Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Streak - 31

Matt and Joe exited in a flurry of hugs and handshakes, everyone bright-eyed and nodding, genial, aglow in the gestalt of group intoxication and mindful of its few and simple rules: Agree with everything and everyone. Smile. Don't be a drag.

"Thank you, Lisa," said Joe.

"It was fun! You guys are fun! Come back!"

"We don't come when we're invited. But thanks!"

"Come whenever!"

"Evan!" Joe said. "We'll find you if you need us, OK?"

"If and when you need us," added Joe.

"OK guys," said Evan. "Uh, thanks for everything."

"Remember what we talked about!" Joe said, winking.

"Be me?"

Joe gave a thumbs up.

"Be you, man, be you! No one else can be you," added Matt. "Be Evan Benjaminson!"

"Others may well try," said Evan.

"Fuck them!" said Kyle abruptly.

"Fuck the fake you!" said Joe salutarily, a finger in the air and one foot out the door. When it was finally closed behind them the others turned toward Evan.

"So who the fuck were they and what the fuck did they want?" asked Kyle.

"They know about my double."

"How do they–"

"The guy I saw?" asked Jackie.

"Yeah, that fucking guy."

"How do we know–"

"How do they know about him?" asked Kyle.

"Jesus, I don't know. Lisa–"

"How do we know he's not–"

"The team always knows shit like this," Sugar offered.

"How do we know he's not you and you're not him?"

Kyle and Lisa shot Jackie a look of reproach.

"I'm joking, I'm kidding!"

"Lisa, did you–"

"No, I was on the phone with you and then they rang my bell."

"Jackie, what about you?"

"I didn't tell no one, Ev. 'Xept the people in this room."

Sugar gave Evan a brotherly slap on the arm. "So what did they tell you?"

"They told me, they told me, they told me to..."

"The suspense is killing us," said Kyle.

"They told me to do nothing."

"Do nothing?" asked Lisa. "Like, go home and do nothing?"

"No, no. Do nothing different. Nothing different than before."

"Do nothing you wouldn't do?" asked Kyle.

"Nothing I wouldn't do. Nothing I haven't done already."

"That means we can go play pool," said Kyle.

"Pool's a good idea. Pool will settle my mind."

"Sugar, wanna come?"

"No thanks, man. Gonna keep the ladies company."

After elaborate goodbyes, Evan and Kyle set out into the city night again, bound this time for their preferred pool hall, a Midtown lair of wood and polished brass with private rooms and a discreet staff.

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