On a Wednesday
“Dee, they can’t possibly make it from eggs that wouldn’t make any sense!”
“Really, Charlie? Really. Making it from eggs makes less sense than the theory that there are secret milking chickens hidden somewhere?” Behind the bar, Dee set down the glass she was drying.
Dee raised her arms incredulously. “That’s ridiculous!”
Frank leaned forward on his stool. “No, I think Charlie’s right on this one. ‘Cause I’ve tried raw eggs, and they don’t last anything like eggnog. Plus, one time I was in Canada for business, and up there they call it chicken milk.”
“What, Frank you can’t just—” Dee started.
“Alright guys,” Mac came in from the alley, cutting her off “I’m gonna head out.”
“What, dude, it’s like, not even eight yet!” Charlie protested.
“Yeah, I know, but I mean, no one’s here… and I wanna get up early tomorrow, so…” He trailed off.
“Aw c’mon,” Frank said, turning around to face Mac, “Dennis already ditched us for his weird mani pedi thing.”
“Yeah, I know, but it’s just I’ve uh… got this thing? And I’ll see you tomorrow so… Um. I’m just gonna…” Mac gestured to the door
“Oh, yeah, yeah—”
“—okay, go ahead—”
“—we’ll see you tomorrow—”
“Right? it’s not a big deal—”
“—yeah, yeah, it’s fine—”
“—see you later…”
The door closed behind Mac, cutting off the crosstalk of reassurances. After a second Charlie turned slowly on his stool. “Hey… has Mac seemed a little weird to you guys lately?”
Dee was still watching the door suspiciously. “Yeah, I wasn’t going to mention it or anything but he’s been acting really weird.”
“Yeah.” Charlie took a swig of his beer before adding, “I think he might be hiding something.”
“Like what?” asked Frank “You think he’s banging somebody?”
Charlie paused. “No, ‘cause he’s all proud and shit now so why would he want hide it?”
“Yeah… I dunno what I was thinking.” Frank frowned, putting his elbows up on the bar in front him. “Oh! Maybe he’s got some sorta side scheme goin’ and he doesn’t wanna split the loot.”
Leaning forward, Dee said, “No, no, go back to the dating thing. See, I think that actually makes a lot of sense.”
“What?” Frank squinted at her through his glasses. “Deandra what the hell are you talking about?”
Charlie looked at her, confused. “Yeah, Dee, what’re you talking about?”
“Well, a new relationship can be a very fragile thing,” Dee said, “I can see why Mac wouldn’t want to tell you guys about whoever this dude is.”
Frank looked at her for a moment, the shrugged dismissively. “See, that just doesn’t make any sense…”
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed, “I don’t understand that, that doesn’t make sense at all…
“Why wouldn’t he want to tell us?” Frank asked.
“I hate to break it to you,” Dee told them, “but you’re kind of uh… disgusting people.”
“Wha— Are you kidding me?” Dee looked between their blank faces. “You sons of bitches have sabotaged every one of my relationships!”
“No we haven’t.” Frank looked to Charlie to confirm.
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound like us… I don’t remember that at all.”
“Yes! Yes you have!” Dee said, her voice rising. “Or at least enough of them that's it a problem! All of you are terrible friends and honestly, I can see why Mac doesn’t want his boyfriend to meet you!”
“Well what about you?” Charlie asked.
“What about me?”
“If that’s why Mac hasn’t introduced this guy to us,” Frank threw a skeptical look at Charlie, “then why haven't you met him?”
“Well… I mean…”
Charlie turned to Frank. “I mean, it’s probably because he’s embarrassed of her, right?”
“Oh, yeah, that would make sense,” Frank agreed. “I mean, I'm embarrassed of her an' I don't even have anyone to impress.”
“You're embarrassed of me?” Dee asked. “I am not embarrassing!”
“Uhh…” Charlie looked at her like it was obvious, “yeah you are, Dee. You’re like a bird, and you’ve got giant feet, and you’ve got this personality that’s just sorta like arrrgh, y’know?”
“That’s true,” Frank agreed. “Plus, you’re a crackhead.”
“No, I’m not—”
“Uh, you got addicted to crack…” Charlie interrupted her.
“I’m not! A-and uh… what— uh, what about you two?” Dee raised her eyebrows, leaning forward on the bar. “Hm? With your weird bridge denim, and eating cat food, huh? Face it, if Mac’s embarrassed of me he’s just as embarrassed of you guys.”
“Huh.” Charlie said slowly. “Yeah...”
All three of them were quiet for a moment, then Frank shook his head. “Whoa, hold on, we gotta takes a step back here. We don’t even know for sure that he’s banging someone.”
“Yeah…” Dee’s eyes lit up and she stood up straighter. “Yeah, he might not be embarrassed of us at all.”
“Yeah,” Charlie pointed his beer at her. “He might be embarrassed of the dude.”
“Oh, good point, maybe it’s someone really ugly,” Dee said.
“Right, right.” Nodding, Charlie took a sip of his beer. “We can’t just jump to conclusions, we gotta know more before anything else.”
Frank looked at the two of them over his glasses. “I think we know what we have to do”
“Are you sure this is gonna work?” Dee asked, standing up a bit to look over the car next to them.
“Yeah absolutely,” Charlie assured her.
The two of them were half-crouched in a juice bar parking lot, more or less shielded from view by the cars on either side of them, watching the parking lot entrance.
“Dennis is, like, always talking about this place,” Charlie added. “He gets smoothies here pretty much every day.”
Dee rolled her eyes .“Ugh, I know, it’s like the most annoying thing ever.”
“I know, right?” Charlie turned away from the entrance. “It’s like, god, shut up about smoothies, dude! Ugh…”
“Yeah, yeah.” Dee nodded. “But, no, what I was asking was if you were sure that he was gonna come here without Mac.”
“Oh, uh, yeah, of course.” Charlie said dismissively, turning back to watch.
“Are you sure though, because they’ve pretty much been back to normal since that whole lemon thing—”
“Shhhh, Dee, shut up, there he is!”
“Oh, shit! Go, get out of my way…”
The two of them stumbled over each other to get out from between the cars as Dennis pulled into the lot and found a space. Dee and Charlie just managed to get to him as he slammed the Range Rover’s door and began walking towards the door of the juice bar.
“Heeeeey, Dennis how’s it going?” Dee smiled, blocking his path. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”
Dennis frowned at them. “Dee, Charlie, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, uh, you know.” Charlie bounced awkwardly, searching for an excuse. “Just getting some…”
“Smoothies.” Dee finished. “Delicious, healthy, uh… uh, nutrient rich, I assume.”
“Really?” Dennis said, taken aback. “I thought you guys hated when I talked about this place.”
“Naw, man, it’s great. We, uh, we were just scared, you know? We’re really excited to try blended… fruit?” Charlie squinted uncertainly. “Is that what it is?”
Dennis looked at him. “Yeah, dude, that's what smoothies are.”
“Okay, weird.” Charlie said. “Well, I'll try it.”
“Oh. Well, that’s great.” Dennis smiled. “I can recommend some really good—”
“Yeah, that’s awesome,” Dee interrupted him, “look, while we have you here… Have you noticed anything off about Mac lately?”
Charlie leaned forward. “We think Mac’s banging somebody, dude, and we need your help figuring out who it is.”
“What?” Dennis frowned. “That’s ridiculous. Why would you even think that?”
“No, see it’s not,” Dee said proudly, “it actually makes a lot of sense. Me, Charlie, and Frank, we figured it out last night.”
Dennis paused. “Really?”
“Yeah, Mac keeps, like, leaving early and stuff and he’s been acting weird,” Charlie explained. “Like, the other day, right? I tried to get him to come to the dump with me to look for cool shit, ‘cause you can find some pretty cool stuff there. And he said he couldn’t because he had to go to the gym, but when I asked him about it later he said he hadn’t gone to the gym that day.”
Dee nodded intently. “Yeah, plus, last night he said he wanted to ‘get up early’” She made air quotes around the last three words, giving Dennis a significant look.
“Is that— What is that, is it code?” Dennis looked to Charlie. “Am I supposed to know what that means?”
Dee sighed heavily. “Goddamnit, Dennis. I lived with the two of you, when has Mac ever wanted to get up early? He’s hiding something.”
“So? It could be anything. All you guys have proof of is that he’s acting a bit weird. What about this makes you think he’s dating someone?”
Dee and Charlie looked at each other.
“Well—” Dee started, then stopped.
“Uh…” Charlie shifted awkwardly.
“I mean, what else would it be?” Dee asked. “Hm? If you’re so smart?”
Dennis sighed. “Right. Look, this is stupid, I don’t have time for this.” He stepped around them and started to walk away.
“Wait, c’mon,” Charlie said, moving after him. “That’s what we need your help for, dude.”
“Yeah, you’re his roommate,” Dee said, as they caught up to him. “You can help us get dirt on him, help us figure out who he’s banging.”
“Dee—” Dennis turned around to face them, frustrated. “I don’t give a shit! And honestly? It’s kinda pathetic that you’re this invested. Just drop it, okay?” He held his arms out and took a couple steps away from them. “Because it’s stupid.”
Dee crossed her arms, watching as Dennis turned and walked toward the smoothie place. “Okay, okay, fine. That’s fine. We don’t need him to do this.”
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed, nodding. “Of course not!”
“Right, of course not.”
“I mean if anything he’s the pathetic one, with his smoothies…”
“Yeah, yeah, he’s pathetic, not us.”
“Yeah.” They both fell silent, still staring at the smoothie place. Eventually Charlie said, “C’mon, let’s go find Frank.”
Frank was sitting at one of the tables when they got back to Paddy’s, rummaging through a duffle bag. He look up expectantly as they came in. “So? Did you get Dennis on board?”
“No, he’s out.” Sighing heavily, Dee pulled up a stool and sat down.
“Goddammit. We need him to give us vital information!”
Charlie grabbed a beer from behind the bar. “I know, Frank, I know! You don’t think I know that?”
“This whole thing falls apart without Dennis!” Frank threw his hands in the air.
“Alright, alright!” Dee stood up again, holding out her arms. “Just calm down okay, calm down! We don’t need Dennis to do this, okay?” She moved to sit down again. “We can figure out another way to stalk Mac when he’s at home.”
Frank and Charlie both leaned away from her.
Dee looked up. “What? What’s wrong?”
Charlie moved his head in a noncommittal gesture. “I just thought we agreed not to call it stalking, you know?”
“Yeah,” Frank pushed up his glasses, “I don’t like it when you say it like that, it makes it sound creepy.”
“Right? It just sounds kinda like we’re being weird or doing something wrong.”
“Okay, fine.” Holding up her hands up in front of her, Dee looked between the other two. Slowly, she said, “We’re not stalking Mac, okay? We’re just… following him and— and observing.”
Charlie and Frank exchanged a look, sizing up the other’s reaction. Taking a sip of his beer, Charlie told Dee, “Yeah… Yeah, I like that a lot better.”
“Nothing creepy about that,” Frank agreed.
“Great.” Dee leaned forward on the table. “Now that we’re all on the same page, how are we doing this?”
Charlie set down his beer and started looking through the duffle bag on the table. “Uh, well, we’ve got the walkies, binoculars—
“Snacks,” Frank supplied.
“Snacks, yes. Thank you, Frank.” Charlie nodded, still pushing through the bag. “Uh, let’s see, a couple beers, greenman… ”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re bring green man to st—” Charlie and Frank flashed her a warning look and Dee caught herself. “To follow Mac?”
“Well, yeah,” Charlie explained. “‘Cause I might need a disguise.”
“Charlie, that’s a terrible disguise! Everyone knows you’re greenman!”
“Yeah, but… Just in case…”
“Okay, fine,” Dee gave in, sighing. “I don’t care, just stay out of Mac’s sight, okay?”
“Hang on,” Frank leaned back and looked at the other two over the duffle bag. "Are we doin’ this together or splitting up?”
Charlie looked up from rearranging the supplies. “Well, one of us should probably stay here, just in case Dennis comes by or Mac starts to head over here or something, you know?”
“Okay, yeah.” Dee nodded. “And, uh… the other two should probably stake out Mac’s apartment, follow him around when he leaves.”
“I’m gonna volunteer to stay here,” Frank said. “I don’t wanna have to run around hiding, wearing disguises. I’ll hang out here, you two can take the second walkie and follow Mac.”
“Okay, that sounds good.” Charlie stood up, pulling the bag off the table and hefting the strap onto his shoulder. “I’m taking the snacks, though.”
“Great.” Standing, Dee started to move towards the door, Charlie followed.
“Woah, woah, woah.” Frank said. The other two stopped, turning around. “No way. You gotta leave something here for me. What’m I supposed to do without somethin’ to snack on?”
Charlie glanced around. “Uhh… You got the, uh, the bar peanuts.” He waved his hand vaguely. “You’re fine, man.”
“Are you kidding?” Frank twisted to look over his shoulder to look at the bowls Charlie was gesturing at. “I finished those last night, we’re all out.”
“And you just left the bowls full of shells?” Dee asked.
Frank shrugged. “What else was I gonna do with them?”
“Throw them out!”
“Yeah? And where am I supposed to do that? The trash cans are always full around here.”
Dee sighed. “You know what? I don’t care about his right now, Charlie, just give the man some snacks and let’s get going.”
“Okay, uh…” Opening the bag, Charlie and surveyed the contents without putting it down. “You can have the chips— ‘cause those’re loud. And uh… I guess, uh, I guess the gum?” He looked over his shoulder at Dee, “I mean, that seems fair, yeah?”
“I want some of that string cheese.” Frank told him. “And the jerky.”
Charlie leaned away from him. “No way man.”
“Charlie, just give him the cheese.” Dee told him. “We need to get going, we can always grab something from the Wawa while we watch Mac.”
“Alright…” Charlie dug in the bag and cautiously held out Frank’s snacks. “You can have the jerky, but I’m keeping the cheese.”
Frank looked over what Charlie was offering, considering. “Alright.” He said, nodding. “Deal.”
“Okay, good.” Dee started walking towards the door while Charlie and Frank fumbled with the snack exchange. “Charlie, grab the walkie, let’s go.”
Dee parked across the street from Mac and Dennis’ building, and she and Charlie settled in to wait. Charlie tested the walkie talkie a couple times, and Dee fished the binoculars out of the the duffle, adjusting them so that she could watch the building’s door. They weren’t waiting very long before it swung open and Mac came out, a gym bag over his shoulder and a half-full smoothie in the other hand.
“Oh! There he is!” Dee dropped the binoculars into her lap and fumbled to start the car.
“Great, man, let’s go.” Charlie lifted the walkie talkie. “Frank, we’re on the move, over.”
Dee paused, lifting the binoculars again. “Hey, wait, hang on…” Mac waited, holding the door open. “Dennis is with him.”
“What? Lemme see.”
Mac handed the smoothie to Dennis and let the door swing shut as they walked towards the car.
Frank’s voice crackled over the walkie. “Charlie? Dee? Where’s he going?” After a second he added, “Over.”
Charlie picked up the walkie again. “Uh… One sec man, he’s with Dennis, they’re getting into the Range Rover. Over.”
“Aw, man,” Frank said, “they’re probably just goin’ to the bar.”
“Hold on, we don’t know that. Just give me a sec.” Dee shoved the binoculars at Charlie and fumbled with her keys for another second before starting the car and slowly pulling into the street, keeping her distance from the Range Rover.
“Frank, we’re following them in Dee’s car,” Charlie said into the walkie, “they might not be going to Paddy’s, but, uh, be ready just in case they do. Over.”
They followed at a distance for several blocks until eventually Dennis pulled up outside a gym. He and Mac just sat their for a moment, then the passenger door opened and Mac
Charlie lifted the walkie to his face. “Frank, false alarm, Mac’s going into the gym. Over.”
“Well that’s just as bad,” Frank complained, “there’s no way we’re gonna find out anythin’ there.”
Dee pulled the walkie toward her. “Uh… don’t be so sure of that, Frank. Charlie, give me the binoculars, it looks like he’s meeting someone.”
Charlie passed them to her. “Yeah? Who is it?”
“One sec, I can’t— Oh goddammit.” Mac vanished from the windows of the gym’s lobby and Dee dropped the binoculars in frustration.
The walkie crackled. “What’s goin’ on?”
“Uh… Mac met up with someone,” Charlie told Frank. “But we couldn’t see who, and now they’ve gone into the gym and we can’t see them. Over.”
“Aw shit.” Frank sighed over the walkie in a tinny gust. “Well, what’re you waiting for? You gotta get in there!”
“Frank, you have to say over when you’re done talking man,” Charlie said, “otherwise I don’t know if I’ve missed something, over.”
“Fine,” Frank said, his words muffled as he shoved chips in his mouth. “But you two gotta see what Mac’s up to in there. Over.”
Dee grabbed the walkie from Charlie. “No, Frank, that doesn’t make any sense! If we go in, he’ll see us and then he’ll know we’re following him.”
“Yeah, dude.” Charlie leaned over so Frank could still hear him. “Plus we don’t have any gym clothes in the bag and I don’t wanna get all sweaty you know? Over.”
Frank was silent for a moment then, “Shit! Uh… I can’t talk, just keep an eye on Mac okay!” There was a brief scrabbling noise, and what sounded like muffled talking. “Over!”
“What?” Dee looked at Charlie. “Did you hear that?”
“No, I missed like all of that, on sec.” He took the walkie talkie back from Dee and pushed down the button to talk. “Hey, uh, Frank?” He released it and waited.
“Dude, can you hear us?” Charlie tried again. “I think we lost you. Over.” There was another stretch of silence and Charlie looked over at Dee. “I don’t think he’s gonna say anything.”
“Well that’s petty,” Dee frowned. “We don’t do his plan so he just stops talking to us?”
“Yeah, that’s just being a bad team member, you know?”
“Exactly! Well,” Dee sighed, and looked out the car window at the gym, “I guess we’re just gonna have to wait and see who that guy was when Mac’s done.” The both watched the gym in silence for a moment, then Dee added, “Hey, you got any jerky you didn’t give to Frank?”
“Oh, yeah,” Charlie bent over and opened the duffle bag at his feet. “I only gave him one bag I’ve got tons more.”
“Fine.” Frank told Charlie, grabbing a handful of chips. Speaking around them, he added, “But you two gotta see what Mac’s up to in there. Over.”
Dee’s reply started to come through the walkie talkie, but it was drowned out by the sound of a car pulling up outside Paddy’s. Frank tried to pick up the walkie but his fingers slipped. Grabbing for it again, he heard a car door slam and footsteps approach the door.
“Shit! Uh… I can’t talk, just keep an eye on Mac okay!” His fingers slipped on walkie again, and it fell to the floor. Bending over to pick it up, Frank added, “Look, Dennis is about to come in, just stay quiet. Over!”
The door started to creak open, and Frank jumped, moving quickly towards the back office.
“Hey guys—” Dennis stopped, just inside the door, as he noticed there was only one person in the bar. “Frank. What are you doing? Where’s Dee and Charlie?”
Frank, halfway to the office, turned around, holding the walkie behind his back as he did. “Shit! Uh… Hey… Dennis, what’s up?”
“Nothing, I just came from dropping off Mac. What are you doing here alone?”
“Uh, well, you know, Dee and Charlie were here but I, uh, I sent them out for some hoagie fixins, you know?”
Behind Frank’s back, the walkie crackled. “Hey, uh, Frank?”
“What was that?” Dennis asked.
Frank looked at him blankly, pressing the walkie more firmly into his back. “What was what?”
The walkie crackled again, muffled this time, as Charlie said something else.
“That sound,” Dennis said, looking around, “didn’t you hear it?”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
“Are you sure?” Dennis frowned. “I could have sworn I heard something.”
Frank shrugged. “Probably just the boiler. Charlie say’s it’s been on the fritz.”
“Huh.” Dennis turned around slowly, still looking around the bar.
While Dennis’ back was turned, Frank hurriedly shoved the walkie into the back of his waistband. “So, uh, where’s Mac?” he asked loudly.
“Oh, uh, he’s at the gym…” Dennis cast one last look over the bar before pulling out a stool and sitting down. Leaning over to where Frank had left the open bag of chips, he grabbed a few and asked, “When are Charlie and Dee getting back?”
“Uh, I dunno. Should be soon though.”
Dennis popped a chip into his mouth. “So, the three of you have given up your plan to stalk Mac, then?”
“Wha— Pffft, stalkin’?” Frank waved his hand in an exaggerated gesture. “Nobody’s stalkin’ anybody.”
“Really?” Dennis lifted an eyebrow. “Dee and Charlie were pretty set on it this morning.”
“Naw, we’re onto something else now. Gonna try and sell clothes and shit for dogs. Pet owners will spend money on anything.”
Dennis leaned forward. “That sounds intriguing, actually. People will buy all kinds of stupid things for their pets.”
“Uh, yeah.” Frank said. “Yeah, I’ll fill you in on it all later. Right now I got some work to take care of in the office, lemme know when those two get back with the hoagie ingredients.”
Frank backed up awkwardly, feeling behind him to open the office door and get inside without turning his back to Dennis. As soon as the door shut behind him, he pulled out the walkie talkie again, wiping his hands on his pants before he pressed the button to talk.
“Dee, Charlie,” Frank hissed. “You guys gotta get back here! And bring some stuff for hoagies!”
“Frank, what are you talking about?” Dee sounded annoyed. “Get your own sandwich ingredients.”
“Yeah, dude,” Charlie added. “We gotta make sure we don’t miss Mac when he’s done. Over.”
“Guys,” Frank urged them, “Dennis is at the bar an’ he’s askin’ questions, if you don’t get back here soon he’s gonna know something’s up!”
“Oh goddammit.” Dee sighed heavily. “Charlie, go get Frank his deli meats or whatever and make up some reason to leave again, I’ll stay here and watch Mac.”
“What? Why do I have to?”
“‘Cause this is my car and I’m not leaving you alone in it! It’ll end up blown up or stolen or some other terrible thing!”
“Nothing’s gon—” Charlie’s rebuttal got cut off as whichever of them was holding it took their hand off the button.
“Guys—” Frank said, trying to get their attention. “Guys!” He banged the walkie against his hand a few times, then listened. “Aw shit.”
Tossing the walkie talkie onto the desk, Frank pulled open the office door and camp back into the bar. Dennis was sitting where Frank had left him, absently tapping at his phone
“Dennis, hey, uh, you know what? I just remembered I forgot to tell those guys to get pickles.” Frank forced a smile as he walked toward the door. “I, uh, I’m just gonna, go, uh, make sure they… do… that.” He shoved open the door and booked it down the street.
“Charlie, there’s no way I'm leaving you alone—”
“It’ll be like fifteen minutes, Dee, and I don’t have any money for hoagies I can’t just—”
“Well then borrow some from me and I’ll get it from Frank later, I don’t care—” Dee broke off as the back door of the car was yanked open.
Frank flung himself in and practically collapsed into the back seat. He pulled the door shut behind him and straightened up, panting for breath.
“Frank, what the hell are you doing here?” Dee twisted around in her seat.
Frank held up his hand, still catching his breath. Eventually, he asked, “Has he finished working out yet?”
“Obviously not, that’s why we’re still here,” Dee told him. “Which, uh, why are you? And why are you so sweaty?”
“I’m covering our asses,” Frank took off his glasses, wiping his face. “Dennis was askin’ questions, and the two of you weren’t gonna show up so I got outta there. Had to get here as quick as possible.” He replaced his glasses. “Now, come on, catch me up, what’s goin’ on?”
“Uhhh, not much man,” Charlie said, poking a bite of string cheese into his mouth. “We’re still just waiting on Mac to be done with his stupid work out.”
“Well why haven’t you gone inside?”
“Because that’s a stupid plan, Frank, we’re not doing it, okay?” Dee picked up the binoculars from her lap and focused her attention on the gym. “Now, shut up, I need to focus.”
“Oh hey,” Charlie swallowed his mouthful of cheese as the door open, “is that him?”
Dee peered at the person coming out of the gym. “Uh… Nope. Not him.”
“Shit.” Charlie peeled off a piece of cheese and stuffed it in his mouth. “It’s like, how long can someone spend lifting metal stuff, y’know? I don’t get it—”
“Oooh, guys,” Dee interrupted, waving one hand to silence him while holding the binoculars with the other. “Someone else is coming, I think it might be Mac.”
Charlie sat up a little straighter. “Yeah?”
“Can you see who he’s with?” Frank asked, leaning forward over the centre console.
“Yeah, just a— Oh shit!”
“What?” Charlie reached over, trying to take the binoculars. “Lemme see.”
“Don’t—” Dee twisted out of his reach, batting him away. “Charlie, stop, god! It’s Rex.”
“Rex?” Frank asked. “That guy who went to the Superbowl with us?”
Charlie frowned. “Well that doesn’t make any sense, why would he be embarrassed of Rex?”
“Maybe ‘cause he fell for that pyramid scheme, you know?” Frank suggested. “Doesn’t want to admit he’s dating someone that gullible.”
Charlie pulled out another string cheese and picked at the wrapper. “I dunno man, maybe it’s just ‘cause Dee slept with him, remember?”
“Ehhhh… I don’t think they’re dating.” Dee was still looking through the binoculars at where and Mac and Rex were standing just outside the gym.
“What?” Frank leaned forward again. “What d’you mean?”
“There’s no touching or anything,” Dee explained. “Mac doesn’t even seem that interested in talking to him…” She adjusted the binoculars, shifting her seat slightly. “Yeah, I think they were just working out together.”
Charlie leaned over, assessing the situation for himself. “Well, I mean you can’t know that, right? They could still be banging without being all affectionate and whatever.”
Dee lowered the binoculars. “Shit,” she pulled the strap over her head and started the car. “Mac’s leaving, Charlie take the binoculars.”
As she started driving— slowly to keep Mac ahead of them— Frank said, “I think Dee’s got a point, but we should still put Rex in the maybe pile. Oh, maybe later we can track him down and question him about it.”
“Question him— What?” Dee flicked her eyes up to the rear-view mirror to look at him. “Frank, if he was sleeping with Mac how would that help matters?”
“It would give us answers!” Frank explained as though it was obvious. “Tell us why Mac was so embarrassed of him.”
“Yeah, but it would also let Mac know we knew, and that we’d been stalking him—”
“Nobody’s stalking anybody!”
“Frank, we are following a man in a car with binoculars, what else would you call it?”
Frank considered for a second. “Reconnaissance.”
Before Dee could retort, Charlie made a muffled noise around the cheese in his mouth. Swallowing, he said, “Guys, look, Mac’s stopping.”
Mac had ducked into a small coffee shop. He was partially visible through the window as he ordered something from he counter. Dee pulled over across the street and took the binoculars back from Charlie.
“What’s he doin’?” Frank leaned towards the passenger side, trying to see.
Dee shrugged. “Nothing, I don’t know, maybe he wants coffee. Oh!” The door opened and Mac came out, carrying a drink and a pastry, and walked towards one of the patio tables. “Wait, I think he’s meeting someone.”
“Who?” Frank asked. “One of you give me the binoculars, I can’t see shit.”
“There’s nothing to see,” Dee told him, setting the binoculars on the dash, “It's just some woman.”
“Well what’s she look like?” Frank leaned forward, still trying to see. “Do we know her?”
Charlie picked up the binoculars from Dee. “Uh… she’s got like a face…”
“A face?” Dee asked him. “Seriously?”
“Well I don’t know…”
Sighing, Dee took the binoculars back. “Brown hair, pretty, thin face with kind of a square jaw, great eyebrows— she's really hot, actually— uh, wearing like a… a grey sweater thing, jeans…”
“Goddammit.” Frank reached between the seat and snatched the binoculars from Dee. “Oh, that’s just that angel or god or whatever.”
Dee turned to look at him “God? What are you talking about, Frank?”
“From his dance. His gay dance at the prison to come out to Luther.” Frank gestured to the coffee shop. “That’s the chick who helped him with it.”
“Oh, well why didn’t you just say that?” Charlie asked. “Why’d you have to call her an angel, man, that’s just confusing.”
“‘Cause that’s what she— Oh, forget it,” Frank made a dismissive gesture. “Just tell me when he’s done. Charlie, pass me some of those snacks.”
The three of them waited. Charlie piled some of the jerky and string cheese onto the centre console to give Frank better access. Dee kept an eye one Mac, occasionally checking through the binoculars, but mostly messing around on her phone or chastising Charlie and Frank when they got food on the seats.
“Oh!” Glancing up, Dee dropped her phone and grabbed at the binoculars. “She’s leaving.”
“Mmph.” Charlie swallowed, wiping his hands on his jeans. “Great, let’s get going.”
“Hang on, he’s…” Dee leaned forward, adjusting the binoculars, “he’s making phone call.”
“What’s he saying?” Frank asked.
Dee took the binoculars away from her face. “How the hell am I supposed to know? He’s across the street!”
“Well, roll down a window or something—” Frank broke off as Charlie opened his door and started to get out. “Charlie? Charlie!”
“Don’t worry.” Charlie ducked his head back into the car. “I got this.” He eased the door shut and, crouching down, rushed across the street.
Once he got to the sidewalk, Charlie crouched next to a garbage can. Peering around it to make sure Mac was still facing away from him, he darted forward to the low fence surrounding the coffee shop’s patio and leaned against it, listening. Mac was still waiting for the person on the other end to pick up, bouncing his leg.
Eventually, the person he was calling picked up. “Uh… yeah, hi!” Mac said. “I’d like to make a reservation.” He paused. “Yeah. Two people. Tomorrow.”
The person on the other end said something.
“Great.” Mac paused again. “Uh… Mac. Yep.”
He listened for a second, nodding, then said, “Okay, thanks.”
Mac hung up, tapping something into his phone. Dee waved frantically from the car, trying to catch Charlie’s attention, but Charlie gestured for her to stop, glancing up at Mac, now making another call. This time Mac barely had to wait before the other person picked up.
“Hey, it’s me,” he said, a smile spreading on his face.
“Yeah,” Mac ran his free hand through his hair. “I got us a table for tomorrow at Guigino’s.”
He was quiet for a second while the other person spoke.
“No, I was just gonna head over to Paddy’s for a while,” Mac answered.
Mac paused, frowning. “Uh…” He looked around him. “No, why?”
“Okay. Yeah, great.” Mac smiled again, biting his bottom lip. “See you later.”
Mac stood up, sliding his phone back into his pocket. Charlie waited a second for him to start walking away before looking either way and darting back across the street.
When he got back to the car, Dee stared at him in disbelief. “What the hell, Charlie? That was the dumbest shit you’ve ever done!”
“Nah man,” Charlie said, sliding into his seat and closing the door, “I’m like, super good at that stuff from keeping an eye on the Waitress, you know?”
“Okay, fine, whatever. Did you get anything or what?”
“Uh, yeah. He’s going on a date tomorrow at Guigino’s.” Charlie picked up a new string cheese. “Oh, also, he’s also heading back to the bar so we should probably get back there.”
“That’s great, Charlie!” Frank said. “What time? I’ll get us a reservation.”
“Great.” Frank nodded, shoving the last of his stick of jerky in his mouth and brushing off his hands. “I’ll call up Guigino’s and get us a table. You get us back to the bar.”
The next night, they all met up at Dee’s before leaving for Guigino’s. Charlie came in last, hands full. He dumped what he was holding on the kitchen table and started tick things off on his fingers. “Alright, man, we got opera glasses, we got fancy outfits, we got Frank’s toupee. I think we’re ready for this. I’m feeling good.”
Dee stood over the table, surveying the opera glasses and toupee. “Yeah, as surprised as I am to say this, I think we’re really getting good at this whole…” Frank and Charlie both gave her warning looks. “Uh… not stalking,” she said pointedly. “We’re getting really good at following and observing.”
“Yeah!” Charlie nodded emphatically. “Yeah, we’re doing great.”
Frank pushed back his chair and clapped his hands together. “Okay, Charlie, pass me my hair and let’s get goin’. If we leave now, we’ll get there in time to catch Mac and his beefcake.”
When they got to Guigino’s, Mac was already there. The hostess Frank, Charlie, and Dee seated at a booth in the corner, and after a bit of searching they were able to locate him across the restaurant, seated by himself at a small table.
Frank took his opera glasses out of his pocket and looked over at Mac’s table for about the seventh time since they’d sat down. “How’s his date not here yet, what gives? How much longer do we have to wait?”
“I don’t know anymore that you do, Frank,” Dee told him, looking over her menu. “Stop asking, okay?”
Charlie looked at Mac through his own opera glasses. “I dunno, Dee, I think Frank’s right, it’s weird that his guy isn’t here yet.”
“It’s been five minutes!” Dee snapped. “Five minutes! And if either of you sons of bitches wore a watch maybe you wouldn’t spend so long—”
“Hey! Shut up,” Frank interrupted her, “the hostess’s bringin’ someone over to Mac’s table”
“Seriously?” Charlie craned his neck and twisted in his seat. “Who is it? I can’t see.”
Their waiter arrived then. “Hello there, I hope you’re having a good evening. Is there anything I can get for you?”
Frank looked up. “Uh, yeah, a bottle of wine for the table and you can piss off,” he said, leaning to try to see around him. “We’re in the middle of something here.”
The waiter frowned. “Ah, I’m sorry, sir—”
“He said move it, dickwad,” Dee interrupted, not looking at him. “Buzz off.” As their waiter started to walk away, confused, she added. “God, the staff here are so annoying.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Charlie agreed. “The hostess is standing right in front of Mac’s date, I mean, who does that? Doesn’t she know anything about the sight lines in this place?”
Frank picked up his opera glasses again, taking a second to relocate Mac’s table. “Oh! She’s leaving, look!”
Setting down two menus, the hostess walked away, revealing Dennis sitting in the formerly empty seat. He pulled his chair in slightly before picking up his menu.
“Aw, false alarm,” Dee sighed. “It’s just Dennis.”
“Oh… Yeah, that’s too bad.” Charlie shrugged, putting his opera glasses back into his pocket. He looked between the other two. “Well, I, uh, I guess we should probably getting going, then…”
“Aw, come on,” Frank said, “we might as well have a nice meal while we’re here.”
“Ehhh, I don’t wanna have to sit here and watch their stupid monthly dinner, you know? It’s just gonna be the two of them talking and shit, we see that every day.”
Dee was still watching Mac and Dennis, her eyes fixed on their table. “Uh… guys?” Frank and Charlie ignored her. “Hey, guys!”
Frank turned his head. “Huh?”
“Goddammit Dee, what?”
Dee pointed “Look!”
The waiter was bringing Mac and Dennis their drinks. As he moved away, they each picked one up to toast. Their free hands were resting on the table, loosely linked together in a casual, accustomed way.
“Aw, shit.” Frank tossed his menu down on the table.
“That’s new, right?” Charlie asked. “They’re not just doing a scheme or— or a…” Mac leaned across the table and kissed Dennis. It was brief, but as he started to pull back, but Dennis brought his hand up to Mac’s neck and pulled him back, kissing him again.
“Uh… Nope.” Dee answered Charlie. “I’d say— I’d say that’s for real.”
Frank fumbled with his phone, raising it up and taking a picture. Dee whipped her head around at the sound. “Frank!”
“What? We need evidence!”
“Obviously, but you need to learn how to silence your phone, seriously.”
Mac and Dennis had returned to perusing their menus. Dennis was saying something, the words inaudible from across the restaurant, and Mac kept glancing up at him, a huge smile on his face.
Frank sighed and asked, “Well what d’we do now?”
“I don’t know!” Dee snapped, still watching Mac and Dennis. “How am I supposed to know?”
“Well who says I was askin’ you?”
“I’m one of only two people here with you, Frank, who else are you asking?”
“I say we leave, man,” Charlie said, pulling his gaze back to Frank, “just get out of here before they see us.”
“And then what?” Frank gestured across the restaurant. “We can’t just pretend like this didn’t happen!”
Dee leaned over the table, barely keeping her voice down. “No, that’s exactly what we can do! We get out of here, go home and pretend that we didn’t just see Mac make out with Dennis!”
“Yeah, but I feel like if we know and try to act like we don’t it’ll make things more complicated,” Charlie told her, “‘cause, like, they know and we know, but we’re all pretending it’s not happening and eventually someone’s gonna loose track of who knows what…”
“Exactly.” Frank nodded. “Besides, they disrespected us by not tellin’ us they were gonna start banging—”
“Oh, gross!” Dee shuddered.
“Yeah, Frank,” Charlie grimaced, “I don’t want to think about that, that’s just—”
Frank ignored them. “They disrespected us, so, we gotta make a show of force. I say, we head over there and confront ‘em.”
“Frank— No! That’s a terrible idea!” Dee craned her neck to double check Mac and Dennis hadn’t noticed them. “We can’t let them know we followed them here.”
“Well I’m not gonna just sit here and do nothing.”
“Okay, okay, fine.” Dee sighed. “Fine. We won’t ignore it, but we’re not going over there to talk to them either.”
Charlie nodded. “Okay, cool, so we go to their apartment and wait for them to get home, yeah, I see where you’re going with this.”
“What? Oh my god,” Dee looked from Charlie to Frank, “what is wrong with you two?”
“Nothing!” Charlie told her. “It just seems like where you were going with it!”
“Naw, Charlie,” Frank said. “Dee’s right.”
“If we wait for them at home,” he continued, “they’ll probably be about to bang and you shouldn’t go surprising a guy right before somethin’ like that. Especially not two guys at once.”
Charlie grimaced again, shaking his head. “Eugh, Frank, why—“
“Yeah, Frank you need to stop talking for, like…”
“Like, the rest of the scheme, man.” Charlie finished. “We can’t having you bringing up banging all the time, okay?”
Frank held up his hands. “Alright, fine, fine. Why don’t we do it at the bar?”
“Yeah…” Dee said, considering. “Yeah, he bar could definitely work.”
“It’ll give us time to get ready, too,” Charlie pointed out. “‘Cause I don’t think I could talk to them right now, after just seeing them make out.”
“Mm. Yeah,” Dee agreed, “that was… Disgusting.”
“It’s not the gay thing though!” Charlie said hurriedly.
“No! No, I mean, it’s just ‘cause it’s Dennis, and he’s my brother…”
“Yeah, and they’re like, my best friends and shit, so like, that’s weird for me…”
“Yeah. Yeah, I get you.”
“Right, cool…” Charlie trailed off. The three of them sat in silence for moment.
Eventually, Dee clapped her hands down on the table. “Should we go?”
Frank nodded. “Yeah, yeah.”
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed. “Let’s head out, let’s just go.”
Mac and Dennis got to Paddy’s late the next day. Charlie, Dee, and Frank were sitting at the bar, ignoring the few customers holed up in the booths lining the wall. Frank hurriedly shushed them when the door opened and Mac and Dennis came through.
“Hey guys.” Mac leaned over the bar to grab a couple beers. “What’s up?”
Dee turned slowly one her stool to face them. “Hey, Mac, Dennis… How’s it going?”
Dennis glanced at Mac and shrugged. “Uh, you know, fine.”
“Yeah, I’m doing pretty good.” Mac opened the beers and handed one to Dennis.
“Oh, pretty good huh?”Dee crossed her arms over her chest. “You… uh, you got a reason for that? Maybe you did something nice last night? Something…” she paused, lifting her eyebrows, “special?”
Dennis took a sip from his beer. “Not really.”
“Oh… nothing special, huh? Interesting… You sure about that?”
“Yeah, I am,” Dennis said slowly, frowning at his sister. “Why are you talking like that?”
Dee ignored the question. “Mac, how about you? Did do anything… interesting? At all? Last night?”
“Uh… no? Dennis is right you’re talking really weird.”
Charlie straightened up in his seat, turning dramatically towards Dee. “Ohhhhh, do you hear that, Dee?”
“Yeah, yeah, I did, Charlie,” Dee replied, keeping her eyes fixed on Mac and Dennis.
“These guys,” Charlie stood up slowly and took a few steps forward, “said they didn’t do anything interesting.”
“Yeah...” Dee stood up too. “How about that, Frank?”
“Yeah.” Crossing his arms, Frank got up and started walking forward. “How about that?”
Mac looked around at the three of them, now clustered around him and Dennis with various challenging looks. “Seriously, you guys are all being really weird. What’s going on?”
“I dunno, Mac,” Charlie’s voice rose in pitch, “what is going on? You maybe got something you want to tell us?”
Mac stared at him blankly.
Dee threw up her hands, sighing. “Alright, forget this, it’s not working. We know you two are dating.”
“What? I— No,” Dennis glanced over at Mac. “No, we— You know what? That’s ridiculous. You’re being ridiculous.”
“Yeah, we’re totally not dating.”
Dee rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, we saw you boners at Guigino’s last night. There’s no point in denying it.”
“So?” Dennis said. “We go to Guigino’s all the time that doesn’t make it a date.” He forced an awkward laugh.
“What were you guys doing at Guigino’s anyway?” Mac asked.
“Uh…” Charlie said, drawing it out. “Well. We kinda figured you might be dating someone in secret, so we were following you—“
“You were following me—” Mac started, interrupting him.
“And Dennis told us not to— Which,” Charlie looked at Frank and Dee, “makes a lot more sense now, if I’m being honest….”
“Dude!” Mac turned on Dennis, “You knew they were stalking me?”
Dennis raised his hands defensively. “Well I told them not to!”
“Blah blah blah…” Charlie waved his hands, cutting off Macs response. “The point is, we know you two are dating.”
“That’s right,” Dee pointed at them “We caught you guys and we demand answers!”
“Yeah, but, Dennis and me aren’t dating. So there’s nothing to say.”
“Oh yeah?” Frank asked, fumbling in his pocket for his phone. “Then explain… This!”
Dennis and Mac leaned in to look at the blurry picture Frank was showing them. When he realized what it was, Dennis took a step back, looking up at the ceiling. “Oh goddammit.”
“Uh… Hm.” Mac kept looking at the picture. “You see, what’s happening there is I’m… I’m just…” Mac dropped his hands to his sides and turned to Dennis. “Yeah, I got nothing.”
“Ha!” Frank shoved his phone back in his pocket.
“Come on, guys, just admit it,” Dee told them.
“Alright, fine.” Dennis sighed. “Fine! Mac and I are dating. Happy?”
Mac jumped in. “But for the record, we only kept it secret ‘cause we didn’t want you guys to know.”
Charlie made a high pitched, indignant noise “Is that supposed to make us feel better?”
“Well, yeah, I thought it might.”
“Yeah, Mac,” Dee said, gesturing with one arm. “That’s literally the worst possible excuse, how in the hell would that make it better?”
“It’s not like we thought you’d mess it up or something—”
“Uh,” Dennis held up a hand, interrupting him. “To be fair, Mac, I did think that just a little.”
“Ha! See,” Pointing triumphantly, Dee looked from Frank to Charlie. “I told you guys that was why!”
“Well…” Dennis started, lifting his eyebrows, “Don’t go feeling too smug there, Dee. You’re at least as bad as Charlie, maybe even worse than Frank.”
“Wha— How am I worse than Frank?”
“Guys!” Charle interrupted them. “Is that really the most important thing right now? I mean…” He gestured between Mac and Dennis, giving Dee a meaningful look.
“No, you’re right. We need to stay on topic.” Dee put her hands on her hips and jerked her chin at Mac and Dennis. “We’ve got a lot more questions for you.”
“Right.” Frank pulled himself back onto his stool and looked at them over his glasses. “How long has this been goin’ on, exactly?”
“Yeah,” Charlie nodded, eyeing Mac and Dennis suspiciously. “I wanna know that too.”
“So,” Mac’s eyes flicked upward as he started explaining, “you remember two months ago when Dennis accidentally ordered too many lemons and you guys locked us in the office because we were fighting over it?”
Charlie, Frank, and Dee winced, groaning and tuning away.
Dee grimaced. “Gross, you guys banged in the office?”
“No,” Mac answered.
All three let out a sigh of relief.
“No, we just talked and shit then. We banged that night when we got home.”
“Mac!” Dennis jerked his head at the others. “Really?”
“What, it’s true!”
“Yeah, it is! But they don’t need to know that, you could have just—” Dennis stopped himself, taking a deep breath. “You know what, it doesn’t matter.” He turned to the rest of the gang. “Yes, Mac and I have been dating for two months, is that all? Are we done here?”
“So, what?” Frank asked. “Dennis is gay now, too?”
“Yes,” Mac answered.
At the same time, Dennis said, “Well…”
The other three froze, watching Mac and Dennis.
“Dude,” Mac said, looking Dennis dead in the eye. “You literally sucked my dick in the car before we came in here, that’s pretty gay.”
“Mac, look,” Dennis started, taking a step toward him, “I’m not— There’s a whole lead up…”
“You call yourself gay,” Mac interrupted. He gestured between the two of them. “We are a gay couple.”
Dennis sighed in exasperation. “Well obviously, I’m gay, but I’m not going to just say that! And especially not in response to such a presumptuous question with ‘now’ on the end of it. Are you kidding me?”
“Oh.” Mac paused. “Yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense.”
“Thank you. Now,” he gestured to rest of the gang, “may I?”
“Yeah, of course, bro, go for it.”
Dennis turned back to the others. “You see Frank—”
“Aw, man…” Frank cut him off, looking at Charlie and Dee. “Is this gonna be a whole thing?”
“If I’m being honest, I’m already bored,” Charlie told him.
“Mmm,” Dee hummed in agreement, nodding. “I mean, thinking about it, it really doesn’t change anything.”
“Wha— Guys!” Mac stared at them, disbelieving. “This changes so much!”
“Yeah…” Charlie sounded unconvinced. “But I only really cared when I thought you were embarrassed of us? If it’s just Dennis…” He trailed off, gesturing vaguely. “You know?”
“But— I— Dude! Yesterday you were stalking me over this!”
“Yeah, but…” Charlie trailed off again, slowly stepping backward toward his stool.
“Babe, shhh, shh.” Dennis moved closer to him, rubbing his shoulders from behind. “Calm down, okay? They don’t know what they’re saying.”
Taking a deep breath, Mac turned to face him. In a quieter voice, he said, “It’s just like, we try to talk about something that matters…”
Dennis moved his hands to Mac’s arms, rubbing them gently. “I know, I know… Come on,” he slid one arm around Mac’s shoulders, guiding him toward the door, “let’s get out of here, okay?”
“Yeah,” Mac glanced over at the others. “Yeah, let’s go.”
“Whatever, boners,” Dee snorted, sitting down again and opening a new beer.
Charlie leaned his elbows on the bar, barely looking over his shoulder as Mac and Dennis walked towards the door. “Yeah, see you later.”
“Hang on, hang on,” Frank pushed himself off his stool. Mac and Dennis stopped, turning around as Frank walked over to them “I’ve got somethin’ to say to Dennis.”
“What is it, Frank?” Dennis said, putting his hands on his hips.
Frank shoved his glassed up his nose and squinted at Dennis. “Is this for real?”
“Woah,” Mac said, stepping forward. “You know Frank, you really shouldn’t ask that when someone comes out.”
Dennis put his hand on Mac’s chest. “No. It’s fine, Mac. Here,” he pulled the keys to the Range Rover out of his pocket and handed them over, “go wait in the car. I’ll be out in a sec.” Dennis turned back to Frank. “Yes, Frank, I’m gay. For real.”
“What?” Frank pulled back, frowning. “No, I’m talkin’ about this! This whole relationship thing.”
“Uh… yeah. It’s for real.”
“Okay, good, ‘cause if you’re planning on droppin’ Mac, or sayin’ some shit about how you don’t have feelings…”
Sighing, Dennis interrupted him, “I’m not going to do that, Frank.”
“Good. 'Cause if you do, you’re gonna regret it.”
“I— Wait.” Dennis paused, looking Frank up and down. “What’s happening here?”
Frank held his hands out like it was obvious. “I’m tellin’ you not to hurt Mac.”
“Frank, that’s such bullshit.”
“Well someone’s gotta do it…”
“You raised me! If anything you should be doing this the other way around!”
“I don’t give a shit. I’m doing it this this way.” Frank crossed his arms over his chest.
For a long moment, they both stared at each other. Eventually Dennis sighed and broke the silence. “Whatever, fine, are you done? Can I go now?”
Frank held his gaze for a little longer. “Yeah,” he said, shrugging. “Yeah, go ahead.”
Sighing again in exasperation, Dennis turned and walked outside. He crossed the street to where the Range Rover was parked and climbed into the driver’s seat. Mac was inspecting his teeth in the visor mirror.
“So what did Frank want?”
“Huh?” Dennis looked up as he buckled his seatbelt. “Oh, nothing.”
Mac’s gaze flicked over at Dennis. “Really? ‘Cause it kinda sounded like he was gonna give you shit for being gay, and I know he’s been pretty good since my dance, but I can talk to him if he’s gonna be shitty.”
“No. No,” Dennis glanced down as he fumbled with the keys. “Uh, he had some dumb idea about…” He looked up at Mac, alternating between bearing his teeth and practicing intimidating expressions. “You know what? Just forget it. It’s not like it’s gonna happen.”
Mac turned his head, leaning it against the head rest of the seat. “You sure, bro?”
Dennis paused, a small smile spreading across his face. “Yeah,” he said, his gaze lingered on Mac fro a moment as he turned the ignition. He faced forward again, still smiling, and started pulling into the street. “Yeah, I’m sure.”