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I opened my eyes at 9:15 a.m.
Fuck. I sat up on my bed and looked around my room. I'm late. My eyes focused on a body next to me. What the fuck? Oh, shit! Ralph. It came back to me in a flash: getting high, asking Ralph over, fucking him, showering, and fucking him again. I noticed a pounding in my head. Oh right, I thought, we also downed a shitload of booze after the second fucking. Now I woke up, 10 minutes before my environmental science lecture, hung over and tired as shit. I sighed, got up from my bed, and headed to the kitchen to brew some coffee while I changed clothes and got ready for class.
"Hey, A." I looked back from my room's door to see Ralph sprawled across my bed, his hand reaching over to the empty space I left on the bed. "Come back."
I could hear the exhaustion in his voice and I smiled, "Nah, Ralph, I have class. I really have to go. I'll be gone all day today, but you can see yourself out whenever you want."
"Mmhmm." Ralph rolled over and went back to sleep. I gave a small laugh and went back to brewing myself some coffee. I was going to have to come back to my apartment after I got out of my classes to shower and get ready for my date with Kass tonight.
Damn, Kass. I cheated on her- twice. Even if I hadn't cheated, I always knew we weren't going to work out. I kept going over this as I changed into school clothes and went to the restroom to brush my teeth. I didn't have time ľor the patience- to comb my hair so I decided on wearing a baseball cap. If I tried hard enough, my professors wouldn't be able to tell I was hung over. The coffee I made should keep me up for a while, too. I texted Kass if we were still on for tonight, poured some coffee in coffee mug, and rushed out the door. I walked into class 20 minutes late, luckily, Sebastian and Carol had saved me a seat between them.
"Damn, Alex," Carol looked me over as I sat down between her and Sebastian, "someone had a rough night, huh?"
I looked at her, "I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, please Alex, you smell like booze, your eyes are bloodshot, and you're late. You're never late."
"Yeah, and that cap isn't doing much to hide your sex hair either."
I grabbed my cap and looked at Sebastian, "I don't have sex hair."
"Yeah," he looked at my cap, smiled and turned to face the professor, "OK."
"It's fine, Alex," Mari poked me in the ribs. "You're a grown-ass guy. You and Kass are allowed to have sex."
Thankfully, they both dropped the topic as the professor went back to writing and discussing environmental science topics. Thirty minutes into our discussion, my phone vibrated- it was Kass:
"Hey Alex, sorry I just had time to check my phone. I know you're in class right now, but just wanted to let you know I won't be able to make it tonight or tomorrow at Emma's party. My dad received a call this morning- his brother passed away last night and we're headed up state to be with the rest of the family. I'm sorry I couldn't say goodbye in person but it all happened really fast. We'll be back by next weekend maybe, or as long as my dad needs us up here with him."
I texted back:
"Oh, hey. No, I understand. I'm sorry to hear about your dad's loss. Dive safely and wish your dad the best from me."
"That your boyfriend?" Sebastian whispered to me, teasingly, still facing the front of the class.
I whispered back, "Nah, Seb. I left my boyfriend at home," I was only half kidding after all, but Sebastian didn't need to know that. "It's Kass. We were supposed to meet tonight because she's going out of town but now she won't be able to make it. Some family business came up."
"Well, sucks to suck, A."
"Yeah, we were supposed to meet at El Vaso". I copied down a diagram the professor was drawing on the board. "It was supposed to be our one month anniversary date."
"Well, at least now you can take your boyfriend."
I looked at him and have him a teasing, half smile. "Fuck you. I don't have a boyfriend- unless this is you showing interest in me?"
"Nah, just teasing here, A. Ha-ha."
We spent the remainder of the lecture listening to our professor and writing down notes.
The rest of my day was rather uneventful. I attended the rest of my classes and headed back to my apartment for a nap. Walking into my apartment, I noticed that it felt empty. Ralph must have left while I was at school. I headed to my room and noticed that my bed was made and someone had sprayed Febreze. I smiled. If this is what Ralph did after we fucked, I should have him over more often. I laid on my bed and stared at the ceiling.
Damn. Friday night and I'm going to be bored as fuck at home.
Kass was out of town. Carol was going to go out with her boyfriend. Sebastian was out with his girlfriend. Ralph was out with his friends.
I stood up from my bed and took my phone out. I typed a quick message and pressed send:
"Hey Ralph. So plans changed and I'm free tonight. Does the
offer still stand to go out with your friends?"
I waited a total of five minutes for a response:
"Hey, A! Yeah, man offer still stands. Meet us at Roadhouse
Well, I thought, this should take my mind off of tonight.
I got to Roadhouse ten minutes early because I had nothing to do at home, and if I was going to wait somewhere, it might as well be in a nice parking space. I passed the time jamming out to the radio. It was halfway through a Maroon 5 song when a knock on my passenger window made me jump.
"What the- Ralph what the hell?"
I unlocked the door and allowed Ralph into my car.
"Hey Alex, what are you doing waiting in your car?"
"Well, I was ready a while ago but it was still very early. So instead of waiting at my apartment, I came over to wait here."
"And you couldn't wait inside?" He gave me a crooked smile.
"Well, no. That'd be embarrassing."
He squinted his eyes at me and smiled. "Right, because you're a shy guy."
I smiled back at him. "Yeah, I am."
His eyebrows furrowed. "So why are you here, A? I thought you were busy today."
"Well," I started, "Kass had an emergency so she'll be out of town all week. I was home alone and, I don't know, I guess I didn't want to be."
Because I'd be thinking of Sebastian all night.
"Because it was a slow night and I wanted to go out and drink with someone."
"Well," he punched me in the arm, "you were right to want to come out with us, Alex. You'll have a good time and you won't even be thinking about that Sebastian fellow."
"I- uh- I didn't mention Sebastian."
"Oh, right." He smiled at me as he opened the passenger door to get out, "So come on. Let's go inside."
Ralph took me to where his friends were sitting at near the bar. I noticed that they were looking up at the television to a basketball game. Ralph introduced me to his friends Josh and Lea. They were friendly enough in that they welcomed me into the group and said my first beer was on them. We spent a good chunk of time drinking our beer, eating some cheese fries, and watching the game. In that time I learned that Josh knew Ralph from when they both took government together freshman year. Lea was one of Ralph's closest friends from high school and, luckily, they had stayed friends throughout all this time. Josh was good looking, I noticed. His body looked like he worked out often. He wasn't a body builder but he did have more muscle mass than Ralph and me. Lea was pretty. She was thin with long brown hair and hazel eyes.
When Josh and Ralph stood up to go use the restroom, Lea leaned in from across the table and smiled at me. "So, I hear you're the latest guy to use Ralph as a boy toy?"
My eyes grew large and I could feel my cheeks get hot. "What? No. I don't know what-"
"Relax," She laughed, "Ralph and I tell each other everything. I don't care what you both do in your free time, really."
"Oh," I relaxed a bit. It might have been the booze, but for some reason I felt like I could trust Lea. Maybe it was her eyes. "Yeah, well it was only last night in my apartment."
She smiled at me, "And once in the locker rooms?" She laughed as my face got even redder. "It's cool ha-ha. What I'm curious about is this Sebastian guy Ralph told me about."
"Yeah, Sebastian. Ralph says you like the guy but there's some drama there."
"Yeah." I looked down at my hands. "There's some drama there. He has a girlfriend and a little baby girl."
"Oh," I could hear genuine concern in her voice. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"Yeah," I agreed. "It feels worse having to go through it, though. I was- I was actually thinking about transferring to Austin after this semester. I was always on the edge on that. Maybe this is a sign telling me to do it."
"Well, you should know," she reached out to grab my hand, "from what Ralph tells me, you're a great guy. Anyone would be lucky to have you." She smiled, and I genuinely believed she meant it.
Ralph and Josh got back from the restroom and the atmosphere took on a lighter tone. We were back to joking around, eating, and drinking. Apparently, Josh was the only one in the table that didn't know Ralph and I had had sex last night. He didn't even know that Ralph was bisexual. I realized this when he had asked how Ralph's girlfriend was doing.
"She's doing fine actually man." Ralph looked from Lea to me. "Her classes over at Austin are keeping her pretty busy, but she says she should be down for the Thanksgiving break."
A commotion paused our conversation as the team we were rooting for scored another three pointer. It seemed like the whole section of the bar we were sitting in was rooting for the same team. Something caught my attention from the corner of my eye- it was the employees of the restaurant getting ready to sing their signature birthday song. They would ambush (yes, ambush) the birthday person, sing them the Roadhouse birthday song, and have them take a picture on top of a saddle. This happened so often, you just learned to tune it off- it had happened three times since Ralph and I showed up tonight. For some reason, this one had caught my attention. As the employees finished their song with a "hurrah", I saw a girl get off the saddle and sit down with her back towards me. She was sitting across from a guy that looked vaguely familiar. I squinted my eyes to get a better look.
I turned away from the direction he and his girlfriend were sitting in and faced the television again. Of all the places in this stupid town...
I noticed Lea look at me, her eyebrows furrowed in concern. I smiled at her, took a sip from my beer and looked up at the television. The rest of the hour was spent by me downing drinks and trying- really trying- to not look over at the table where Sebastian and Emma were sitting. Once in a while, I would forget and my eyes wandered over to where they were both sitting. I couldn't see Emma's face, but I could see Sebastian's. He was happy, laughing, and smiling at the woman in front of her.
I turned my head back faster than I meant to and saw Lea looking at me. Ralph and Josh were still watching the game from the television above us. "Sorry, what's up?"
"The waitress wanted to know if you needed anything else."
I looked to my right and noticed the waitress for the first time. "Oh, I'm sorry. No, thank you. Could you bring me my check though, please? Thanks." The waitress nodded and headed off to get me my tab.
"Alex, are you ok?" Lea whispered to me. "Yeah I am." I smiled at her. "I just forgot I had to go do something right now."
She raised her eyebrows "At 10:00pm?"
"Yeah. Look, I'm sorry." Ralph and Josh turned away from the television and looked at me. "I have to go guys. Tonight's been great. Thank you so much for letting me tag along, Ralph." I gave one last look at Sebastian and Emma's direction and looked back to see the waitress coming back with my tab. I signed the receipt, payed the waitress in cash and told her to keep the change. Ralph must have sensed something was wrong and looked towards the direction I had just turned to but must not have seen Sebastian. I stood up, waved goodbye to everyone, and walked out the building towards my car.
Ok. That was weird.
Ralph looked at Alex's back as he walked out of the building. He was debating whether or not to follow him when someone gripped his shoulder.
"Hey, Ralph. What's up?"
Ralph looked back to see Sebastian standing over him, offering his hand in a shake.
"Oh, hey Sebastian." Ralph shook his hand and looked towards Lea. Lea raised her eyebrows and understood immediately. They were close like that. "This is Lea and Josh." Sebastian nodded at the two. "They're friends of mine. You seemed to have just missed Alex, however."
"Oh, Alex was here?" Sebastian looked around.
"Yeah, he just left though. He said something came up." Before Sebastian could ask anything else, Ralph said, "So what are you doing here, Sebastian? Thought you had your girlfriend's birthday today."
Sebastian looked back towards his table to where he had left Emma sitting down. "Yeah, Emma's over there. I had to take a piss and saw you at the bar. I didn't see Alex, though."
Well, the poor guy probably saw you, though.
"Yeah, well. You just missed him, ha-ha."
Sebastian looked towards the door. "Yeah, that sucks. I'll see him tomorrow, though. Well I'll let you guys be then. I really do need to piss." Sebastian nodded at Lea and Josh again and walked back in the direction of the restrooms. Josh went back to watching the game on the screen above them while Ralph shot Lea one last look.
I drove downtown. Out of all the places he could have taken her, Sebastian choose the same place I was in. Damn my luck. Before I knew it, I had parked a block away from El Vaso. I got out of my car and started walking. Downtown was dead at 10:00PM, the only thing that could be heard was the music and people from El Vaso. I walked inside, headed towards the bar, sat down, and looked around. There were no familiar faces at El Vaso tonight. I ordered a few shots from the bartender. Whatever else happened tonight, I was going to get hammered. I downed the first two shots as soon as I got them and ordered two more. The burning in my throat matched the burning in my head.
Fuck Sebastian for being happy with Emma.
I knew, rationally, that it wasn't his fault, but fuck if I wasn't still angry at him. And why the hell- why the hell would he even ask me to sing for his fucking girlfriend. I downed another shot. After all the time we've spent together, he couldn't get the hint that I liked him? I know he's taken, but fuck, he hasn't done anything to discourage me either. I downed another shot. I wasted all my fucking time teaching him how to play guitar and then the fucker ditches me at the last second. No. Fuck Sebastian. I spent a few more minutes letting the alcohol work its way into my system and cursing my luck.
"Hey, haven't seen you around here lately."
I blinked three times before I looked up to see who was talking to me. It was the piano player from weeks ago. My drunken brain couldn't remember his name, but instead of playing it cool, I said, "I don't remember your name white piano player."
"Ha-ha. Is that what you're calling me then, Alex? White piano player?"
I had to blink three more times as the alcohol was finally getting to me. "Uhu."
White piano player smiled. "It's Jay. Jay Cook."
I looked at Jay Cook's brown eyes and like the smooth guy I am, I said, "Cook. Like a cook. "
"Ha-ha. Right. Cook, like a cook." My phone vibrated and I saw that it was a text from Sebastian. I didn't read it. Instead, I cleared the notification, put it back in my pocket and downed the last shot I had bought. Jake raised his eyebrow, "Are you avoiding someone, Alex."
"Yeah- no. No, I'm not. But yeah, I'm not." Smooth.
"Well," John smiled, "I'm about to do my last song right now, Alex. Why don't you stay and tell me more about the person you're not avoiding." Jay patted my shoulder and I stared at his frame as he headed back onstage. He sat in front of a piano and placed the microphone closer to his mouth. "Hello everybody. Jay here. So this last song goes out to my friend at the bar." Jay nodded in my direction; I stared at him like the drunk fool I was. "He's been having a rough night. Hope he feels better. If you know it feel free to sing along. The song is Elastic Heart by Sia."
"And another one bites the dust.
Oh, why can I not conquer love?
And I might have thought that we were one.
Wanted to fight this war without weapons."
I smiled at John's song choice and sang along with him from the bar stool I was sitting in.
"And I wanted it- I wanted it bad.
But there were so many red flags.
Now another one bites the dust.
Yeah, let's be clear I'll trust no one."
I stared at the way John's fingers floated through the keyboard. I had always wanted to learn but I was never able to move my fingers fast enough. I have always been too slow, apparently.
"And I want it- I want my life so bad.
I'm doing everything I can.
And another one bites the dust.
It's hard to lose the chosen one."
I took my phone out of my pocket and read Sebastian's text:
"Hey, A. Just missed you at Road House. Where'd the fk you go? You should have come taken a shot with Emma and me."
Maybe it was my drunken brain or maybe it was the song getting to me, but I made a decision. I typed out a quick reply:
"Hey, I'm drunk but I'm moving to Austin next semester because fuck it here. Tell Emma I said Happy Birthday."
Without re-reading or thinking about it I pressed send, turned my phone off, and looked back up at John.
"You did not break me.
I'm still fighting for peace.
Yeah, I've got a thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade it might be too sharp.
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard.
Yeah, I may snap and I go fast.
You won't see me fall apart
`Cause I've got an elastic heart.
I've got an elastic heart."
I clapped with the rest of the audience as Jay said his thanks and came back to sitting next to me.
"That was nice, piano guy," I said.
"Thank you, drunk guy," he said.
I smiled and felt my head spin. "I'm drunk."
Jay laughed, "Ha-ha, yes, you are. Do you want to talk about why you got hammered tonight?"
I grabbed Jay's shoulder and squeezed. "No, thanks, Jay Jay. I should- I should go home now, actually."
"Right, Alex, you should. Just not your own. You're obviously too drunk to drive anywhere." He held me as I tried to get up and nearly fell on my face. "How about I drive you home and have a buddy pick me up? How's that sound, Alex?"
In my mind I looked up at him but in reality I was probably barely able to hold up my head, "Yes, double J. That sounds good." Five minutes later, I was being driven home by a person I had only just gotten to know. Jay parked in my apartments ten minutes later after having looked up my address on his phone. I had tried to give him directions but, after I told him to turn into a one-way street, he had decided it'd be best to just use his phone. Jay carried me up the stairs and walked me into my second story apartment. He sat me on my couch and laid me on my side as he placed my keys on my coffee table.
"Well, this was great, Alex. I'll be going now."
Without looking up I mumbled, "Thank you, Piano Guy. You were very nice today. I had a shitty day."
"Ha-Ha, yeah, I could tell, Alex. Well, I'll be waiting downstairs for my ride. I guess I'll see you around then, buddy."
"Yeah," my eyes were closed, I was exhausted. "I'll see you around, Piano Guy. Don't tell Sebastian, though."
"Ha-ha. Well, I don't know who Sebastian is but OK, I won't. Night, Alex." Jay turned around, walked out, and left me passed out on my couch.