Right before I went in to work, I stopped off at the drugstore where Dante was working. I think I just wanted to see that he really had a job. When I walked into the drugstore, he was behind the counter, placing cigarettes on the shelf.
“Are you wearing shoes?” I said.
He smiled. I stared at his name tag. Dante Q.
“I was just thinking of you,” he said.
“Some girls came in a little while ago.”
“They knew you. We got to talking.”
I knew which girls they were before he told me. “Gina and Susie,” I said.
“Yeah. They’re nice. Pretty, too. They go to school with you.”
“Yeah, they’re nice and pretty. And pushy, too.”
“They looked at my name tag. And then they looked at each other. And then one of them asked me if I knew you. I thought that if was a funny question to ask.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I told them yeah. I said you were my best friend.”
“You told them that?”
“You are my best friend.”
“Did they ask you anything else?”
“Yeah, they asked if I knew anything about an accident and you breaking your legs.”
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it!”
“Did you tell them?”
“Of course I told them.”
“You told them??”
“Why are you getting mad?”
“You told them about what happened?”
“Of course I did.”
“There’s a rule, Dante.”
“You’re mad? You’re mad at me?”
“The rule was we weren’t supposed to talk about the accident.”
“Wrong. The rule was we weren’t supposed to talk about the accident with each other. The rule doesn’t apply to anyone else.”
There was a line forming behind me.
“I have to get back to work,” Dante said.
Later that afternoon, Dante called me at work. “Why are you mad?”
“I just don’t like other people to know.”
“I don’t get you, Ari.” He hung up the phone.
What I knew was going to happen, happened. Gina and Susie followed me up at the Charcoaler just as I was getting off work.
“You were telling us the truth,” Gina said.
“So what?” I said.
“So what? You saved Dante’s life.”
“Gina, let’s not talk about it.”
“Why not, Ari?” You’re a hero.” Susie Byrd had this thing in her voice.
“And how come,” Gina said, “we don’t know anything about your best friend?”
“Yeah, how come?”
I looked at both of them.
“He’s so cute. I’d have thrown myself in front of a moving car for him too.”
“Shut up, Gina,” I said.
“How come he’s such a secret?”
“He’s not a secret. He just goes to Cathedral.”
Susie had this gaga look on her face. “Cathedral boys are cute.”
“Cathedral boys suck,” I said.
“So when are we going to get to know him?”
“Oh, so you want him all to yourself.”
“Knock it off, Gina, you’re really pissing me off.”
“You’re really touhy about things, you know that, ari.”
“Go to hell, Gina.”
“You really don’t want us to know him, do you?”
“I don’t really care. You know where he works, go help him. Maybe that way, you’ll leave me alone.”
– Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.