[In addition to today’s post, I’ve updated several of the earlier entries in this story — The Smoking Insomniac, Unsolicited Advice, and Opening Shot. I won’t say what changes I made or why I made them, because that information would spoil a surprise I have planned.]

Darci’s back from her class when I finally arrive at my apartment. She gets up from the sofa to kiss me, then steps back, and tells me I look like shit. I laugh, and she follows me into the bedroom.

“Have a good time?” She lies on the bed, as I begin taking off my sweats.

I shake my head. “Forgot how much I hate basketball.”

“Well, I did try to remind you.” Darci sits up, wraps her arms around her raised knees. “But I got the feeling you were there for some other reason, than shooting hoops.”

I lift the t-shirt off my body, then toss it into a corner. “It’s this guy from work, Murph. Play chess with him every week, he’s a good guy. It’s just — I don’t know how to describe him, he’s just odd.” Pull my shorts down to the floor, step outside the leg holes. “Wanted to see what he’s like outside the office.” Feel like I can’t tell her the full story — he says he’s married but I can’t find any proof, and I was hoping he’d say or do something to clarify his marital status — but even I have trouble believing my own obsession.

“So — ” Darci releases the hold on her knees, and leans back to place her palms behind her on the mattress — “you discover anything interesting?”

Did I ever, I want to say. I heard Murph’s almost paranoid concern with public persona, a determination to control what people thought about him. It sounded like he got married, or created an elaborate story about being married, to craft a socially acceptable narrative about his private life. It was bizzare — People assume they know all they need to know about you — who the hell thinks like that? His weird soliloquy, I know realized, was a distraction, and didn’t get me any closer to the truth I had been seeking. Whether there was a Steph, and if she and Murph were betrothed …

“You OK?” I shake my head at Darci’s question, then tell her I’m fine as I quickly take off my underwear. Naked, I begin rummaging through my dresser for fresh clothes, when I feel her tap on my shoulder.

I turn to see Darci unbuttoning her shirt, a coy smile growing on her face. “Still got some energy, hot shot?” And for the rest of the evening, we enjoy each other’s nakedness.


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