In less than twelve hours he was getting married. Well, he was supposed to be getting married. He should have been out drinking away his last night of “freedom” with his friends. Or maybe passed out, sleeping off said night. But at 3:14 in the morning, Dante Hicks was sitting alone in a diner and staring into an untouched cup of luke-warm coffee. And despite the large quantity of beer he had consumed the previous night, he felt unpleasantly sober. To him, everything in his life appeared to be going to shit again. He wasn’t sure of anything- other than the fact that he wished he were anywhere- anyone- else. And again, it was thanks to one Randal Graves. The man who had been his best friend and worst enemy all rolled into one since they were children.
Dante glanced up when someone slid into the booth across from him. “Hi, Bob,” he looked around the small room, “Where’s Jay?”
Silent Bob nodded his greeting before replying, “He’s home sleeping.”
“Oh…what are you doing here?”
Bob signaled the waitress. “Hey, can I get a cup of coffee?" She nodded in response. "Thanks. Couldn’t stay asleep. And I could ask you the same. Aren’t you marrying that Becky chick today?”
Dante sighed heavily. “I’m supposed to, but…”
“Having second thoughts?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“Alright, what happened? Randal say something?”
“Yeah. Again. Why the hell do I keep hanging around him? We’ve been friends almost thirty years and every single time my life has appeared to be going right, he says or does something to fuck it up! Every time! God, I’m such an idiot! Why do I keep listening to him?” Dante slammed his head down on the table.
“Hey, easy, man. What did he say?”
“Well…” Dante sighed.
::*::TWO HOURS EARLIER::*::
Randal was Drunk. Not a little buzzed or mildly intoxicated. He was full-on, floor’s moving under his feet, all censors between brain and mouth are down for the count, Drunk. This was a rare occurrence. Randal rarely gets drunk because when he’s drunk, he talks. A lot. About things that he would really, really rather not talk about. But this was his best friend’s bachelor party. The night before his wedding. The night before everything would change.
Randal had, in a moment of spectacularly bad judgment, decided to throw caution to the wind and had imbibed three Irish car bombs in the span of about twenty minutes earlier in the evening. And followed them with three more beers and a couple tequila shots over the next few hours. Just after midnight, having lost all real control over what words came out of his mouth, he started singing songs from John Hughes movies. That was when Dante had decided that it was time to go home and go to bed.
Elias, who had been brought along that night as designated driver, Dante and Randal out in front of Randal’s house just before 1:00AM.
“Thanks for driving tonight, Elias.”
“Oh, it’s no problem at all, Mr. Dante! My parents let me stay out past curfew for tonight!”
“That’s, um, good. I guess. I better get him inside. Good night, Elias.”
Randal, who was leaning heavily on Dante, sang, in a horribly off-key, drunken warble, “I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby. Going to take you apart, I'll put us back together at heart, baby. Don’t don’t don’t you forget about me! Dante, why don’t they make good movies like that anymore?”
Elias looked stunned. “Is he alright, Mr. Dante?”
“He’ll be fine,” Dante rolled his eyes, “We’ll see you tomorrow, Elias. And I don’t know, Randal. Maybe it’s because Molly Ringwald is too old to play a sixteen year old. Now come on. It’s time for bed.”
With that, Dante turned and started guiding Randal toward the front door, leaving Elias sitting in the car at the curb. He was rummaging around Randal’s coat pockets for his house key when he heard the car leave.
Inside the house, Dante attempted to dump Randal on the living room couch only to land on said couch himself, with Randal half in his lap because his intoxicated friend refused to let go of him.
“Jeeze, Randal!” Dante grumbled, shoving at his arms, “Get off me! Come on, man!”
“No,” Randal mumbled, burying his face in Dante’s neck, “You’re warm.”
“Randal, come on man. Let go, will you? I don’t want to sleep on your couch. And I know you don’t either.”
Randal, who had not moved, but had started humming, started singing again. “…don’t leave now, please don’t take my heart away. Promise me just one more night…”
“Randal,” Dante said, sighing, “come on, please? Let’s get up and you can go to bed. You know your bed’s more comfortable than the couch.”
“No,” came the muffled reply, “If I let go you’re gonna leave me and go be with Becky.”
“What? Leave you? Randal…Ok, yeah, I’m going to marry Becky. But you’re still my best friend! She won’t change that.”
“Ch’right. She already did. You’re gonna marry her and get a house start having babies and you won’t have time for Randal anymore.”
“But Becky isn’t like Emma, Randal. She actually likes you. And she knows we’d be bored mindless without your outrageous behavior. Becks won’t try to keep us apart.”
Randal looked up at him without loosening his grip any. “You don’t get it, Dante. Never did. I love you. Always have, man.”
Dante rolled his eyes. “I love you too, Randal. You’re my best friend. Now will you please let me up so we can get you to bed?”
“You still don get it! I. Love. You,” Randal sat up a bit, enunciating his words very carefully, “As in I am in love with you, Dante. Have been since high school. Why the fuck d’you think I never had a girlfriend or anything stick around for long?”
Dante choked back a laugh, “Quit fucking around, Randal. That isn’t funny. Jesus, you must be drunker than I thought.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, man!” Randal snapped. He shoved Dante away and staggered to his feet. “I’m not fucking around! What do I have to say to get it through your thick fucking skull? Your best friend is a fucking pathetic, pansy-ass, cock-smoking fag. And he’s been in love with your sorry ass since he was fifteen fucking years old!”
“You’re serious. You’re actually fucking serious-”
“Yeah, no shit, dumbass,” Randal ground out, voice cracking.
“Randal, I had no idea- I…” Dante reached out to put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. He shifted just out of reach.
“Don’t, Dante. Just…don’t. Go home. You’re getting married in the morning.”
“But Randal, wha-”
“Just fucking go, Dante. Leave me the fuck alone.”
Mind spinning, Dante turned and walked out of the house. The last sound he heard before the door closed behind him was a muffled sob from the direction of the couch.
::*::The Diner, Two Hours Later::*::
“…so Randal is apparently in love with me and I’m supposed to be marrying Becky in less than twelve hours but I’m suddenly not so sure that I should be. Eighteen fucking years, and I had no idea. He’s been my best friend for most of my life! How did I never pick up on something that big? I thought I knew him better than anyone…”
Bob was silent for a moment, considering his response, before he spoke. “Maybe you didn’t pick up on it because he didn’t want you to.”
“What? Why would he want to keep something that big- something that very much involves me- a secret all this time?”
“Fear. As long as you didn’t know, Randal knew he would still have your friendship. And he could hope that maybe, someday, you would return his feelings. But he was too scared of loosing you entirely if you reacted badly to risk telling you.”
“I guess that makes sense…But what am I supposed to do now? I love Becky. And for some unfathomable reason she seems to love me, too. At the same time, Randal has been the one constant in my life for the last thirty fucking years. Physical intimacy is pretty much the only area we haven’t explored. If I go through with it and marry Becky, I’ll be breaking my best friend’s heart. Just the thought of that kills me. But if I don’t, I’ll be doing the same thing to Becky, which isn’t any better! And then I’ve got the baby to worry about. He should get to grow up in a stable family. With both of his parents. But even focusing on what’s best for the baby- which would be marrying Becky- I can’t get past how it’d affect Randal for some reason.”
For a long moment, Bob remained silent drinking his coffee.
"Ok. First, don’t worry so much about the kid. He’s gonna be better off with his parents happy whether they’re married or not than he would be if they’re married and resent each other. Second, I’ve got a story for you-”
“A Silent Bob’s cryptic advice story special?”
“Not quite. This one actually happened. Anyway, a few years back this guy I know- yeah, I know. I swear, it's not about me. I'm just trying to protect the innocent, you know? So anyway, this guy was having some girl trouble, and he was talking about it to me and Jay. So I told him my Chasing Amy story, which he bought, totally. You remember that one, right?"
"That's the one with the ex-girlfriend who had the threesome with her ex-boyfriend, isn’t it?"
"Yeah. So he fell for the story, completely believed it. But he totally missed the point. Dumb-ass went home and thought about it. And somehow he managed to figure out that his best friend hated the girl because he was in love with him. So then this guy- and he is a genius, a real fucking Einstein- he gets it into his head that the best way to fix this mess without loosing either one of them is to have a ménage a trios with them. So he calls her over to the guys' apartment and sits the two of them down and announces that he knows why his friend dislikes her so much. Because he's in love with him. His friend is completely dumbfounded. He's too shocked to even respond. Personally, I don't think he'd even admitted it to himself yet, but whatever. He's just kind of sitting there gaping. So then this idiot makes his proposition. And his friend agrees to it, probably because he's still too stunned to say anything else. But the girl? She freaks the fuck out on him. There's sobbing and screaming and then she walks out. And the friend went and locked himself in his bedroom. Neither one of them spoke to this guy for over a year after."
"Jeeze, that sucks. Wow. I haven’t even managed to fuck up a relationship that badly. Not yet, anyway…”
“He did finally figure it out, though. He told me about it last time he was in town. Said he’d spent probably six months just thinking in circles. Not really getting anywhere, you know? He managed to get it through his head that it was an either/or situation. He wasn’t going to be able to have the girl and the best friend. So he switched tactics, so to speak. He tried to imagine the rest of his life without this girl in it. And then he tried to imagine it without his buddy. And he couldn’t do it. He could not see himself living the rest of his life without this guy.”
“So he got his friend to forgive him?”
“Eventually, yeah. Last I saw them, the two of them were living together in Trenton and arguing about getting a puppy or some such bullshit.”
“I think I understand what you’re getting at…”
“Good. I better get home before Jay wakes up and can’t find me. That never ends well.” Sliding out of the booth, Bob dug a $5 out of his coat and left it on the table for his coffee. Digging a cigarette out of another pocket, Bob said one more thing before vanishing into the pre-dawn darkness: “Just do me a favor and don’t fuck this up, okay man?”
Turning back to his own coffee, now long gone cold, Dante sighed, “I’ll try not to…”