Chapter Twenty Two: Pretty Little Chuckle.
Andy went back to the bedroom, it seemed Jay was preoccupied and so he imagined it would be better to have the discussion with Mel away from him thereby not distracting him and having some privacy just in case it was something she wanted to discuss without Jay nearby.
Andy waited patiently as he heard the sound of his phone that indicated Mel’s’ was ringing. Finally, Mel picked up.
“Hello,” came her voice.
“Hey Mel,” Andy started, but was cut off instantly.
“You’ve reached Melanie Marcus unfortunately I am either in court or just not available at this point in time. Please leave a message and I will get back to you at the earliest convenience. Thank you.”
Andy, though annoyed admired Mel’s message. It certainly was much more professional then the one he had left on his machine when he went to Pittsburg to advise Jay of what Edward had done. That in turn had reminded him that he needed to replace it and he made a note to do so as soon as he got home.
No time for that now though.
“Ah, hi Mel. It’s Andy, I’m so sorry I missed all ten of your calls. I had my phone on silent, it’s a bad habit. Anyway I’m rambling and I know how much you hate that,” he laughed. “So my phone is on loud now so please call me back at your earliest convenience and ah…sorry again.”
He knew it had sounded quite lame, but at least he had responded and now it was time to get onto Lauren.
This process proved to be much easier as she picked up on the first ring.
“Hey Andy,” Lauren answered sounding surprised.
“Hey Lauren,” Andy replied. “Do you mind if I take today off? If it’s an inconvenience feel free to say no, but I’ve got the feeling something’s going on at home. I’ve missed ten calls from my attorney and-”
But Lauren stopped him.
“Hey, Andy, Whoa!” she replied. “First of all, I’m surprised Jay didn’t tell you that it’s already arranged and secondly, of course! You know I have no problems with you missing work if it truly is an emergency.”
Andy stood still. Why indeed had Jay not informed him? It was not like him to still be keeping secrets was it? Then again, maybe he was hoping to surprise him.
“Andy?...Andy?!? You there?” Lauren yelled into the phone.
“Oh, yeah sorry,” Andy replied coming back from his thoughts. “No Jay never told me-”.
Again he was cut off by his best friend.
“What?” she asked confused. “Don’t tell me he still hasn’t come up there? Oh Andy I’m so sorry, I’m grabbing the key now and-”.
But this time it was Andy’s turn to cut her off.
“No. He’s here and ah, about coming up. Let’s just say he’s in a bit of a um… compromising position if you get my drift.”
“Compr-…” Lauren started. But then it hit her. “Oh, Ooooooooh! Oh Andy, you dog you!” she grinned devilishly.
“Let’s just say, we more than made up,” Andy replied not helping the smile that was spreading across his face.
“Wow! Good on you guys, I’m so happy to hear it!” Lauren cheerfully responded. “I like that kid; I think you’ve landed a good one Andy.”
“You’re making him sound like trout you know,” Andy laughed. “And trust me, nothing about him screams fish.”
Lauren made a sound that was unmistakingly similar to that of spitting out coffee.
“Oh damn it!” she half yelled still laughing. “You made me spill coffee everywhere! Speaking of which I want every detail, coffee on me at Latro-Mare whenever you’re ready!”
“Thanks Lauren,” Andy replied. “It will be soon. As soon as I find out what’s going on with my attorney.”
“No problems sweetie,” Lauren replied. “Oh and Andy?”
“I’m so happy for you!” she repeated.
“Andy and Jay sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-”
But Andy stopped her there.
“Bye Lauren,” he said smiling.
“First comes love then, oh wait, first comes finding out his partner cheated on him…I’ll work on it,” she smiled sounding legitimately overjoyed at the news as Andy laughed and hung up the phone rolling his eyes.
He made his way back into the common area and Jay looked up at his entrance.
“Hey Mr, I got a bone to pick with you!” Andy smiled strolling over to his lover.
“What?” Jay asked, sounding completely distracted.
“Why didn’t you tell me we already have the day off work?” Andy smiled sitting down next to him.
“Because we never did,” Jay responded in almost too serious a tone. “I arranged to have the day off last night, but specifically never mentioned you as I didn’t know what your plans would be.”
“Oh,” the brown-haired boy replied. “Ah, ok. Fair enough I guess.”
“Anyway, what did Mel say?” Jay asked, still sounding quite distant.
“Nothing, I couldn’t reach her. I left a message and yes,” he smiled coyly. “My phone is on loud in case you were going to ask.”
“That’s good,” Jay replied.
But by now Andy’s happy mood had disapperated. Clearly Jay was somewhere else. He was definitely not with Andy at the moment.
“Jay, sweetie? What’s up?” Andy asked, softly rubbing his knee to coax him.
Jay never responded. He just thrust his phone out at Andy.
Andy took it a little surprised. It was not like Jay not to talk. But once he saw the message on Jay’s phone Andy’s face turned white as a sheet.
“I’m dead?” he muttered, though more to himself then his boyfriend.
“Jay?,” he questioned. “Who sent this?”
“I have no idea,” Jay replied sounding quite lost and defeated. “I received it while we were… you know…”
“Oh my,” Andy couldn’t help but say.
“What should we do?” Jay asked. “To tell you the truth I’m a little scared about this.”
Andy suddenly burst into laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Jay demanded. Though it was a question, it certainly sounded more like a demand.
“It’s just…” Andy tried to speak between the laugher. “Some idiot wh-…who…”
“Andy!” Jay screamed. “Calm the fuck down, it’s not funny! We may have to get out of here tonight!”
“Ohhh!” Andy replied, trying to sooth the laughter that was so uncontrollable. “Oh I’m so…he he he…I’m sorry…sorry…ok…I’m calm.”
He locked Jay’s phone and turned to him.
“Have you ever seen the show Pretty Little Liars?” he asked Jay.
“What’s so pretty about a liar?” Jay couldn’t help but retort. “Edward lied and believe me it was anything but pretty!”
“No,” Andy replied adopting a serious-tone. He could tell Jay was completely flipping out about this.
“Pretty Little Liars, otherwise known as PLL is a TV show where these girls are so-to-say cyber bullied by this anonymous guy called ‘A’ and ah-”
But Jay shut him up right there.
“And? Seriously Andy, now is so not the time to be talking about TV!”
Andy took hold of Jay’s shoulders with his hands. Not in a menacing way but rather in a calming way.
“No Jay, the girls are stalked via texts,” Andy replied. “This ‘A’ character would send texts to the girls with torturous messages, but always leaving the letter ‘A’ at the end. I was only laughing because I assume this came from a PLL fan who conveniently forgot to sign ‘A’ at the end. Don’t worry about it Jay, I’m sure it’s nothing.”
He then hugged his clearly shaking boyfriend.
“Now, go and get dressed yeah and we’ll go out and get some coffee. You poor thing, you’re shaking like a leaf.”
Jay accepted the hug and forced himself off the couch, picking up his clothes he walked back to the bedroom to get dressed.
Andy smiled to himself as he re-read the text. He wondered though the possible list of names of people that would be silly enough to do this. He then envisioned himself with one of the lead girls of the show he had been describing. This character was such an over-analyst he imagined her response, if she were here, to be something along the lines of going online in hot pursuit of clues. But for Andy however, it was nice to get in a good chuckle and prepare for the day.
He was just about to head into the bedroom and join Jay in getting dressed when his phone rang rather loudly. It was evident that Andy wasn’t used to having his phone on loud as he cringed at the sound of a Simpsons song that a convenience store clerk once sang many years ago. Cringing again Andy picked up his phone and answered it without even looking to see who it was, just to shut the noise up.
“Hello?” he said calmly.
But the voice on the other end of the phone was anything but calm. If anything it sounded quite exasperated.
“Andy?! Andy it’s Mel! Can you hear me?”
Though he didn’t need to, Andy couldn’t help but yell back.
“Yeah! Where are you?”
“Just got out of court with a client, horrible loss, don’t ask,” Mel responded.
Yep definitely Mel, Andy thought. Same no-muss-no-fuss attitude he recalled from when he was last there.
She plowed on.
“I’m just getting in my car so we can talk.”
Moments later Andy heard the unmistakable sound of a car door slamming and Mel’s voice as though her cell was currently on speaker phone.
“Ok, so I’m going to drive and talk as I don’t have long.” She panted clearly driving away from the court house.
“Ok, go ’head,” Andy said as he noticed Jay walk into the room.
“Wh-” he started, but Andy held his hand up and mouthed ‘Mel’ to him.
“Ok Andy,” Mel continued. “I hate to do this, but you are in grave danger!”
“What?!” Andy screamed into the phone, terrifying his partner who sat white as a sheet on the couch, his boyfriend reflecting the same colour in his own face.
Back at Carmita’s place, Rick was outside having a smoke. Svedantcha had gone out to get some groceries for the following day and despite the fact that Rick had found it weird that she apparently shopped daily for food there was no way in heck he was going to question it. After all, this was time he could have for himself especially considering everyone else was being entertained. Carmita and the man seemed quite conformable and truth be known, having even five minutes to have a smoke was an absolute blessing and a half for Rick. He definitely felt that for the first time since he and Jay’s night was exposed, that he could finally take a breath. Dealing with Svedantcha had been anything but a treat and he knew he was going to be in for a tough time.
“I thought you might be a smoker too,” came a voice.
Rick looked up to see the man step towards him whist simultaneously lighting his own cigarette.
“Y-heh,” Rick smiled exhaling smoke at the same time.
“Can I join you?” the man asked referring to a spot next to Rick on the adequately white painted bench with gold colored cushions.
Indeed Rick’s first prediction of the colour combination seemed to ring true everywhere he went in this place. The exception of course being the guest bedroom that had been painted a repulsively olive green colour.
“Sure,” he replied as the man took his seat.
“As I’m sure you’ve gathered I don’t see a difference between, as hard-ass put it ‘the help’ and myself. We’re all equal in this world.”
“That’s a nice philosophy. Better than noblesse oblige,” Rick smiled.
“Especially considering that noblesse olblige implies that whilst those above should be benevolent to those below. It still shows a difference between classes. I prefer to see everyone as equal.”
“So do I,” Rick smiled.
“In saying that,” the man started thoughtfully taking another drag from his own cigarette. “I stand by what I said earlier, you don’t belong here.”
“That’s very nice of you to say Mr… I’m sorry I don’t know your name. Truth be known hard-ass just referred to you as ‘the man’.”
“Ah yes. Russian help,” the man mused. “Very common place I’d say.”
He extended his hand to Rick.
“Let’s forgo the formalities shall we, just call me Bry-ce.”
The man had stuttered for a second there, but Rick didn’t even notice and shook his hand.
“Rick,” he said appreciatively.
“Ah Rick,” the man replied. “Now that we know each other let me ask you a question. Do you believe all is fair in love and war?”
This time when Rick smiled, it was much more dark. He was really starting to like the character of Bryce.
“Yeah,” he replied, still smiling darkly.
“Good,” Bryce said. “So how did you end up here in the first place?”
“Honestly it’s a whole whirlwind,” Rick replied. “I’m still trying to put it all together.”
He lit another cigarette, feeling very much at ease around Bryce.
“If only I hadn’t slept with Jay,” he said suddenly.
“Whose Jay?” Bryce asked.
Rick shook his head as though for a moment totally forgetting that Bryce was there.
“Oh, sorry,” he muttered. “I didn’t mean to say that. Aren’t you cold?” he asked.
“No, I’m actually quite warm,” Bryce lied. “So…who’s Jay?”
“Oh, he’s just some guy I slept with,” Rick replied. “Honestly that’s how I ended up here. If only that hadn’t happened Andy wouldn’t have been so pissed off with me and I would probably be on my way back home by now.”
“You don’t mean Andy Thompson by any chance?” Bryce asked with a quizzical look on his face.
“Yeah actually,” Rick laughed. “You know him?”
“No,” Bryce said. “Carmita mentioned him; she actually cancelled on me last night because she was with him.”
“Oh, that sucks man,” Rick sympathized.
“Not at all,” Bryce confessed. “Gave me a night off, was nice to just kick back and relax. I haven’t been able to do that in a while. So tell me about this Andy kid, he as nice as she says?” he asked inching his chin towards the house indicating Carmita.
“Yeah, he is normally, he’s just…lately he seems really dark and pissed off.”
“Well at least you’re not like that,” Bryce said. “Too many diva’s in the stage world, believe me. I need someone who can remain calm under pressure and the way you’ve acted around hard-ass this evening proves you definitely are.”
Bryce stood up and took a card out of his pocket.
“Anyway, here’s my card,” he said handing it to Rick. “Don’t tell Hard-ass or Carmita about it yeah? But if you want work on the stage, I could do with a man who believes that all is fair in love and war.”
He smiled and winked at Jay before throwing his cigarette on the floor and butting it out.
“Well,” he chuckled. “Call me…as soon as you can. I told you before and I’ll say it again Rick. You can do better.”
As Bryce made his way back into the house Rick started at the card.
Was this a life line? A new chance to start again? Could this, finally, be the moment that everything worked out?
Meanwhile unbeknownst to Rick, Carmita stood directly behind him looking through the window. She had heard most of the conversation and her mouth had gone from being quite aghast to closed with glaring eyes. As she folded her arms in front of her she couldn’t help but say to herself:
“What are you up to Rick? What…are you up to?”