Brad’s Search : Part 2

I’m back at Cooters with Gary and Harry. Instead of the usual busty blonde, the most incredibly attractive man is our server. I check my wallet to make sure I have enough cash for an extra-large tip, and decide to pull out an old receipt and write my number on it. Wait, where is Stan? Why am I trying to get in my incredibly hot server’s pants? I don’t seem to care.

* BANG *

I shot awake. How pathetic. I can’t even get any sex in my dreams.

Stan isn’t next to me in bed, either. Perhaps he’s still out.

“God damn it!”

Perhaps not.

“Stan? Is that you?”

“I stubbed my fuckin’ toe!”

I get up and head to the living room. I turn on a lamp and shine some light on an ironically dim situation. He is sitting on the couch, foot in hand. He appears to be breathing, which is sadly all I’m really concerned with at the moment.

“Where the hell have you been all night?!”

“Calm down. I just had a couple of drinks at R Place with some friends.”

“And you’re coming back at this time of the morning?”

“I would have been home sooner if we lived in Capitol Hill.”

I cross my arms. “Smells like you’ve been smoking some pot, too.”

“So what? Cops don’t care.”

“Stan, how are you going to pay for college? Your parents just took away the only financial support you really had. You have to get your own job. I can’t make enough for the both of us.”

“Give me a break, Brad; that only happened a week ago.”

I could feel my blood beginning to boil.

“One week should be enough time for you to just start looking for jobs. But what have you done for the past four nights? Go out drinking and smoking pot with friends. Meanwhile, I’m working my ass off putting a roof over both of our heads.”

“All right, all right. I’ll go out tomorrow after classes and try to find something. Can we just get to bed already?”

“I’ll go to bed, but as long as you’re smelling like that, you’ll be sleeping on the couch.”

I don’t even wait for his response. I turned around and walked back to the bedroom. Looks like I won’t get any sex in my dreams or real life tonight.

* * * * *

Today was a pretty uneventful day at work. I work for this technology company testing software and writing documentation. It’s OK work, but I would much rather have a job where I’m up on my feet and moving around. Gary, Harry, and I sometimes jog or play racquetball together to stay active, but we haven’t been able to get to the gym lately. Anyway, I finished all of my work early, so I was able to leave a few hours earlier than I normally do. Flex time is great!

As I leave the building, I pull out my phone and call Gary.

“Hey Brad, what’s going on?”

“I just got off work early. Any chance you and Harry are up for some racquetball? I need to release my frustration on some blue balls, and I’m not talking about mine. Those are frustrated enough as it is.”

I almost went deaf from the guffaw on the other end.

“Sure thing! Where do you want to meet?”

“I still have to head home to get my gym clothes. How about we just meet at the gym in about an hour?”

“That’s cool with me. I’ll let Harry know, and we’ll see you there!”

I hang up and hop on the monorail. I usually take the #3 or 4 bus, but today I feel like riding above the streets.

I unlock the door and head inside. I notice Stan’s cell phone on the coffee table, which is odd because he’s not normally home this early. I call out for him, take a look around, and notice he is, in fact, not home at all. He must have forgotten his phone on his way to class this morning. I head to the bedroom to change into my gym clothes, when I hear the phone ring. I walk back to the coffee table and pick up the phone. It reads “Sophie Baxter”, who I recognize as one of his classmates he used to visit to study together. I decide to answer.

“Hey Sophie? It’s Brad.”

“Oh hey, Brad. Is Stan around?”

“No, he’s not here. He must have left his phone at home.”

“Oh. I was just calling because I’m a little concerned. We haven’t seen him for the past three days.”

“Wait, you mean he wasn’t in class today?”

“No. He’s just disappeared. Do you have any idea where he is? We’re really worried about him.”

There goes my blood beginning to boil again. I could heat the entire city of Seattle. I tried to remain calm, though. Sophie isn’t the one I should be angry with.

“I’m sorry, Sophie. I have no idea where Stan is. He’s been coming home really late at night this whole week. He told me he was going to look for a job after class today, but if he wasn’t even in class, who knows what he’s up to now.”

“Do you think it has something to do with his parents?”

“Most definitely. I guess he’s told you what he’s told me. Truth is, I’m really not sure what to do about it or where to go from here.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out, Brad. Hopefully he shows up to class on Monday, but if not, if you see him, just tell him we’re concerned about him and to call us and tell us what’s going on.”

“I’ll be sure to give him the message, Sophie. Thanks for calling.”

“You’re welcome, Brad. Have a good weekend.”

“You too!”

* * * * *

“That mother fucker!” Gary exclaims as he hurls a blue rubber ball toward the far end of the court. When it flies toward me, I smack it as hard as I could, aiming at an imaginary Stan on the wall.

“I told you he was nothing but trouble. I’ve been telling you that since the beginning.” Harry slams the ball as hard as he could.

“Why didn’t you guys say anything before?”

“Oh, come on. You know it’s not our job to interfere with your love life.” Gary pounds the ball once more. “If you’ve found someone who makes you happy, who are we to break that apart?”

“I’d much rather have not wasted the time and effort. But why couldn’t I sense it before?”

The ball strikes me hard. I hadn't even been looking.

Gary offers one of his many pieces of wisdom. “Reality is a lot like that blue ball. Sometimes you’re not aware of it until it smacks you right in the head.”

“Thanks.” I don’t think I could’ve been any more sarcastic if I tried. “You guys hungry? I skipped lunch and my stomach is groaning louder than a sleazy porn star in a free porn video.”

* * * * *

Gary, Harry, and I stop at the corner Starbucks for a quick bite to eat since it is nearly dinnertime.

“You really need to drop Stan. I mean, going out and partying is acceptable for getting over something as serious as your parents basically telling you that you’re living in sin, but Stan has to grow his own pair, find himself a job, and get himself through college. He can’t depend on you for everything.”

“Especially after he lied to you about going to class.”

“You know, guys, the more and more I think about it, the more I agree with you.”

“Then all is right with the universe.”

We all laugh together. I have never met anyone as great, no, perfect, as Gary and Harry. The three of us all lean on each other from time to time. We know each other better than anyone else. And we’re always there for each other. You truly could not ask for better friends. They simply don’t exist. This is as good as they get.

“We definitely need to do something tomorrow night. You game?”

“Gina and I have a special date night tonight, but I should be free tomorrow.”

“You know I’m always free on the weekend. Never had a girl come home with me yet; I don’t see how tomorrow will be any different.”

“Oh, come on, Harry; ask out that barista. She looks like she could get her hands on more than that espresso machine.”

Harry and I both roll our eyes.

“You going to talk to Stan tonight?”

“Not likely. He’ll probably be getting in late again, stoned and drunk.”

“Well, promise us you’ll talk to him tomorrow then. Set him straight. Then tell us how it went tomorrow?”

“I’ll try.” I let out a very heavy sigh. “I just wish it didn’t have to be this hard.”

Gary grabs my shoulder with his right hand. “It never should be. When you find the right match, things will just flow. You’ll know when it happens.”

“Thanks guys. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“You’d wind up like Harry; single and a virgin for your entire life.”

Harry smiles. Harry can be particularly vulnerable to all sorts of criticism, but he always knows where Gary and I come from. We all know where each other comes from. While we know our own situation is not ideal, we still find a way to bring humor to it. Because really, you can’t change the way the wind blows, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, you may not have much control over your situation, but you can change how you react to it.

Gary pulls me into a tight hug, then lets go. Harry grips me tightly against his body and then releases as well. I say goodbye to Gary and Harry and head home, unsure of where tonight will go, but sure of what I want the rest of the future to look like.