Hurdling over the half-dozen sodden dog toys strewn across the floor of his townhouse's living room in Olympian fashion, Sam lunged for the phone on the fourth and final ring before it went to voicemail.
"Hello? Sam here."
A not-unpleasant voice greeted him, a slight fuzzy hiss in the background.
"Hey buddy! I was just wondering if you wanted to do something tonight. You know, something spontaneous."
Sam swore under his breath. Bloody hell. For the hundredth time, he cursed himself for not having paid the extra $3 for that caller ID bundle.
"Honey," a voice crooned from the background. "Who is it?"
Sam glanced over his shoulder in his girlfriend's direction. He mouthed the word. Guess.
Andrea gasped and covered her mouth with one hand, trying to stifle the laughter that ensued.
Collecting his thoughts, Sam reached for his half-empty beer glass and quaffed the remaining beer in one motion. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he grunted. "Hey, Harvey. Yeah, tonight, umm, I'm kinda busy..." His voice trailed off as he watched Andrea double over in silent giggles.
"All right, yeah, I'm down."
Andrea's eyes opened wide as she clapped both hands to her cheeks and made a large "O" with her mouth, like that kid in that movie in the 90s. Whatever happened to him? Drugs? Multiple marriages? Post-child-actor depression?
"Awesome!" came Harvey's reply. "I'll meet you at your front door in five minutes." A click sounded as the phone hit the cradle at the other end.
Sam walked to the kitchen, disgruntled at the prospect of spending another evening in some random bar, trying to get his old friend hooked up.
"He's such a nice guy..." Andrea started. "You really ought to spend more time with him. He's just going through a rough patch, you'll see."
"Honestly, Andrea. You know not to encourage him." Sam frowned and looked at his shoes. A speck of mud caught his eye as he tried to avoid further conversation. At least, he hoped it was mud.
"I don't know what he has planned for us tonight, but spontaneity isn't exactly his strong suit. He's the most boring, uninteresting person I've ever had the displeasure of hanging out with. And he speaks to women like English is his second language... and it's not! He can barely hold a conversation for more than a minute, and has no charisma to speak of."
"Come on, baby. You've known Harvey since you were kids. And he's single, and needs a wingman. Go help him out — maybe he'll meet a nice girl and she'll take him off your hands once and for all."
The guy is 32, single, balding, paunchy, and can't get a woman to look in his direction to save his life, Sam thought. He was doing this out of duty. Harvey was never going to meet a woman at a bar that would actually take him off Sam's hands. At least, he hadn't in the last ten years... why would tonight be any different?
A knock sounded at the front door. A bark echoed in the living room as Andrea's small shaggy black wiener dog let loose, on cue. Harvey.
Like a death row inmate condemned to hang, Sam walked the last few steps from the kitchen to the front door. A resigned look fell across his dark, craggy features as he scratched at the three days' stubble on his chin. He opened the door gingerly, almost wishing it was some snot-nosed kid selling candy bars for a school trip... instead of the cruel reality of Harvey's jovial, slightly rotund mug.
"Howdy, pardner. You ready to roll?" Harvey had obviously doused himself in cheap cologne, once again. The remainder of his greasy black hair was slicked back in a style that went out twenty years back. His unstylish khaki pants appeared to be about an inch and a half too short for his legs. The guy almost looked like his mother still dressed him in the morning.
"Just tell me where we're going. I've gotta be up for work early, so we can't stay out all night."
Sam waited for the inevitable answer.