Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Streak - 29

Lisa opened the door in her baby-blue terrycloth bathrobe. She held a small marijuana pipe in her left hand, the classic high schooler's model with the threaded-pipe stem in an orange plexiglass tube. A wisp of pungent smoke curled from the embers in the bowl.

"Guys! Evan!" she exclaimed. Kisses on the cheek. "Evan, there are two dudes here for you," she said with a look of mild consternation.

"I'm not in the mood to broaden my sexual horizons tonight, Leese."

She swatted him on the shoulder.

"No, they're from the Yankees. They want to talk to you."

"Who are they?"

"I don't know. Two guys. Two dudes."

"Do you know them? Do I know them?"

"I don't know. I don't know. They're wearing jackets. Come in."

Evan and Kyle followed Lisa into the living room. Jackie was sitting on the couch beside some Latina girl they didn't know. Sugar Carrol, the Yanks' embattled, big-swinging outfielder, sat beside the girl, his enormous chest twisted to face her, his left arm suggestively perched along the top of the cushion behind her head, his wrist bejeweled with a magnificent diamond bracelet. The two men, wearing matching navy jackets and khaki pants, sat primly in chairs on the other side of the coffee table.

"Sug, what's up," said Evan. Fist bump. "Jackie." A dainty handshake. "And what's your name?"

"Melinda."

"Melissa, nice to meet you." Evan leaned low to shake her hand and Kyle did the same.

"Melinda."

"Melinda, sorry."

The two men waited courteously for the ritual of greeting to end before rising in tandem.

"Evan Benjaminson?"

"Yeah?"

"My name's Joe Maines. This is Matt Gillis. We're from the Yankees."

"I'm from the Yankees too."

Joe smiled patronizingly. "Can we have a word with you in Lisa's bedroom?"

Evan glanced reflexively at Lisa, who made a puzzled shrug.

"Yeah, sure."

Evan followed the men into Lisa's gloriously disordered lair, a comforting and familiar place to him. It was a low-lit sanctum of modern femininity: bras and silky blouses hanging on the back of a boudoir chair, pants piled on its seat; shelves of romances and tchotchke souvenirs; a mini-stereo with CDs stacked erratically beside it; a flat-screen television draped with a negligee; a forest of moisturizers, hairsprays and perfumes cluttering a faux-Louis dresser; fuck-me pumps strewn underfoot and an unmade bed, sheets agape, for her to fall into with a man. The scent of rose and jasmine permeated the air.

"Let's sit on Lisa's bed," said Joe.

Evan tossed aside a pair of sheer panties and sat on the end of the bed. Joe and Matt sat down on either side.

"We understand you have a double," said Joe.

"An impersonator," said Matt.

"A doppelganger, if you will."

"Jesus Christ. How do you guys know–"

Joe waved off Evan's question. "Don't worry how we know. We know."

"We know," echoed Matt.

"Are you OK, Evan? You're sweaty," Joe observed.

"I... I've been... I have been sweating..." Evan stammered.

"Are you high?" Matt said.

"That's OK, you can answer him," Joe reassured.

"What?"

"You can answer him. We do not make heads or tails of what you do with drugs. Not our department," said Matt.

"Not our department."

"What department are you... in?"

"The name of our department is Special Player Relations. I'm the Assistant to the Secretary of Special Player Relations."

"What's Joe?"

"Joe's the Secretary of Special Player Relations."

Joe nodded solemnly. "So you can tell us in the strictest confidence. Acid? Crack? PCP?"

"PCP, dust? A little dust?"

"A little meth, a little crystal meth?"

"Heroin? You can tell us, Evan. Why, we were just getting high ourselves, weren't we, Joe?"

Matt leaned back and smiled at Joe behind Evan's back.

Joe chuckled. "That's right, Matt. Hear that, Evan? Matt and I were getting high. With Lisa."

"I'm high on ecstasy," Evan confided. "Really pretty high, actually."

Joe and Matt nodded and smiled admiringly.

"Nice!" said Joe.

"Nice!" said Matt. "A little E on a windy night."

They all sat in smiling silence for a moment.

"So, back to your predicament. Your double," announced Joe.

"Your other you," said Matt, patting Evan on the back.

"This isn't an unusual situation, Evan," Joe continued.

"Not unprecedented," said Matt.

"Not by any means unprecedented. We're here to help you, how should I put it?" Joe gazed at the vanity above Lisa's dresser.

"Navigate the situation," Matt offered.

"Yeah. That's right," said Joe. "We want to help you make the most of this very peculiar, very delicate situation."

"Make the most of it?!"

"No, I wouldn't say the most of it," said Matt, looking behind Evan to Joe.

"Yeah, no," said Joe. "Not the most of it, exactly. The least of it?"

"That's more like it. We're going to make sure you make the least of it. If that makes any sense at all," said Matt.

"OK. I guess so," said Evan. "What, uh... what do I do?"

"Here's the first thing you do," said Joe, tapping his left palm with his right fist for emphasis.

"This comes first. This is important," added Matt.

"What?"

Joe gripped Evan by the shoulder to focus his intoxicated consciousness.

"Continue to behave exactly as you have behaved before."

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