Tucker talked to his old friend Janine on the phone. He was permanently in the “friend zone.” He didn’t know that yet, so he wasn’t giving up.
“I thought he treated you like crap,” he said.
“I don’t care what you think. He’s important to me.”
“I think you’re blind to it. Wake up.”
“You’ve got a lot of nerve. You come home on vacation, go to one barbecue at Mary’s house and you think you know what my whole life’s about.”
Tucker paced around his apartment, back in Colorado after visiting his birthplace in northern Vermont.
“Okay, fine. But, I saw what I saw. It wasn’t the way I’d treat you.”
Janine said, “Maybe. But there’s more to him than you see in one day.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not the only one with that opinion.”
“I know. Ariana hates the guy.”
“Well, you can’t use the ‘snapshot’ argument against her. She sees you guys all the time.”
“Doesn’t matter. Nobody can tell what it’s like inside somebody else’s relationship.”
“Okay, so it doesn’t matter what anybody sees. You’re going to hang out with this ‘Andy’ douche bag.”
“Listen,” she shouted, “I’m sick and tired of everybody telling me what to do with my life.”
Silence. The static in Tucker’s ear varied in pitch and volume as he walked in an angry circle.
Tucker wasn’t letting go of the chance to get into Janine’s pants after she broke up with the guy. And she certainly would. At least, he hoped she would.
“So, now what?” said Janine.
“I promise you I won’t bring it up again. I’ll leave it up to Ariana to hassle you.”
“I’ll never mention it again.”
The conversation trailed off. They hung up.
The next day, he went to the mailbox and found a manila envelope filled with something bulky. He opened it and found one of his own T-shirts. There was a handwritten note in grand sweeping penmanship:
You left this shirt at that barbecue. Somehow it ended up in our stuff.
That bitch wouldn’t leave me alone until I mailed it back to you.
Tucker pressed his lips tightly together and looked at the wall of mailboxes. His hands fell to his side holding the shirt and the note. Surely he could break his promise to bring this to light.
But he didn’t. He trudged up to his apartment. He kept his mouth shut.
Twenty years later, Tucker knows that Janine is divorced. Several kids were in the wake of destruction. He shouldn’t feel good about his vindication.