If I hadn’t found out that Stanley and Fraser were trying to fuck each other through the floor, the basement, and all the way to China, I still think I would have realised from the way they were bickering. They never stopped. Unless you count when Ray nee Stanley told Benny to shut up. But that was suspicious in itself, given the way it wasn’t accompanied by an offer to play soccer with his head.
So yeah, Benny and the one-who-must-not-be-called-Stanley had come down to Florida for a combined post-marriage and pre-niece (or nephew, but I have ten dollars on with Tony that it’s a girl). To be fair, that kind of confused me, because from what I’ve heard Stanley lives on pizza. Not just what I’ve heard from Stella, but from the old mob at the Precinct, who swore blind that Kowalski kept feeding Benny the stuff. And I thought it was French fries and poutine all the way with Benny.
Maybe that proves how little I knew. Raymond Vecchio, the man who knew too little, but got suspicious fast.
So, there we are, in the lounge, while all the family are soaking up those Floridian rays, so I ask subtly, “What the fucking hell were you guys doing in Canada, anyway?”
“In one word, Vecchio?” said Stanley, trying to look all do-not-fuck-with-me Steve McQueen and looking like a certain malamute trying to make himself look scary, “Fucking.”
Benny jumps right in, “Ray…”
“So, it’s best he finds out now, clearly and unequivilently…” Stanley’s talking at his usual hundred mile an hour delivery, I swear the only person harder to follow is Frannie, and Frannie’s my fucking sister.
“unilaterally, perhaps, Ray, or maybe, I’m not sure…” Typical, Benny, correct a man’s grammar when he’s just outted you to your best friend.
“One of those, yeah. As I was saying, rather than find out by accident or all sudden-like”
And now the brain cells and the mouth have started talking again, I say, “As if this isn’t sudden, Stanley”
“Well, now, you’ve been told, and have time to adjust. Wait a minute, did you call me Stanley? Fraser, did he call me Stanley?” The little Pollack is bouncing like Tigger the tiger again, after being fed a gallon of Jolt Cola. All the taste and twice the caffeine, yeah, sounds like his poison, ‘specially since Benny don’t drink. More to the point, Benny doesn’t like other people drinking much either. Yeah, Stella’s going to be happy about that, she felt kinda guilty about his drinking after she left him. Sure, it was partly contributory, but by that point their marriage was already crashing and burning, yet it only really hit off big time when she went bye-bye. In the State’s Attorney’s Office you kinda hear if a cop comes rolling in late and half-drunk.
“I’m not really at liberty to answer, Ray.” One thing’s for sure, it’s still Benny. I can’t really stay angry, because it is still Benny, not the pod-person version who swears and drinks strong liquor, it’s Benny, it’s just that he likes guys, skinny Pollack guys with big mouths. For some reason, that doesn’t surprise me much, it should, but it don’t.
“Yeah, he called me Stanley. And you’re covering up for him. How can I tell on you to Fraser, when he’s covering up for you?”
There’s no real answer for that, except maybe hope he runs out of steam.
“Ray, there’s no need for vulgarity…”
“Fuck you.” Charming, Kowalski.
“Thank you kindly”
“I didn’t mean that in a nice way, Fraser.”
“I don’t think we’re on the same track here, I’m halfway down the hill and you need to get a rocket under your feet, because only a rocket powered clue bus with go faster stripes and v 8 transmission is going to catch you up with me now.” Look, I’ve known him for what one case and five minutes of convoluted coming-out speech, and already I’ve realised that this guy goes off on tangents that astronomers from NASA want to study.
“Or, I could merely trip, and thus summersault down the hill…”
“Or Benny could make a moose powered parasail from three bits of twine and a corkscrew…” And he could, really. Sure, I don’t want to piss them off, but there’s no law against winding them up a bit.
“m-e-t-a-f-o-r, it’s a metaphor, Fraser. And don’t you go encouraging him, in your fancy-ass Armani, since he’ll only push you into a dumpster and you’ll never get the anchovy sauce out, even if you go to the Ice Queen’s dry cleaners.” Stop jabbing my chest, you maniac. Okay, I think I’ve got it, energy. Stanley has buckets of it. So has Fraser. Clearly the Yukon is just the place to burn those extra calories. And I don’t mean like that, get your mind out of the gutter, I don’t care if you’re looking up at the stars; I mean dogsleds, and five day cop chases.
“Ray, I have no intent on pushing Ray into a dumpster.”
“Metaphor, Fraser. You know what that means?”
“Of course, Ray. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to something…”
“That was one, Ben. Now, shhh…”
“You got Benny to shut up, I didn’t believe it, not until you got Benny to shut up. Oh Christ, you’re doing it with Benny.” That’s when it sinks in, obviously. I was able to ignore it this far, but now I know, in a supernatural cop way.
“This was what I was worried about. Fraser, why are you looking at me like that? I am not something interesting to lick…” Thanks a bunch, Stanley, I did not want to think about that.
“Oh Jesus and all the little children…”
“Okay, I am something interesting to lick, but not right now, and not with that licking-look. So why are you doing that? Aha! My kickass telepathikinesis tells me, I told you to stay schtumm. Greatness. You keep doing that.”
“Oh Mary, mother of God!...”
“See, right now, he’s thinking what the hell I’ve done to turn you, his surrogate brother and weird best friend, gay. And Stella, hell, Stella, because she is going to find out about this, is going to wonder what the hell you’ve done to turn me 1)gay and b) Canadian. And I so don’t wanna be here when that happens.”
Oh Christ, Stella. Stanley, it was nice knowing you. As skanky ex-husbands go, you weren’t bad. And on cue, here comes my damsel, “When what happens, Ray?”
“Oh, hi Stell, you’re looking good, why don’t you go back out there and work on your tan, unless you want to hear how we tamed the bomb-carrying synchronised llamas with the sound of Inuit throat sing at Buck Frobisher’s BBQ this summer.”
“Right. I’m just going to get some juice out of the cool box. It wouldn’t be good if Francesca got dehydrated out there.” I can’t believe it, he can still schmooze my wife.
“Smart move, Stella honey.” Maybe it’s a good thing that he’s dating my best friend.
So I can do this, but I still don’t want him staring at me like I’m some free show, “What are you looking at, Stanley?”
“Well, it will be slow and painful death if I go all “ick! They’re kissing” on you, so I think I’m going to turn round and look at Fraser’s “oh god, public kissing, how mortifying” face.”
“You do that, Stanley, mmmph.”
And she breaks it off, she breaks it off, because of him. “Don’t call Ray Stanley, Ray, he doesn’t like it.”
“Woo hoo! The Stella is on my side, the eagle has landed, where were you five minutes ago, Stell? I so could have done with you then, since Fraser wouldn’t tell him to stop. I should have just run and told on him to you.”
“Since when were you on his side?” Play the playfully indignant husband, and maybe Ray will get the message that she’s married to the other Ray now, specifically me.
“And why’s Fraser being so quiet anyway, Ray? Any Ray?” Ah, she’s as confused as I am with the name thing. Sweet.
I’m not the only person who sees it that way. “Isn’t it cute when she’s flustered?”
“Yeah. Stella, Stan-Ray bet him to keep quiet. For some reason he’s gone all sentry-duty with it. See, no response.”
“Let me try this: curling sucks!”
“See, it’s like he’s outside Casa Canada.”
“Stop mocking the poor man, I’m going to get back out there.” Exit Stella stage left. Stanley’s clear of the most mortifying moment of his life for a while yet.
“Or the Ice Queen has asked him to father her babies.” Sure, I could tell Kowalski that one time we thought she did, but I don’t think I really want to put my best friend’s boyfriend’s nose out of joint.
“Christ, Kowalski, he’s as stiff as a board.”
“Not the first time I’ve seen that, Vecchio. Fuck, did I just say that?”
“Ah, yes, you did, Ray.”
“Why are you speaking now?”
“Em, Ray you seemed to get irritated when I failed to answer you in the affirmative, so this seemed an opportunity to prove I had, ah, learned from my observation…” You’d think he’s get more to the point, wouldn’t you?
“And avoid a kick in the head?” I ask, sweetly. Ray the Second (okay, maybe that works, I can just add “the second” in my head.) looks a little pissed that I stole his catchphrase. Sure, but he stole my life and Benny, sure I’m not interested in Benny like that, but still…
“Not exactly,” says Benny, the soul of diplomacy.
I play my cards, might as well make clear that I don’t hate either of them for this, sure I’m annoyed that Benny never told me he swung that way, that Ray even. “So you fuck Stanley, like that’s a big revelation now, last thing I want to see is two lovers fall out.” ‘Specially since I’ve seen Benny down, hell, I saw Benny after Victoria. He looked like a kicked puppy.
“Ray, it is a wise precaution not to form hypothesises, or at least not to form them out aloud, unless you are ready to be proved wrong. Your hypothesis was in error, but your error was in voicing your hypothesis, which was, as I have stated, erroneous…”
Oh fuck. Exactly fuck. Stanley is Mr Fuck.
We are clearly going to hell in a handcart, to borrow a Benny-ism.