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It was Eddie’s philosophy that no matter who you were ... you were someone better, more important, if you had a buddy who would watch out for you.
Eddie leaned up against the wall, floating a little. The pot smoke seemed to coil in his lungs like a languid snake, caressing everything inside him open. When he let it out, he let it out smoothly, rolling out of his mouth. The snake uncoiled. Man.
The guns were laid out on the floor on a towel in front of him. The bare bulb above cast a malevolent sort of glow off the gunmetal, filtering through the smoke. Eddie stared at the guns, transfixed, as if they alone could unlock the secrets of the universe. Who knows, maybe they could.
Lucas was passed out in the big chair in front of the TV, the flickering glow playing rainbow nightmares across his face. Eddie shifted his focus here. In two days, they were heading out to some farm in the boonies to collect some money, and these guns would be necessary. This was gonna be the big time, the thing that put he and Lucas on the path to easy street … but that was then. Now it was just him and the guns, and Lucas asleep in the chair.
“Got your back, man,” he whispered, but it was too quiet and Lucas was too dead to the world to hear it. Eddie took another hit and wondered if Lucas believed him when he said it, or if it sounded hollow to him, just like it sounded to Eddie now.
It was Eddie’s philosophy that no matter who you were – even if you were a small-time hood wasting your days away in a crappy apartment – that you were someone better, more important, if you had a buddy who would watch out for you. Eddie desperately wanted to believe that he was that for Lucas. Ever since grade school, he’d been appointing himself Lucas’s protector. Now here they were, two days away from heading out to some hick farm with their brand-new guns, and Eddie had a brief but powerful premonition that things were going to fuck up, and fuck up badly. And who would Lucas have to blame? Why, Eddie, of course. Eddie, who had his back.
Another hit and the thoughts broke up, like an empty glass falling to a concrete floor. Down the hall, the screen door banged open, and on the tired linoleum unmistakable jagged footfalls approached. Mamet.
“Anyone home, anyone awake?” Mamet asked, appearing in the doorway. Eddie, slumped on the floor, almost defensively over his bong, looked up at him. The bare bulb captured him in silhouette, his bright blonde hair now steeped in shadow; only his eyes were visible in his narrow face, jittering right and left, betraying Mamet’s rapid-fire mind.
“Shh,” Eddie said, raising a lazy finger to his lips. “Lucas is asleep.”
“Oh,” Mamet said, ducking down so that he was at eye level. “Not you, though.”
“Not me. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”
Mamet now sat, paying no attention to the guns in front of him. “I had a pet rabbit once,” Mamet said in a hush. “You know, speaking of bushy tails. My Dad got him for me for Easter one year. But I didn’t like seeing him all caged up like that, you know? So one day I got up real early and let him out of his cage, hippity-hop, right into the forest.”
Eddie looked at him. “That’s dangerous.”
Mamet’s face fell in sudden concern. “Why dangerous?”
“Well, if you let something out of its cage,” Eddie said, looking over at Lucas, “set it free, like, there’s no telling what can happen to it. There’s dangerous stuff out there. You gotta … you can’t set stuff like that free.”
“You think my rabbit got hurt?”
Eddie flicked his eyes back to Mamet. “You loved him, didn’t you?”
“Sure I did. I mean, he was mine.”
“But he wasn’t really. That’s why you let him go.”
“Yeah. Hey, you got any corn chips?”
Eddie took a short hit put the bong down, struggling to a standing position. Dizziness coursed through him, but he held his ground and held his smoke. When he let it out, he felt oddly clear-headed. “You’re a trip, Mamet,” he said, and now Mamet stood, facing him. “You don’t expect anything from me.”
“Well, just corn chips,” Mamet said.
“No, I mean … I mean, man. Lucas and me, we’re like brothers. And I love him, you know.”
Eddie nodded, but moved his eyes away. “Yeah, like brothers, Mamet. Yeah, just like that. And brothers don’t … you ever want something so bad that it hurts every day, Mamet? But you know if you take it, you’ll fuck someone up? You’ll like, ruin everything they liked about you. They needed about you?”
Now Mamet was looking at him with guarded eyes. There was an intelligence in there, maybe a lunatic intelligence. “It’s easy to want things,” Mamet said. “I want a good house. You know, like a real house with a picket fence and-and-and a dog and a garage. And I want a car for that garage, too. I have this dream and I don’t talk about it. It’s a good dream, though, right? Dreams are good, Eddie, right?”
Eddie was still looking at Lucas. “Yeah. Dreams are real good.”
“What is it that you want, Eddie?”
Eddie turned back to him, anxiety flooding in. “Everything.”
Mamet took a step closer, and reached out his hand. “I want that house and-and-and that car. A convertible would be nice. I rode in a convertible once and it was nice.” His hand reached out further, reached under Eddie’s shirt. Mamet’s hand was cold against his flesh and he sucked in a breath. His eyes met with Mamet’s and didn’t move. “I think it would be nice to fly. I want to be in a rock band. I want to be a cop.” He moved his hand up and now it was on Eddie’s chest, his fingers playing through the course hair they discovered. “I did this once, too, and it was nice.”
Eddie blinked. “Mamet.” And nothing more.
“I don’t think anyone can have everything,” Mamet said, coming even closer. His manic eyes were still for the moment. “But if you need something, you should get it. I got a rabbit once.”
“Mamet,” Eddie said again, wondering if it was a protest. He stopped wondering when Mamet’s lips were on his, and now it was breath, not smoke, in his mouth. Eddie closed his eyes and breathed in. Lucas, he thought, but the thought was fleeting. Now Mamet’s tongue was reaching out and touching his, tasting his, and Eddie was powerless not to taste back. Without warning, Mamet’s thin but powerful hand had moved off his chest and was now gripping his cock through his rumpled jeans, his thumb finding the shaft and beginning to stroke.
Oh, Lucas, he thought again, I need … I want. I want you, man, always, I love you man. Forever, Lucas. But oh, this. Now. Fuck, man, it’s Mamet. Oh fuck, man.
Giving up any pretense of resistance, giving in to what he needed, Eddie reached his own hand out and touched Eddie’s T-shirt-covered belly. He lowered his head and rested it on Mamet’s chest. In the darkness behind his eyelids, he whispered, “Thanks, man.”
Mamet’s hand slipped into Eddie’s jeans, his fingertips reaching Eddie’s erect penis at once. “It’s cool, Eddie,” Mamet said, gripping Eddie’s cock and beginning to stroke it. “I got your back.”