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Fake Out
Autumn 2003

     Zander understood he was the Best Man by default. He loosened his tie, ordered two whiskeys, and waited for Bradley at the bar. His friend zigzagged through the last of the guests—shaking hands, kissing cheeks with practiced grace.

     “To Leo, the better man.” Zander said, when they each had a drink in hand.

     “To Leo,” Bradley repeated, his voice breaking.

     Zander steered the next toast to lighter ground. “And to the Tucson days, my gullible first roommate.” He moved to clink glasses, but Bradley pulled his away.

     “I wasn’t that gullible.”

     “I convinced you I was a vegetarian.” Zander leaned over and tapped the glasses. “While I was eating a cheeseburger.”

     They chuckled, gazed out over the lawn. Zander made eye contact with the willowy redhead he had had a heated conversation with earlier.

     Hey,” Bradley started, “know what we never talk about?”

     “Don’t go there.” Zander knew exactly the night they shouldn’t talk about. Especially not on the day Bradley finally married the girl he’d been in love with since he was six.

     “I cheated on Marian, didn’t I? That night at Cowboy’s, after my first home run in a Wildcat uniform.”

     Zander sighed. “Nope.”

     Bradley swirled his bourbon. “But I kissed someone that night, Z. I know I did.”

     “Yep,” he sighed again.

     “I don’t get it…”

     “Me, Brad. You kissed me.”

     “What? Get the hell out. The girl had blue eyes and smelled like cigarettes.”

     Zander tipped his head, swallowed the last of the gold liquid. “I have blue eyes, Dude. And it was the 80s, everyone smelled like cigarettes.”

     “I still don’t see how—”

     “I pulled you off some chick, you turned, grabbed my hair and treated me to your mouth.”

     “Huh.” Bradley finished off his drink, nodded to the bartender for refills. “Z, I…”

     Zander snickered.

     “You’re shitting me, aren’t you?”

     “Yep,” Zander answered. His attention drawn again to the redhead circling the bar. “Now,” he said to his friend, “tell me all you know about Darcy.”

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