The Good Doctor, Part II Chapter 5
I turned my head, looked into Mark’s eyes and whispered, “Seriously?”
“I can’t be sure, but I think so.”
“Where and who?”
“The restroom. You wouldn’t believe it. They’ve got like the crappiest little men’s room for this big of a restaurant; it’s like ten feet by ten feet. Anyway, I was in there with a bunch of other guys, peed, and as I was about to walk out the door - there was like six guys all pushing to get in and a couple of us trying to get out, when all of a sudden this hand grabs my ass. But I couldn’t tell who did it because it happened just as I was halfway through the door and the next thing I knew I was out and whoever did it was inside.”
I grinned at him and shook my head. “That’s not being molested, that’s more like a compliment.” Mark is a good-looking guy.
“Eric, this guy was really digging in… this was no compliment. Well, I mean I guess it could be considered that, but it doesn’t seem like a wedgie should be a part of a compliment – I’m still tryin to pull my underwear outta my ass. Besides, I’m kinda more into being the grabber rather than the grabbee, if you know what I mean.” I did indeed… well, theoretically.
Somehow my mother must have caught a stray syllable of our conversation and out of the corner of my eye I could see her looking at me and getting kinda calmly twitchy, so I grabbed Mark’s arm and said, “C’mon, she’s on edge anyway and there’s no point in making this worse.”
My mother doesn’t like to have anything go wrong in situations like this, especially now that she’s gotten all political, but if she gets pissed enough, that could go out the window and then all hell’d break loose.
Pete, who had been keeping Georgiana entertained, gave me a look, stepped towards me, dropped his head and whispered, “Problem?”
I leaned into him. “Hard to say. I’ll tell ya about it later, “I flipped my eyes towards my mom, “when there isn’t a drone overhead.” This could get dangerous - when she’s on high alert she seems to be able to pick up vibrations in the air. Some people when they’re on edge get all nervous, but not mom. When she’s on edge she gets this deadly calm quality about her that can really freak me out. Her eyes don’t dart around, they move languidly. It’s scary as hell.
I pulled Mark over to the table and pushed him down into the chair on my right, I was sitting on Pete’s right. Some people I didn’t know sat on the other side of Mark and my mom sat on Pete’s left, which was good, because then Pete acts as a buffer. Basically, everything my mom says gets filtered through Pete, whom she adores.
As I sat down next to Mark I leaned into him and said, “See anyone who was in the john with you?”
Mark looked around for a moment and then shrugged. “Every guy in this place is wearing a Navy blue suit, everybody looks the same. I tried to look around to see who did it, but all those guys were trying to either get in the john or get out. I just couldn’t tell.”
“It wasn’t the reverend was it?”
Mark looked at me and said, “Huh?”
“The reverend, the guy that Rose’s going out with.”
“Eric, I don’t know who that is. But I’ve just been thinking, I was going out on the right side of the doorway, my right, and while the digging in was happening I thought I felt a thumb on the side of my left butt cheek.”
I said, “So what?”
Mark looked up at the ceiling for a minute, then said slowly, “If the guy was behind me and grabbed my ass with his left hand his thumb woulda been up my butt. So it hadda be one of the guys walking in who did it.”
After taking a split second to brilliantly analyze the situation, I said, “Huh?” And at the same time I also noticed that Mark’s neighbors to his right were giving us odd looks.
I whispered to him, “C’mon, let’s reenact this.”
Pete was deep in conversation with my mom about some sort of investment, so I just whispered in his right ear, “We’ll be right back.”
He was nodding to my mother and saying, “I been thinking a municipal bond fund instead of trying to figure out…”
He nodded at me and said, “K.”
Mark and I returned to the scene of the crime and watched platoons of guys all dressed exactly alike… well, except for their ties, pushing their way in and out of the bathroom.
I said, “Okay, you go in there, count to three, turn around and come out. I’ll time it so I’m goin in at just the same time as your molester would have been. Then we’ll just push past each other like we were normal latrine users.”
Mark said, “What are you gonna do?”
“Grab your butt just like he did. Maybe it’ll jog your memory.”
He seemed to think about it for a second and then said, “Oh, okay… but no digging in.”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s just a test.”
“But what if somebody sees us?”
“Who’s gonna see us?”
Mark got behind another guy trying to get into the john and as soon as the door closed, I counted to three and headed for the door.
We timed it almost perfectly, because I was halfway inside the bathroom just as the guy I thought to be Mark was shoving past me to get out of the bathroom. The thing is that I’m a lot shorter than Mark and a lot shorter than the guy coming out, but I figured it had to be Mark because of how we’d planned it. I mean I didn’t wanna be staring into his eyes while I grabbed his butt. Anyway, I grabbed the guy’s butt just like Mark had explained it to me, but instead of it being muscular like I imagined Mark’s butt would be, this one was flabby. And like in the worst possible way that this could turn out, the butt I was grabbing turned out to be Chester’s, who understandably yelled, “What the hell are you doing?”
Then just as I was practically swallowing my tongue, he surprised me by stepping off to one side, dragging me with him. I jerked my arm away from him and yelled, “Lemme go!”
He seemed to be more than a little drunk. He smirked and said, “Sorry, at first I didn’t realize it was you. You know, I always thought maybe you had the hots for me.” Oh, my God!
“I don’t have the fuckin hots for you! I’d cut my dick off before I’d let it get anywhere near you! But somebody grabbed Mark’s ass and we were trying to figure out who.”
Just then Mark stepped behind Chester and said, “What’s goin on?”
I said, “Mistaken identity.”
Mark jerked his thumb at Chester and said to me, “I’m pretty sure this was the guy who grabbed my butt. I remember the grayish hair now.”
Chester looked suddenly nervous and opened his mouth to explain, but suddenly stopped and turned because it was just at this moment that the early warning cloud of Rose’s Chanel No. 5 rolled over us, followed quickly by her piercing, “What the hell’s going on, Eric! Eric, what have you done?”
I turned to face the great red menace as she came jiggling towards us with an unlit cigarette in her hand.
I said, maybe somewhat defensively, “Whadya mean, what have I done? I didn’t do anything except conduct an investigation into the pervish ways of your latest hookup!”
“Eric, you little twerp, I didn’t come over here because I’m psychic. I was on my way to the ladies’ room and saw you grab Chester’s butt!”
“Rose, that was because Chester had grabbed Mark’s butt!”
She said, “Huh? So what, you were getting even? Even for you that doesn’t make any sense.”
She turned to Chester, shoved the unlit cigarette in her mouth and said, “So what happened, Buster?”
Chester wailed, “I’m innocent! Eric accosted me as I was leaving the men’s room!”
Then Mark tried explaining to Rose and pretty soon everyone was talking at the same time and everyone was getting louder and louder… and we were beginning to draw a crowd. Mostly it was the guys trying to use the men’s room, but a few women, too.
Then one of the guys in the crowd yelled, “The same thing happened to me a half an hour ago!” Which just caused more questions and accusations and everything got louder still and it was at that moment that someone tapped on my shoulder.
I ignored the tap for a moment, but it just continued and finally I spun around and said, maybe too loudly, “What?”
Then, when I saw who it was, a cute blond waiter who looked like he wanted to be anywhere else, I said, “Damian! What the hell are you doing here? Aren’t you still working at Eduardo’s?”
He pulled me off to the side. “Eduardo… well, you know, Mr. Gomerman, manages this place for the country club and I usually come over here when they’ve got a big thing going.” He was glancing quickly back and forth like he was expecting trouble. “Mr. Cortland, the thing is I saw the gray haired guy do it. I saw your friend head to the john and I stopped what I was doing so I could see him when he came out, and I saw it happen.” A witness!
Then something occurred to me. “Why were you watching him?”
Damian groaned and dropped his eyes to the floor. Finally he looked up at me. “You won’t tell anyone?”
“I thought he was really hot. Please don’t get me fired!”
Something else occurred to me. “You know he’s a top?”
Damian swallowed hard and said, “God, that’s what I was hoping.” Aren’t we all?
Then just as I was about to call Mark over and hook him up with Damian, I began to feel a presence behind me and turned. My mother was standing there with her hands on her hips and a serene, if murderous, look on her face.
She said softly, “Eric, why don’t you tell me exactly what you’ve done.”
She was quiet all through dinner as I figured she would be although my name was occasionally used in vain at the table that Rose and Chester were at. Rose was choosing to believe him, although I was pretty sure she knew better. I concluded from that Chester must still have a full bottle of Viagra sitting in his medicine chest.
The yelling began on the drive home.
“Ma, I don’t understand why you can’t understand that I didn’t start this; Chester did when he grabbed Mark’s ass!”
She jerked her head around in the front seat of the car and glared at me. “That’s not the point, Eric! The point is this always happens to you! You can’t tell me when this happens time and time again that you’re not doing something to make it happen! How many times have I told you…?”
It went on forever, like it usually does. Fortunately, over the years I’ve developed coping skills and the one I was employing now was to stare at the back of Pete’s head. His hair has gotten a little long and the ends of it were feathered out over the white collar of his shirt. I was thinking about how it’d feel if I was nibbling on it, and that led me to how when I did that he usually turns his head and kisses me.
Unfortunately, I can’t just zone out completely like I’d like to, because that would be just like throwing gasoline on the Mom fire, so every once in a while I’d lob in a fact in the vain hope that it would shatter the opaque pane of glass that passed for female logic.
“Ma, even Rose knows what really happened and despite the initial yelling I could tell that she wasn’t mad at me.”
She just lifted her face, stared at the roof of the car and said, “Oh, my God!”
On the plus side, we got home early. We changed quickly into sweat pants and tee shirts and were in the living room. Pete was at one end of the sofa, I was at the other, and Jase and Charlie were sitting in front of the TV. Pete was reading the New York Times and I was staring at the New York Times crossword puzzle wondering, “Who the fuck does these puzzles? Who the fuck knows this shit?”
The television program Jase was glued to seemed to be two men on a stage talking to one another. Suddenly Jase jumped up and ran over to me and said, “Dad, what’s your favorite word?”
I thought a split second and said, “Huh?”
Jase knelt down in front of the sofa, put his bony little boy elbows on my chest, rested his head on his hands and said more loudly, “Your favorite word! What’s your favorite word?”
I took a deep breath and said, “Huh.”
Jase looked frustrated. “A word, Dad! What’s your favorite word?”
“Huh! My favorite word is, huh.”
Jase stared at me for a second. “Daaaad! That can’t be your favorite word, that’s not even a word.”
“Uh huh, it is, too.”
He exhaled, rolled his eyes and said, “Can’t you just have a normal favorite word?” Pete had just slightly extended his toes and touched my crotch.
“It’s a normal word. We just used it like twenty times and every time you knew what I was talking about.”
In frustration he turned to Pete. “Pete is ‘huh’ a word?”
Pete looked over the top of his paper. “Just barely, Jase. It’s more of a sound.” His toes lifted up my balls and his eyes smiled at me above his paper.
Jase looked at me and said, “See, Dad.”
“Well, what’s your favorite word? Maybe I’ll like it and make it mine, too.”
Jase glanced back quickly at the TV and then said cautiously, “I don’t think you can do that. I think you already gotta have a word to begin with.”
I lifted my head and kissed his forehead. “There sure seems to be a lotta rules regarding this. So, anyway, tell me your word.”
Jase sighed and said, “I guess, I’m not sure, but maybe ‘puppies’, that’d be a good word.” In front of the television, when Jase said puppies, Charlie lifted his head, turned, looked at us expectantly, stuck out the end of his pink tongue and beat his tail on the carpet.
I looked at Charlie and said softly, “Pupeeeee.” He gave us a demurely canine, oh-you-mean-me look, shook his head, causing his long floppy ears to seemingly counter-rotate, got up slowly, whined, slowly stretched, and then samba’d over to us with a big doggie smile on his face. He touched his cold wet nose to my shoulder, then turned to Jase and wetly licked the entire side of his head, and when Jase squirmed to get away from him, Charlie licked him again.
I laughed. “You must taste really good.” Pete’s stocking covered big toe started making lazy eights under my balls.
“He does that all the time. It’s annoying cause he gets dog spit in my ear!” Charlie looked undeterred and while he sat down he was still dancing on his front paws and staring at Jase like he was hoping for another shot.
Then in a sudden change of topic, “Dad, is grandma still mad at you?” Jase doesn’t like to have anyone be angry. Given who his father and grandmother are that’ll probably change.
“Nah, not anymore.”
“She looked mad.”
I rubbed the back of Jase’s neck. “She’s fine, Jase.”
He got off of me and said, “Okay, then I’m gonna watch TV.”
When Jase was settled in front of the TV again, Pete lowered his paper and said softly, “I dunno, Eric. She was pretty pissed.”
I grinned at him. “She’s only pissed at me because no one else seems to be, well, except maybe Chester. When I was a little kid she took me to some store… a department store I think. And for whatever reason, I was pure hell. You know, like any little kid can be at any given moment. Well, she was ready to kill me, but when she stopped yelling long enough to catch her breath, some other lady who was there shopping started to yell at me. This woman had apparently seen me being terrible and had to get her two cents worth in too. Well, as soon as this woman starting telling me what a bad boy I was, my mother stopped cold and looked murderously at this woman and told her that I wasn’t guilty of whatever it was that she herself had just been yelling at me for… and that the lady should just shut up.”
The woman looks at my mother and says, “But you were just yelling at him for the same thing!”
My mother did that hands on the hips thing she does and says, “That’s my son, you don’t get to tell him how bad he’s been. He’s a good boy!”
“It’s a very Italian circling the wagons kind of thing. She’d kill me with her bare hands, but let anyone else try and do it and suddenly I’m innocent. Now you’d think that once we were alone again that she’d revert to being mad, because at least there’d be some logic to that, but the thing is that once she’s changed her mind about things, she doesn’t go back. You’ll see, tomorrow she’ll be fine.”
I trapped his toe with my butt and said, “So, whadya think about Mark and Damian?”
Pete grinned. “He’s cute and he looked like he was hot for Mark.”
“I know, he even gave’m an extra piece of chicken.”
Pete grinned, his eyes got hooded, and he murmured, “Eric, I give you extra meat all the time.”