“You guys are being total dicks.” Graham laughs. “Why don’t you just shut up or something.”
Raymond whispers something that none of us can hear.
“What?” Dirk asks. “What did you say?”
“Since Jamie died,” Raymond finally admits, mumbling.
For some reason this shuts Dirk up and he sits back, smiling, as the waiter places food on the table. I don’t want garbanzo beans in my salad and I had warned the waiter about this when we ordered but it seems inappropriate to say anything. The waiter places a plate of mozzarella marinara in front of Raymond. Raymond stares at it. The waiter leaves, returns with our drinks. Raymond keeps staring at his mozzarella marinara. The waiter asks if everything is all right. Graham is the only one of us who nods.
“He always ordered this,” Raymond says.
“For Christ sakes, mellow out,” Dirk says. “Then order something else. Order the abalone.”
“The abalone is very good,” the waiter says, before leaving. “So are the grapes.”
“I can’t believe you’re acting this way,” Raymond says.
“What way? That I’m not acting like you?” Dirk picks up his fork, then puts it back down for the third time.
Raymond says, “That you seem like you just don’t give a shit.”
“Maybe I don’t. Jamie was a jerk. A nice guy but he was a jerk too, okay?” Dirk says. “It’s all over. Don’t f**king dwell on it.”
“He was one of your best friends,” Raymond says accusingly.
“He was a jerk and he was not one of my best friends,” Dirk says, laughing.
“You were his best friend, Dirk,” Raymond says. “Don’t act now like you weren’t.”
“He mentioned me on his yearbook page—big deal.” Dirk shrugs. “That’s about it.” Pause. “He was a little jerk.”
“You don’t care.”
“That he’s dead?” Dirk asks. “He’s been dead a year, Raymond.”
“I can’t believe you don’t give a shit is all.”
“If giving a shit means sitting around here crying like some fag about it . .” Dirk sighs, then says,
“Look, Raymond. It was a long time ago.”
“It’s only been a year,” Raymond says.
Things I remember about Jamie: getting high with him at an Oingo Boingo concert in eleventh grade. Drunk on the beach in Malibu at a party at an Iranian classmate’s house. A lame trick he played on some frat guys from USC at a party in Palm Springs, which actually injured Tad Williams pretty badly. I don’t remember the joke but I remember Raymond, Jamie and myself stumbling down one of the corridors of the Hilton Riviera, all three of us stoned, Christmas decorations, someone losing an eyeball, a fire truck arriving too late, a sign above a door that said “DO NOT ENTER.” Doing okay coke on a yacht with him on prom night and him telling me that I was easily his best friend. Doing another line off a black enamel table, I had asked about Dirk, about Graham, Raymond, a couple of movie stars. Jamie said he liked Dirk and Graham and that he didn’t like Raymond a whole lot. “Dude is bogus” were his exact words. Another line and he said that he understood me or something like that and I did another line and believed him because it is easier to move through the motions than not to.
One night late in August, on the way to Palm Springs, Jamie tried to light a joint and either lost control of the car because he was speeding or had a blowout and the BMW flew off the freeway and he was killed instantly. Dirk had been following him. They were going to spend the weekend before Labor Day at Jeffrey’s parents’ place in Rancho Mirage and they had left a party we had all been at in Studio City and it was Dirk who had pulled Jamie’s crushed, bloody body from the car and who had waved down some guy who was on his way to Las Vegas to build a tennis court and the guy drove to the nearest hospital and an ambulance arrived seventy minutes later and Dirk had sat there in the desert staring at the dead body. Dirk never spoke about it a lot, just little details he gave us the week after it happened: the way the BMW tumbled, rolled across sand, a smashed cactus, how the upper part of Jamie’s body burst through the windshield, the way Dirk pulled him out, laid him down, looked through Jamie’s pockets for another joint. I have been tempted a lot of times to go out to where it happened and check it out but I don’t go out to Palm Springs anymore because whenever I’m there I feel very wasted and it’s a drag.
“I just can’t believe you guys don’t care,” Raymond is saying.