“Raymond,” Dirk and I say in unison.
“It’s just that there’s nothing we can do,” I finish.
“Yeah.” Dirk shrugs. “What can we do?”
“They’re right, Raymond,” Graham says. “Things are blurry.”
“In fact I feel like a big smudge,” Dirk says.
I look over at Raymond and then back at Dirk.
“He’s dead and all but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a jerk,” Dirk says, pushing his plate away.
“He wasn’t a jerk, Dirk,” I tell him, suddenly laughing. “Jerk Dirk, Dirk jerk.”
“What do you mean, Tim?” Dirk asks, looking straight at me. “After that shit he pulled with Carol Banks?”
“Oh Christ,” Graham says.
“What shit did he pull with Carol Banks?” I ask, after a moment of silence. Carol and I had been seeing each other off and on throughout our junior and senior years. She went to Camden a week before Jamie died. I haven’t spoken to her for a year. I don’t think she even came back this summer.
“He was f**king her behind your back,” Dirk says, and he gets pleasure out of telling me this.
“He screwed her ten, twelve times, Dirk,” Graham says. “Don’t make it seem like it was some hot affair or anything.”
I had never really liked Carol Banks anyway. I lost my virginity to her a year before we actually started dating. Cute, blond, cheerleader, good SATS, nothing too great. Carol had always called me nonchalant, a word I never understood the meaning of, a word I looked up in a number of French dictionaries and could never find. I always suspected that Jamie and Carol had done something but since I never really liked Carol that much (only in bed and even there I was unsure) I sit at the table, uncaring, not moved by what everyone but me knew.
“You, like, all knew this?” I ask.
“You always told me you never really liked Carol,” Graham says.
“But you all knew?” I ask again. “Raymond—did you know?”
Raymond squints for a moment, his eyes fixed on a point that he can’t see, and he nods, doesn’t say anything.
“So what, big deal, right?” Graham says more than asks.
“Are we gonna to a movie or what?” Dirk asks, sighing.
“I can’t believe you guys don’t care,” Raymond says loudly, suddenly.
“Do you wanna go to a movie?” Graham asks me.
“I can’t believe you guys don’t care,” Raymond says again, softer.
“I was there, you ass**le,” Dirk says, grabbing Raymond’s arm.
“Oh shit, this is so embarrassing,” Graham says, shifting lower into his chair. “Shut up, Dirk.”
“I was there,” Dirk says, ignoring Graham, his hand still wrapped around Raymond’s wrist. “I am the one who stayed and pulled him out of the f**king car. I’m the one who watched him f**king bleed to death out there. So don’t give me any shit about how I don’t care. Right, Raymond. I don’t care.”
Raymond has already started crying and pulls away from Dirk and gets up from the table, heading toward the back of the restaurant, to the men’s room. What few people are left in the restaurant are now looking over at our table. Dirk’s cool posing cracks a little. Graham looks somewhat anguished. I stare back at a young couple two tables away from us until they look away.
“Someone should go talk to him,” I say.
“And say what?” Dirk asks. “And say f**king what?”
“Just, um, talk to him?” I shrug feebly.
“I’m not going to.” Dirk crosses his arms and looks everywhere but at me or Graham.
I stand up.
Dirk says, “Jamie thought Raymond was an ass**le. Do you understand? He f**king loathed him. He was friends with him just because we were, Tim.”
After a beat, Graham says, “He’s right, dude.”
“I thought Jamie was killed instantly,” I say, standing there.
“He was.” Dirk shrugs. “What? Why?”
“You told Raymond he, um, bled to death.”
“Christ—what’s the difference? I mean, really,” Dirk says. “Jesus, his parents had the f**king wake at Spago for Christ sakes. I mean, come on, guy.”
“No, really, Dirk,” I’m saying. “Why did you tell Raymond that?” Pause. “Is that the truth?”
Dirk looks up. “I hope it made him feel worse.”
“Yeah?” I ask, trying not to grin.