"Gen, I'm going now." Tobias Beecher said, as he straightened his tie, looking at himself in the mirror in the living room. His wife, Genevieve, came out of the kitchen in her terri cloth robe, holding a cup of coffee.
"Okay hon," she walked up behind him, and ruffled his hair in the back with a smile. He turned around and kissed her softly. "One more thing..." she said softly, looking into his eyes.
"What?" He murmured, his hands around her hips.
"Put the trash cans out front," she replied, with a grin. He scrunched up his face and shook his head at her with amusement. "Well, go on then!" Tobias held her face in his hands and kissed her again.
"I love you."
"Love you too. Now go, before the garbage truck gets here!" She pushed him towards the door, and he stumbled out laughing.
Tobias walked out to his car and put his briefcase on the top of it. He heard the garbage truck rumbling and approaching their house, and dashed to the side yard. He picked up a trash can and ran out with it just as the truck pulled up to their driveway.
"Whew," he said, as he handed the trash bag to the garbage man riding the back, who stepped off the truck, and accepted it with glove covered hands. "I got one more," Tobias said just before he ran back to the side yard for the other trash bag.
He came back with the trash bag, breathing heavily. The garbage man, his dark hair hidden underneath a red bandanna, laughed out loud, as he took the second trash bag from Tobias.
"Doesn't matter what you do, man. The Mrs. still makes you take out the trash," he replied as he glanced at Tobias who adjusted his glasses that were sliding down his nose.
"Don't I know it."
The garbage man threw the bags into the back of the garbage truck, and looked back at Tobias.
"You have a nice day," he said, as he hopped on the back of the garbage truck again.
"You too," Tobias returned, and smiled politely. He walked back to his car, took his briefcase down, and drove off.
When he got to work, he was bombarded with meetings all morning.
For his lunch break, he went to the new sandwich shop he had been meaning to try ever since it opened a few weeks ago. He ordered a pastrami on rye and settled into a small table in the corner, to go over some of lawsuits he was handling. He bit into his sandwich as he read the statements on the paper in front of him.
"Hey man," a vaguely familiar voice broke into his concentration, and Tobias glanced up.
"Oh...hi" he replied. It was the garbage man from this morning, Tobias hardly recognized him, he cleaned up rather well.
"Mind if I..." he nodded over to the seat across from Tobias.
"No, go ahead."
"I'm not disturbing you or anything?" He asked, finally noticing the papers in front of Tobias.
"No," Tobias smiled, as he put the papers in back into his briefcase, and put it down next to his feet. "Probably wasn't going to get any work done anyway."
"Chris Keller." He said, outstretching his hand, when he settled into the chair across from him. Tobias shook it.
"You a lawyer or somethin'?" Chris asked, not taking his eyes off of his face, as he bit into his sandwich.
"That obvious?" he said with a sigh, as he ran his fingers through his sandy hair.
"Almost everyone on the route is a lawyer, or a doctor or one of those jobs." Tobias smiled at the man sitting across from him. He felt almost embarrassed for him, although he wasn't sure why. "At least that's what I figure. I mean, I've never had lunch with them before."
"Have you been to this place before?" Tobias asked, returning his attention to his sandwich.
"Yep. The sandwiches are addictive, I'm tellin ya. I've had lunch here everyday since it opened. So how long have you been a lawyer?"
"Oh god...almost, what ten years now? Yep. Mmm...you know you're right about these sandwiches." Tobias began eating, looking away from Chris.
"Well, it's what I've always wanted to do...I never wanted to be anything but a lawyer..." Tobias stopped himself as Chris looked at him. Someone less fortunate than him, like Chris, probably wasn't interested in hearing about that.
"How long have you been married?"
"Uhm...seven years." Tobias grew increasingly uneasy with playing the twenty questions game with a man he hardly knew. "What about you...how long have you been a gar--"
"Not long. Got any kids?"
"Two. So how'd you get into it?"
"I dunno. Good hours, decent money. Boys or girls?"
"One of each, listen, Chris..."
"Got any pictures of them?"
"Uh yeah..." Tobias fumbled for his wallet, and opened it and leaned over the table to show him. Chris looked down and a smile spread across his face.
"Oh, they're cute." He looked up at Tobias, and then down at the picture again. "They look a lot like you."
"My wife says the same thing." Tobias glanced down at the photos of his golden haired children with a placid smile. "She's always saying 'They don't look anything like me!' But she's wrong... you know, Holly does this little thing with her mouth when she's mad about something, that is just like Gen. And Gary, he's got her eyes..." Tobias blushed, as he realized who he was talking to. He put his wallet away. "But, yeah. So..."
"I've kinda been thinkin' about having kids. My wife doesn't want to though."
"Oh, that must be hard." Tobias replied, grateful to be off the subject of his life.
"I guess. I mean, maybe she's right you know. I wouldn't know how to deal with kids...plus her and me, things ain't workin' out. I thought maybe it'd be different...a second time."
"I married her twice. This is my fourth marriage."
"Fourth." Tobias repeated as he stared into the deep blue eyes of the man sitting across him.
"Yep. Kitty, Bonnie, Angelique, Bonnie again. None of them were my match, you know? Not like there really is one person who is your match though. The world is so big...how could there be one person for everyone?"
"No, I think there is. Genevieve, my wife. She's my match."
"Things change. I thought Bonnie, she might have been it...but..."
"Twice. You thought she might have been it, twice." Tobias said with a smile.
"Oh, yeah." Agreed Chris, with a wide grin.
"You'll know it when you meet her. You'll just know it." Tobias nodded, and returned to his sandwich, as he felt the man across from him eyes continue to stare at him. And as he glanced up at Chris their eyes met briefly before Chris seemed to shake himself out of a trance and began to babble on again.
Funnily enough, the two men, who had seemed to have nothing in common, hit it off really well. They just had something that neither of them could put their finger on, was an instant connection.
-End Part One-
The next day Tobias found himself going to the new sandwich place again for lunch. When he was seated in the same corner table, about to sink his teeth into a turkey club, Chris strutted in. Tobias discreetly put his briefcase down by his feet on the floor, and smirked to himself.
Chris walked up to the counter, and without even looking, planted himself in the seat across from Tobias. They both said "Hi" at the same time, and Chris began to talk about his day. Tobias listened intently, nodding his agreement when a particular topic came up.
Tobias had wondered what it would be like to be someone like Chris. Tall, dark and handsome with a muscular build, and a charismatic personality. He felt, he was none of these things.
In high school, Tobias had a few friends. A close circle of nerds was how he thought of them now. He graduated at the top of his class, scored nearly a 1500 on his SATs and was off to Harvard on an Academic Scholarship. Yet still, he envied men like Chris Keller. Cool, calm, collected and confident. Getting all the girls in high school, being athletic and popular rather than a good student. Tobias didn't even lose his virginity until he was 21. At first he wanted it to be special, but the older he got, he just wanted to get it over with already.
He met Genevieve when he was 23 in an off campus drugstore. She was working the graveyard shift, and he was stocking up on coffee to pull a few all nighters. When he brought the coffee up to the counter, she smiled at him, her big brown eyes glistening and her dark hair falling into her face. She flirted innocently with him, and as Tobias left with the coffee, from that moment on, he was unable to get her off his mind completely. He tried to write off her manner towards him as loneliness, he was the only one there, or maybe she just had an overly friendly personality. Regardless, Tobias went back the next night. She recognized him, and was generally happy to see him again.
It became a ritual for him, he would come at the same time every night, and when he ran out of things to buy, he would just hang out near the register and talk to her. She was 20, lived with her parents and went to the local community college. Tobias was very taken with her, and she seemed equally taken with him. Yet it took him a month of late night visits to finally get up enough nerve to ask her out. She was delighted, even said, "I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to ask me." They were inseparable from their first date on, and four years later, they were married.
Tobias looked up at Chris who was half done with his roast beef sandwich.
"What're you doin' this weekend?" Chris asked suddenly. Tobias swallowed hard and took a sip of his soda.
"Uh...I've got nothing planned right now."
"Ya wanna go play some pool, knock back a few on Saturday?" Chris took another bite of his sandwich, chewing as he waited for Tobias to answer him.
Tobias could think of dozens of reasons why this wouldn't be a good idea. One being, well their social differences. While many of the lawyers Tobias worked with would rather be found dead with a hooker in some sleazy highway motel then out drinking with their trash collectors, Tobias didn't really mind the class difference. Another reason, was work...he was helping out on a rather large case at the moment, and was days behind. But what was new? The only real reason that kept Tobias from saying yes was "knocking back a few". Tobias was a self professed alcoholic. He had been wise enough to stay away from the stuff since his 25th birthday. He realized what a devastating effect it was having on him, and those who loved him, and who he loved. That was the day he quit, for good. Still, Tobias felt it wasn't a very good idea to surround himself with his demons. He could barely stand all those cocktail parties the lawyers at his firm threw, but a bar? He wasn't sure if he should risk it, even a decade later.
"I dunno," he finally settled on. Chris chewed the last morsel of his sandwich, swallowed, then grinned at Tobias leaning back in his chair.
"Tell you what," he began. "Uh...got a pen?"
"Yeah." Tobias took a pen out of his shirt pocket and handed it to him. He grabbed a napkin and wrote something on it.
"Call me when you do know," he slid the napkin over to Tobias, stood up, wiped the crumbs off his tight white shirt, gave one last smile and strode out. Leaving Tobias alone with his turkey club.
Tobias walked through the door of his house five hours later. He was immediately attacked by his six and half year old son.
"Hey big guy," Tobias replied with a smile, dropping his briefcase to pick up his son, and swing him around. "God, you're getting heavy!"
"Mommy taught me how to ride a bike!" He said happily as Tobias returned him to the floor.
"Did she now?" He said as he took his son's hand. "And where is mommy?"
Tobias walked into the kitchen with his young son clutching his hand. Genevieve was standing at the counter mixing something in a big bowl. Their daughter, Holly, was beside her, standing on a foot stool.
"Mommy and me are making cook-eees!" His young daughter squealed when she saw him.
"Really? I like to eat cookies like this," Tobias made a motion like he was going to stick his hand in the bowl. Genevieve gasped looking at her daughter, and Gary started to giggle.
"No!" Holly screeched and he pulled his hand away quickly.
"We have to cook it furst, siwwy!" She exclaimed as Tobias nodded dumbly.
"Okay," he replied, walking over to his wife and stroking her back. He put his nose to her hair, and kissed the back of her head.
"How was your day?" She asked.
"Stressful," he sighed. "Ballard lost that case."
"The one with the Exxon corporation?"
"Yeah." Tobias left the kitchen and threw himself on the couch in the living room, as he heard Genevieve tell her daughter to pour in the chocolate chips. Tobias pulled out something that was in his pocket, it was a napkin. He was about to throw it away until he remembered what was on it. Genevieve came into the living room, wiping her hands on her apron.
He held it up, and she squinted her eyes. "What's it say?"
"It's this guy's phone number."
"Does 'this guy' have a name?"
"Chris - something, I can't remember his last name right now," he stuffed the napkin back into his pocket. "I made a friend," he shrugged.
"Awww, how sweet," she replied cheerily, with a devilish little grin. "Where'd you meet him? At work?"
Tobias leaned back on the couch and let out a soft moan.
"In front of the house. He's our garbage man."
"Yep. Nice guy," he replied stretching his arms out. "He wants to go to a bar."
"Tomorrow," Tobias said, as he nodded to her question. He searched her face for some sort of disapprovement. He found none.
"Are you going?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"Go," she said with a smile. "I'm glad you made a friend."
Tobias suddenly got embarrassed. He didn't have any friends, really. There were colleagues at work, but besides them, who he didn't see outside of his job place much, if at all, there was no one. At his wedding, he didn't even have a best man, well, not really. His younger brother was his best man, a younger brother that Tobias wasn't very close to at all. None of the friends he made in high school and college lasted. Truth be told, Genevieve was his wife, his lover, and for the most part, his only friend.
"Did you hear what I said? We'd be going to a bar."
"I know. I think you can handle it. Are you having doubts?"
"No - I just don't know if it's a good idea to surround myself with it like that," he replied, his words got softer as he went on. She got up from the recliner and put her hand on his knee, and sat down next to him.
"Do you want me to talk you out of it, Tobias? Because I think you've made up your mind already." She put her arm around him. "Go," she purred with a smile. "You'll have fun."
"Should I be worried?" He asked playfully. "Are you trying to get rid of me?" He grinned, and she responded by kissing him on the cheek. He moved his face, so they looked straight at one another. He leaned in forward, moving his hand behind her neck, and placing his lips on hers. Her hand ran up his thigh, until she brought it up to his cheek.
"Mommy!!!" Holly's voice came from the kitchen.
Tobias and Genevieve continued kissing until she finally pulled away. She wiped her mouth, and smiled.
"I'll be right there, sweetie." She looked at Tobias, and bit her bottom lip. She sighed, and got up from the couch and returned to the kitchen. Tobias took the phone number out of his pocket again. He reached for the black cordless telephone sitting on the glass coffee table. He slowly dialed the numbers, and the phone rang four times, when someone picked up.
"...Hello?" A woman's voice came over the receiver ever so slightly.
"Is...uh...Chris there?" Tobias replied. The woman on the other end, who Tobias realized must have been sleeping before the phone rang, sighed heavily.
"Yeah, hold on a second." She said tiredly, and then Tobias heard a thump. Then, "CHRIS!!! The goddamn phone's for you, why didn't you get off your ass and get it?!!!"
Tobias took the phone away from his ear.
"Jesus, Christ," came Chris's voice. "You can hang up now," then there was a click. "Hello?"
"Hi Chris, this is Tobias."
"Oh yeah, hey what's up?"
"So, did you still want to shoot pool tomorrow?"
"Yeah. Are you up to it?"
"Yeah - plus I think my wife wants me out of the house."
"My wife always wants me out of the house, as you can probably tell," Chris replied with a chuckle. Tobias suddenly heard someone's voice in the background. It was the woman who had been on the phone.
"Shut up, Chris," she said.
"Go back to bed, Bonnie." Chris said.
Then Tobias heard her say, "Fuck you!"
Chris returned to Tobias. "Could you hold on a second?"
"Uh...sure." Tobias wasn't sure if he wanted to hear what was about to go on, but he didn't hang up. "I could call back," he said quickly.
"Just hang on," replied Chris. And Tobias heard Chris putting the phone down. Then all of a sudden. "Ow! Bonnie, what the fuck?!" "You fucking asshole, she was here, wasn't she?!" "What the fuck are you talking about?!" "That bitch Kitty, she was here, wasn't she?! Don't fucking lie to me again, Chris. I've heard enough lies to last me a lifetime!" "Bonnie--" "I knew it!!! You--"
"What're you doing?" Genevieve asked, coming out of the kitchen and walking in front of Tobias.
"Listening to a domestic dispute," Tobias replied. "I called Chris, and he's currently fighting with his wife."
"Let me hear."
"Come on!" She snatched the phone away from him, and listened. "Oooh - hoo that was a good one!"
"She just called him a slut!" She began giggling. "Give him hell, girl! Your friend cheated on his wife."
"I don't think he did," Tobias replied, as she handed the phone back to him.
"Why not? You hardly know the guy, right? Why don't you think he cheated on her?"
"He seems like the kind of guy, who wouldn't lie about it. Like he'd tell her if he did it, and not deny it."
"Whatever. You wouldn't tell me if you cheated would you? All men are the same in that aspect," Genevieve replied.
"I don't think Chris would care if Bonnie knew. So the rule doesn't apply with him. Or me for that matter."
"Oh? So you'd tell me if you cheated? Jesus, I don't think I'd want to know."
"No, I would never cheat on you. So that's the end of that."
"Hello?" Chris had come back to the phone.
"Hi, is everything okay?"
"Huh? Yeah...great." He was clearly out of breath, Bonnie must have given him one hell of a beating.
"Do you still want to go tomorrow? You sound like you may have some things to talk over with her."
"Nope. We're done. Do you know where 8 Ball Billiards is? Off of 5th and Merchant."
"Oh yeah...I think I've passed it."
"I'll meet you there at around 8pm tomorrow, that good?"
"Fine. I'll see you there, then. Bye."
Tobias clicked off the phone, and looked at Genevieve. "Tomorrow at 8."
"Yay!" Genevieve exclaimed clapping her hands. "Tobias has a friend," she giggled and threw herself into his arms again. They started kissing.
"Where are the kids?" Tobias asked in between kisses.
"Upstairs," Genevieve replied, lightly covering his lips with feather kisses. "Gary's reading Holly a Dr. Seuss book."
"God, he's so smart." Tobias sighed, as Genevieve slid off his lap, and sat beside him, tangling her fingers in his hair.
"Putting them in that private school is really paying off." Tobias nodded silently. "Ms. Daniels, by the way, I think she's a lesbian."
"What? I don't mean anything bad by that."
"I swear, ever since you joined the PTA. Gossip, gossip, gossip."
"I wasn't the one listening to a couple arguing over their personal lives on the phone!"
"Well, actually, you were." Tobias replied with a grin. Genevieve hit him lightly on the shoulder.
"So, anyway, what was I saying? Oh, Ms. Daniels says that Gary is one of the most intelligent students she has ever come across."
"What about...does he have any friends?"
"Tons!" Genevieve says happily. "You've met a few, but you should see him at school, he's so popular! And all these little girls swarming around him, it's the most adorable thing I've ever seen."
"Does he have a girlfriend?"
"Ask him!" Genevieve said with a grin "'Eww! girls!' Genevieve buried her head in the nape Tobias' neck. "He's in that cootie stage," she started kissing his neck, and Tobias exhaled heavily.
"What's that smell?" Tobias suddenly said, sitting up straight. Genevieve drew away from him.
"Smells like something's burning..."
"Oh shit!!!" Genevieve jumped off of the couch and ran into the kitchen.
"Gen?!" Tobias called after her.
"Looks like we're havin' pizza tonight!" She shouted from the kitchen. Tobias chuckled.
-End Part Two-
Tobias lay in the darkness. His eyes gaped open, as he stared at the high ceiling of his bedroom. His face was wet with sweat, the bed coverings now laid in a crumpled pile on the floor, after he thrashed them off. And his mind would not stop racing. He uneasily rolled on his side and looked at his wife's porcelain face. Her lips curled downward, her large eyes closed. Genevieve's dark hair surrounded her face, and she breathed so softly, he could barely hear her.
He didn't want to think of what had just caused him to wake up out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night. In retrospect, he was sure it meant nothing, but still he didn't want it to enter his mind again.
He wished Genevieve was awake. He didn't want to wake her...but he didn't want to be awake, alone. Tobias reached out and stroked her cheekbone with his finger tips. She has the softest skin, he thought, it felt like rose petals.
"Genevieve," he whispered as she stirred slightly. "Gen," he repeated as he continued to stroke her face. She responded with a soft moan.
"Hmm?" He didn't reply. He just leaned in, cupping her chin in his hand and kissed her softly on the lips. She began to kiss him back just before Tobias broke away and looked at her. Her big brown eyes opened halfway, and she smiled. He smiled back at her, thinking that she always looked so beautiful without being all done up, just waking up. He leaned in again, placing his arms around her back, running his hands up her bare shoulders, and under her thin night shirt. She kissed him back, one of her hands on his cheek and the other around his waist, until the other hand slipped from his face, and she clutched onto him tightly. They stayed that way for awhile, feeling eachother's body, kissing each other passionately, and lost in each other's embrace.
Tobias spent most of the next day working on paperwork for a few of the cases he was handling, the ones he had fallen behind on during the week. Genevieve took the kids to the park for half of the day. Tobias worked on the cases all day and on into the night as well.
"Tobias." Genevieve called from outside the study, standing in the doorway.
"Uh huh?" He responded, his eyes still glued to the computer monitor.
"Are you still going out?"
Tobias spun around in his swivel chair, and stood up. "Are you serious?"
"Completely," she replied, as she leaned against the doorway. He looked down at his bare wrist, which usually wasn't so bare with his gold Rolex on it. He glanced up at her.
"Guess I lost track of time," he said smiling sheepishly, walking back to their bedroom, as she followed him. He threw on a gray sweatshirt and put on some sneakers. He looked up at her. "So what will you be doing?"
Genevieve cocked an eyebrow.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she smiled again, and he stood up, and touched her face with his thumb.
"Kind of having second thoughts now. Maybe I should stay here, and repeat last night's performance."
She kissed him on the nose.
"You woke me out of a good sleep. And you know how I need my beauty sleep."
"I think you could stand to lose a few hours of sleep," he replied, putting his hands around her hips.
"You're keeping that poor guy waiting."
"I still haven't decided if I'm going yet."
"Then I'll make up your mind. Go," she said, prying his hands off of her. "Now," she grinned, and plopped on their bed. "Holly! Gary!" she looked up at Tobias, and folded her arms.
"Fine," he huffed.
"When do you think you'll be back?" She asked, as he stopped in the doorway.
"Uhm...soon. I can't see myself staying there for longer then an hour really," he shrugged, and smiled as his two children ran past him and into the room. Tobias trotted down the stairs and out the front door.
Tobias pulled into the parking lot of 8 Ball Billiards at exactly 8:46pm. The cement in the lot was cracking and badly needed to be paved again. Tobias had the only car in a lot that was full of motorcycles and rusty old trucks. He had taken his wife's Pontiac Grand Am, opposed to the BMW they both share but he usually drives. He didn't know the area well, but he knew well enough not to leave a $45,000 car outside some biker bar for a couple of hours. He got out of the blue sedan, turning on the alarm with his key chain remote and walked into the bar.
As soon as he stepped in, he breathed enough second hand smoke to last him the rest of the year. There was rock music playing from a juke box in the corner, and he got plenty of stares from the menacing patrons. Tobias walked past the bar, and towards the lower level of the place where five pool tables were set up. He caught a glimpse of Chris in a white tank top and blue jeans, playing pool with some big blond guy. Tobias swallowed hard, and walked up to him.
"Chris," he said, as his back was turned. Chris turned around and faced him, he smiled broadly.
"Heyyy, Toby. Only an hour late," he said with a grin. Toby? Tobias thought painfully. The nickname from his childhood he'd always despised.
"Yeah...sorry about that. I lost track of time," replied Tobias, digging his hands in his pockets. Chris casually waved away the apology.
"Get a drink, I'm almost done with this game - and then I can start on kicking your ass." He gave a little wink.
"Actually, I'm not thirsty."
"Suit yourself. I'm on my 5th."
"Fifth what??? Beer???" Tobias stared at Chris as he smiled again, he didn't *look* smashed, but when he leaned down to hit the ball, he missed it completely. Tobias sat down on a stool and watched Chris continue making a few more poor shots.
The insanity of the moment suddenly hit him. There he was: this perfectly normal, intelligent lawyer in some bar on the outskirts of the city. Watching a man he barely knew, who obviously had an alcohol abuse problem, miss shots in a game of pool. Nevermind the fact that Tobias was a recovering alcoholic himself. His instinct was to leave, get up from that stool and run. But something, unbeknownst to him, kept him glued to his seat.
The blond man, who was playing pool with Chris had had enough of the game. Chris was midway through a shot and *another* beer (Tobias had counted four since he got there) when the blond man said,"Well, Keller. I quit, you win." He hung up his stick, and began to walk away.
Chris shouted after him.
"You're punkin' out! Come back here!" The guy ignored this, and continued to walk away. Tobias took his cue and walked over to Chris. "Toby! Almost forgot all about you"
"I noticed. Listen, maybe we should do this another time."
"No fuckin' way. Lets play some pool."
"I don't think that's a very good idea--"
"Wanna play darts instead?" Chris nodded toward the dart board. Tobias chuckled nervously. He grabbed a pool stick.
"Pool it is," Chris was trying to rack the balls. His vision must have been blurry, it took him almost 20 minutes to do it. He took the white ball, and was trying to force it in, but Tobias told him that was what you use to hit the other balls.
"I *know* that. Just because I don't have a fucking diploma, doesn't mean I'm a fucking idiot." Chris shot back, his words slurring. Tobias put his hands up.
"Quit apologizing. Fuck." Chris sneered at Tobias again, "You go first." Tobias leaned over the pool table, and hit the cue ball into the other balls. Chris was leaning on his pool stick drinking another beer. "Thought you weren't gonna show up, y'know."
"Huh?" Tobias said, looking up at Chris, who almost seemed sober.
"I know we're too different an' shit. I mean, you probably never set foot in a place like this. You don' hang out wit people like me. I don' hang out wit people like you."
Tobias stood up straight and gazed at Chris.
"You're right. I don't." Chris nodded looking into his beer. "Uhm...it's your shot." Chris smiled. He put his beer down, and passed out.
He regained consciousness a few minutes later. Tobias and the bartender stood over him. The bartender grabbed Chris by his forearms, and pulled him to his feet. Chris held the side of his head.
"Aw, fuck." He had a gash on his temple and was bleeding. "What happened?"
"You passed out." The bartender replied, going back behind the bar. Tobias nodded.
"Is this a regular thing for him?" Tobias asked, looking at the bartender and turning away from Chris, who plopped down on a stool, still holding his head.
"What? Passing out?"
"No. Getting completely wasted like this."
The bartender shrugged. "I've seen him like this once or twice. But then, I don't know what he does in the privacy of his own home. It's none of my business." Chris rested his arms on the bar counter.
"Can I have something to wipe away this blood?" The bartender nodded, and threw a rag at him. Chris reached out to catch it after it fell on the counter, his motor skills were fucked up as well. He held the rag to his head. "Get me another beer, would ya Sammy," Chris said to the bartender.
"That's a good one, Chris. Do you know you just passed out?"
"Just shut up and gimme another beer." Sammy looked at Tobias, who was looking down at his feet.
"No. You've had enough, I'll be damned if you're gonna get alcohol poisoning in *my* bar."
"Then we'll go somewhere else. Come on, Toby." Chris almost stumbled off his stool, then practically wobbled out of the bar. He picked up his leather jacket that was laying on the pool table, and Tobias followed him out slowly.
"Where are you gonna go?" Tobias called after him, suddenly running to catch up with him.
"I don't know, I'll find some place." Chris walked up to his motorcycle, fumbled with his keys, and dropped them on the ground. "Shit," he leaned down to pick them up, but Tobias swiped them first.
"I can't let you drive in this state." He said sternly, surprised by the own strength in his voice.
"Gimme the keys," Chris said quietly, but threateningly, holding out his hand.
"No. You're smashed. You could get you or someone else killed." Tobias said, pocketing the keys, and feeling like he was in some lame after school special. "I'm taking you home." Chris stared at him in disbelief. Tobias took a hold of his elbow, and Chris continued gazing at him, with his mouth half opened. They walked to the Pontiac together, Chris leaning on Tobias for support, and got in the passenger side as Tobias got in the drivers seat.
Amazingly, Chris didn't object. He even told Tobias where his place was, and then fell into an alcohol induced sleep. Tobias wondered how many times people had to do this for him, back years ago. He certainly couldn't remember. He parked in front of a small house with an untamed lawn, and opened the passenger side door where he practically had to drag Chris out. He held his liquor pretty well, all things considered.
Tobias unlocked the door of the house, and dragged Chris inside, putting him down on a couch, as soon as he could. He took a deep breath, pressed up his glasses which were sliding down his nose, and was ready to leave when Chris spoke.
"She left me." Tobias turned around and walked over to Chris, who was staring off, his hands folded neatly in his lap. He pulled off his leather jacket and stumbled into the bedroom. Tobias didn't know whether to walk out or follow him. He followed him.
"Your wife." Tobias said softly, as Chris struggled to take his jeans off.
"This morning. She packed up her shit, said 'fuck you' and walked out." He threw his jeans onto the floor and got on the bed. He rubbed his eyes, and refocused on Tobias. "What gets me is - I didn't cheat on her. Bonnie had this...this thing or some shit. She'd always thought I was running around on her. And I never was, at least not this time around." He sighed deeply and leaned back in bed.
"Is that Bonnie?" There was a picture of Chris, and a heavy set brown haired woman on his dresser. Chris looked up at it, and nodded sadly.
"Yap." Chris stretched out, moaning as he did. Tobias nodded at him, and shoved his hands in his pockets.
"Well, I'm going to g--"
"Wait. Why don't you stay." Chris said looking at him slyly. "I'm just gonna go to sleep, you can lie down here." He nodded over to the left side of the bed. Tobias chuckled nervously, Chris really *was* drunk.
"Lie down, next to me." Chris said, gazing at Tobias who stood across from the bed.
"You're drunk. Go to sleep." Tobias replied quickly, and rushed out of the house as fast as possible.
He slowed his pace once out of the house, but his mind continued to race, alongside his pounding heart. He thought it best to quickly flee.
Tobias got into his car, turned the key in the ignition, trying to get the picture of Chris Keller, laying in bed, in boxers and a tank top telling him to lie down next to him, out of his head. He was really, really drunk, Tobias told himself. He finally started the car and drove away from the house.
Tobias had freaked, and he wasn't quite sure why. He could have laughed it off, and made a few witty remarks, but he didn't. He practically ran away from Chris like he had the plague.
What's going on with me? Tobias thought. Who was Chris Keller, and what does he want from me? Suddenly he began to question everything. Their chance meeting in front of the house, and the next day at the sandwich shop. His non protest when Tobias told him he was going to take him home, Bonnie leaving him. Was this all part of some elaborate plan? The purpose of the plan, Tobias had yet to figure out, but one thing he was certain of, he wasn't going to see this guy again. He didn't know who this guy was, what he wanted from him, and how dangerous he could be.
Tobias also wanted to stay away from him for another reason. But he wasn't ready to admit that to himself. It was the main reason he ran, the main reason he was scared. It was the one reason he had made up all those other questions, to some how invalidate that one nagging reason. But it was there, and it wasn't going to go away anytime soon.
When Tobias got home, the house was dark. He walked upstairs, taking off his sweatshirt and peeking into his children's bedroom. He went into the bathroom, took his glasses off and looked into the mirror, rubbing his eyes and groaning. He smelled his sweatshirt, it smelled like beer, and a musky scent that Tobias identified as Chris's. He shook his head, and walked into his bedroom, slipping out of his sneakers and jeans, and crawling into bed, next to his sleeping wife. He wrapped his arms around Genevieve, buried his face in the nape of her neck and fell asleep, inhaling her sweet scent.
-End Part Three-
continued in Part 4