“I just spent fourteen hours looking for the right shoes to go with my new chinos,” Jude said.
“No you didn’t.”
“Fourteen hours,” I said.
“Fourteen hours,” he repeated.
“Fourteen hours straight.”
“Yes, fourteen hours straight.”
I faced him, thinking about how stupid he sounded. “It’s impossible to spend fourteen hours straight looking for shoes in the shops.”
Jude impatiently tapped his fingers on his steering wheel. “I went to Myer. Then I went to David Jones. Then I went to fuckin’, like, Hype and all those other random fuckin’ shops. Then I had coffee with Tess, and all we did was talk about which shoes to get, then we had a fight, then we made up and we looked at more shoes together until the shops closed.”
“How long was that?”
Jude thought about it. “About six, eight hours.”
“That’s not fourteen hours.”
“Then I dropped her home.”
“How long did that take?”
“About an hour.”
“Are you including that in the fourteen-hour count?”
“Yeah I am.”
“All we did was talk about the shoes while I drove her home, and while we talked about them I got her to look at shoe samples online. Then when I headed home I kept fuckin’ thinking, ‘Was she right? Should I get black shoes instead of brown? Should they really be the leather pointed ones?’ Then I got home, went online and did research, for,” Jude thought about it, “five hours straight. So how many hours is that? Eight hours at the shops, about an hour driving her home, and another five hours doing research online. That’s fourteen hours straight.”
I was sure Jude was lying about everything. “What shoes did you end up buying?”
Jude dropped me home. I’d been staying at his place for the past few weeks and it was time for me to settle back to reality again. As soon as he left I hopped into my damaged car and drove to see Anna. I’d been secretly texting her for the past few weeks. It was different this time, though.
I entered her work, at the end of her shift, and she smiled. We walked towards the car park and she winced when she saw my car. We drove, and I deliberately kept going the wrong way. She giggled and I wanted to kiss her. I parked in front of her place.
“Did you hear about the new Weeknd album coming out?” she asked me.
“Come inside,” she said.
We walked inside her place, and she showed me this painting she did of Abel. He was facing the sky, his afro or whatever it’s called glimmering beyond his eyes.
I held her hand, but only for a second. “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.”
“You said keep our business on the low.”
“I’m just trying to get you out the friend zone.”
“Bring your love baby. I could bring my shame.”
“I got my heart right here.”
I glanced at a photograph of her and her fiancé on her wall.
We spoke for a bit more. We leant towards each other, but stopped. I walked outside, sat in my car. I looked at her front door. It was closed and the lights were off. I drove home and rubbed one out.