And this was honestly how Cotter talked; he was the first person I've ever met who had never learned how to ask a question. It was as though some gritty Gulf War ambush had miraculously left him without a sense of inflection, the nerve damage localized entirely on the part of the lobe responsible for raising or lowering the pitch of the last word in a sentence.
"Who, Brooke? She's just a friend." In fact, Brooke and I had gone out after class two nights prior. A beer turned into beers, which turned into vodka tonics, which turned into Tequila Shots, which quickly became - as is known to occur with the goldenest of those atom-smashing alcohols - blacking out. We ended up at her place, and judging by the clues that met us in the morning - various tilts of the lackluster shore-house watercolors in her hallway and the jagged tritons next to the bed, surely once a very nice glass lamp - we must have writhed our way against every surface from the front door to the bed. The path of destruction was palpable, it must have been a lusty maelstrom of cinematic proportions. The goodbye was hurried and moderately awkward: a heartfelt hug, a kiss on the lips, a soft look of reflected embarassment that became a smile. Exactly what you expect from tequila, really.
Brooke was just a friend, but we hadn't spoken since that morning, so whether she knew this fact or not wasn't quite determined. I knew I would probably be able to use Cotter's interest in her to save our friendship. If she went on a date with him and wasn't frightened off by his jarring social incompetence, she would almost undoubtedly fuck him, and then I could reassure her that it was okay and I was happy for them and I really just wanted to have her as a friend anyway. If she didn't like him and still felt some tequila-induced karmic connection to me, one which I just couldn't see myself reciprocating, well then I could tell her that it would be wrong to flaunt a relationship in front of Cotter when he was such a good friend of mine. Either way, I stood a good chance of preserving a comfortable relationship with a girl I had fucked, an accomplishment I had come to view as an urban legend but never actually experienced. Something to be told around campfires. The Hitchiker with the Hook for a Hand.
"A friend, huh. She had a great ass, didn't she. Man. Do you think she'd go out with me."
I knew every word he was saying. I understood them. But sometimes if I was looking at him, in his camoflauge pajama pants and stainted undershirts - I swear to Christ - all I heard was 'tell me again about the rabbits.'
"Yeah. Probably. Not sure how she feels about Marines, but..." I picked up my bags to leave for class. 'Revolution to Enlightenment' with an emotionless plank of a teacher. "I'll talk to her."
"Cool. Does she like to drink." Cotter crawled onto the floor and began doing rigorous push-ups.
I could taste the tequila all over again. This would be interesting.