page 35 of that novel you never wrote.

and to be perfectly honest, none of us thought he’d amount to very much either, yet here was tommy mccarthy getting out of a lexus and here was i, hocking loogies onto the sidewalk in front of the store 24 in medford square. i squinted my eyes, fully aware of the forming sneer on my mug, while he opened the passenger door real gentleman-like to escort some leggy blonde out of his car and into my dreams.

“tommy!” i shouted out from across two lanes of traffic, “hey, mccarthy!” and he must’ve heard at least one of those three words because i watched his head jerk and his neck crane for a split second before handing his keys to a chump in a red vest and walking briskly into the sushi joint.

after watching the vest jockey gingerly maneuver the silver status symbol to a corner squeeze between a jeep and a beamer, i stamped out my butt on the pavement, kicked a half-filled coors can into the dumpster, and traversed main street without a walk signal in sight. i wasn’t jaywalking, i was jaytrotting, and if you can get away with it, it ain’t illegal.

the sun was long gone at this point, my keister had been parked in front of the store 24 for over an hour now, so the sushi joint was a fishbowl; no glare, no problem, i could see right into where good old tommy mccarthy was cockily grinning and bowing his head in an effort to impress – who? – the blonde? no, the soft and slight japanese girl who was grinning and bowing right back, paid to turn an overpriced meal of uncooked flounder into a dime-store oriental fantasy.

i banged on the window. i was drunk.

“hey! hey tommy!”

the waitress turned her head mid-bow. the blonde twisted and grimaced. the hostess left her podium and headed for the door.

“tommy mccarthy, you halfwit! tommy, you scumbag! mccarthy, you douche!”

two waiters beat a hasty path to follow the hostess. in short time there were no fewer than three japanese people standing outside and shouting at me and while i couldn’t translate most of what they were saying, i at least understood the words “police” and “drunk” and “asshole.”

tommy appeared unperturbed. i should’ve been mad about this but instead i was laughing. the taller of the two waiters grabbed my shoulder and pulled me off the window.

“tommy!” i shouted, “that bitch is hot! i thought you only fucked guys!”

in the morning i knew i’d have a few angry emails from the old gang. “what were you thinking?” and “you need help” and “you owe me fifty bucks” and stuff like that. but for now i was feeling pretty good. well, pretty good until the other waiter got an arm around my leg and made gravity his friend, introducing the side of my face to cold and unforgiving concrete.

“my fucking face,” i moaned, half-amused, while i waited for either sleep or the cops to

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