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“None of you gave me an ounce of personal space that night,” he said with a mild grin, “Everyone was up in my grill the whole time.”

Clinton matched his grin as he sat in another age-worn lawn chair, “We were testing you man,” he said jovially, “If you would’ve pushed back or something we might have left you alone after that night. You weren’t a tightass at that time though.”

“Yeah,” Tyler replied, “Being called traitor and a piece of shit has that effect.”

“Oh come on man,” Clinton said, shaking his head, “You’re gonna hold that over me still?”

“It was only a few years ago Clinton,” Tyler replied, “And you deserved more time than what you got. You even agreed with me on the phone.”

“If I’d let you have it the cops would have locked me in the hole for being ‘too aggressive’,” Clinton said, raising one hand to make air quotations, “Besides, I know better now, that skank admitted on her way out the door that she fed you a line of bullshit that turned you on me.”

“I never turned on you,” Tyler said, “Mike and I were even there to welcome you back the day you got out, only to wait for a couple of hours for absolutely nothing. And what did happen that day?”

“Crystal came and picked me up,” Clinton mumbled into his beer, not meeting Tyler’s eyes, “And she fed me a line about you not giving a shit.”

“It was never bros before hoes with you man, for all your talk,” Tyler said with a deprecating chuckle, “I didn’t expect it to be, but any woman that smiled at you and spread her legs and then told you that your friends were a problem somehow became wise and all-knowing enough to turn your head around.”

“Hey fuck you!” Clinton said, leaning back, “Like you’ve never just let a woman come between you and your friends! Do I need to remind you of Hooter?”

Tyler rolled his eyes as he heard the nickname, as he did remember ‘Hooter’ very well. She’d been an older woman, well into her late 30’s when he’d still been in his mid-20’s, and she’d been absolutely gorgeous. But she’d also been a little possessive and during an outing to the bowling alley had done her best to insure every woman that came close to Tyler that he was her man and that it was hands off, eyes off, and talking kept to a minimum. There was just one problem though.

“I remember her, and her name was Angela, but I also remember that I didn’t finger her in the bowling alley, or do I need to bring up Potatoes?”

Clinton went quiet for a moment as he was reminded of the one-night stand that he’d met at the Hazel Dell Lanes years ago. This had been around the same time that Tyler had still been with Angela, but the night in question he’d started at the bowling alley only to meet up with an old family friend to go drinking with a group of college students. Clinton had told Tyler later on of how he’d satisfied the much younger woman, whose name was Selena, much to Tyler’s lack of surprise. Her nickname however hadn’t come from that night, but instead had been given the morning after Clinton’s first night with her, which apparently left a sour impression on him as she’d ‘laid there like a sack of potatoes’ during sex as he’d put it.

“I wish you wouldn’t.”

“Then don’t feel the need to bring up Hooter.”

“Didn’t she end up taking off with your boss?”

“Good riddance.”

“Cheers to that.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said, not bothering to raise his can, “Look Clinton, I’m not here to rehash the old days. I’m not here to be reminded that I’ve made some mistakes when it came to the women I’ve met and fooled around with. Get it?”

“Then why are you here?”

Tyler stared hard at his former friend before answering, letting the other man know that he was tired of the bullshit, tired of the flippant and careless nature he affected so often, and just plain tired in general.

“I’m here because we used to be friends, and because I figure the favor will let me sleep better at night. But when this is concluded, we’re done.”

“It’s like that?”

“It’s been like that, catch up and get the drift.”

(to be continued)

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