“Hi,” I said as I slid into the booth next to the bored-looking blonde, “I’m Max.”
“Are you the wingman?” she asked.
She glared at me. “You know what I mean.”
With a cartoonishly eager face, I looked at her. “Please tell me.”
“You’re the one who’s supposed to distract the ugly friend while your partner swoops in on the more attractive one.”
I frowned and turned to the other side of the nightclub, where Sean was in the process of swooping in on the more attractive one. However, using her as a point of comparison was hardly fair. She was simply the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen; keep in mind that I still carried a massive torch for my gorgeous, elegant ex-girlfriend, so that’s saying quite a bit.
The thing was, Sean was terrible at this, which was odd, considering how many ex-wives he had collected. She was also not so great at this. It was like watching two pre-adolescents learning to waltz while their parents coached them using semaphore.
Ordinarily, I would have left him to it while I found a place to drink in which I didn’t have to be audience to this. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t tolerate being dispatched to distract the ordinary friend. This, however, was no ordinary friend. Nobody who filled out a camisole the way she did could be described as ordinary. Besides, there was something delightful about her cynicism. This meant that I knew in advance she’d consider the next thing I would say to be utter bullshit. I said it anyway: “She has an ugly friend?”
She growled, “Don’t start.”
“Let me make this simple,” I told her. “If I were only here to distract you, I wouldn’t be asking you to leave with me for someplace quieter, and with better lighting.”
“Really.” She still looked skeptical.
“Okay,” I sighed, “let me make this simpler.” I reached over and caressed her cheek with my thumb, guiding her closer to me.
And then, just before our lips had a chance to touch, a voice looming over us declared, “Max, I believe it is time for us to converse exclusively with each other.”
“What the hell did he just say?” the blonde whispered to me.
“That he’s an asshole who has no idea how to interact with human beings,” I replied. To Sean, I said, “I believe no such thing.”
“Your beliefs are irrelevant.”
“I think I should go,” she said.
With a flick of my wrist, my business card appeared in front of her face. “I’d like to continue this conversation,” I told her.
She plucked it out of my hand as she stood up to collect her attractive friend. “Maybe.”
As I followed him to the bar, a petulant silence thickened between us that I was determined not to shatter. Frankly, I didn’t give even the tiniest of shits about what was pissing him off.
My stubbornness outlasted his, and he snapped, “Please explain to me the purpose of that exchange.”
“I was being your wingman,” I reminded him.
“You were far exceeding the duty for which I enlisted you.”
“I don’t do anything half-assed, Sean.”
“Thus I must ask, has it become a necessity to refresh your memory, vis-à-vis our wager?”
“Indeed,” he replied. “Only ninety-four days have passed since we reached this agreement.”
“It’s only been three months?”
“And a smattering of days.”
“Fuck.” I reached for my wallet, took out three dollar bills, and slapped them onto the bar.
“And what, pray tell, is the purpose of that?”
I looked at him and then back to the bar.
He looked at the bar and then back at me. “You’ve engaged in coitus?”
“I believe there might have been some kind of miscommunication,” he told me. “If I recall correctly, the wager had originally been set for one dollar. Two, if the object of said fornication was your neighbor.”
“My mistake.” I tossed three more dollars onto the bar.
“We had not actually negotiated the terms to that degree of specificity.”
I took out six more dollars. “It’s the spirit of the thing.”
“What about heavy petting and groping through clothing?” I asked. “Oh, the hell with it,” I muttered and tossed two more dollars onto the pile.
“There are no words in my vocabulary, Max Fuentes, that adequately describe the tenor of the loathing I feel for you right now.”