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"No, really, we didn't even touch. I just served him his pizza and he gave me his number. Simple as that."
"Cool," I say, just as a Mercedes with Cobb plates cuts in front of me and I nearly run right up over it like the monster trucks used to do at the Saturday rallies when I was a kid.
"Jesus fucking Christ. How am I supposed to ever get laid again if I'm in a goddamn wheelchair?" He lifts his arm towards the open window to air out his armpit. "You're about to make me sweat." He kicks one of the Red Bull cans that have been accumulating on the passenger's side since I started letting him drive the truck to work, and stirs up a cough syrup smell that could have attracted yellow jackets if I was driving slower.
We coast by the Brewhouse and I strain to see if the hot waitress is on the patio. Nope. Just a couple of graying bikers with MIA/POW flags on the backs of their jackets.
"Nothing. So did this guy tell you his name?"
"What's he look like?"
"I don't know. He's short, like five nine. Nice ass, blue eyes, a mohawk."
"Yeah, I know, but he rocks it well."
Tommy leans out the window and studies a MARTA train as it passes overhead, the cars linked like tin cans on a string.
"Is he a cokehead?" I try to make my voice light; I know these are the questions that bother Tommy most.
"Jesus, man, I don't know. He didn't order a fucking line on top of his pizza or anything."
"Well what? Maybe you should worry about getting laid yourself instead of fussing over my shit." Tommy's voice is hard-edged now and though I shouldn't, as we pull on to our oak-shrouded street I ask him:
"You gonna tell him?"
He watches me as I cut the engine. "Fuck off."
Our house looks like all the others on Thornton Avenue; red clay bleeds through our grass like a scar, and our sickly azaleas hold more paint chips than flowers. The inside, though, is a vision. Aside from our eight-year friendship, this is the main reason I still live with Tommy. His taste is not some Laura Ashley floral abomination. It's the real deal, wet looking metal and deep colored fabrics that make me think of exotic foods that I will never be rich enough to taste. Even the kitchen, which we never use, is pleasant tonight, the sun shining on the varnished floors reminding me of a freshly oiled baseball glove.
Tommy's meds sit on the counter, the legal ones anyway. The others he keeps in his bedside table next to his porn. I wait for him to talk to me but he grabs a beer from the fridge and strolls into his bedroom.
When we leave the house at ten-thirty it is still over eighty degrees. The sky's a nuclear orange as we squeeze down broken alleys in search of a place to park.
"This is what I was afraid of. Where am I supposed to put this tank?"
"How 'bout you just roll up on that Civic there. I'm sure whichever little vegan dyke drives it won't mind it getting crushed once she sees what a big old stud you are in this machine."
"You're the one that has to assert what a tough ass motherfucker you are. Some might suggest you're overcompensating."
"Well," I say, finding a space long enough for me to parallel into, "what does it say about you that you spend more time driving my substitute dick than I do?"
"That, my friend, is a question for the ages," he says, slamming his door. I can hear the bass from Kendra's place two blocks over.
Kendra's apartment hides in the gut of a burned-out cotton mill, and the transition from inside to outside feels seamless. You walk through one door, in search of the keg or a place to piss and end up in the kitchen, you walk through what you think is the same door and end up in a furnished room of charred bricks, filled with sweaty grinding bodies under a roof of stars. Kendra is a legend for these "garden parties" and we rarely skip them.
As we approach the graffiti-soaked outer wall of the mill, the smell of bodies and vanilla-tinged blunts assaults us and I wonder if old General Sherman would be happy with the art Kendra makes from his destructive masterwork.
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