Books: The Thin Man
Submission by Terrence Moss. Terrence is a short fiction writer and media commentator with articles featured on Associated Content and Suite 101. More “Starring Erick Davidson” stories appear in the blogosphere section of www.frontiersweb.com. Other works can be found at www.terrencemoss.blogspot.com
Erick Davidson is an early thirtysomething from New Jersey who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade.
“Isn’t that Ryan Martin?” Erick asks Chris as the two of them are having Saturday brunch at Basix Café in West Hollywood.
Chris turns around. “Where?”
“He’s leaning against a tree with his arms crossed.”
Chris leans back in his chair and then turns back around. “Great. Who is he?”
Erick and Ryan had met in 2006, shortly after Erick returned from his disappointing summer in New York City and took a job at Walgreen’s until he could figure out what his next steps would be. Erick and Ryan frequently worked the same evening shifts and often went out for cheap drinks at a dive bar near the corner Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards.
Erick didn’t work long at Walgreen’s before taking another advertising job that was offered to him by a former colleague from his first job at SoCal. With their differing schedules, Erick and Ryan’s bar diving became more and more infrequent. When Erick was transferred to Massachusetts for work, he and Ryan exchanged texts, emails and played phone tag a few times before losing touch altogether.
“I haven’t seen or heard from him in over three years,” Erick realizes.
“Why not? Did you guys have a fight?”
“Not that I know of, but I see what he’s been up to.”
“And what is that?”
“He’s lost a shit ton of weight.”
“What did he look like before?”
Erick puts his fork down and leans forward with this elbows on the table as he attempts to construct the image of the former Ryan for Chris. “Let’s say Ryan was an actor who padded himself instead of just gaining weight for a role.”
“So he’s wearing padding now? How skinny is he?” Chris asks as he takes a sip of coffee.
“No. What I’m saying is that if he were wearing padding today to look bigger, he would look like what he looked like then.”
Chris stares at Erick blankly. “I should ask this a different way. How much weight do you think he’s lost?”
“I don’t know, but he looks like he lost about half of himself.”
“Maybe he’s meeting up with that other half.”
Erick snickers. Ryan looks up and around. Erick thinks he sees him looking in his general direction and waves to get his attention. If Ryan recognizes Erick, he doesn’t let on and resumes text messaging. “I think I’ll go say hello,” Erick says as he gets up from the table.
“What if he doesn’t recognize you?”
“Because I look the same now as I did then.”
“How silly of me,” Chris says to himself as he takes picks up a slice of bacon and eats it.
Erick walks through the patio and down two small steps toward the tree that Ryan is leaning against. Erick’s black and white Vans shoes enter Ryan’s downward view. “Hey, Ryan. Remember me? It’s Erick.”
Ryan lifts his head and sighs. “Yes, I remember you.”
“Where have you been hiding?”
“I haven’t been.”
“It’s been a long time.”
“That it has.”
“Who are you waiting for?”
There’s an awkward pause as Erick waits for details that clearly won’t be forthcoming. “Do you come here often?”
“No. I live in Silver Lake now.”
“I’ve been meaning to explore that more and more.”
“You should. It’s nice over there.”
“I’ve heard. I live in Hollywood, so it’s not too far.”
“Then you have no excuse.”
“This is true.” There’s another awkward pause as Erick tries to decide if he should continue the conversation or not. “You look great, by the way.”
“I know. I’ve worked hard,” Ryan says pointedly.
“How did you do it?” Erick asks with a mixture of interest and envy.
“I stopped drinking. I got rid of my car and started walking everywhere. I found a workout buddy and a hiking buddy. And I significantly restricted my diet.”
“Wow. Well, it has paid off. Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” Ryan says while giving Erick a once-over that suggests he may want to incorporate some of those things into his own life.
“Well, let me get back to brunch. Maybe we’ll see each other again around town.”
“Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. You never know.” Ryan responds as he picks up a call and looks around for his brunch companion.
Erick turns around slowly, rolls his eyes, walks up the two small steps and through the patio back to his table. He sits down and cuts his eyes in Ryan’s direction. “It’s amazing how someone can lose a few pounds and then starts dressing and acting as if Clooney himself should be jealous.”
“What happened?” Chris asks.
“He was so rude and dismissive to me as if I mistreated him when he was a human floating device and now he’s exacting revenge,” Erick hisses. “If I ever lose half of myself, make sure it’s the obnoxious half.”
Bradley the ridiculously cute maitre’d seats Ryan and his brunch companion at a nearby table. Erick glares viciously at Ryan, but puts on a phony smile as Ryan sees Chris and walks over with his friend, who is also ridiculously cute. “Who’s your friend?” Erick asks as Ryan approaches.
“This is my dear friend Nolan, who’s visiting from St. Louis and considering a relocation,” Ryan explains. “Nolan, this is my old, old friend Erick and a very handsome feller.”
Chris smiles politely and shakes hands with both of them. “I’m Chris, Erick’s boyfriend.”
“Oh really? Well, one never knows where they’re going to find love,” Ryan responds with a condescending smile.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” Nolan says.
“Well, we are starving so we will let you two finish up and we’ll see you both again very soon,” Ryan declares as he allows Nolan to walk ahead of him. Ryan then grazes the length of Chris’s upper back with his finger as he follows Nolan back to their table.
“He’s turned into quite the piece of work.”
“Don’t worry about him, Erick. He shouldn’t be wearing tight, white shirts anyway.”
“Why not? He looks really good.”
“So does the scar on his stomach.”
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