It was one thing to accidentally find yourself involved with your best friends ex. To experience a series of random occurrences that allowed you to fall, horribly, for your friends wife was one thing. It was quite another to deliberately build a secret and clandestine friendship that was going to fuck everything up.
Max knew this. Max, despite appearances, was quite aware
of the desperate wrongness of his current situation.
But here was the
thing: if Max was being truthful, while Max was being honest, then he had to
admit a key and clear element in this story: from the moment he had met Helena
he had known he would sleep with her.
Understand: he hadn't just known he
that wanted to sleep with her.
That wasn't anything. That was par for the
The fact that most women that Max met were the subject of
atleast a dozen dirty stories by the end of the night was an uninteresting,
barely relevant detail.
And truthfully, there were a lot women he had met
he had that he wanted to sleep with much more than Helena.
Helena he had experienced a strange precognitive sensation, like arriving at a
blind date and finding relief at the obvious attraction. He had experienced that
sense of reassembling reality: when you know what is just around the bend, when
you know you've met someone you might end up with, when you meet someone you
might really get to know.
But being as she was John's girlfriend, he had
only barely acknowledged that feeling. It has been strange, and then it had been
almost funny, and then he had dismissed it. And when it became clear she would
become John's wife, he had filed that thought away, and embraced their love with
nothing other than complete authentic enthusiasm.
He had, infact, mostly
forgotten that feeling until recently, until things had...changed.
much as Max liked to engage in a certain amount of denial, he had to admit
things had changed.
But exactly how, exactly into what, he was not sure.
He just knew they had hit a stasis and were both quite clear that they were more
comfortable in that grey zone than anywhere else at the moment.
Max fine, except for that feeling, except for that nagging, re-born
And he was thinking of just that memory when John walked into the
bar. He was having just that guilty, often, surprising paralyzing thought when
John asked them, with uncharacteristic crudeness:
That burst the bubble.
The relief he felt was
almost tangible. Its weight told the end of the story.
No. of course
He repeated. Several times. To himself, even. They had not had sex. They
hadn't even kissed.
No fucking way would he every fucking fuck his fucking
best friends wife. He never, ever have sex with Helena, Whatever she was. There
was just no way.
It was so obvious. It was elemental. It was so clear the
rest of the night played itself out effortlessly: John, sticking around, Helena
serving drinks. Max, pouring his heart out about Ann, and their break up, and
all the dumb shit he honestly hadn't been thinking about, but then it was right
there, all the gritty detail he had to tell John, right in front of Helena, and
then there was more bonding and even: closure.
And after John gave him a
ride home he sat on his couch thinking of the silliness of what had transpired.
The powerfully inappropriate wholly unnecessary risks he and Helena had taken,
and he started to laugh. Relief was washing over even as he went to get a glass
It was not until he sat down and realized, suddenly, that he
believed none of it.
How much of every bit of what had transpired was a
lie and how creepy it was. How disappointed he was and wrong he had felt as he
insisted, beyond a doubt, beyond reproach, at the complete and obvious lack of
sexual and romantic content in his relationship with Helena.
thinking he picked up the phone and called a cab.
Ten minutes later,
letting him in , she commented with an almost bored expression:
my couch was almost lonely.
And so he reached out and kissed her.