Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Murphy and Me IX

Quite honestly, Friday came too soon.

It was a little like being blindsided.

I sat in the locker room, the newest Jay-Z song thumping through the speakers, my leg bouncing with nervousness. First game of the season. Sasha, next to me, nudged my leg with hers. Out of the team, she knew. Sasha was the only one who knew of Murphy.

Which, now that I had the name bouncing around in my head my heart kicked it double-time. That actually happened on a fairly regular basis, come to think of it.

"You'll be fine," Sasha whispered.

I gave her a small smile.

"Do what you always do."

"Which is?" Now I was a bit confused. Did she mean do what I do when I ran into parked cars or when I actually did something marginally useful, like my physics homework?

"Be you. And kick ass."

We stood together and I was reminded of the fact that not only were we best friends off the field, we were close on the field as well. She was my fellow central defender, my left foot, so to speak. And no matter what happened with Murphy, she'd always be beside me (figuratively and literally) and always have my back (again, figuratively and literally).

With that, we left the locker room.

Lord Almighty I didn't want to move.

I was at Mac's, ice strapped to my perma-swelled ankle and one hell of a bruise forming at the top of my shin. Not my fault the girl didn't come quick enough to get the damn ball and it had almost wound up in the net, complete with my leg whacking against the post.

And Murphy and Devan had witnessed the entire thing, including but not limited to the short kid trying to defend corner kicks, badly-timed slide tackles, shanked passes, and going up for a header and winding up in the side netting of the opposing goal with the goalie.

He'd cheered to. For us. For me. Which gave me a serious case of the warm-fuzzies.

Mac let me go, settling for my slight hobble with a small, wry smile. Sasha had already gone and probably gotten dinner with Cara. With my uniform already in the laundry, all I had was my backpack to pick up in the little cubbies outside Mac's. I walked out the doors into the autumn twilight and learning against the fence to the field was Murphy.

He saw me and smiled.

The only thing that could have made it better was if he had been holding food. Specifically Chinese.

"Good game," he said.

"Thanks." I adjusted my backpack - a fidget - and limped down the stairs.

"That from when you hugged a goal post?"

If I had been hoping he hadn't seen that, it just died epically, complete with flame and explosion. "Yup." I paused. "He doesn't give very good hugs."

"He's probably a little cold. Stiff. Might take him a while." Murphy grinned. "What do you want to do for dinner?"

"You didn't eat?" I was a little shocked. I thought he would have eaten with Devan and some of the football boys.

Murphy shrugged. "I figured you'd be hungry after this. And tired." He shrugged. "It's Friday."

What the hell did that have to do with the price of rice in Mexico? Or the hopefully soon consumption of food products, more specifically.

I must have looked truly confused (or stupid, they're fairly interchangeable) because he clarified, "Order out?"

The man was a genius. "Chinese?"


"I like the way you think." Really I did.

A short time later, after I had showered, Murphy came up the stairs bearing Chinese delivery. So the fourth floor didn't have a legit, traditional common room, but rather a sort of small open space at either end of the building. Coincidentally, one of these spaces was right outside my door. I sat in the old, beat-to-shit armchair, legs propped on the ugly yellow square ottoman, and was kind of relaxed.

Okay, really relaxed and I was about to get fed, which made it ten times better.

It was then that I realized, apart from the word "chicken," I had completely forgotten to tell Murphy what I ate. And I really only ate two things (both of which are chicken) when it came to Chinese: sesame and General Tso (but only when absolutely necessary).

"Chicken." Murphy handed me a square plastic container. "It's sesame. I figured if you didn't like it then I'd have to eat it."

Was he actually blushing? I think he was. He was nervous.

And it was really cute. For me, at least, probably not so much for him.

"Sesame chicken's my favorite," I said and watched his face light up like the Vegas nighttime skyline.

"Good, because I didn't wanna share my beef and broccoli anyway," he said, clearly teasing. Still, he dug into his food with some gusto and I wondered when he'd eaten lunch. Or, if he was like me, had only eaten breakfast.

Which reminded me that you can't use your college ID to pay for delivery. It didn't qualify as a meal through the meal plan.

"So, what do I owe you for dinner?"

He looked at me like I had told him that not only was the world flat but I could also fly, all while singing opera.

"You don't," he said. He held up his fork to stop my inevitable protest. I almost ignored him. "You're having dinner with me, you're coming to my game tomorrow, and you didn't laugh when you found not only my nickname from the boys but also that I have a stuffed dragon that I sleep with." He shrugged. "That pretty much covers it."

I was a little dumbstruck, and, in hindsight, I'm blaming my next piece of brilliance on the "dumb" part.

And man, it was a doozy.

"Okay, so if we trade numbers that'll cover the rest of my tab?"

Yeah, not one of my finer thought-processes.

Murphy went a little slack for a moment before recovering beautifully with a, "That'll work." Sasha was going to have yet another field day.

Least I managed to get my phone out of my pocket and spill only a little of my rice on the floor. And by little I mean half. Give or take a few grains.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz