up at 10. He would go to the kitchen and run the coffee machine, turn on the cooker put on a pan and crack an egg. Runny and sunny side up, it’s how he likes it. Patty’s voice echoed in my mind.  I got up and went into the kitchen, run the machine, put a pan – after frantic searching – on the cooker cracked and egg and made breakfast. I wanted to get Ted breakfast in bed, catch him by surprise and gauge his mood. There’s no better reason to step into a man’s bedroom than with fresh coffee and eggs the way he likes it. I felt like a good wife. No, the best wife. I’d marry myself at this point.

I knocked on his door, there was silence followed by a grunt. I assumed he said I come in so I did. Opening the door slowly balancing a tray in my hands with the coffee and eggs. For touch of flare I sprinkled some black pepper on the egg. It looked as exotic as an egg can. Like it hatched in a haberdashery.

“Coffee?” I asked peeping my head through the door.

“God what time is it?” He asked turning in his bed feeling under his pillow for maybe a phone or a watch, of which, the watch was strapped on his wrist.

“It’s  six something give or take”

“Urrgh okay.”

“So coffee?”

“Sure.”

I walked up to his bed and placed the tray on his side table.

“Last night huh?” I asked. Hiding my inquisitiveness.

“Yeah” He said shrugging his shoulder as he raised himself resting his back on the headboard. He didn’t have a shirt on. I could see the black t-shirt on the floor and I wanted to throw it over to him. Tell him to put it on but I the ought against it.

“We should do this more often” I said. I noticed the look in his eyes and quickly added “the shots not the breakfast in bed thing.”

“I could get used to it though.” He quipped and laughed as he took a sip of the coffee.

“Imagine Patty’s reaction”

We both laughed. He was casual about everything and I assumed I hadn’t said anything damaging.

“Here sit on the bed” He patted an empty spot

I moved closer and sat. He pulled himself closer and whispered in my ear, more like let a low growl

“Who’s Fred?”

I froze at that moment I knew I’d spoken too much.

“Don’t fuck with me. I know it’s not you. So who is it?” He asked with his hand grabbing at my shirt. His face was so close now I could feel his breath on the tip of my nose.

***

Timing is important. The wrong timing could ruin everything and the right timing could make things perfect. Patty wasn’t known for her perfect timing. Everything about her timing was wrong.  From when she’d calm crying at a bar when you’re in a meeting with your board of directors to when she’d show up and give you a huge kiss as you were trying to woo a girl to go home with you. Timing was never her thing.

We did not hear the lock turn or the door knob move. We did not hear the heels click on the wooden floor. We did not hear the bag set down on the coffee table in the living room. We did not hear the glasses get put I’m the sink or the close of the liquor cabinet. We did not see the door to the room open. Patty walked in with Teds hand on my shirt and our faces close to each other like star crossed lovers.  His lips eyes were heavy and from an oyster looked seductive. My lips were parted semi explanation. What we did hear was her shriek and the keys fall to the floor.

“You fucking bastard!” She shouted

I didn’t know if she was referring to me or Ted or both of us. At that moment we realized what everything must have looked like. Me sitting on the bed with one leg on the ground and the other folded under the thigh of the first leg.  Our faces close to each other staring intently into each others eyes. He pushed me away, Ted and spilt hot coffee on his lap. The sea rig pain made him forget about his anger and the tirade she should’ve been throwing at Patty. He simply looked at me and Patty sequentially and let out a weak

“Babe it’s not what it looks like.”

She walked out and he scrambled out of bed to follow her. I sat there thinking how stressful relationships could get. Stressful and confusing. I did not regret my choice to remain single.

In the room I could hear the tables turning. I could hear Patty’s voice lower in pitch as she surreptitiously asked who Fred was. Denying knowing any Fred other than me and denying sleeping with me. I wondered if Ted knew it wasn’t out of lack of trying. God knows I’ve seen Patty naked too many times to count. It was time for me to leave. I walked out of the room into the living room, put on my shies and picked up my car keys. I said a brief good morning to Patty and walked out of the house. Mid way I turned back and poked my head through the door

“Next week? Same time?” I asked looking at Ted with my eyebrows raised higher than my hopes.

“Sure” he murmured.

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