I wanted to punch myself for seeing something comical in the way Kevin looked around before looking up. I didn’t want to find my oldest friend funny. Not when I was stabbing him in the back.
“Hey, Vince,” he shouted when he saw me. “Where you been hiding?”
“Been around. Been around. Just been round your place, actually.”
“Yeah? What were you doing there?”
I didn’t want to say it. I really didn’t want to say it.
“Can you wait a minute?” I asked. “I’ll come down.”
“Nah, gotta catch Cyndi. Can’t keep her waiting. Look, give me a buzz, OK? We’ll have a beer some time.”
“You’re not.” There. I’d said it.
“Can’t hear you,” he said. “Shout it out.”
“She isn’t waiting for you.” I hadn’t meant to bellow, but he heard me that time.
“I was round your flat to help her move out.”
“Yeah, move out. I’m sorry man, I just…”
I just what? What was I going to say? I just stole your girlfriend, now let’s have that beer? Whatever was coming next, I knew I deserved it.
“She move in with you?” he asked.
“Uh, yeah. How’d you know?”
My voice was faltering, but he didn’t ask me to shout that up and down the street.
“You think I’m blind? Been wondering what you were waiting for. Please tell me you took that smelly dog of hers with you?”
“The dog? Yeah.”
“She tell you the mutt’s not housetrained?”
“Cool! She tell you I was paying a hundred quid a week for her hairdresser?”
“Hairdresser. Hannah, her name is. Best around here, she says. Most expensive, anyway. You’ll be paying for her now.”
“And a word to the wise, you’d better take her out to dinner at least twice a week or there’ll be trouble. Three times is better.”
“Oh, mate, you don’t want to know.” He shook his head and whistled. “Well, I guess you’re about to find out.”
I’m not sure what I said, but I must have mumbled something.
“Oh don’t worry about that,” he said. “I’ll send you the bills.”
“Bills?” Whatever I’d said, I hadn’t asked a question to which bills were the answer.
“Yeah, seeing as you just took all her stuff I paid for. No need for a lawyer, is there? We’re mates!”
“You sound like a parrot. She been training you already? Anyway, I’ll work it out and bring it round.”
“Right.” It wasn’t quite what I meant.
Kevin flashed the grin he’d been using on teachers, friends and girls since we’d been in nursery school together. Now I thought about it, I hadn’t seen much of it since he’d taken up with Cyndi.
“See you around mate,” he said. “Give me a call when you want to go for that beer.”