After two beers, Vecchio’s face doesn’t hurt quite so much, although he still can’t really see out of his left eye. Alcohol makes Kowalski’s random chatter easier to take, too. Kind of like having the TV on in the background when you’re doing something else.
Of course, he doesn’t particularly want the guy cluttering up his sofa in the first place. On the other hand, at least Kowalski brought the beer.
Vecchio wonders whether opening a third bottle would be dumb, but he’s too lazy to get up, anyway. It’s been a long day, and apparently Kowalski thinks it isn’t over yet. The guy’s sitting there on Vecchio’s sofa with his boots planted on the floor. Staring down at the beer bottle he’s rolling between his hands. Knuckles on his right hand swollen to the point where he can’t open it all the way. Vecchio hopes it hurts like hell.
“What I want to know is why they call it a love triangle,” says Kowalski, out of the blue. “I mean, okay, I flunked geometry, but even I know that a triangle has three points and three sides. Three lines connecting the points, right? But in a so-called love triangle, you got your three points, but there’s a line here and a line here and nothing here. That’s not a triangle, that’s, I don’t know what that is. That’s a hinge. Two points connected to the middle one, ends swinging in the wind.”
“Who cares why it’s called that? Everyone gets what it means.” If Benny was here, he could probably explain all about where the phrase comes from and how the friggin’ French call it a tricycle upside-down cake or some stupid thing. Vecchio doesn’t care about this stuff and it’s sure as hell not his job to explain it to Kowalski.
“No, but see—“ Kowalski looks at Vecchio, then shakes his head in frustration. “Never mind.”
He swallows the rest of his beer, then sets the empty down on the table with a firm thump, like he’s about to get up and go. Except he doesn’t get up, just sits there with his hands on his knees.
“Look, I’m sorry,” he says.
“Forget about it,” says Vecchio.
“Can’t.” Kowalski flicks a glance at Vecchio from under his eyelashes, with hint of humor glinting there, and Vecchio maybe gets a glimpse of what Benny sees in this guy. “Bet you can’t, either.”
“Nah, probably not,” Vecchio concedes. “But I’m willing to let it go.”
Kowalski makes a little growling noise, and now he does stand up, but he’s not heading for the door, he just starts pacing back and forth, four steps to the window, four steps back to the sofa, like a dog on a short leash.
“Look,” he says, when Vecchio’s just about ready to throw something at him. “You know how Fraser always says you gotta be careful telling Dief to chase a car or whatever, because once he’s on the chase, he’ll keep going until either he catches it or he drops dead?”
“Yeah,” says Vecchio.
Kowalski just stares at him with raised eyebrows, challenging.
“Yeah, I get it, Kowalski. I get what you’re saying, all right?”
Kowalski rubs the back of his head, eyes still on Vecchio. “So?”
“So, we keep working on this not killing each other thing.”
“That don’t seem to be working out so well,” says Kowalski, flexing his bruised knuckles.
Vecchio thinks about saying It’s not my fault you’re an asshole, but he settles for echoing, “So?”
“So, I’m thinking what we’ve gotta do is find some way to connect up that hinge. Stop pulling in opposite directions before we break something that can’t be fixed.”
Guy’s got nerve, Vecchio’s got to give him that. But he’s also almost as deranged as the Mountie.
“Look, you know I’d do anything for Benny,” says Vecchio. “Almost anything,“ he amends, before Kowalski can interrupt, because they’ve already had that fucking argument. “But what the hell makes you think you and me have anything to say to each other that isn’t about him?”
He can see Kowalksi bite back frustration before he shrugs and says, lightly, “Well, Fraser likes both of us, you gotta figure we’ve got something in common somewhere.”
Vecchio snorts. “You look at it that way, Fraser and Stella ought to elope.”
Kowalski’s eyes go big and for a second Vecchio thinks he’s about to get socked in the face again. But then Kowalski’s face splits in a grin and he laughs like that’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard. So Vecchio starts laughing, too, because really, the whole screwed-up situation is pretty ridiculous.
“All right,” says Vecchio, when they’ve calmed down. He doesn’t know what to say, but he figures it’s his turn, so he buys himself some time by going to the fridge for a couple more beers. He cracks the caps off and hands a bottle to Kowalski.
“All right, so. . .You want to make nice, I’m in favor, but how do we. . . ? I mean, you can’t just snap your fingers and, bingo!, connection. It doesn’t work like that.”
“Yeah, sometimes you have to drive someone’s burning car into a lake first,” mutters Kowalski. Veccho glares at him, but he just smirks back.
“Asshole,” grumbles Vecchio.
“There, see, knew we had something in common.” The smirk widens to a cheeky grin, and Vecchio can’t help smiling back a little.
Kowalski puts down his beer and opens his arms, palms out, like he’s offering Vecchio a chance to punch him, or to hug him.
“See anything you like?”
Vecchio makes a show of looking Kowalski up and down, like he’s a used car Vecchio’s thinking about buying. He doesn’t like Kowalksi, although he’s got to give him points for guts, here. He’s grungy and obnoxious and goofy-looking and basically a James-Dean-wanna-be loser. But he does have those long, graceful hands with the thumbs that bend backwards, and that little-kid smile that’s as sweet as Benny’s, and the other smile that isn’t sweet at all.
“Not yet,” says Vecchio.
Something flickers in Kowalski’s eyes.
“Keep looking,” he says. “You got all night to think about it.”