Manufacturing a reason for Dee to get out of the apartment so they could masturbate wasn’t supposed to end in a time-sucking knock-down-drag-out fight. Yet here they were, red-faced and screaming at each other on opposite ends of Dee’s living room. The hammock was dangling on the floor; Mac had attacked it in rage. Dennis was gripping a beer bottle with white knuckles. He could feel the bottle’s rim pressing into the inside of his index finger, sure to leave a mark.
Mac was disheveled; his slicked back hair was mussed and flopped to one side. It was a lot less ugly than he usually styled it, which was infuriating. How dare he become more handsome when he lost control? Dennis had been trying to figure out that trick for years and all it ended up doing was teaching him how to best clean up tear-smudged makeup. So goddamn unfair.
Mac was gripping onto the neck of a lamp as if he were about to throw it. Something had brought them to this point but it was becoming harder and harder to remember what. They were at the point of an argument where it became all about rehashing old scores and trying to one-up each other until someone else backed down, got hit, or both. Dennis had lost the past three fights on a technicality (something distracted both of them and then it got dropped) and the fourth most recent one when Mac made a surprisingly low blow about his weight. He wasn’t about to lose again tonight.
“You try way too hard, you know that?” said Dennis, through clenched teeth. “You spend all your time slicking back your hair to look like your terrifying criminal father when you’d look way better just letting it free. You keep doing all this stupid performative bullshit you’ve done since we were kids as if it will make him love you more –”
Mac’s eyes widened in fear. “Don’t,” he said quietly.
He hadn’t listened the last time Dennis said ‘don’t’ like that. It was only fair.
“Does he love you more now that you fucked up his life in prison? Or is he still refusing to see you?”
Mac’s breathing increased, and he looked on the verge of tears now. “You don’t know what you’re talking about! My dad just. . .he just needs some time off from everyone. He loves me! He – he told me so!”
“Charlie told me he said he didn’t.”
“Charlie told me your dad said he didn’t love you. He doesn’t love you, Mac. He won’t ever! You need to let it go!” Dennis’s voice cracked; his heart rate was careening towards what he knew were dangerously high levels if he wanted to stay conscious.
Mac lobbed the lamp he had been gripping for dear life at Dennis. It shattered against the wall, and broken pieces of glass flew everywhere. Without even grabbing his keys, Mac stormed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind him. Dennis was sure he could hear the sounds of Mac sliding down the wall and crying right on the other side of the door.
Dennis wiped his forehead with a shaking hand. He sat down on the couch, put his beer down on the coffee table, and surveyed the damage. A broken lamp – past repair, probably. The hammock – could be rehung. Mac – well, he was damaged before Dennis got to him.
He wasn’t going to apologize, because he knew he was right. Still, Mac sobbing about his dad still made him feel a little sick and wrong inside. Something hit a little too close to home that Dennis didn’t really want to think about. Maybe it would have been better to stick to things that were actually Mac’s fault.
Mac flinched away whenever Dennis tried to touch him for two weeks afterward. Dennis supposed that was only fair.