Read My Best Man Online

Authors: Andy Schell

Tags: #General, #Fiction

My Best Man (11 page)

BOOK: My Best Man

“Yes,” Amity says sweetly. “I just need a replacement for


the band.” She takes the down scale watch off her wrist and lays it out on the counter. The bright lights of the glass case are unkind to the cheap black leather band, which is cracked and frayed on the sides.

He picks up the watch by one end and dangles it between his bulbous fingers as if he were holding a dead rat by the tail. “It appears you put some wear and tear on your timepiece,” he observes with a sniff.

“This is my work watch,” Amity tells him, undaunted, “it’s seen a lot of action.”

“Do you work construction?” he asks brazenly, adding a smile to get away with it.

Why doesn’t he just slap her in the face? Christ, I can’t believe he’d insult her so boldly. I look at Amity, wait for her to give it right back.

“Yes, I do work construction. I built this mall, darling’,” she answers, smiling.

She’s all class with a sense of humor too. God, my mom really would love her. The salesman definitely doesn’t. “Maybe you should purchase a nylon band this time,” he suggests haughtily.

I hate this mean, Southern class stuff that goes on in Texas. No one in Kansas would treat Amity this way. Well, maybe Winston would. Yes, he’d love to wave his Cartier watch in front of Amity’s face while scornfully looking at her substandard wristwatch. He’s been that way since we were kids measuring his good fortune by what others lack. When my mother bought us new shoes, he always insisted on having a different design that cost more than mine, and he would throw such a fit that my mother always acquiesced to his emotive theatrics. When eating at the club, even as young children, he’d insist that I order first and then make sure to order something more elaborate and expensive. And he loved the ceremonial handing down of his blue blazer to me each year, as he received his new one.

“Nylon is fine with me,” Amity says casually. “It’s just for work.” She thinks, then adds, “And play. And casual affairs. And dressy affairs. Come to think of it, maybe we better go a step above nylon, darling’.”

“A step above nylon?” the clerk chuckles.

I can’t stand to see him treat her this way for one more second “Have you never replaced your Rolex?” I ask her, a disbelieving look on my face.

Amity looks at me. It clicks. “No,” she sighs, playing along.

I look at the salesman. “Silly girl, she left it in the hotel room in Monte Carlo.”

“I did not,” she argues. “It was in Paris. I still had it in Carlo. I lost it in Paris after we spent the day with that duke and duchess from Austria or Atlanta I get the two mixed up.”

“Yucky couple,” I tell him. “All they did was change clothes and eat. Change clothes and eat.”

“Until the duchess practically rammed her tongue down throat in the powder room at the Ritz,” Amity tells the dishily. “That was when I realized she wanted to remove and eat.”

“And then eat some more,” I add, winking at the salesman. ] turn to Amity. “But I really think you lost it in Monte Carlo. think you traded it for chits or chips or whatever they call little gambling denominations the night we got tanked with Stephanie and made those recordings and ended up sleeping on Grimaldi yacht.”

“And which Rolex model did you own?” the man asks cally.

Amity and I take a few steps over to the glass case that everything Rolex. “Was it that one?” I ask, pointing to the piece encircled with diamonds.

“For heaven’s sake, Harry, don’t you remember Barcelona? explained the meaning of gaudy in relation to the work of


That Rolex is GaudL No, darling’, mine was the simple, tasteful standard model,” she says, pointing to it.

“Of course. Let’s replace it,” I say, grabbing the wallet from my pocket and taking out one of the two new credit cards I’ve acquired since landing my steward job. All I’ve bought is a gym membership for myself. It’s time to buy something for Amity. I turn to the clerk. “That one. We’ll take it.” Amity looks at me with awe, an eyebrow raised. The sales clerk has his doubts. But I keep my eyes drilled into him, as if to say, “Get the watch, girlie.” He does. Amity’s right eyebrow raises to meet her left one, and her eyeballs expand like little helium balloons. “Put it on,” I suggest. She’s in shock as she realizes our game has transcended into reality. She places it on her wrist, locks it into place. It fits perfectly. And looks gorgeous. She takes her youthful hand and runs it through her blond hair. “It is so nice to finally have my watch back,” she tells me with a shit-eating grin on her face. She almost has to stifle a laugh.

I know it’s crazy. I have no money. And she already has a watch, but it’s such a pathetic little thing, barely ticking along. And if there were ever a woman who was meant to have a nice flashy watch, it’s Amity. Besides, I just can’t stand to see the saleswoman man treat her with such contempt. I use the credit card with the five-thousand dollar limit. I figure I’ll have a couple thousand dollars to spare. I sign the credit slip, and Amity digs her nails into my arm and says, “Thank you, Harry. Thank you!” She presses her nose against mine and kisses me slowly on the lips. I feel not only her lips, but the sales clerk’s tension. She unlocks our lips, smiles at the clerk, and says, “It is so wonderful you’ve devoted your life to helping others. I just know there’s a special place in heaven for you.”

The clerk rolls his eyes. “What about this?” he asks, once again holding up the tail of the barely ticking dead rat.

“Good Lord, Aunt Stephanie, just throw that piece of shit in the trash,” Amity chimes, grabbing me by the arm and leading me


out. “I’ve got my Rolex back!” And as we leave the store, Amity mutters, I’ll bet his mother lives with him and his wife. And when his wife goes out, his mother puts him in a diaper and spanks him and feeds him apple sauce.”

“Hell’s bells!” Amity says, pounding on the steering wheel her old Granada. It won’t start. The engine turns over, but it make a horrible noise, as if there are shards of glass in the starter. ‘ Lord baby Jesus loves to fuck with me! He knows I got a watch today, so he trashed my car.”

“Do you have AAA?” I ask her.

“No. Couldn’t afford the membership. You?”


“Well,” she says, slumping down into the seat, “I’m sure to pay for it now, Bubba. Five times more than that AAA

ship would ever cost.”

We have the sexy Maxwell-Grey valet boys call us a tow, we wait an hour for the guy to show up. We ride in the pulling the old Granada behind us, and when we get to the shop, the mechanic tells Amity it needs a new starter. I pull out different credit card to pay the tow guy and the repair man. Amity keeps fussing about how we’re going to pay off the and insists on taking the Rolex back, but I tell her not to Somehow we’ll get by.

“This is the third time in a year that this piece of shit has down on me,” she sighs. “Oh, well. Now this gorgeous watch my wrist will tell what time it is when my car breaks down. didn’t you get yourself a watch, Harry? Huh?”

“Because I’m happy with my Timex,” I tell her factly.

I’ve been plugging along since I was seventeen, making my in the world and knowing that it’s possible to survive on my I really am happy with my Timex, my casual clothes, my old car. But I have to say it’s a kick to meet someone who


the opulent things my family likes and who actually gets excited about ownership rather than feeling it’s an inalienable right.

Amity, Jackie, and I have just finished eating dinner at the Highland Park Cafeteria a large cafeteria that caters to the kind of families I’ve been running from my entire life: white, conservative, suburban clans tri bed out in Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley ensembles. The place was loaded with parents whose children were miniature versions of themselves. Absolute clones in penny loafers and espadrilles, their wee hands folded while saying grace, their tongues orange from smuggled sips of fruit punch. The food was great, but there was something disturbing about seeing three-year-old girls with hairdos and makeup, and four-year-old boys who look like investment bankers, asking Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, to bless their squares of Jell-O.

We climb into Jacqueline’s old silver-colored Volvo. “Let’s drive through Highland Park!” Amity suggests.

Ever amiable, Jacqueline steers toward the money.

“Can you believe that woman thought her husband was choking?” Amity asks, referring to a woman who began yelling out for a doctor in the cafeteria.

“He just didn’t want to talk to her,” Jackie offers. “He wasn’t choking. That’s why she threatened to do the Heimlich maneuver on him to get him talking.”

I laugh, rolling down my window to invite the cool spring air into the car. “I thought she was saying Heinrich.”

“I’d love to do the Heinrich maneuver,” Amity answers. “Ja jato those German boys!”

“They wear dark socks and sandals over their dirty feet,” Jackie complains. “They have dirty feet that smell.”

“So suck their dicks, Jackie, not their feet,” Amity answers frankly.

Jacqueline looks disgusted and lights a cigarette.

As we roll into Highland Park, Amity shakes and shivers over


the wealthy neighborhood full of old-money homes. My have friends who live here, and my family visited one when I was twelve, but I let Amity think I’m seeing it for the first i time.

Amity’s stomach is full but her eyes are hungry. She claims affinity with the tasteful, venerable properties of Highland Park the families who go with them. It makes me nervous to see her attracted to the world from which I came. I know that her is not from the same station, not with the way she views it.

are we ever going to live here? Girl, we’ve got to get ourselves right guy.”

“I don’t want a boyfriend,” Jacqueline declares.

“Who would? After Arthur!” Author.

“Who’s Arthur?” I ask.

“My old boyfriend,” Jacqueline yells above The Motels, are blasting on the radio. “Arthur was an asshole. He was asshole.” She pronounces his name as Author also.

“He wrecked Jacqueline’s Jaguar,” Amity says, lighting

“He has no conscience.”

“You ought to know,” Jacqueline tells Amity.

I wait for Amity to explain herself, but she raises the joint her lips and sucks in without a word. It’s a pretty cavalier to someone who’s accused you of having no conscience. “What was that about?” I ask.

Amity ignores me, looks out the window.

“You guys have a secret?” I pry.

“Arthur was an asshole,” Jacqueline repeats for the third Amity and Jacqueline seem to agree that the secret is theirs, I push no farther. I take the joint, inhale a large hit, and watch world go by. In the front seat, the girls look great to Grace Kelly and an offbeat runway model motoring in a junk As the dope soaks into me, I have a creeping feeling

My belly is full and I’m driving around with two bad-assesses one of them capturing my heart. Life isn’t at all bad. I realize I’ve succeeded in being happy in my life with nothing and that means I’m entitled to something. And someone. And if the right guy isn’t going to be that someone, maybe I should open my eyes to the gift in front of me.

Only the lonely can play.


pril comes, and on its first day, Marvin Gaye’s father him dead, and Amity takes to playing “Sexual Healing” the stereo for the rest of the month. My ex, Matthew, me to tell me he’s taken up with the boy next door, who, shamelessly tells me, is a haircutter[ Some twenty-one year who skipped college for hair-burning school is kissing Matthew”, beautifully educated lips, but I wasn’t good enough as a fli attendant? Oh, yeah, he tells me: “Derrick is from money.


Louis banking family. And they don’t care that he’s gay.” That fucking Matthew. I knew it. It’s what he wanted all a free ride. A bank to pay off his student loans. One of the I was attracted to him was that he was from a middle-class and had to put himself through school and had chosen to toward a selfless career. Selfless my ass. He’d been waiting along for the day when I’d graduate from student takeout food haute cuisine and dump my VW for a BMW. And that’s why dumped me after the reading of the will . as soon as he wouldn’t have a dowry until I was a practicing heterosexual.

How could I be so stupid?


In his suit, at the BMW dealership, JT is tall, dynamic, and even sexier than when he’s wearing shorts and a tank top at the gym. I look into his green glacier eyes and tell him I’d like to take a test drive. “Listen,” he tells me, handing me the keys to a new black 325 with leather interior. “I’ve got an appointment with another customer in five minutes. Why don’t you take this baby out for a spin take your time. Maybe take it home and show it off to your… ? Anybody at home, Harry?”

“A girl,” I say. “She’s just a friend. Your situation’s a little different, huh?” I ask, motioning to his wedding ring.

“Nah,” he says, a roguish grin on his face, “just a girl.”

Black. Five speed. Leather interior. Killer stereo. Sunroof. I drive out of the lot and steer straight for home.

“Oh, my Gawd!” Amity screams, running out the back door. “Harry! I love it! Is it yours?”

“Hell, no. I’m just trying to get laid,” I laugh, yelling out the window.

“Life’s a game show, baby. Go for the fuck and the car.” “Get in,” I yell. “It’ll turn into a pumpkin if I don’t get it back soon.” I scroll back the sunroof, and through the opening I can see the campus water tower.

“A Beamer!” she whoops, running toward the car. She touches the hood, then falls onto it and hugs the car as if it’s her gigantic newborn child. She then pushes off and rushes to the driver’s window to peer in. “Wait,” she says. “I’m going to run in and twist one up.” She flies into the house to roll a joint. I check out the stereo, put the seats back, honk the horn. “I’m coming!” she screams through a window, answering my honks.

“I was just trying to hear what it sounds like,” I yell.

“No, I mean I’m coming.t” she pants, faking an orgasm. Then she climaxes like a porn star on Gatorade and slams the window shut. Two seconds later she flies out the back door, locks it, and


runs toward the car while sticking a freshly twisted joint her ear, the way a secretary stows a pencil. I hold the driver’s door open for her. “Me?”

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