Second Excerpt, Unexpected Guest

July 30, 2010

Ethan looked carefully at Dan as he walked between the two flushed men. “I’ll be upstairs if you need me, Dan.”

Embarrassed, he waited until he heard Ethan’s footsteps on the stairs before saying, “Go home, Sean. This isn’t going to happen. Not while you’re married.”

Watching Sean leave, Dan sank to the floor, feeling boneless and drained. He replayed the fight, feeling the anger begin to gnaw at his chest. “Fucking asshole!” He kicked out at the tool belt that had been left next to the small table that held the coffeemaker, knocking the hammer out of its loop. He kicked again, sending the hammer skittering over the hardwood floor to bounce off the baseboard.
Dan grabbed the hammer and tried to jam it back into the leather loop on the tool belt and stopped, feeling the weight of the hammer, before stalking into the kitchen. He swung the hammer at the wall where the phone used to hang, swinging through his anger, his embarrassment, his frustration. He swung the hammer until the plaster fell to the floor, until it cracked through the brittle wood of the lath, until he felt the burn in his shoulder.

He stood in front of the hole in the wall, his anger still burning in his chest. Dan dropped the hammer and attacked the plaster and lath with his hands, pulling the chunks of plaster away, catching his hands on the nails in the lath.

“Danny?”

Even through the fog of his anger, he noticed that Ethan wore only jeans unbuttoned at the waist, his chest and feet bare. “Don’t fucking call me that.”

“Okay. Dan.” Ethan moved slowly toward his friend, keeping his voice quiet. “You doin’ okay?”
“Does it look like I’m doing okay?” Dan felt as if he was wilting; the anger that had kept him going was gone, leaving only weariness in its wake.

Gently brushing plaster dust from Dan’s hair, Ethan smiled. “No, Dan, you don’t look like you’re okay. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Continuing to brush plaster dust out of Dan’s hair and off his shoulders, Ethan’s voice was soft, barely above a whisper. “Think you’re gonna have to lose the shirt.”

Dan pulled his shirt off, dropped it on top of the pile of plaster and lath that he had pulled from the wall, and allowed Ethan to lead him into the bathroom.

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