I looked up and saw somebody coming down the gravel path toward the house. Amber looked up from her drink.
“Do you think you can control yourself?” Amber asked me.
“Control is needed?”
“Astrid is coming.”
“How I like the sound of that.”
“Somehow I don’t think you’re her type.”
“And her type would be?”
“Someone who might be able to pull off a pair of speedos and tighty whities a bit better than you.”
“I guarantee you, for her, I’d have no problem pulling them off.”
“Well, for a year you sure have been pulling something.”
“That’s not very fair.” I took another drink.
“Well, your sheets haven’t been pretty.”
“There’s something just wrong about a daughter washing her dad’s sheets.”
“You’re telling me?”
Astrid made her way up onto the deck. She sat down directly across from me and crossed her long legs. She sat there and said nothing.
“Uh oh,” Amber said.
“What?” I asked. She nodded at Astrid.
“She’s in her Brazilian bitch mood.” Astrid looked at Amber, then at me.
“Men,” Astrid said. Wonderful.
“Men?” I asked, stupidly. And, of course, wrongly.
“Like this one here,” Astrid said, pointing at me.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Amber said.
“Yes, I suppose,” I said. I figured if I just agreed I couldn’t get in any trouble. Through my life, I had found there were innumerable ways to get in trouble with women without going to any special difficulty.
“What are you agreeing for?” Astrid asked. See. There was never a right answer.
“General principles,” I said.
“What’s wrong?” Amber butted in.
“Men,” Astrid said.
“Established,” I said. And couldn’t keep my damn mouth shut to save myself.
“See?” Astrid said, pointing to me again.
“Maybe we could just start over here,” Amber said.
“I was doing this photo shoot when this photographer wanted to rearrange my thong.” Sounded innocent to me. But, it would.
“Go on,” I said. Now they both stared at me. If that wasn’t an incentive to shut up, I don’t know what.
“So, he’s rearranging it, for what in God’s name I don’t know what reason, and then he thwanked my thong like it was a rubberband.” I was almost sure this wasn’t the time to laugh so I put my hand up to my mouth, thinking that a safe position. Astrid was staring at me anyway. Finally I had to say something. Which I thought was clever, but, probably wasn’t.
“Can you say thwanked my thong three times fast?”
Astrid calmly took my gin and tonic glass into her hand and deposited the liquid over my head. She handed me the now-empty glass and then strode off the deck. “G.H.I., asshole.” She went back up the path toward the main house.
“Well, that went well,” Amber said. She surveyed my dripping hair. “Boy, Gin and tonic looks good on you.”
“Get Help Immediately.” I sat there dripping in liquid enmity, wiping tonic from my eye, licking a drop from my upper lip.
. . .from the novel in progress. . .Permanent Declarations of a Temporary Love