Where There’s Smoke… (Part I)

My best friend and I couldn’t be any more different. He’s from a small town in the Midwest; I grew up in San Francisco. He joined a clean-cut fraternity our freshman year of college; I was never really into institutionalized spanking. He was Captain Spirit, tailgating before every football game; I was Juvenile Delinquent, always on the verge of getting kicked out.

He really hates staying up past his bedtime, his favorite fruit is pomegranate and he lost his virginity the night of my 21st birthday party. I know pretty much everything about him. And he knows pretty much everything about me. Except that one night I slept with his boyfriend.

Captain Spirit is the type who always has a Mr. Right, a caring, cute, smart guy he can spend his nights in with while I rummage out and about, drinking Redbull and making out with dicks (sometimes literally).

Of course, I was always supportive of my best friend even when his picture perfect boyfriends turned out to be all photoshop, but deep down, I couldn’t help but resent Captain Spirit and his All-American, well-bred knack for monogamous bliss. If we are completely opposite, and he’s the relationship type, then what does that make me?

I was never jealous of the cute boys he was with. Not surprisingly, we go for different types. My best friend embraces the stable, and I like my fireworks. That’s why I was so surprised when he introduced me to his current Mr. Right. Sure, he looked like all his past Mr. Rights, but instead of cool and composed, this guy’s personality was more volatile, like he could explode at any minute. In other words, he was my type.

So upon first meeting him, my best friend alarm instantly goes off, and I keep feeling like we’re entering a danger zone.

They had only been dating a week or two, when they decide to meet up with our mutual girl friend and me for an after hours party at Evil Olive. It’s obvious that this boy, Mr. Danger, has already caused a shift in Captain Spirit’s sleeping schedule.

We are all on the dancefloor, and I’m dancing with my tipsy girl friend to Kid Cudi’s “Day N Night” while Mr. Danger and Captain Spirit linger closely behind us. Captain Spirit leaves to go to the restroom, and as soon as he’s out of sight, I catch Mr. Danger approaching. I dance with him for a couple of minutes but then feel awkward when Captain Spirit, who’s not much of a dancer, comes back. I make my way back to the girl and keep dancing with her.

A few minutes later, I feel someone coming up from behind and dancing up on me. Dancing up me real close. I turn around and see Mr. Danger right behind me and biting his lower lip. Captain Spirit is there too, watching this. I feel guilty even though I know we’re not doing anything wrong, but the last thing I want to do is cause a scene, so I just nonchalantly push Mr. Danger away and bring my best friend closer to us.

The rest of the night consists of moments like these, of moments of me pretending like Mr. Danger is just being a friendly dancer with no concept of personal space. But the way he is looking at me and dancing next to me, following me whenever I make the slightest move to try to avoid his incriminating presence on the dancefloor, he’s leading me on.

As we’re closing our tabs by the bar, Captain Spirit asks Mr. Danger to get in a cab with us and come back up to campus.

“Should I come up?” Mr. Danger asks seemingly in general but looking directly at me with his almost-menacing blue eyes.

“Do whatever you want to do,” I say instantly in a rather defiant tone, as if to say, “fuck off.” But the words come off more as posing a challenge. Do whomever you want to do. Despite how hard I try to act like he repulses me (or maybe because I try so hard), he senses that, really, I’m attracted to him. And my put-on hatred is fueling a flirtatious fire. And just like playing with fire, the game is both dangerous but extremely enticing.

I’m leading him on too. And he’s not going to let it go.

“Fine, I’ll come up,” Mr. Danger replies smiling and still looking at me and then grabs Captain Spirit’s face and gives him a big open-mouth kiss. I see his tongue going in deep right before, and I’m truly repulsed.

The next week, I’m having lunch with Captain Spirit who, after much bitching about his lost phone, confesses that things with Mr. Danger are getting kind of serious. I, for once, keep my mouth shut and just stick to using one-word, vague adjectives when he asks me what I think of him. “He seems nice.” “He seems cool.” But Captain Spirit doesn’t catch that my brevity might suggest bad news.

That night, we are all out at MiniBar for a quick round of drinks. I’m not looking to stay up too late because I’ve planned a huge party at Sonotheque the next night. All of my comrades are on the same page. Except for Mr. Danger.

As we’re leaving the bar, he turns to me, puts his two fingers up to his mouth and quietly says, “Smoke up at my apartment?”

“Sure,” I say, and although I think it’s just going to be a big, chill after party, I still have to make sure, “is Captain Spirit coming?”

“Yeah, of course, but keep it on the DL. I don’t want a whole bunch of people over,” he says.

We all get on the Red Line, and I get off at his stop like we had agreed on. The train continues on, and I notice that Mr. Danger and I are the only guys that have gotten off and standing alone on the platform. It all starts to feel way too DL for me.

“Where’s Captain Spirit?” I ask with an open arms motion signifying total confusion.

“I don’t know,” he responds, not confused at all. “I thought you had talked to him.”

“You said to keep it on the DL, it’s your apartment and your pot, and he’s your boyfriend,” I say feeling guilty and feeling guilty for feeling guilty.

“He’s your best friend.”

I pick up my phone and dial Captain Spirit’s number. The call goes straight to voicemail, and I realize that he still hasn’t replaced his lost phone. I don’t leave a message. We get off the platform and start walking towards his place in Lakeview.

[Where There’s Smoke… (Part II)]

Oscar Raymundo
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