I won’t lie to you. I was worried about my day with AC. I mean, it wasn’t to the point of having an anxiety attack or anything like that, but I definitely felt a sense of unease going into the endeavor. I had this weird feeling in my gut, but I just chalked it up to the Italian food from the night before not sitting quite right. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I was so sure it was food poisoning that I fired off an angry Yelp review on the restaurant’s page. Like, super angry. Borderline abusive, if I can be honest.
Long story short, I owe an apology to Tony DiNapoli’s Fine Italian Ristorante now.
Anyway, the first sign I had that the day was going to be rough was that he called me at 9:30 in the morning and told me to make him some ‘bomb-ass mimosas’ before he got going with work. I told him that I wasn’t craft services, but he was determined. Eventually, I agreed and he hung up with a ‘deuces’. Somehow, I made it to the store and was able to get my hands on some orange juice and literal bottom-shelf champagne. I mean, this stuff was only a step or two above paint thinner with bubbles added. Whatever. It worked. I got to his place as soon as I could. The door was unlocked and I didn’t bother knocking. I just went in and got things set up. Around 10:15, he came upstairs, hair messy, Batman sleep pants on, and some kind of white robe hanging off his shoulders. It said ‘Mirage’ on it. I assumed it was the casino’s. I also assumed he stole it.
“What’s shakin’, Marty?” he said. I grimaced.
“Martin? You mean like Geo-”
“Yes, yes,” I said, cutting him off, “My parents named me that for that reason. Anyway, your mimosas are ready.”
He made his way quickly to the table that I had set up with glasses and proceeded to knock back every single glass, one after the other, without even pausing for breath. It was like he was some kind of alcoholic locust swarm. In a weird way, it was almost impressive. Once he finished, he belched, shook his head, and smiled at me.
“Cool, that’s better.”
“So, uh, at the risk of exposing myself to horrors, what do you have planned for today?”
“Well, I thought we’d go out and see if you can help me out with finding a lady.”
“…for what purpose?”
“Because ladies are awesome? Also, because I’ve been thinking about my ex way too much and that hurts in the chest, so I need to sandblast some memories away.”
“That’s…almost sweet. Kind of?”
“Point is, I’m swinging wild and I can’t do it alone.”
I felt bad for him in a way. If he needed my help, I needed to be willing to provide it. He clearly needed it, to be honest. What kind of self-respecting person doesn’t put on actual clothes for the day?
“What do you need me to do, AC?”
“Alright. Are you familiar with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?”
“Not incredibly so. I’m not a really musical guy.”
“Shame, Marty. Real shame.”
“Anyways, Marty, there’s a scene where a guy pretends to be a social and physical nightmare in order to drive a woman away.”
“Setting aside your insistence on mangling my name, wouldn’t that do the opposite of what you want?”
“Yeah, but I want you to play the guy but in reverse.”
“So…you want me to be as attractive as possible?”
“Yeah! Wait, no. Wait. Hold on. This sounded better in my head.”
Yeah, this was going well already. At least he wasn’t –
“Tell you what. How about we skip that, go downstairs, crack some brews, and you can help me come up with some character names?”
What? Actual work? That was…surprising. What was the catch?
“What’s the catch?”
“I maybe need you to get me some beer.”
“You drank twelve mimosas and it’s not even noon!”
“Yeah, but those are breakfast drinks. Those don’t count. Just like sausage and eggs don’t count for carbs.”
“They…they don’t count for carbs. That’s just protein.”
“That’s the spirit! You’ll find it’s a lot better if you just agree with me.”
It wasn’t time to argue.
“Fine. What kind of beer?”
“Surprise me. Something craft or imported though. Also, if that hot check-out clerk is there – the one with the eyes and the butt – see if she wants to join me for dinner tonight. We can [REDACTED GROSS JOKE ABOUT CONSUMPTION]. Hah! You get it?”
I tried my best to not look disgusted. I failed.
“Right, I’ll get the beer.”
“Rockin’. I’ll just be here, doing some writing.”
An hour passed.
When I returned, beer and, for some reason, lady in tow, AC was slumped over in his chair, snoring loudly. On the screen of his computer were words that I couldn’t make out. I shook him awake and he woke up with a start.
“I’m up! Hey, Marty! You’re back. And hey there, I’m AC. How are you doing today?”
The woman giggled – why, I will never know – and started to flirt with him. He grabbed a couple beers and walked into the next room with the woman, throwing some kind of awkward nerd-slash-overly-confident game as they moved. The door slammed and there was laughter.
Awesome. I could at least look at his writing and see if –
It was good. It was really good. I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t expect it to be. But it was good. Funny and moving and complicated. Who would have expected that a man that I knew to be fueled by, essentially, alcohol and an unrelenting drive for physical and emotional love would be able to write this way?
My phone buzzed. It was a text from the Council.
Told you, d-bag.
I sighed, put my phone away, and walked out the door. That was enough for the day. That was enough for a lifetime. Time to go make some drinks of my own.