Joël: Hey, dude. Are you back home now?
He forces himself to keep his voice neutral. Anita doesn’t raise her eyes from her screen. Joël is not fooled for one second. He knows that she is absorbing as if by osmosis every nuance of expression that passes over his face, committing to memory every vibration of his voice, every subtle change in his body temperature and probably in the rhythm of his heartbeat too. He stares at the phone in his hand, willing himself not to lay it on the table, not to wipe his sweaty palms on the legs of his pyjama pants.
Roy: Yep. We flew in last night.
Roy: Me and Sonia and Bunty. Bunty’s going to be enjoying a nice restful stay at The Oaks for the next 6 weeks. I’m just leaving there now. And you wouldn’t believe it, freaking Sonia turned up the Olds’ place for a surprise visit the second night I was there! Surprise was an understatement, dude. Turns out she had a massive attack of the guilts and wanted to work on our marriage after all. I nearly had a heart attack. Not least because I’d arranged a date with Claudia the following evening. I was shitting bricks, dude.
Joël: Claudia? You mean M-
He almost says ‘Megan’s friend Claudia’. He knows that any mention of Megan will shatter Anita’s artificially calm demeanor like a crystal glass under a sledgehammer. He swallows and tries again.
Joël: You mean Claudia with the amazing rack? That Claudia?
Anita arches one eyebrow. He gets up from the table under the guise of feeding Brutus.
Roy: Yeah. I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about it. Anyway, because I’m the man, I managed to turn what could have been a complete disaster into one of the best nights of our lives. All three of us. You know, I never realised how versatile the chicks were in our home town, dude. Damn.
Joël: Wait. What do you mean, versatile? Are you saying what I think you’re saying? Jesus Christ. I hate you more than I’ve ever hated anyone in my life right now.
Roy: It’s my world, baby. You’re just here to bask in my awesomeness. Hey, do you want to meet me for lunch so I can give you all the filthy details? I think I can swing an hour between meetings.
Joël: I don’t think so, dude. I’m kind of busy today. Anita and I are looking at houses.
There’s a 5 second silence.
Roy: Did you say Anita? You and Anita are back on? And looking at houses?
Joël: Not only that, she wants to get married.
Roy: Dude, you don’t have any money. You can’t do shit.
Joël: Anita has money.
Roy: So basically you’re going to be Anita’s sugar baby? Just when I thought your life couldn’t get any more pathetic, you sink to whole new depths. Congrats, dude. Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’m running late. Some of us actually have to work for a living, you know. We’re not all free-loading parasites spongeing off our sugar mamas. Later, you worthless piece of shit.
Anita: Was that Roy? How is he?.
Joël: I think he may have been slightly miffed that I couldn’t have lunch with him.