Chapter Twenty-nine

An alarm sounded but I couldn’t recall setting one. I reached out on my right side and hit the clock radio on the dresser. Suddenly Highway to Hell by AC/DC blared from the speakers.

The alarm was still going off.

A hand slapped my face followed by a string of stretching mmmmm’s. A woman’s voice.

Where am I?

“Mmmm what time is it?” The woman’s voice said. My head was still fuzzy from sleep to make any connection to its identity. At least it sounded familiar.

With my vision blurred I glanced over at the clock radio. “Seven-ten.” I said in a voice filled with sleep.

I stretched while remaining lying down. There was a dull throb at the back of my head, my mouth was dry. My stomach was empty. It growled, sounding very similar to a wookie.

“Time to get up. Do you wanna shower first or should I?” “Why waste water? Lets shower together.” “Somebody feeling frisky this morning?” Sleep was in her voice but with a hint of lust.

She began kissing my chest, almost timing it with the throb in my head. “On second thought,” I said while getting up and rubbing my temples. “Ladies first.” “You always were such a gentleman. Cook me breakfast?”

I rubbed my eyes while mumbling some variation of “sure babe.” She then wrapped her arms around me and kissed my cheek. I could smell her shampoo: strawberries and cream. One woman I knew used it. There was a bottle under the sink especially for occasions such as this.

“I love you, Johnny.” She whispered sweetly just before detaching herself and then crawling out of bed for the bathroom.

Sofia

The night began to refocus. The past few days have consisted of Wendy hounding me with tears in her eyes that I never saw but could hear of their presence on the phone asking for me to give her another chance. Why, I have no idea (I LOVED YOU, JOHNNY!).

The first time around I completely neglected to inform her that I would be departing for more than a year which meant she had been a fleeting memory.

That is how I have been approaching her of late, before I ended ties I mean.

Lucky for me she had no idea where I lived or worked so the threat of her showing up at neither establishment is impossible. That was the idea from the start of this: limit the fallout by meagerly sharing information amongst those involved so the chance of one finding out about the other is near impossible but could still happen by sheer coincidence. Or betrayal via an outside source.

To eliminate that possibility I had to sever ties with Wendy. I have yet to inform Ralph of the development but I’m sure he knows by now.

Which lead me to last night. I needed a night away from city life. With Ralph’s car Sofia and I made our way to Atlantic City. We gambled, ate delicious lobster, saw a concert, made love in one of the hotel rooms, made our way back to Brooklyn where we profusely drank the night away while making love for the third time before finally calling it a night.

The dull throb and dry mouth was from all the drinking. At least I think it is. Sofia knew a guy who knew a guy who could “score us some pot” in her words. I had never partook in illicit substances before but wasn’t opposed to it.

“You need to lighten up a little” Sofia is constantly saying to me. So, I lit up.

The shower began pounding the bathtub. I heard the shuffling of the shower curtain next, followed by a “oh! Too cold!”

I got out of bed and zombie walked out of my room. The lights from the kitchen hit my eyes causing me to squint.

Shuffling into the kitchen I saw Ralph sitting at the counter. His laptop was in front of him. A mug was at his left side. No studio headphones on his head.

“Hi.” I said. He nodded, also known as the “what’s up,” in response.

The two of us have not spoken much since our…altercation? regarding Wendy.

I walked over to the fridge and stuck my head in. “So,” I began, still looking in the fridge. “Still working on that thing from a few days ago?”

I reached for the orange juice and then closed the fridge, turning to my friend with a faint smile.

“I am. It is coming along nicely. Half is done. You can begin giving me your opinions on it, if you’d like.” “I would very much like.” He then handed me a flash drive to which I placed in a pocket of my pajama pants.

Clearing his throat he said, “so when you left here that morning what happened?” From the look in his eye I could tell he knew. I filled in the missing pieces. He laughed. “What’s so funny?” “I can’t see her threatening you like that. Then again, I never pictured you with two women. But let’s not get into that.”

“Look, Ralph-” “You don’t have to apologize.” “Yes, I do. You’re my best friend. I put you in delicate situations too often of late. Situations that I have grown disgusted in myself from. Which is why after seeing you disappointed I chose to end things with Wendy. I would not blame you for blowing the proverbial whistle on mine and Wendy’s relationship to Sofia, who will be coming out of the shower any minute now. But I hope you don’t. At least give me a chance to end things with her when the time is right.”

“I would never do such a thing to you. We’re friends. And despite my being completely disappointed in you, I’ll let you deal with the consequences on your own. Just inform me of any developments so that I can cover you. I’m not saying I’m aiding and abetting your lies. I’m simply asking you not to leave me vulnerable in the crossfire. Deal?”

We shook on it.

“You don’t have to break up with Sofia, by the way. Wendy is gone. Sofia is the better of the two. Let’s leave it as such.”

The agreement was fair. He had been right. I knew he would disapprove but had no idea he would risk himself by willingly vouching lies told by me.

There was a hint of despair though. Despite my apology being sincere I had thrown in a lie. Or rather, not informed him of the whole truth. He was still unaware of Daisy and after what happened with Wendy, I had to keep it that way.

Learning from my mistakes is what Ralph wants me to do. So I shall play this new round much differently.

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