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The way Lee said it, you'd have sworn I had suggested ritual suicide.
"Come on, Lee, I've had a long day and...is that a dog in your backseat?"
Lee stopped walking towards his car, to give me a long steady stare.
"Is that gay slang?"
I nearly choked. I gestured wildly at the very obvious dog in Lee's car, that was barking at us.
"No! I meant is that literally a dog in the backseat of your car?"
Lee shrugged and continued,
"Too bad, you need more of a backstory. Anyway, yes, that's my friend Walter's dog. He's staying with his in-laws for a while, and they're allergic. Anyway, let's not change the subject..."
He said the next words with supreme emphasism, as if the world might have shattered to pieces, if we made the wrong choice.
I nodded. Lee ran into a small fast food restaurant, on the side of the street. After a few noisy moments inside, Lee emerged with a giant hamburger in hand, which he shook, defiantly in my face, while shouting,
It was a long day, and I didn't have the energy to argue.
"Okay, Lee, where are we eating then?"
Lee sneered, almost disgustedly, before responding,
"We aren't just 'eating', my friend. We are having an 'experience'."
Even if my life depended on it, I couldn't have possibly even hazarded a guess as to what Lee considered an 'experience', when grand theft auto, random gunfire, and hookers were all part of his daily routine.
It turned out to be sushi.
That wasn't too strange in itself, I guess. It was the red motorcycle I couldn't understand.
"Lee, why did you need a car if you had a motorcycle?"
Lee then popped a wheelie, nearly killing us both.
Okay, that was an aggeration. I apologize.
It was the crash that nearly killed us both.
"Come on, Darrin, walk it off."
I limped all the way into the restaurant, barely making it to a table. Strangely, Lee didn't follow, taking the time to make a lap around the restaurant, to greet every member of the staff.
The restaurant was half sushi bar and half hibachi, and every employee knew Lee on sight. Lee greeted each in Japanese, and they all seemed positively thrilled to see him. It wasn't a giant restaurant, but the decorations were nice, and if the prices were any indication, the food was top notch. It was near closing time, but that didn't seem to matter when Lee showed up. By the time he made it back to the table, food was already being delivered, without either of us placing an order.
Now I know what Lee meant by 'experience'. The sushi was nothing short of divine, and Lee gobbled it all up with the furious intensity of a shark. After a third helping of tuna sashimi, chased by fine sake (I didn't really have a taste for it, but Lee drank it like water), a thought occurred to me.
"Wait, you forgot you had a motorcycle?"
Lee was more than a little bit tipsy, but spoke as clearly as ever, regardless,
"No, I forgot why I needed a car, when I already had a motorcycle. There was a very good reason, I know it, but it's gone."
Having clearly stated his reasoning, Lee gave a thoughtful nod, and fell onto the floor.
A bewildered and furious asian waitress started berating Lee in lightning quick Japanese. She was young, and might have been beautiful, had she not looked so overworked and cranky. She continued shouting at my prone companion, as she stomped over to his legs. To my embarassment, she turned her focus towards me and gestured towards Lee's upper half.
It only made sense. I was supposedly his friend, and not his hostage...who could now easily run out of the restaurant, go to the police and finally be free of the insanity.
Our waitress angrily tapped her foot, and she glared into my eyes. No, somehow it seemed like leaving wasn't an option. When a woman was that angry with you, you had to do what she said. I'm not sure why, it's just the way it is.
With my arms under his, and her arms under his legs, we lifted him onto a couch in the waiting area. Lee's eyes shot open just as he landed, and he began to gigle, hysterically. Our waitress continued her angry tirade in Japanese, and Lee giggled even harder, while sitting up. The angrier she got, the funnier he found it, which was a vicious cycle if ever there was one. With casual ease, he took her hand and pulled her down next to him, and in response she smacked his arm with rage. Of course, in response, Lee giggled, and the cycle began anew.
Wanting no part of it, I snuck off to the bathroom, to wash my face. I stared at my reflection, stretched out my sore leg, and tried to make sense of it all. A person couldn't really live like that, could they? He'd be dead within a week, right? Or was I wrong? In the restroom, I felt separated from it, as if in a haven, protected from Lee's insane world.
I stared into that mirror, and for some bizarre reason, I felt ashamed of myself. I wanted to believe that the shame was from being a part of Lee's crimes, and not calling the police, but it wasn't that. It had something to do with Lee, but I couldn't understand it. No, on second thought it really didn't have to do with Lee. It had to do with myself, as I stared at my reflection. I eventually shook off the gloom, and returned outside.
I found Lee and the waitress kissing passionately.
I wasn't the least bit surprised.
Her venemous demeanor had melted away, as they happily entwined in eachother's arms. I took a seat back at our table, and for the first time, noticed that one of the pictures on the wall was a group photo of most of the restaurant staff. It took a little bit of looking, but I eventually spotted our waitress in the picture. She was towards the back, happily embracing a young, American man. A closer inspection confirmed it was Lee.
A waiter eventually came with the bill, which cost more than my first car. I showed it to Lee, who then paid it in cash, right out of his pocket. Lee stopped our waiter before leaving, determined to give him a tip. After patting his pockets, Lee settled on tipping the young man with one of his several handguns. The waiter took it with a smile, confirmed the chamber was empty and the safety was on. With that, he put the gun away and happily removed most of the dishes, save for the bottle of sake. Without prompting, he poured me another glass, as Lee continued making out with our waitress, with the enthusiasm of a madman.
I began to think of Sandy, but that didn't go anywhere productive, so I wondered how we were going to get back to the car instead. The motorcycle was imbedded in a guardrail, so that was out. After a few more attempts, I gave up trying to make plans, and went back to drinking sake instead.
I downed it quickly, like Lee had, and then poured myself another glass. After a few rounds, I began to feel better. You know, Sake was really beginning to grow on me.
Without any more thought, I rested my weary head upon the table, and closed my eyes.
I don't remember anything past that, but either I walked over to the couch, or the staff carried me. Needless to say, that's where I awoke in the morning. The hangover was downright deadly, but the staff had anticipated that, and left a large glass of water next to me, on a tray. I downed it, and staggered to my feet, to walk the stiffness out of my sore leg.
No one else was around, so I showed myself out, back onto the street. The sun seemed mercilessly cruel, as it nearly blinded my tired eyes. The motorcycle was still crashed against the rail, leaving me to wonder if a taxi or long walk was the best decision. Before coming to a firm decision, I rubbed my face with my hands, to help me regain my composure. Before I managed to clear up my aching heam, my cell phone rang began ringing, in my pocket. To no surprise, it was Lee.
"Hey, Darrin, how's it going?"
I couldn't believe how hoarse my voice sounded, when I spoke. In contrast, Lee sounded simply peachy.
"I feel like hell, Lee. Where are you?"
Lee ignored my question, and replaced it with one of his own.
"Do you remember where my car is?"
I struggled to connect even two thoughts in my throbbing head, but I somehow managed.
Lee, chimed in, perkily,
"Great! The keys are in the glovebox. Why don't you take the poor pooch back to our apartment and give him something to eat?"
If I wasn't hungover, I probably wouldn't have arguedl; however, I was definitely hungover.
"We don't have any dogfood, Lee."
"Sure we do, silly! It's in the cupboard."
Lee didn't need to specify which cupboard it was. I knew.
"For the love of God, Lee. Can't you do it?"
Lee happily informed me,
"I can't, I'm in jail."
My eyes shot open, and my mind jolted fully awake.
Without responding, Lee hung up the phone, and let the guard escort him back to the cell.
(Word Count: 1628)