“Hey Erica…we’re outside,” Max declared, as he spoke into his cell phone.
Jameson slowly slumped down in his seat, hoping nobody would see him.
“Yeah I brought my buddy…Bipolar Man. You’ll like him. He’s good shit.”
Jameson raised his head slightly, so his eyes were just above the door, and he peered out the window. A couple of college-age-looking girls were staring at him, with confused expressions on their faces, as they walked by. He quickly shriveled back down in his seat and out of sight to hide.
“Ok, we will just park and come in,” Max confirmed.
Jameson rolled his head to the right and gave Max a hopeless glance.
“Max, seriously, are you fucking kidding me? You wanna go into the dorms? What the hell’s the matter with you?”
“What? Just for a minute…she’s pre-gaming it.”
“Pre-gaming it?” Jameson asked, with wide-open eyes.
“Yeah, you know, drinking before—”
“I know what it means Max. I’m not going in. I refuse to be a part of this. Like honestly, what are you thinking right now?”
“I’m thinking I want a night out. It’s not like I do this every night.”
“Yeah, not yet,” Jameson snipped back.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You just seem to be trending in that direction Max. I love you man, but this is insane.”
“Whatever dude. I don’t want you around then. I think Debbie Downer snuck her way inside your scared little brain there,” Max probed back, as he poked his finger into Jameson’s head.
“Max, I’m just trying to talk some sense into you. We’re about to walk into a college dorm; we graduated like fifteen years ago.”
“Yeah, that’s right. You only live once. I wanna make the most of it. Just drop me off at the door then; I’ll find a ride home.”
“You just seem to have some totally new priorities all of a sudden. I didn’t know you were taking your name literally.”
“Maybe I’ll just find some new friends too.”
There was awkward silence for a minute. Tension suffocated the inside of Jameson’s car. The two friends sat still, staring straight forward at the dashboard in front of them, thinking about their prior exchange. Jameson’s face was hot as he blushed; he felt badly for some reason.
“Fine,” Jameson finally conceded, as his eyes closed and his chin dropped toward his chest.
He inhaled a large suction of air through his nose, and exhaled defeatedly. Max was primed for a night out, and Jameson didn’t want to leave his friend hanging; god knows where he might end up by himself.
“I can find a ride home bud,” Max offered.
“No, it’s fine. If you went missing tonight, and I knew I could have prevented it…I don’t think I would ever give two shits. But, I don’t want your kids to worry.”
“Touching,” Max said, in a monotone voice.
“Where am I supposed to park?”
“Erica said there is a lot like a half mile further down that street,” Max responded, as he pointed off to the left.
“Half mile? At least it’s close,” Jameson sarcastically mumbled.
“When you get back here, just call me,” Max advised, as he opened the passenger-side door.
“Get back in the car dude; I’m not going to park by myself.”
“She’s coming down right now; I have to meet her so she can check us in with the security desk. Just call me when you get back, I’ll wait down in the lobby.”
Max shut the door and walked toward the dormitory as he raised his phone up to his ear. Jameson watched in disbelief as Max strode away. When he had disappeared into the front entrance, Jameson dropped his head and covered his face with his hands.
“Ridiculous situation…I knew this was going to happen. Why did I agree to this? “
Jameson lifted his head and tilted it to the side, then closed his eyes. He could feel his chest tightening and his hands squeezing the steering wheel as he debated what to do next.
“You know what…fuck this.”
Jameson put the car in drive and followed the road a few hundred feet, until he came to a stop sign. He looked right, toward where he would have to drive in order to park, and thought for a second. Then he looked left, toward the campus exit, and shook his head. He sat there in complete silence, contemplating once more, for about a minute.
He jumped a foot when he felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. He pulled it out to look at the screen, and saw the name Midlife Crisis Max staring back at him. The phone buzzed in his hand, on and off, as he thought about whether or not to answer.
Jameson had begrudgingly accepted the call, and was holding the phone right in front of his face as he spoke.
“Hey bud, I can tell you’re getting irritated with me,” Max began with.
“Are you still out front, debating whether or not to go home?”
Jameson paused for a second.
“Why are you sitting at the stop sign then?”
Jameson blushed; he forgot he was still in plain view of the dormitory lobby.
“I was just looking at something on my phone.”
“Really? Why did it take you so long to answer?”
“Did you want something Max?”
“Here…I want you to talk to Erica. She’s more convincing than me.”
“Max, I don’t—”
“Hello? Is this Bipolar Man?” a girl’s voice asked.
Yes,” Jameson sighed.
“You coming in? Dax thinks you are about to bail.”
“It feels sketchy for 35-year-olds to be hanging out at a college dorm to be honest, especially when they are married with kids.”
“Yeah, I hear you. My roommate is into that. She likes older guys…she’s kinda sketchy too. You’ll fit right in.”
“Oh, I thought he met you—”
“My friend set up her profile under my name. She has a boyfriend; she says they’re in an open relationship, but she hasn’t told him yet.”
“Unreal,” Jameson laughed.
“Yeah. She wanted to find a guy who’s married, so he would have to keep it a secret too for the time being. Dax fit the bill.”
“Why do you keep calling him Dax?”
“Is that not his name?”
“I thought your name was Dax,” Jameson heard her say.
There was some faint mumbling in the background while Jameson listened.
“Oh, he said he mistyped his profile name on accident and it wouldn’t let him change it.”
Jameson rolled his eyes and smiled before he responded.
“Yeah, because the D and M are so close to each other on the keyboard…I can see how he made that mistake. Tell him I said bullshit.”
“Bipolar Man said bullshit on the name thing,” she called.
Jameson heard more mumbling.
“He said his wife’s all up in his shit so lay off.”
Jameson smiled, and gazed into his rearview mirror at the glass entrance doors in the distance. His smile faded, and he began to nervously rub his fingertips across the tops of his bottom teeth.
“Max says just come in for a few minutes,” Erica relayed.
“Why does he have you on the horn, trying to convince me for him?” Jameson wondered aloud.
“He said you have a hard time saying no to people you don’t know.”
“Damn,” Jameson whispered to himself, as he covered the microphone on his cell.
“I feel like someone is gonna call the cops on me if they see me walking around the dorms,” Jameson argued.
“Max says you look young for your age.”
“That doesn’t make it any less creepy.”
“Why are you here?” Erica quickly shot back with.
“Because Max is an asshole.”
“I mean, why are you here on earth? Why do you exist?”
Jameson was caught off-guard. He was intrigued by the philosophical nature of the question.
“Me, specifically, or humans in general?”
When Jameson finished his question, he realized he’d instinctively taken a right and was heading toward the guest parking lot.