23: “Christ, what a sight to behold”

Miles was having a hell of a time at High School Tim’s coming out party and not in a good way. It had started out alright, hanging out with Iggy and startling some of their high school peers with their unexpected romance. But now he’d been relegated to David Duty, which essentially meant that he had to follow him around trying to dissuade him from doing things that would piss off Melly. It was extremely difficult because David seemed hell-bent of recapturing his lost youth and appeared to have come to the conclusion that this party was the perfect place to do just that. Worse still, Melly was in a spectacularly bad mood, not that Miles necessarily blamed her. Her husband was being an idiot and she was eighty-four weeks pregnant. The Mumu she was wearing could’ve been used to house a family of munchkins or, alternatively, block out the sun.

“Are we sure she’s only having one child?” Miles asked Priscilla and Helen quickly on his way past them to get to David. “It seems like she might be having more of a litter.”

“In her defense, she is very small and David is abnormally tall,” Priscilla pointed out. “There’s not much room for her to carry his gigantic unborn child.”

“What’s with stupidly tall men marrying short people?” Helen demanded bitterly. It was an abrupt change of tone.

“Don’t mind her,” Priscilla told Miles, patting Helen on the head. “She’s just upset.”

That as much seemed fairly evident to Miles, but seeing as he didn’t really care to find out why, nor did he have the time, he let it go and continued on his way to find David.

Miles wasn’t entirely sure what he was hoping to achieve. He didn’t even really know what he thought David was going to do. The thought of him cheating on Melly was so absurd that it was basically unfathomable to Miles. The likelihood of David cheating on Melly was about as high as the world spontaneously imploding. So what exactly did he think was going to happen? He was mostly just concerned that David was going to irrevocably anger Melly. Miles didn’t know who David was without Melly. He didn’t think David even knew who he was without Melly. He needed her. Without her, he would still be working at a failing computer repair store and want a tattoo of a roaring cheetah on his chest. David used to talk about that tattoo at least once a week while they were in high school until Melly managed to talk him out of it. That was a very good thing. David absolutely could not pull off a chest tattoo of any kind, least of all one of a cheetah. He was much too lanky and nerdy.

By the time Miles managed to catch up to David, he was dancing on the far side of the dance floor, gloriously far from Melly and her wrath, with Rachel Danvers, the girl who had wanted to go to prom with him. Rachel had tried to ask David to go with her, even though he had already been mini-golfing with Melly. It was a big moment in their high school lives and so Miles knew every part of it. It was one of the first times any of them had been alluring to girls and certainly the first time any of them had ever been alluring to more than one girl at once. Miles could remember wondering what it was about David that had attracted both Melly and Rachel. He was still having a difficulty working that out. David was dancing like no one was watching and that was a bad call. He was a worse dancer than Miles. He was amazingly even a worse dancer than Jake. David had no rhythm and far too much limb. Rachel was ducking and weaving like she was about to be punched in the face by one of his flyaway arms, a very real possibility, but still smiling winningly, so as not to drive him away. Miles admired her commitment. It had been ten years and she had still maintained an interest in this uncoordinated oaf.

Nothing was really happening. David probably didn’t even realize what was going on. He’d been slightly tipsy when he’d reached the library, but he was definitely drunk now. He was sweaty and red-faced, much like his startlingly pregnant wife, but much, much happier. He was just having a good time, dancing like a broken marionette come to life. He wasn’t dancing with Rachel for any express purpose other than needing a dance partner. Rachel, on the other hand, was fluttering her eyelashes up at David like she was about to land the man of her dreams after a decade of waiting. That was the concerning part. And Miles understood why she would think that. David wasn’t trying to lead her on, but he definitely was leading her on. That wasn’t good for anyone, least of all Miles, who’d developed more anxiety over the past two or so months than he’d managed in all his adult life to date.

“Hey!” Miles greeted the pair of them. Both of them ignored him. David was just too caught up in the music and his own terrible dancing. Rachel was ignoring him intentionally, either because she didn’t care about him, which was very likely, or because she didn’t want to be interrupted in the middle of her love connection with David, which was also entirely likely. Miles made a snap decision. He threw himself in between them and joined in. He too danced like no one was watching. Rachel looked at him like he was insane. David, on the other hand, cheered delightedly and threw an arm around Miles’ shoulders with far too much enthusiasm. They ended up knocking heads.

After a while, when it became apparent that Miles had no plans of leaving, Rachel left them, looking most displeased. She kept glancing back at David as she went, as if she thought he would notice and follow after her. He didn’t. Miles felt slightly bad for her. He watched her disappear into the crowd feeling just a little sad. David continued to dance around him, bopping and dipping off beat. That was how Oscar and Dick found them.

“Christ, what a sight to behold,” Oscar remarked, expanding the circle.

“We’re having so much fun!” David cried in response. He wrapped a lanky arm around Oscar and Dick and pulled them toward him so that all three of their heads knocked together. Miles was pleased to be on the outside of it this time around.


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