Courtney declared the evening a success, so it was a success. Toward the end some actor I didn’t know showed up, but Court relegated him to the “B-list at best” and we didn’t intersect.
When we got home, Chris informed us that Claire had gone to bed, so him and me and Court and Colin walked down to Pho Pasteur for a late dinner and got in just before they closed. My pager went off about halfway through the meal with a New York number I didn’t recognize and I decided to finish eating before running off to answer it. Court had a bowl of soup bigger than her head and was picking out long white noodles with her chopsticks and slurping them up one by one. I had a nest of tangled thin noodles with grilled meat on top and so many fresh mint and basil leaves it should have qualified as a salad.
Chris and Court and Colin had an easy dynamic among them that I’d never noticed before. I suppose that happens after you’ve lived together long enough. The three of them ragged on each other constantly in a way that they didn’t do with me, which made me wonder what was different.
“She still hasn’t told us what she wants for graduation,” Chris said to me at one point in his most earnest tone of voice, making no attempt to hide the conversation from her.
“You guys, you know you don’t have to get me anyth—”
“So I’m thinking about renting her a Chippendale–”
“Could have him deliver a dozen roses and a lap dance, you know?” Chris mimed taking off a piece of clothing and gave an exaggerated wink, which set the whole table to cracking up laughing. A small smile of satisfaction curved his mouth.
Courtney poked Colin in the shoulder. “Did your girlfriend get over her baby mania?”
“Raelyn, you mean? No. Her biological clock is ringing louder than Big Ben.” He shook his head. “On the one hand, great, we’re having lots of sex. On the other hand…” He looked down at his lap. “I’m getting fucking chafed, man.”
Laughter all around.
“Tell her to adopt a kitten or something,” Chris said.
“Or a puppy.”
“How about a parrot.”
“Yeah, then she’ll have someone to talk to,” Court said, prompting more laughs.
“I talk!” Colin protested.
Courtney sniffed. “Yeah, if you count accounting and lube as proper topics of conversation.”
Colin came right back with, “Hey, lube is important. Especially since until she gets over wanting me to inseminate her I’ve been using the back door exclusively.”
I think that was supposed to make Court blush, but she just laughed harder. It was me who blushed suddenly. It took real effort not to squirm in my chair. I concentrated on finishing the rest of my noodles. I picked up the whole bowl and drank the tangy, spicy sauce that had pooled at the bottom and then set it back down. “You guys are nuts.”
“Dry roasted and salted,” Chris agreed.
I decided I loved them a lot, you know? Even if I felt a little outside of their housemate mojo right then.
“I gotta return a page. I’m going to run back to the house.” I left a twenty dollar bill on the table and they waved me goodbye.
Out on the street a car went flying by full of recent graduates with their windows open, stereo blaring, streamers flying from the bumper and congratulations messages painted onto the doors. The bar with the huge beer list had a line out the door and so did the ice cream parlor. In another week the town would empty out, though. Once Northeastern and BU and BC all had their graduations, something like half the population would leave. But for now, Boston was the partiest of all party towns.
Our street was quiet by comparison, with only a couple of small parties I could hear through the open windows to some apartments. Inside the house it was still and dark. I crept up to the room where Claire was sleeping and could hear the hum of the window AC unit. Somehow that dampened my paranoia that anything had happened to her. I went to my room.
I was half expecting the page to be from Ziggy — or maybe hoping — so I lay down while the phone was ringing. It went to a voice mail box where the voice said, “Same old office but newfangled phone system. Leave a message and maybe I’ll even figure out how to play it back.”
It sounded like Artie. I left him the following message. “This is Daron calling you back. What’re you doing in the office at 11 o’clock at night? I’m at home.” I rattled off the number and hung up.
Then I lay there wondering what Artie could want to talk about this late at night. I also tried to call Ziggy, didn’t reach him, and ended up paging him. Wanna take bets on who called me back first?
(I’m on the road the next two weeks! Here’s hoping the website runs smoothly while I’m gone. I’ll keep an eye on the tip jar in case we get to $100! -ctan)