First, thanks to all of you for your feedback and encouragement; it really pushed me to finish this episode, and even start working on episode five. The writing in this episode is a bit more "story-ish" and less "script-ish." I feel it has a better connection for the reader, and this is probably the direction the rest of the episodes will go in (if you guys like this direction). I hope you enjoy this week's episode, and keep in mind, it's meant to be like a show.
Plan of Action
Parked outside Chance’s house, Alex honks his horn with attitude. He glances at his watch and smacks his lips. “What the hell is Chance doing?” He slams his palm into the horn again, letting it blare for a long time.
“Hey, fucker, stop hitting that horn,” an old white man shouts from a window. “Have some goddamn patience.”
Alex whips his head around in the direction of the voice, starts rolling his neck, unbuckling his seat belt, reaching for the door handle, about to let this old fool know how he handles flippant mouths. Chance, seemingly from thin air, flies into the passenger's seat. “Sorry about that, Mr. Wakowski,” he says, closing the passenger's door. “Alex,” he shouts, grabbing Alex’s shirt and pulling him back into the car, “that’s my neighbor."
“I don’t care. Don’t nobody talk to me like that.” Alex makes another attempt to get out the car. Chance pulls him back again. He gives up and slams his door shut. “Ooh...Jesus, take this wheel. Jesus, please keep me out of jail today. ”
Chance slides his seat belt across his chest. “I’m sorry I’m late, but Eddie and I were…uh… doing…something.”
“Bitch, I know y’all wasn’t having sex while I’m out here getting cussed out by your crazy ass neighbors.”
Chance smiles widely.
“I oughta bash your head against this dashboard,” says Alex, fastening his seat belt. “Got me waiting in this damn car while you two bald headed fools up there having sex. And y’all know I ain’t 100%, Chance. I'm still under the weather.”
Chance waves his hand at Alex. “Oh, please. You wait an extra five minutes and it’s the end of the world. Drive.”
Alex starts the engine. “I don’t know how you managed to get Ricky to come to lunch with us. Ain’t nobody seen his ass in weeks.”
Chance sighs, placing a hand against his forehead. “I told him it would be just you, me, and him. Pulling teeth would’ve been more fun.”
“I had to tell Noah the same thing. I just want this shit to be over. Got me driving all over this city. Hell, my lungs are likely to give out any minute."
"They are not." Chance turns on the radio, noisily flipping through stations. Alex pushes his hand away and turns the radio off. “Chance, I ain’t in the mood for all that damn whining they call music these days.”
“It’s Baroque day on KUSC; they’re playing Vivaldi this afternoon. I haven’t heard “Winter” in ages.”
“And I for damn sure don’t want to hear no dead white men playing violins.”
“I want to hear Vivaldi.”
“You touch that radio again, and you’ll be joining Babaldi.”
“Fine. I give up. So what’s the plan of action again?”
“I told you over the phone--for them to work this shit out. I can’t take all this drama. You know I never like drama.”
Chance smirks. “Sure. Well…aside from ruining my wedding, right?”
Alex makes a hard left. He’s always quiet when he’s wrong.
All This Damn Drama
Alex and Chance walk into the café and finds Ricky already sitting at a table in the back. Unshaven and wearing dark shades, Ricky leans back in his chair, stretches out his legs, and fiddles with his Sidekick. Chance looks out the window and sees Noah feeding a parking meter. “Noah’s here,” he says, pointing.
“Go out and bring him in. I’ll keep Ricky at the table,” says Alex, pushing Chance out the café door.
With determined steps, Alex walks over to Ricky. Ricky’s head is thrown back, and he is now squirting Visine into his right eye. Clearing his throat, Alex says, “Bitch, you look rough,” He sits down. “Sorry we’re late, but Chance and Eddie was fucking, while my black ass was getting cussed out by some old white man. Chance is parking.”
“It’s alright,” Ricky says, squirting Visine into his left eye. A fine high-yella waiter places a bread basket in the center of the table. Ricky doesn’t even acknowledge him. Alex is speechless.
After a few minutes of tapping his fingers on the table, looking left and right around the café, Alex finally says, “Uh…you know I’ve been sick, right?”
“No. I haven’t been up on the T, gir,” Ricky says, scrunching his face.
“Funny, bitch.” Alex folds his arms across his chest. “It was serious. I was laid up in the bed for a week with Trey cooking for me. Trey. Cooking. I was channeling Shug Avery up in that room. Damn near everything he brought me ended up on the walls.”
Ricky half smiles.
Alex takes a sip of water. “So you just gone forget about us, huh?” he asks.
Ricky breathes out. “Alex, it’s not that. It’s…just…that I’m going through some things.”
“I got that. But we’re your friends, Ricky. Ain’t nothing that deep that you can’t come to us.”
Ricky takes off his glasses. “Look at these dark circles,” he says.
Alex jumps. “Damn, bitch,” he says, laughing.
“See,” says Ricky, snatching a roll from the bread basket and throwing it at Alex. “Everything is a joke to you.”
Alex shrieks. “Oh, now you’ve done it, Ricky.”
Ricky sits up straight. “Okay, you’re going to read me, right…gir?”
Alex stands up, adjusts his Louis Vuitton messenger bag. “Let me tell you something Ricky,” he says, snatching a bread roll from the basket. He aims it at Ricky’s head. “I was feeling sorry for your ass, but you don’t even deserve that. We’re all going through shit! Every time my telephone rings, my stomach drops because I think it’s Oje’s doctors with bad news. Every damn morning, I pray to God to keep me and my friends in his arms…”
“What the fuck!” says Ricky, looking past Alex to see Chance dragging a resisting Noah into the café. “I knew you two were up to something. I knew it!” He pushes his chair from the table, stands up to leave. Alex pushes him back down. “Hey!”
“Stay your ass right there.”
“Chance,” says Noah, trying his best to wrench free from Chance’s death grip, “this is ridiculous. Let me go!”
“All this damn drama y’all creating,” says Alex, rolling his eyes at Ricky. “We finna nip it, zip it, and clip it. Trust.”
Chance throws Noah in the chair next to Ricky. Breathing hard, he says, “Now, let’s talk.”
At Crunch gym, a sweaty and shirtless Wade balances himself on a silver fitness ball. “Trey, if Noah finds out, I’m dead.”
Trey stretches in front of the gym mirror, occasionally flexing his pecs or calves. Rolling his back forward and bending deep, he says, “I think you’ve lost your mind.”
Wade leans back on the ball and starts doing crunches. “Maybe I have. First we started emailing each other, then webcamming, and now he wants to fly to LA.”
Trey turns around, stares at Wade. “Maybe? You have lost your damn mind. You’d better end this shit now, Wade.”
“He told me he still loved me last night.”
Trey goes back to stretching. “See, now you’re in too deep. What do you want me to say?”
“Man, I just had to get this off my chest. It’s fucked up, Trey. He knows just what to say to me.”
Trey walks over and kicks the fitness ball. “Wade, get the hell out of fantasy land, man. You’re married now, and talking to you ex-boyfriend is not only stupid, it’s dangerous.”
Wade stands up. “I can’t lie, Trey. I think I still feel something for Dre. That’s the part I can’t shake.”
They move over to the weight bench. Trey sprays the bench with Lysol before spotting Wade. “You better stop this story right here. Don’t tell me anymore, because Alex can smell drama a thousand miles away. All he has to do is look at me and he knows I know something.”
“I can trust you, right?”
“Forget about me. Can you trust yourself?”
That’s What Friends are For
“Aww…ain’t they cute,” says Alex, resting his head on Chance’s shoulder.
Ricky and Noah hug each other for a long time, their tears wetting each other's shirts. “Noah…I’m sorry,” Ricky says, squeezing Noah tighter.
“No, I’m the one who is sorry.”
Alex snaps his fingers at them. “Both of you are sorry.”
“Noah,” says Ricky, “I’m going to do my best to get past this.” Noah nods, and they hug again.
“Let’s hurry up and order. We done made a damn scene up in here,” Alex says, reaching for the menu.
“Thanks, you guys,” says Noah, getting up from his seat. He hugs Alex and Chance.
“That’s what friends are for,” says Chance.
No More Drama
At 2:42 in the morning, Noah turns over in his bed, throwing his arms around what should be Wade. Instead his arms fall to the bed. He pats the bed until he reaches the end. “Wade,” he calls, sleepily. “Bathroom,” he mumbles. He uses this opportunity to hog the covers. He dozes back off. Fifteen minutes later he wakes up again and repeats his earlier actions. Same result. This time, he sits up, lazily wipes the sleep from his eyes, and checks the clock. He goes to turn on the light, but he stops himself. His feet instinctively search for his slippers, but he also stops that.
Balancing on the balls of his feet, he slides out the bedroom door, slinks down the stairs, stopping mid step when he hears Wade talking in a quiet voice. His stomach goes queasy; his heart races; his feet are unsteady. He grips the banister to steady himself. He knows it’s bad. Go back upstairs. He ignores the voice in his head and continues. He tiptoes around the living room, ducking behind the love seat when Wade comes into view. He slowly raises his head and peeks over the love seat, and sees Wade outside on the deck, a sheet wrapped around him, his laptop opened. He squints, trying to make out what’s on the laptop screen. He’s too far away, so he crawls closer, using the end table as a shield. He snakes around the table until he’s a few inches from the deck doors. One door is open. Probably to listen out for me. He crawls a little further, and props himself up against the wall adjacent to the door. He can’t see the screen anymore, but he can hear.
“I do miss your kisses,” Wade says, his voice low and sexy—a voice Noah thought only he was privy to.
Oh, my GOD! Noah covers his mouth. He stops breathing.
“You know I’m the best kiss you’ve ever had, Wade,” the voice on the laptop says. “Remember that time…”
Noah mulls over the voice. It takes him 10 or so seconds before he recognizes it. Dre! It all dawns on him. That’s what been going on. He’s been fucking talking to Dre. That bastard! He crawls to the kitchen, tears falling from his eyes, his ears full and his head pounding, his thoughts driving 100 miles per hour. He violently opens the refrigerator and grabs the Brita pitcher. He stomps to the deck, pushes the doors open, turns Wade laptop toward him and takes the pitcher of water and pours it directly into the keyboard. The screen goes black. “NOAH!” Noah turns around and throws the pitcher at Wade’s before running off. Wade swerves out the way. “Listen to me, Noah,” he says, running after Noah. Running up the hall stairs, he grabs Noah’s ankle. Noah bashes him on the top of his head with his fist until he lets go.
“Fuck you, Wade.” Noah slams the bedroom door, locking it. He ignores Wade’s frantic beating and shouts for him to open the door. He opens the dresser drawers and closets, snatching clothes from each and stuffing them into his gym bag. When he’s finished, he yanks the door open, causing Wade to fall inside. He steps over him, and sprints down the stairs. Grabbing his car keys, laptop, and coat he bolts out the front door, not bothering to close it behind him.
Wade, holding his skinned knee and limping down the stairs, hears Noah’s car screeching off. “DAMN!!!!!!!”
“Why'd I play the fool?
Go through ups and downs
Knowing all the time
You wouldn’t be around
Or maybe I liked the stress
‘Cuz I was young and restless
But that was long ago
I don’t wanna cry no more”
Noah drives—his direction unclear. His eyes, swollen and red, can’t stop tearing. He runs a red light. The windows are rolled down, and the wind slaps his face as he slams his foot on the gas. At an intersection, he runs another red light; a car nearly swipes the left side of his car. It jolts him back to his senses. He pulls over. He sits there and tries to catch his breath. He rests his head against the steering wheel, and lets the pain flood him; sobs rack his body.
No More Drama!
I’m tired of all this drama
No More Drama!
Go ‘head, go ‘head you demons get out of my face
Gone, get out of my life
I’m about to lose my mind
Lord, help me get happiness
I need some peace of mind”
He starts the engine up again and drives. Ten minutes later, he is outside Ricky’s apartment. He presses the buzzer until his finger goes numb. “WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?”
His voice breaking, Noah says his name. He is buzzed in immediately. He waits for the elevator, constantly pushing the call button.
“Noah!” Ricky flies out of the stairwell, his robe falling off his shoulders, barefoot. “What happened?” He hugs him, pulling his friend tight into his body. Noah collapses in his embrace. “Talk to me.” Noah just sobs. The elevator arrives, and they get in. “Noah, are you hurt?”
“Ricky, I can’t do this anymore.”
Ricky lifts Noah’s chin. “Do what?”
Noah breaks down again. Ricky holds him and lets him get it out.
Inside Ricky’s apartment, Ricky get’s Noah a bottle of Pellegrino, and he watches him try to drink it down in between sobs. “Do you want to talk?” he asks.
“Just hold me,” Noah says, reaching for Ricky’s arm. Ricky places his arms around Noah. “Hold me, Ricky.” He rests his head on Ricky’s shoulder. They stay this way a long time.
“Noah…uh…is this about Wade?”
Noah slowly inches his head up to Ricky’s neck. He turns his face, so that his face is buried in Ricky’s neck.
Ricky goes rigid. “Noah?” he says, afraid to move. He feels Noah nuzzle his neck before tenderly kissing it. He looks down to find Noah staring up at him. He looks into his eyes and melts. “God, you’re beautiful.”
A tear from Ricky falls into Noah’s eye. “Ricky, don’t” he says, hoarsely. He wipes away Ricky tears. He wraps his hands around the back of Ricky’s neck and pulls him close to his face. He gently bites Ricky’s lower lip, sucking it into his warm mouth. Ricky tongue tentatively enters Noah’s willing mouth. Noah pulls Ricky into his body, and he surrenders.
Lyrics used in the work belong to Mary J. Blige, and are used without permission.