“Look, Shellen, I want to make amends. My treat.”
Already Bud regretted agreeing to meet Harvey for breakfast at Denny’s.
All visible signs of their altercation had disappeared from Harvey’s face, and Bud couldn’t imagine why he wasn’t right now reaching over the table to bust up that face again. But he kept his cool, though blinking his eyes a bit too often, grinding his molars, and keeping his hands clenched together on the table till the waitress showed.
“Coffee, black,” Bud said tersely.
“Have something.” Harvey cajoled. “I’m having the ham-and-cheese omelet. With hash browns and toast.”
The waitress scribbled a number down on her pad and circled it.
“Coffee,” Bud repeated.
“Look,” Harvey continued once the waitress was gone. “I don’t blame you for being pissed at me. Not one bit. I deserved everything you dished up for me. I had it coming. And, man, did you do a number on my nose and ribs! Bam, bam, bam. Hell, I’ve never been so fucked up.”
Bud looked Harvey in the eye. The guy looked almost excited.
“I don’t know what it is with me. I got ‘control issues’ is what I guess they’re called. You did exactly what you should have done. I’ve had a good ass-kicking coming for years now. Probably what I’ve needed all my life. A good bruising now and then.”
Bud turned his head to avoid eye contact. Harvey was nuts.
“I was bowled over when somebody told me you’re queer.” Harvey whispered the last word. “You don’t look the type. You look like a regular tough guy. And I mean that as a compliment. Tough as nails. Yes, sir. Ask me—I should know, huh? Funny thing. As a kid I used to hang round the school bullies. I admired them. I looked up to them. Weird, huh? I guess some part of me wanted them to kick me in the nuts sometime.”
About the time Harvey’s food arrived, Bud got up, dropped a dollar bill on the table, and started to leave. He looked back at Harvey. “Here’s how I see it, Harvey. What’s done is done. We’re okay now. Okay?”
To judge by the look on his face, Harvey was not okay.
(To be continued)