Married life and fatherhood were all very well, Gary reflected, but things weren't the same since Tony moved upstairs to live with Deborah.
It was so much better in the old days, when they could get drunk, talk about birds and sit together on the sofa, box of tissues between them, getting the most out of life.
It wasn't as if you could do that sort of thing with a small child running around the flat.
And now Dorothy was talking about moving out to find a bigger place. And Deborah was probably telling Tony to do the same.
No, it would never do. Times had changed but there was no reason for them to change that much.
And to be honest life with Dorothy was getting a bit dull. She clucked every time he tried to sit down with a can of lager, she nagged every time he said he wanted to go down the pub with Tony. In short she did all the things that wives were supposed to do. This is why he hadn't wanted to marry her in the first place.
Things had reached a peak earlier that week. Dorothy had announced she was going away for a while. If Gary hadn’t made a decision by the time she got back it was over. To be honest Gary thought she’d probably already made up her mind. Things hadn’t been going well for a while and Dorothy was always saying she could do better. She was probably right.
And Tony certainly wasn't happy. He was still a postman, he was respectable, he still had that ridiculous moustache. Since he'd been upstairs with Deborah he'd put on at least a stone in weight and he had almost permanent miserable look.
He was not happy. He was even more under the thumb than Gary, if that were possible. And Deborah earned more than twice as much as Tony. How could they be happy living like that? It didn't make sense.
So there was only one thing to do as far as Gary could see, break them up. It's what the old Tony would have wanted. The wild, undomesticated Tony was still under that flabby exterior, it was up to Gary to set him free.
"Debs, do we have any fresh herbs? I was reading that Jamie Oliver book you bought me and I was thinking of making one of the recipes." On the other side of the phone, Deborah answered.
Tony had let himself in to the flat and he was listening with undisguised disappointment.
"Cheers Debs, listen I've got to go. Gary just came in. No, I won't burn the flat down, I'm a really good cook,"
Tony hung up and turned to Tony with a great grin on his face.
"You're cooking a Jamie Oliver recipe mate, how sad is that?" Gary tutted and Tony's face fell.
"Some of the best chefs in the world are men."
"Yes but Jamie Oliver isn't one of them," Tony picked up a block of parmesan and sniffed it.
"Parmesan? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
"No. I like cooking for Debs. It makes me happy."
"Does it though. Really?"
Tony sighed. "No, I suppose not. Not really. It's something to do though. I mean she doesn't usually get home until really late, I'm on my own all day. I have to keep myself occupied don't I?"
Tony grunted. How far had they both fallen? Cooking for your bird. That was something you did really early on to con her into thinking you were sensitive. At this stage Tony should be relaxing, letting Debs do all the hard work. Not that Dorothy would have let him get away with that, but Tony was his mate. You didn't like to see this sort of thing happening to your mate.
“Are you happy at all?” Gary asked. “Wasn’t it better before you and Deborah were together?”
“I love her. She’s lovely.” Tony protested.
“But does she love you?”
Tony sat down and looked miserable. “No I don’t think she does. Did I tell you she’s been spending all her time with her friends from work?”
“No. All her friends or just one?”
“Exactly. She was going to leave me last week, but I persuaded her to give me another chance.”
“God mate, I had no idea. If it makes you feel an better Dorothy says she’s going to leave if I don’t agree to move.”
“You’re going to move? Who am I going to talk to if you move?”
“Calm down Tony, I didn’t say I was going to move. I have my own priorities.”
“What do you mean?” Tony looked at Gary with that guileless puppy dog face. He was getting too old for it too be cute any more though.
“Well your bird is one thing, your mate is something else. I’m not moving away from you.”
“You think I’m more important than Dorothy?”
“Well, yeah. Obviously.”
“I am more important than your family?”
“Well I didn’t say that. You are definitely more important to me than Dorothy though. I mean, she‘s just being unreasonable expecting me to leave you behind.”
“Do you want a lager mate? I’ve got some hidden away somewhere. They may be a bit warm though - Debs doesn’t like me to keep them in the house so I had to put them in the back of the airing cupboard so she wouldn’t notice them.”
“See this is what I mean. How can we live like this? We should be able to do what we used to do. Don’t you wish things could be how they were?”
“All the time. But they’re not. There’s no point thinking like that. No matter what we do we can’t go back. It makes sense. “
“Why does it make sense though?”
“Gary, a lot has happened. We’re grown ups with responsibilities. Even if we weren’t with Debs and Dorothy we would have to be adults.”
“You have changed.”
“Of course I have. I don’t think it’s entirely a bad thing though. We are not kids, and that means we can do things you can’t do when you’re a kid.”
“Like what?” Gary scoffed.
Tony smiled sadly. “Why did you come up here? I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Ever since I found Debs said she was going to leave. I realised I love her, but I don’t think I love her in the right way. Made me think that maybe it would be best if we broke up for good. You are right, it’s not what I want. Not really.”
“You see. You know exactly what I’m saying then.”
“No, mate, I don’t think so. What I’m saying is I am have been in love for ages. Not with Debs though.”
“It’s not that bird from the pub is it? The one with the curly hair and all the earrings”
“Gary. Don’t be ridiculous. I know it’s never going to work, but maybe when you find out you’ll go with Dorothy. Move away. Leave. It’s probably best anyway.”
“What are you on about? “
“You remember all those nights on the settee? With the videos and feeling of just being together, enjoying the same things”
“See that’s what I’m on about. We should get back to that time.”
“Gary, I don’t think you and me were getting the same thing out of it. Not really. There‘s something very intimate about watching porn together. Brings out feelings you never thought you had. I think what I‘m trying to say is, it wasn‘t just the videos that were turning me on.”
Gary looked aghast. The old Tony would never have sprung something like this on him. All Gary had wanted was for things to be how they were. Now look what had happened.
“Tony! Stop it, you’re scaring me. You may think that’s really funny but I’m not laughing.”
“No, neither am I. Look, I shouldn’t have sprung this on you. It just seemed like as good a time as any. I know you don’t feel the same way, but maybe that’s for the best and all. “ Tony got up. “So I will understand if you never want to see me again.”
Gary sat squarely where he was. “I’m not going anywhere. How long have you felt like that? It doesn’t bear thinking about. My own mate, a pansy.”
“This is the reason I never said anything. You remember when I first moved in, you thought I was gay? Well maybe you were right then. I know I told you I wasn’t, but did you ever consider that I may have been lying. You would have thrown me out if I’d said I was wouldn’t you?”
“Exactly. And I was already sort of falling for you by then. I think Dorothy knew. She thought it was funny.”
“Well of course she did. She knew nothing was ever going to happen though. Not with you being so uptight anyway.”
“I am not uptight.”
“Gary you are. “
Gary couldn’t believe any of this. His best mate had fancied him all this time. What are you supposed to do when you find out something like that? Although thinking about it, there was quite a lot you could do.
Gary reiterated, “I am not uptight.”
Tony gasped as Gary grabbed him and started kissing him. This wasn’t what he’d expected. The best he had ever hoped for was that Gary wouldn’t hit him after his revelation.
The kiss started off rough, far too rough. Gradually Gary’s vice-like grip on his best mate’s head became less intense. The kiss continued, Tony’s tongue decided it was going to move around a bit. No point staying inside his mouth when it could be in Gary’s.
Gary’s hands moved from Tony’s head, down his body. When his left hand was in the vicinity of Tony’s arse he suddenly broke the kiss.
“Mate that was great, but can we do something else?” He said groggily. “And could you get rid of the moustache for the next time. It tickles.”
“What about Dorothy?” Tony gasped.
“Well, we can still be friends,” Gary smiled.