Barfly: Chapter Eighteen

I stood in Stellan’s kitchen quietly stirring a sauce he had tasked me with while he was pounding away at a carcass of pour cow.  “You know that piece of meat is already dead don’t you?”
“I’m just following the recipe instructions,” he answered.
I watched him for a moment longer and then returned to my mind-numbing task.  It was sadly the only thing he trusted me doing.  I didn’t mind though.  He knew I wasn’t a great cook.  “Are you sure Scott’s okay?”
“Yeah,” he answered.
“And you don’t think it’s weird at all that he suggested us getting together for dinner one night this week?”
“It’s weird as hell,” Stellan answered as he peered over my shoulder.  “Turn that down to simmer and cover please.  Excellent job sous-chef.”
I did as directed and stepped away from the stove.  “Now what?”
“You’re good for now.”
I nodded and took a seat on the other side of the counter.  “Back to Scott.”
“It’s weird, but he said he thought it would be a good idea and that he was bringing a friend over tonight.”
“Lady friend?”
Stellan nodded.  “He hasn’t pulled a Roman.  He said he wanted me to meet her first and then he’d introduce her to the group.”
“Does he know I’m going to be here?”
“Of course he does.  He made sure you were going to be here.”
I sighed.  “Something’s up,” I confessed.  “It just seems too weird.”
“Speaking of weird, did Roman tell you we saw him out the other night?”
“He said he ran into you and the guys.”
“Did he say anything else?”
I shook my head as he sprinkled pepper and salt over the tenderized meat.  “No, why?”
Stellan moved to the sink and washed his hands and then dried them off as he walked to where I was sitting.  “He didn’t say anything?”
He thought a moment and then shrugged his shoulders.  “Maybe I shouldn’t say anything either then.”
“Doesn’t work that way.  You’ve already said something.  Not a lot but you’ve got this ball rolling down hill, you better be at the bottom ready to catch it.”
Sighing, Stellan sat down next to me.  “You know a bunch of Travis’ coworkers wanted to take him out.”
“Right.  You guys went to a strip club.”
“Roman was there.”
“You guys were at a gay strip club?”
Stellan shook his head.  “We were at a straight strip club.  He was there with another guy.  I think he introduced him as Dave.”
“He works at the bar with Roman.  He’s a douche.”
“I sensed that immediately.”
I felt my stomach harden into a knot.  “Did Dave do or say anything to you guys?”
“You can kind of say that.”
“Was he drunk?”
“We all were.”
Taking a deep breath, I turned to face him.  “Whatever it is just spit it out.”
“You’re not going to like it,” Stellan said, turning to face me as well.
I shrugged my shoulders and took another deep breath.  “Life doesn’t always have a great news.”
“I saw Roman making out with one of the girls and accidentally outed him to Brian.”
“That’s not bad,” I replied.  “I mean other than the fact that Roman is one confused dude.”
Stellan shook his head.  “He’s not confused.  He’s been lying to you.”
I just stared at him.
“Brian asked Dave about Roman being gay and Dave confessed to him that he wasn’t.”
“Stellan, you saw him at the hospital.  I mean, you were with me.”
“I know.  Let me finish.”
I nodded as bile started slowly rise from my stomach.
“Dave and Roman had a bet that if Roman pretended he was gay, he could get you into bed.  Roman let Dave beat the shit out of him and that set the ball in motion.  Dave told Brian that Roman knew you would pick him up from the hospital and take care of him.  What he didn’t plan on was us being together.”
I felt tears slipping down my face as anger washed over me.  “What?”
“I’m not finished.”
“I don’t care,” I replied.  “Are you lying to me?”
“Why would I make this up?”
“I don’t know,” I answered and stood.  “You don’t like Roman?  Maybe something else happened at the strip club and you’re covering?”
“Something else did happen.”
I fell back into my seat across from Stellan as my knees buckled underneath me.  “What happened?”
“Brian told me everything Dave had told him and I confronted Roman about it.”
“You did?” I asked, hoping that Stellan was about to tell me everything he had just said to me was a lie.
He nodded.  “He confessed everything to me.  Said I had stolen you from him and that you belonged to him because he had been in love with you since the moment he had met you.  I was drunk and I swung at him and landed a punch and then some.  Luckily, Scott and Rob were there to pull me off of him before I did anything I really regretted.”
Running my hand through my hair, I stood and walked away from Stellan.  There was no way anything that he had just told me was true.  It couldn’t be true.  I didn’t want it to be true.  “You hit him?”
“Of course I did,” Stellan answered as he walked towards me.  “He just finished confessing that he had tried to get you in bed by deception.  How was I suppose to react when he said that about the woman I love?  I wasn’t about to let that go.”
“Not hit him,” I answered.  “Walk away or something.  Just not hit him.”
“But you’re okay with him lying to you?”
“Of course I’m not,” I snapped.  “I’m not okay with that at all.”  Taking a deep breath, I exhaled.  “I have to go.”
“Go?  Where?  Why?”
I looked at Stellan as tears slipped down my face.  “I’m going to confront my soon to be ex-best friend.”
“You don’t believe me do you?”
“I believe you one hundred percent, but I still need to hear it from Roman’s mouth.”
“Right now?”
I nodded.  “I’ll be back before Scott gets here.”
“Don’t go,” Stellan said as he put his hands on my shoulders.  “Stay here.”
I shook my head.  “I can’t.  I have to go confront him.”
“No you don’t.  You know how this is going to end.”
“I don’t know how it’s going to end, but if what you said is true and trust me, I believe you, but I want to know why.  Why he did this?  Why tried something so stupid?  I just need to know why.”
“Because he loves you.”
“That isn’t a sufficient answer.”
“Couldn’t me fighting him over the woman I love be a sufficient response to get you not to go see him?”
“You love me?” I asked as more tears streamed down my face.
Stellan nodded.  “You didn’t hear me ask how I was suppose to react when he said that about the woman I love the first time?”
Biting my lip, I shook my head and wiped at my tears.  “I love you but I need to do this.  If I don’t, I’ll regret it.”
“And I don’t want you to go because what if he convinces you everything I said was a lie?  Then what?”
I didn’t have an answer for him and I sure as hell didn’t have one for myself.
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is an excerpt of the rough draft and not the final version