Ironically, after Mac comes out and (much to everyone’s surprise) stays out, he spends most of his time locked away in his bedroom with only Dennis’ laptop and the dildo bike for company.
Dennis has a theory that Mac’s trying to catch up on the twenty-five or so years of gay porn he missed out on by being repressed as fuck, and while he can’t blame the guy for wanting to make up for lost time, being best friends with a recluse was becoming a major league pain in Dennis’ ass for a number of reasons.
Number one, he never sees Mac any more, and Dennis is surprised by how lonely he gets without him glued to his side. There’s no-one to laugh at his hilarious jokes, no-one to impress with his stories of sexual conquest and derring-do. Every now and then Mac will emerge from his room, greeting Dennis with a big, showy stretch and a “Oh wow, I sure needed that nap!”; and Mac will hang out for a little while, but before even a half hour has passed he’ll be yawning exaggeratedly and saying, “Shit, I’m beat, I’m gonna go for a little lie-down I think, don’t worry about waking me…” and hurrying back to his bed, laptop under one arm. As if Dennis was born yesterday or something, and doesn’t know what he’s really doing in there. Dennis sometimes begins to ask Mac not to go, to stay and watch a movie or play chequers; but his pride won’t let him, and the words catch in his throat like his meds do, acid in his chest and fire in his gullet.
Even at the bar, work being the only reason Mac leaves the apartment nowadays, he’ll squirrel himself away in the back office, or Charlie’s Bad Room, or the keg store, or on one notable occasion, the cellar. The health inspector was due, so Charlie had been doing his usual routine of letting the carbon monoxide levels build up in order to get rid of the rats. Mac had either forgotten that he’d been warned about it, or hadn’t listened in the first place, or decided it was worth the risk anyway, and gone down there for some “alone time”. It was a good job that Dennis had found him when he had, passed out with his hand in his pants and a copy of Men’s Health on the floor next to him. God alone knows how long he’d been down there.
When Mac finally came to (which was a relief because Dennis’ palm was starting to sting from slapping him round the face) he’d sworn blind he couldn’t even remember why he’d been in the cellar in the first place, and Dennis couldn’t tell if he was lying, or if it was genuine amnesia from carbon monoxide poisoning. But, there seemed to be no real lasting effects, other than Mac seemingly having forgotten how to spell “tequila”, something they hadn’t discovered until he’d put up a post on the pub’s Facebook page about “2-4-1 shots tokiller” and someone flagged it as ‘inappropriate’, citing that it appeared to be a coded advert for a hitman.
The second reason Dennis hates Mac’s new-found onanistic obsession is that Mac seems to forget he shares the apartment – an apartment with paper thin walls – with another person, and doesn’t appreciate that said person, when getting home after a long shift, perhaps doesn’t want to hear their roommate going gangbusters on a home-made sex-contraption.
The first time it occurred, Dennis assumed Mac had hooked up with someone on Grindr and was getting fucked within an inch of his life. Dennis was in a foul mood already, returning to the apartment early after striking out with a hot blonde he’d been pursuing for some time. He’d tried Mac’s door despite the noises coming from behind it - Dennis’ modus operandi now he wasn’t getting laid was to make things as awkward as possible for anyone in the vicinity who was getting laid. What was more discomfiting than having the object of your unrequited affections burst in to find you whimpering like a little bitch while getting ploughed stupid by some random guy? Plus, he didn’t want a constant stream of beefcakes in and out of the apartment, and this kind of stuff got around The Gays fast.
(The conversations, Dennis imagined, would go something like -
Gay guy number one: “You seen that new twunk on the apps?”
Gay guy number two: “Oh yeah, I totally hit that. He’s, like, majorly obsessed with his much better-looking roommate though. Couldn’t stop talking about him the whole time we were together. Called me Dennis while we were banging, and then the guy himself interrupted us right in the middle of it... His roommate’s so much hotter as well. It really put me off my stride.”
Gay guy number one: “Ooh nasty. Shame his roommate’s not on the apps though.”
Gay guy number two: “Honestly? He’s too good for dating sites. The man is a god.”)
Much to Dennis’ chagrin, the door had stayed steadfastly shut and locked, despite his best efforts. The attempted entry didn’t even slow Mac down by the sound of it, so Dennis had positioned himself strategically in the chair facing Mac’s bedroom. There would be no escape from his smug judgement for Mac and his “friend” when they finally decided to surface.
Dennis settled himself down to wait them out with a cup of coffee and a copy of the ‘Inquirer’, but he couldn’t focus for picturing Mac and some guy going at it in every position imaginable. He tried to distract himself, but it was difficult. After sharing living quarters with Mac for years, he thought he’d heard every noise the man could make, but this was different. He sounded torn apart, his voice ragged and breathing laboured, every now and then giving out a whine or a groan, animalistic and raw. It was making Dennis feel even worse and causing a weird churning in his abdomen that he didn’t want to think about. He was seriously considering giving it up and going to bed with a bottle of vodka and some Vicodin, when Mac made a last strangled-sounding yelp and it all went silent.
Dennis had quickly composed himself, mug in hand and lips pursed with contempt, eyes narrowed disdainfully. The lock slid back with a ‘snick’, and then the door was open, and Mac was there, pants hanging obscenely low on his hips, a towel in his hand and dabbing at his bare stomach. He was whistling tunelessly. Dennis thought he recognised the melody, but he was more interested in what a loser desperate enough to bang a 40 year-old man with no real sexual experience looked like. He craned his neck, examining the room beyond Mac expectantly.
“Jesus fuck, Dennis!” Mac exclaimed, finally having noticed his friend sat at the table, looking strangely meerkat-esque as he tried to lay eyes on Mac’s companion. “You scared the shit out of me!” Mac had said, and Dennis watched the color suddenly drain from his face before he added, “Um. How—how long have you been there, bud?” It was gratifying to see him squirm, he was trying to appear blasé and failing miserably. His eyes wouldn’t meet Dennis’, and as much as Dennis usually hated that, on this particular occasion it left him feeling oddly satisfied.
Dennis was beginning to understand. Mac had been alone. Maybe fucking himself on the dildo bike? Or some other toy he’d bought or, god help him, made. Maybe he’d gone old school and just used his fingers.
Whatever he’d been doing, he’d enjoyed it, and that made Dennis angry. Angry that he never felt that good. Angry that Mac was carving out his own little niche in the world, somewhere that Dennis didn’t really fit. (OK, it was a niche which involved lots of jacking-off and a good degree of dildo-related action, but even so. Dennis liked to be included.) He was angry that Mac was starting this brand-new adventure in life, of sex and exploration, maybe even love, while Dennis was stale and stuck and hadn’t gotten laid in three months.
And he was scared. He was scared he was losing his touch. He was getting older, his looks were fading, he didn’t have the capital to get younger chicks, and chicks his age were so repulsive they may as well be dead. Mac was the only one who appreciated him properly, and right now Mac would rather spend time with his left hand and a gargantuan silicon fist/dick hybrid than with Dennis. He was scared he might be losing his best friend, too.
All that having been said though, when nobody followed Mac out of his room, Dennis felt relief wash over him like an awesome wave. He hadn’t been replaced... yet. He did, however, still need to do something about the constant masturbation, and passive-aggression was as good a place to start as any.
“How long have I been here?” Dennis repeated scornfully. “Let’s just say I’ve been here long enough, bud,” and Mac at least had the good taste to look mortified.
Mac opened and closed his mouth a few times, seemingly unable to form a sentence, and Dennis thought he looked like a guppy. A big, dumb, stupid, horny guppy.
“Good talk,” Dennis sneered, his chair making a screeching noise on the wood flooring as he stood, causing Mac to wince. Dennis had stalked off to his bedroom without another word, slamming the door behind him. ‘I’ll let him stew on that for a while’ he’d thought, a small smile on his face for the first time in what felt like days.
The final, and perhaps most irritating, consequence of Mac’s journey to self-discovery was that Dennis’ evening plans were getting well and truly shafted by his main wingman’s refusal to do anything that didn’t end with him covered in his own bodily fluids.
Movie night was now a solo venture, Dennis having to turn the TV up to 28 to cover the rhythmic pounding and breathless expletives emanating from the adjacent room (the TV should only ever be on 20, they’d agreed that when they moved in. It was the prime volume for superior acoustics without distorting the sound. 28 was a goddamn abomination.)
Card games were out: the ones for single players were shit, and there was no one else to play with – Charlie never got the rules, Dee got bored and distracted, and Frank always cheated. Even just hanging out with the rest of the gang without Mac felt wrong. The chemistry was all off and arguments always ended with Dee and Charlie teaming up, and Frank pulling a gun, and Dennis generally being rail-roaded by the three biggest morons in Philly.
As it stands, Dennis hasn’t been anywhere other than Paddy’s or the apartment for what feels like months. There was the date with the blonde at Guigino’s, but that had been a bust. He’s almost completely lost interest in pursuing women really. What’s the point when he’s got no-one to tell about how quickly he managed to charm them into bed, or how many times they’d made him come? Mac had always listened, rapt, when he recounted his various erotic tales. No-one else gave a shit however, and not having an adoring audience was wearing down his self-esteem. He’d even briefly wondered if maybe Mac didn’t love him anymore, if he’d finally gotten sick of hanging around him like a love-sick puppy, but judging by his search history, that wasn’t the case. (Mac had a bad habit of forgetting to delete his Google searches, and Dennis had fired up the laptop to find he had spent the previous night looking for “roommate gay fuck”, then “roommate gay fuck brown hair blue eyes”, then “otter cub fuck” [Dennis can only imagine the results for that one], and then, in what must have been moronic desperation, “Dennis Reynolds lookalike oral anal”.)
Dennis was confident that Mac still carried a torch for him based on that evidence. It wasn’t shining as brightly as it once had, sure, but it was still there. If not the full-on fiery torch of true love it had been, then maybe a blinking flashlight of lust, the bulb flickering as the batteries wore down. Or, at the very least, a fleshlight. Home-made of course.
Mac had just… got lost in the dark without Dennis, and he needed a steer back to the warm glow of the Golden God. It was nothing a little mental warfare couldn’t solve, a bit of subtle manipulation from the master himself. Dennis was ready to fire the first shot. It was time to commence Operation Return of the Mac.