No no...it's TEASER TUESDAY!!
This is the first page of something YOU WILL NOT RECOGNIZE.
He ignores me and changes lanes, his arms draped over the steering wheel. His cuticles are bloody rags. Boy.
“Only children bite their nails, Noel.”
His eyes flicker behind his sunglasses. “I’m aware.” He doesn’t close the sunroof.
The radio hisses soft static. We can’t agree on music. Drops of water bounce in and slide down the dashboard.
“Consequently, I’m getting wet.”
Noel finally cracks a smile. “Quiet now,” he says, but he turns the knob and the sunroof slides shut.
About half an hour ago we left the Baltimore Beltway and changed to softer suburban roads. Now we turn frequently and wait for the stoplights. The rain against the hood sounds like a typewriter. Noel’s ruined fingertips tap the steering wheel while I stare at a red light. The message is clear: we’re almost there.
“I’m thinking we don’t go tonight,” he says.
I look at him.
It’s not like I don’t understand his position. It’s just that my entire life is about not going places.
“I mean, it’s getting sort of late.” He indicates the 7:03 flashing beside the speedometer. “Maybe we just check into the hotel tonight. Call Mom and let her know we arrived all safe and sound. And worry about, you know, the family. Tomorrow.”
He’s freaking out. Unbelievable. Noel tends to cycle—-he goes from stagnant to hyperactive, like a bipolar toddler. Freaking out, however, is not part of either of these stages.
“You’re freaking out.”
“I’m not. I just don’t think it’s right to emotionally tax ourselves tonight.”
My fingers crawl into my pocket and I withdraw the two creased photographs. There’s Mariah, striking as always against the old electric factory I used as a backdrop. There’s Josh, trying to be serious for the camera, and I can see right into his mind...loyal, my ass...how could I have been so stupid...all he wanted to do was touch her. Always.
Noel snatches the picture out of my hands. “Especially considering how close you are to some kind of dementia.”
I cross my arms. “Shut up.”
“Look, you’re grieving,” he continues, and our green arrow lights up. We turn left. Noel makes his pretentious voice. “You’re grieving for a seemingly timeless relationship with the seemingly perfect best friend that disintegrated as you walked in on him undressing your girlfriend. Oh, Josh, how could you? Thirteen years of near-brotherhood washed down the drain. The shock, the anguish. Oh, to be sixteen and backstabbed again. These are the happiest days of your life, Ian. Lavish.”
“Have I mentioned shut up?”
“And you’re just trying to change the subject,” I say. “You’re seriously chickening out?”
He is no longer smiling. “Fuck off,” he says, the predictable shut-out. “We’re going tomorrow.”
I pull my knees up and stare out the window. I would do well to remember that Noel and I are not close. Sometimes we get along so well that I forget.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
No no...it's TEASER TUESDAY!!