“Let’s go,” he says when he appears, forty-five minutes later. He is looking straight ahead, his lips set in a thin line. I buckle myself in as he takes off with a screech. Paris is a good driver, but when he’s angry, he becomes more aggressive. I wisely keep my mouth shut as I do not want to aggravate him further. Most of the time, I can jolly him out of a mood, but even I know my limits. Neither of us speak the entire way home.
When we reach our place, he shuts his door with a slam and marches up the steps to our apartment in silence. I follow him meekly, not wanting to set him off. Inside, I head for the fridge and grab two Molson Ices. I pop the tops and hand one to him. He strides into the living room and sits on the couch, flicking on the television and rummaging through the channels. He presses angrily on the remote at the rate of three clicks per second. I sit next to him, but abandon any hope of actually watching anything. We sit in silence, drinking our beers. I sneak glances at him, wondering if I should say something. I want to be supportive, but I also don’t want to get into his business if he would rather I butt out. We have been friends long enough for me to know that talking things out is not always the best thing to do with him. Sometimes he needs to brood before he feels able to discuss the problem. I let him ruminate all he wants, giving him a wide berth.
“You know what pisses me off?” Paris finally says, settling on MTV where there is some asinine reality show on. “The assumption that I took advantage of a lonely older woman, that I’m nothing more than a gigolo. That damn inspector actually thinks I tried to swindle Max out of her money!” Paris’s eyes reflect the hurt he’s feeling. An easygoing guy, he really gets steamed when his niceness is called into question. Because he is so impossibly good-looking, people have a hard time believing that he could be interested in someone less than gorgeous-looking her/himself. It’s a stereotype Paris has had to fight all his life, and it ticks him off every time. The fact that it’s true for the most part doesn’t make it hurt any less.
“Did she say that?” I ask cautiously. I don’t want Paris to think I’m questioning his interpretation of events.
“Over and over. She asked if I was in Max’s will, if I thought I should be, if I was angling to get put into Max’s will, if I knew the contents of Max’s will. The way she was harping on the will, you’d have thought I wrote the damn thing.”
“It’s her job,” I counsel, wanting to calm Paris down. I glance at the VCR clock and see that it’s seven-thirty. “Shit! I promised Emil I’d go over to his place at eight.” I jump up from the couch and hurry into the kitchen. I’m starving, and I want to eat something before I skedaddle. I grab a Tupperware and open it. Paris made fajitas for lunch, and there are two left over. I heat them up, then scarf them down.
“You have one hour,” Paris says sternly as I pass by the living room. “If I don’t hear from you in an hour, I’m coming after you. Understand?”
“Are you ok, Paris?” I ask, pausing. I hate to leave him while he’s in such a state, but I need to talk to Emil.
“Go,” Paris orders me. “Now.”
“Let me give you Emil’s address,” I sigh. I scribble it down along with Emil’s number in case Paris threw away the number and hand the scrap of paper to Paris.
“One hour,” he reminds me, shaking a finger in my face. I give him a look that tells him what he can do with that finger. It’s a fifteen-minute walk to Emil’s place, and I savor the night. Some people refuse to walk in the Mission District by themselves at night, but I relish it. I like seeing the diverse population that roams the streets—so different from the increasingly homogeneous crowd that litters the Mission during the day. The tourists still haven’t infiltrated the Mission, but unfortunately, the yuppies have. However, the Mexicans are loud and proud as well. I hope they keep the upper hand, but I am doubtful that they will be able to live in peace. I make it to Emil’s place with five minutes to spare.