23 Apr

Missed Opportunities (part 5)

So I decided to purge myself. “Jake, I gotta tell you something. Back at your apartment, Julie asked if I was gonna sneak another kiss on her. I’m assuming Colin snuck the first one.”

“Really. She told you that?” He bit his lower lip.

“Sorry, man. I know how unnerving that can be.” I remembered how much I’d hated Eric Two once I realized he’d met Maggie. It was invasion of privacy at its worst.

Jake was silent for a long time. I half-expected him to knife me right there in the car. But when he finally spoke, he sounded casual, friendly. “Well, at least it wasn’t more than a kiss.”

Impressive optimism, if you ask me. I mean, we’re all insecure enough when it comes to relationships. But Jake and I had the added complication of Random Identical Guy showing up to steal the girl.

He patted my shoulder. “You’re a good guy, you know that?”

I had a sudden urge to hug him. No one really understands you like these guys do.

“You got a good knife?” he said.

So much for sentimentality. I managed an “um.”

“Look in the glove compartment. There should be a few switchblades. Pick one.”

I chuckled, but, actually, I didn’t have a good knife. So I opened the glovebox and perused the ones he had.

“Listen,” he said, his tone serious, “if you win, I need you to do something for me. I need you to go to Jules and tell her I’m breaking up with her but that I’m too much of an asshole to tell her face to face. I think it will hurt her less.” He stopped abruptly and turned away. After a brief moment, he added, “You got a girlfriend? I’ll do the same for you.”

Now I turned away. “Sure. I can do that,” I told him. But before I could say anything more, I witnessed a red convertible run a stop light and come careening directly at the passenger side of our car. As the front bumper made contact with my door, I had just enough time to marvel at the irony of Jake and I dying together before the airbag turned my world white.

They look fun – airbags – but they’re not. They’re like getting punched in the face by a fat man’s ass. And there’s this acrid taste that you notice once you get over the momentary sensation of suffocating you feel while wrestling with the deflating bag. When I got the damned thing off of me, I glanced out the window at the crumpled hood of the convertible, which was spewing steam or smoke into the air. I looked for the driver, but no one was there. Beyond the car, a limping figure caught my attention. It was Jake, fleeing the scene, running down the sidewalk.