Richard ran a towel through his still-damp hair as he descended the basement steps. He caught sight of David sitting at his desk, staring at the screen with a vaguely bemused expression and mumbling an indistinct melody. He had seen his friend in similar states before, a sort of "Dave-land" where anything fun or even mildly stimulating was prohibited for the sake of whatever obligation he currently had. Knowing no such level of concentration, Richard attempted a conquest of his own--
--And was stopped short by David suddenly pivoting in his chair, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and rising to his feet with the grace of a gymnast. "Richard, you're back. Wonderful. Let's go outside!" he exclaimed, the unmistakable texture of enthusiasm in his voice.
Now it was Richard's turn to cock an eyebrow. "Right... now?" he asked.
"Absolutely. Back up those stairs," David replied, the words passing between his lips at hurricane speeds.
"I need shoes."
"Slippers by door. Upstairs. Come, come, come!" He landed an unexpected slap on Richard's shoulder as he strode past. Utterly thrown for a loop, Richard could only shrug, toss his moistened towel in the general direction of the couch, and follow his host up the steps.
By the time Richard reached the top his friend had opened the back door and was forcing a pair of loafers onto his feet. Richard, who hadn't seen David so full of energy since a caffeine binge some eight months previous, couldn't help but feel a little concerned. "Where exactly are we going, and why exactly are we going there?" he asked.
David's voice immediately took on a hushed tone. "The shed out back. I have a little surprise I'm working on for dinner tonight. A dessert item, you might say. Alex doesn't know," he explained.
"I take it by the fact you're going to show me this that I'm invited to dinner, in which case I say 'fuck yes,' and 'lead the way'." Richard rubbed his hands together with glee and fell into step behind David as he made his way across the back lawn.
In the five or so seconds it took to traverse the distance from back door to shed, Richard became more certain that something foul or at least mildly off-kilter was afoot. To go along with David's rarely-seen gusto Richard noticed that his friend had a smallish bundle tucked into the crook of his arm, no larger than a brick. Whatever it was, he guessed it was too small to serve five people for dessert.
"This isn't some gourmet shit, is it?" he asked, crossing the threshold of the shed after David, who shut the door behind them. "'Cause if it's one of those dealies I can finish off in one or two bites I might as well buy my own tub of ice cream."
"I wouldn't worry. In fact, I think this is right up your alley," David mumbled, casting what Richard thought was a suspiciously wary glance out the shed's sole, tiny window. "Light. Delectable. Powdery." And with that he turned on his heel and threw the package's wrapping--a stained work rag--away, revealing the bag of cocaine underneath.
"What the FUCK, Rick?!?" David half-interrogated, half-yelled, shoving the package in Richard's face.
Richard recoiled instantly, bracing his arms in front of his face as if to ward off a blow. "Wait! God! What?" he responded with a tone remarkably similar to David's.
"I'm pretty sure we have 'what' established. It amounts to, oh, I don't know, ten grams of cocaine." David paused, inhaled, and exhaled, and then set the bag down on the nearby workbench in as cool a manner as he could manage. "Also, I think 'where,' 'when' and 'how' are either obvious or irrelevant to these proceedings, so let's focus on the 'why'."
Richard started to say something, stopped, bit his lip, eyed the package, eyed David and, without a hint of irony or shame, said, "That's not mine."
"I found it in your bag, wedged between your clothes," David said, nonplussed.
"Well, what the Hell were you doing with my shit?" Richard challenged him, immediately adopting an air of indignation, going so far as to point an accusatory finger in the other man's direction.
"Let's not pussyfoot around the issue at hand. Why did you bring a bag of coke to my house and, maybe more importantly, why do you have a bag of coke in the first place?"
"Well, to answer your first question I wanted to take everything I needed this weekend," he said nonchalantly.
"Wow, that sounded so matter-of-fact it's alarming, quite frankly."
"I shoot from the hip, what can I say."
"You can say how this came into your possession," David verbally prodded.
Richard rolled his eyes. "Guy has drug, you have money. Money gets you drug. I give guy money, he gives me drug. Bow down to my logic, bitch!" Richard elaborated in his idiosyncratic way.
David then felt obliged to stop his planned retort and physically gape at the inconceivable string of words Richard had just uttered. With a shake of his head he was able to pull himself back into the thread of conversation. "I'm honestly baffled, both by your juvenile inability to answer an admittedly blunt but fairly simple question, and by the fact that you actually just said those words."
"I call it 'baffling efficiency'," Richard said with a satisfied smirk.
"Please, just be quiet. There's a tree pruner over there that I've never touched in my life but if you say one more stupid thing by God I will find a way to use it." He was forced to cycle his breath again before continuing, less he asphyxiate due to hyperventilation. "Is all that for your personal use?"
"Oh, sweet Jesus..." David moaned, face in hands.
"It's not like I'm going to do it all at once. It's just cheaper to get it in bulk. Forgive me for hoping that you might actually give me some credit for long-term thinking."
"Rick, what do you do for a living?" David asked, exasperated.
"Teach history. Or was that a trick question?"
"Call me puritanical, but I think it's a bad idea for someone instructing our next generation about mistakes past to ingest such a powerful stimulant on a regular basis."
"Oh, don't give me that moral high horse bullshit," Richard grunted with a dismissive wave. "I'd hope by the age of 25 I could make my own decisions without you freaking out like some prissy den mother."
"I'm a little offended by that comparison, though I appreciate the analogy. But even without regard to my own feelings on the matter, you can't store your shit here! If nothing else you'll have Alex on your ass and kicking you out the door before you can say 'it's not mine' again."
By the time 'again' had left David's mouth the shark-like grin had stealthily crept onto Richard's face once more. "If she finds out," he said.
"Oh, don't you dare," the other man began to protest.
"Oh, but I do. You can bite and scream all you want, but we both know that you won't perform any half-assed eviction without somebody else backing you up. And if I had a nickel for every time you threatened to rat me out to Alex or Khan or anybody else in our little circle I wouldn't need nickels because you'd be paying me in twenties."
David pursed his lips. That had been strangely perceptive of Richard, to say the least, but he decided not to make note of it, lest he damage his own credibility. He kept a neutral expression as Richard walked toward him and laid a hand on his shoulder. He supposed he meant well with this action but ultimately it felt unnecessary and more than a little creepy.
"A shouting match isn't going to solve anything," Richard cooed. "You accuse me, I verbally bitch-slap you, and we solve nothing. Let's just cool our heels a little, do something productive and maybe we can find a solution that satisfies us both."
David considered this. "You got that from me, didn't you."
"Shit, how could you tell?" Richard asked, letting his hand drop to his side.
"Partly the syntax, but mostly because you didn't drop the f-bomb every fifth word. But yes, I imagine we can find a more constructive setting to discuss this sometime today."
"Fuck yes: beautiful, beautiful compromise!" He put his right hand on David's shoulder, again in that unintentionally unnerving fashion, and made for the workbench with his left. David slapped it away.
"I'm still keeping this."
Richard rubbed his reddened appendage, looking deflated. "You are the dick-shaped thorn in progress' side," he slandered.
"Well, I try."