Saturday, April 3, 2010

Out of My Depth

Charlie’s spooning garlicky broth into mushrooms. He closes the oven, slaps my back, lights a pipe, and hands it to me. “Borrowed a blender from Kitty. Piña coladas first and then tapas.” The kitchen opens to the outside from a half-wall. So we lean against a counter covered with food, sharing a smoke, and staring at the horizon’s colors mirrored in the bay.

“Emma,” I call up to her, “what’re you doing?” That’s how uncomfortable Charlie’s making me. Without her to deflect his presence, I’m ready to murder him.

(click here to read the first episode and here  for the previous one)

“Give me five minutes,” she calls down.

Maybe if I get high enough, the queasiness will let up. Charlie passes me the pipe. “You and Emma are made for each other.”

“Glad you think so.” I raise my voice. “Come on, Emma, we’re ready to eat.”

She calls down, “Let’s see you put eye make-up on in a rush!”

“Eye make-up?”

Charlie nods. “Tonight’s an occasion. We’re leaving in forty-eight hours.” He snorts two fat bumps off the back of his hand. “The thing is, now that you’ve found her, you wanna dump me.”

“Fuck, Charlie, no reason to go there. Why can’t you just leave it alone?”

“I’m being honest,” he says. “We’ve got a real ugly, real weird situation going on.” He’s tossing fruit and rum and crushed ice into the blender. “Before Emma, you and women were always like one, two, three. Nothing about them…what’s the word I’m looking for?…ever illuminated you.”

He adds an extra shot of dark rum to the drinks. “Emma’s different and I can see why you’re so overwrought about her. But that’s no reason to panic because I’m around. She likes me, Scott, so what’s wrong with you? I mean, you kept up this front even in Pavones.” He reads my face and holds up his palm. “I know, I know. You practically drowned, serious concussion, et cetera. But it only happened ’cause you were desperate to run away. Why else go totally ace past the black ball sign? When in Pavones everything’s frothin’ brutal for us anyway.”

“Black ball sign?”

“The kid, what’s his name, Hector said you were wrecked surfing out of bounds.”

“I never saw anything saying it was dangerous.”

“This little problem between us, Scott? The way I see it is, if you just drugged up more, you’d realize what’s happening. It’s not a conscious thing. Even that snake bite. It happened when you knew—at least you should have known—I was about a month away.”

“I’m flattered, Charlie, really. You think you and I are so goddamned tight I’m about to check out for a little distance?”

“Food for thought, anyway.” He hands me a piña colada and I swallow half of it in a gulp. He does likewise, but that’s how Charlie drinks. 

Jesus! Emma!” Charlie staggers back like he’s shocked at how spectacular she looks.

She kisses his cheek and lifts the lone drink on the counter, her eyes darting between us, before, during, and after her first sip.

She’s wearing a dress that’s one shade lighter than her tan. Enough ocean; enough sky; Emma’s the only incredible view here. So while Charlie’s basting mushrooms, my hands slide over her till she puts her drink down.

“Hey, Scott.” She holds her voice half a notch up from a whisper. “Lighten up. We had this afternoon; we’ve got tonight. Why be rude?”

“I’m not rude, you’re entrapping me.” I pull her into me and she stumbles.

“So radical,” Charlie says, referring to who knows what. He hands me another drink. “Cheers!” and gulps down a fresh one himself.  

Emma puts her arm around me and says, “Nobody’s entrapping you, Scott. You’re totally free.”

“I am free; nobody freer.”

“We’re having fun now,” Charlie says.

“More fun than fun, aren’t we, Scott?” She nudges me toward him to kiss and make-up. 

If only I could.

(click here for the next episode)

1 comment:

Dan Leo said...

Some friends are just too intense to have around after a while. I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines from Henry de Montherlant's "The Girls", where the "hero" is explaining to his girlfriend why he doesn't want to get married (this is from memory, so bear with me): "I don't even want to see my best friend more than once every two years; why would I want to be with you every day of my life?"

I think once every two years sounds about right for old Charlie...