Kevin and I were having dinner at McCormick and Schmicks at Fanueil Hall. Not terribly upscale, but the busboys are awfully fun to look at.
“So Louise says she’ll help look into things,” I was telling Kevin, feeling more excited than I had in days, while he sat there washing down a Tom Collins, strangely silent. “She thinks if we work together, we can clear my good name! Who knows, maybe we can even help Boston’s finest find out who pushed RJ down those stairs. Wouldn’t that be great?”
Kevin finished his drink. He placed his empty glass on the table, looking as if he had swallowed a sour pickle. “Who’s Skipper?” he asked, out of nowhere.
What? And yet there he was, sitting there with that damn look upon his face, acting as if I’d been caught in flagrante delicto. “What do you mean?”
Kevin’s brown cow eyes were moist. His flabby weak chins were quivering. “You received a phone call while I was dusting your apartment this morning.”
Oh, let me explain. Kevin volunteered to dust my apartment every other Monday a few years ago, while we were dating. After our lust bit the dust, I begged him to keep it up, since he was so much better than my pocket illegal, Cecilia.
“Skipper’s an old friend,” I replied. Our waiter arrived with my almond crusted rainbow trout. I looked up gratefully, and the slim lad before me appeared more appetizing than the trout. “Thank you, sweetie.” Then, back to Kevin, now stewing over seared sea scallops. “Skipper is an old friend from college. He recently came to me with a problem.”
Kevin wrinkled his nose. “What? A painful erection? And you had to handle it?”
“Ah!” Our waiter blushed and scurried away.
I rolled my eyes. “You of all people should know that someone in my own age range is hardly a part of my sexual demographic.” A pause to savor the rainbow trout in front of me, and to let Kevin stew in his own juices. “Actually, we have a mutual friend—an old college professor—who is down on his luck. Skipper asked me to help, as a...well, community organizer.”
Kevin was clearly unconvinced. He stared listlessly at the sea scallops. Knowing him as I did, he’d only eat one anyway, then turn the rest over to me. How did the boy get so fat by eating so little?
“I don’t know,” he said, fiddling with his silverware. “He said he called to catch up on things. It sounded... intimate.”
“I can assure you, we haven’t had sexual intercourse since you were in diapers.”
“Well, that’s good to know...” He stabbed at a scallop with his fork. Then, realization. “Hey!”
“Oh, stop it, that was then, this is now,” I replied, with my mouth full of trout. Unlike my tryst with Sylvia Mastadore, this was the good kind.
“If you say so.”
“I do, but I really need to call Skipper back to plan our trip to Hope. Before anything happens to Bill Cobb. You weren’t rude to him, were you? I know how jealous you get.”
Kevin’s plump face grew red. “I didn’t even answer the phone, smarty pants. I just listened to him on the answering machine. I don’t even know why you have one, by the way. They’re sooooooooo twentieth century.”
“There you have it. A twentieth century device for a twentieth century relationship,” I replied, smartly.
Kevin sighed deeply. “If you were my man, I’d bring your ass smack into the 21st century.” Gah, he looked like he might cry. The sappy sentimentalist.
Time to change the subject—but quick! “Take a sip from your Cape Codder and let’s clink glasses, my boy!” I grabbed hold of my Appletini and moved it toward him. “Do you really think I want to be with anyone else but you tonight?”
Reluctantly, he clinked. A sheepish smile spread across his face. Faith had been restored. I contentedly guzzled down my drink, then looked up, and I am POSITIVE I had a twinkle in my eye. “Hey! Did I tell you I had sex with an actual WOMAN the other night? I ate out her lady parts!”
It took a while to pick up Kevin’s unconscious body from the floor. That twinky waiter was no help whatsoever.
Tuesday night should have been the first evening of music rehearsals for Sweeney. It also should have been the night I was introduced to the cast in the lead role.
I have to admit, I was feeling a little apprehensive about the whole thing. How would people treat me on the heels of the appalling news of RJ’s demise, especially given our oh-so-public altercation? Most must hate me, surely. And while I didn’t expect Danita to be there, according to Missi, she had made her feelings about me well known to practically everyone. I’d be lucky if a public stoning wasn’t in order!
Which was why I was ever so pleased to receive an email from Vern on my iPod Touch as Kevin was chauffeuring me back to my swanky Beacon Hill apartment. It was addressed to everyone in the cast.
In light of this heartbreaking tragedy, tomorrow’s rehearsal is cancelled. I hope you all will join me in paying tribute to RJ’s memory at the wake taking place Wednesday night at the Otto Harbach Funeral Home. On behalf of the entire production team and the Board, our hearts go out to Danita as well as RJ’s family. He was truly one of the greats. He’ll be missed. --Vern
“Maybe I should reply to his email,” I said to Kevin, after reading it out loud. “To let everyone know how sorry I am.”
Kevin’s frown was evident even in the darkness.
“I won’t say anything stupid, like I’m innocent. That would be tacky!” But what could I say? I pondered that for a moment. “How about if I say I’m dedicatingh my performance to his memory or some nonsense like that?”
Kevin, who hadn’t said a word to me since his fainting spell, finally broke his silence. “I don’t think they want to deal with you just now, Raphael.”
Deal with me. It made me sad to think I had to keep quiet, even with all the things people were saying about me. It made me sadder still, when Kevin dropped me off at my apartment and barely looked in my direction as he drove off.
I barely had a chance to get out of the door. It had been drizzling when we set off, and by this time of night, it was raining steadily. My light windbreaker quickly started to feel damp.
It was a cold night on Beacon Hill, all right. Made colder by the fact I felt so alone.