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"Comfy," he asked, looking down at me as he closed the door behind him.
"Oh yes, so very much. Just exhausted and needed a break after all those stairs."
"Really? I saw this guy on my way up, limping his way up. Looked like he did something to his knees, or something. He shot me quite the evil eye when I skipped a few steps past him."
I couldn't help but let out a sharp laugh. Jay looked down at me, curiosity at my behaviour. "What?"
"Well, I'm the one who injured his leg. Guy grabbed me as I was trying to get inside, so I made it very clear that what he was doing was a very bad idea. Did it look like he got the message?"
Hearing the story, Jason let out a laugh of his own. It was always amazing to see how easily laughter came to people who had suffered loss. He shook his head and nodded. "Yeah, I'd say he got the message. Loud and clear. He's going to be walking funny for a day or two, I'm sure of it."
I grinned a Chesire-like grin, and forced back the thought that me and my doppleganger were more alike than I cared to admit. "Good. He's been bugging me for awhile now. A good injury was just what the doctor ordered. Now, how about helping me up, hmm?"
Jay offered his hand, leaning over towards me, his arm sticking out and hanging there, waiting. I reached up, and grabbed it, pulling myself up to my feet, and dusted myself off, in a more symbolic gesture than for any actual need of it.
"You're not going to kick my ass for touching you, are you?" He grinned, and let go of my hand.
"No, you're not an insufferable jerkbag who won't leave well enough alone. You're a good boy, you follow instructions."
"Is that how you see me," he asked, mock astonishment on his face. "As a dog?"
I echoed the astonishment in his face, and held a hand to my chest indignantly. "Of course not, Jay! I think of you as a smart, caring person. Now, heel."
Sticking his tongue out at me, Jay crossed his arms and frowned. "Do you still have the tape?"
I nodded, and gestured to it, sitting next to where I had been on the raggy, spotted, grey carpet that covered the floor of the hallway. They'd just been laying this down when I first moved in here a few years ago, and already it was well-worn, and could use another replacement in some places, but was still more than servicable. The apartment complex would probably wait another year or two before undertaking such a measure. They tried to keep up a certain level of respectable look to the establishment, and a worn, scuffed up carpet was not part of that agenda.
Leaning over to pick it up, I let out a loud, long wheeze, and laid my other hand against the small of my back, as a knot that had form there let its presence be known. Once I stood back straight, I stretched my arms high, and heard my bones crack in relief as I worked out the kinks that had seeped in from all the short bursts of activity, and worsened by lugging that damned trench up all those flights of stairs.
Looking down at the coat, I sighed, and glanced over at Jay, who was just standing there, leaning against the off-white wallpapered upper-half of the wall. Around waist level on the both us, ran a wooden runner that seperated the textured wallpaper from the lower, paneled half of the wall, covered in a dark wood-like panelling pattern. I doubted it was real wood, but had never bothered to check it out, just not being all that curious for the subject. I had found myself wondering about those little details more today, though. I may not have any further chances to wonder about these things in the future.
I pointed down at the coat, and looked with pleading eyes at Jay, shaping my lips into a pout. "Jay," I drew out the a sound in his name. "Would you be just the best and pick that up for me? I really don't want to lean over again."
Rarely, if ever, did I use my feminine wiles to get what I wanted, but with Jay, we knew it was always a joke, and we both knew he would have done it even if I'd just plain asked him. But I'd never been one to do anything plainly. That wasn't any fun.
With a nod, he stepped forward and acted like it would be the simplest task in the world. Which it probably would have been, if that coat hadn't spent a good thirty minutes or so in a rainstorm.
Jay kicked back with his right foot, and went to hook the coat on his toes, planning to scoop it up into the air and catch it, a trick I'd seen him do many times, but as his foot caught the underside of the trenchcoat, and tried to throw it into the air - an otherwise easy task - he discovered that the coat was considerably heavier than expected, and his foot barely moved an inch, causing the coat to do little more than jump slightly in the air, and fall right back down to the floor with a slushy thud.
The unexpected weight caused Jay to go off balance, and he nearly toppled over, and he would have landed right on top of the wet pile of cloth, if he hadn't steadied himself. His arms streched out and flailed wildly, as he hopped on one foot, eventually regaining his balance, and planting both feet firmly on the ground. Another trick of his. Impeccable balance. I'd tried many times to trip him, and to no avail, including now. If it hadn't been for one time when I saw him step out of the coffee shop in the middle of winter and he fell flat on his ass because of the ice, I wouldn't think he was capable of falling.
He shot me such a glare as I'd yet to see to that point. Well, maybe not since the last time I tried to trip him. The look of shock and indignity wasn't mock this time, but the hurt on his face was. He certainly wasn't expecting that, and after his day, it was the last thing he expected me to try and pull.
"You did that on purpose!"
"I did not. Well, ok. Maybe a little. I hoped you'd try and do your usual trick, but I didn't know if you would. But I really don't want to bend down and pick that thing up again. Can you blame me? Your foot couldn't scoop it into the air, and my back is killing me. Either way, I would win. I just won more than expected."
He again stuck his tongue out at me, and leaned over this time, picking the coat up easily in his hands. He let out a bit of a wheeze himself when he straighted up with it in his arms, the drops of water that had been almost steadily dripping off of it all night long having finally stopped to nothing more than a mere trickle. Not even that, really.
"Ooof. Ok, I see why you got so wasted going up those stairs with this. What, did you get into a fight with a firetruck on the way home, too?"
I grinned and shook my head. "Nah, just went and played in the rainstorm we had earlier, after I saw you. Now, come on, we've got a movie to watch."
Mentioning the tape like that, almost offhandedly, as I had, killed the moment. All the laughs faded away, all the smiles. We rememebred why Jay was here, what we were both here to do. We were going to watch the last moments of our friend, a death we were right there for, not more than twenty, thirty feet away.
Jay just nodded solemnly, and shifted the coat in his arms, draping it over his clasped hands, in much the same way I had done when I moved to hide the tape from my favourite stalker. He shrugged uncomfortably from the weight, and I glanced briefly down to where it had been sitting on the carpet, and noticed the wet stain was barely noticeable, unlike my car cushion, which had taken the brunt of the water.
Seeing how uncomfortable he was carrying the coat, and with a few glances out of the corners of his eyes at the tape, I decided to get us both inside my apartment as quickly as possible, if for no other reason than to unburden Jay of the coat, and to get things over with.
My apartment was just right around the corner, where the hall from the stairwell formed a T with the other hall that lead to the apartments on this floor. I had Jay stop at the door, and I tried to dig into the coat to get my keys, and he had to adjust it around a bit so I could get into the pocket where they were and get them out.
Jay's foot tapped patiently on the carpet, to a tune only he could hear as I jingled the ring and got the right key out, pushing the door open with my foot, and dropping the keyring with a scattering clatter of metal onto the small wooden endtable just inside the door.
The carpet of the hallway turned into hardwood floors inside the small entryway into my apartment, until it exited into the kitchen, where it became the linoleum tiles, before turning back to hardwood floors again in the living room, but that was covered in various rugs I had aquired over the years.
I heard a thud as the coat fell from Jay's arms and landed on the tile of the kitchen, and he leaned back agains the wall, carefully avoiding the replica painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night II I'd made in high school for art class.
"Good god, next time there's a rainstorm and you want to go scampering about in it, do me a favour, and take your coat off first?"
I tilted my head to the side quizzicly, and blinked. "But, then I'd get all wet. That wouldn't do any good."
"Fine, just don't wear that coat again." He pointed at it, his finger jabbing like a knife into a piece of steak.
He picked the coat up, quite against his better judgement and wishes, I could tell, and he unclumped it, holding it by the shoulders, his arms struggling to hold it out, and gave it a good shake, making it regain its normal shape as best he could, before he took it over to a coat rack he had spied, and hung it up on preciselt the right wooden peg sticking out of my wall. Not that it was terribly difficult, it was the only peg not holding anything.
Removing his work cap, he tossed it on the kitchen counter, and wiped at his brow in a practiced and well-used manuever I'd seen him do many times at work, and all around, mostly whenever he took off a hat. I saw a bandage placed over his left temple, lightly coloured red, but only the barest hints were peeking through the gauze and dressing that were presented to the world.
"What happened there," I questioned him, pointing at the bandage, and starting to get some things together to steep some tea.
"Oh, just a little accident," he said, as he reached up and touched the covered wound, wincing as his fingers glanced across the white gauze, and causing him to flinch away from his own touch.