You wouldn’t believe that we’d never discussed it.
‘Want some?’ Tony mumbles, offering the soggy roach hanging off his lip.
I take the spit-soaked thing, sucking it hard, and we’re the neighbourhood kids we once were again, when we’d share a straw, working the dregs of childhood chocolate shakes.
Me and Antonio go way back. We share teenage days, sporting successes and failures, neighbourhood pranks, and just that one time, Sophia Moretti’s willing flesh. In her parent’s bed, no less. Then I went to med school, and he became a vintner. Even though he only makes reds, and I like white, we’re okay.
We’ve just had our monthly game of squash. He won. Again. ‘How’s Soph?’ I broach tentatively, and there’s that uneasy moment of silence.
‘Yeah, she’s good. The girls’re good too.’
‘Hey, this is good shit!’ I declare, then ask the inevitable. ‘And Tommy?’
That telling hesitation. ‘He’s smart at school.’ Then, too casually, ‘Dunno where he gets that from.’ He grabs the joint off me and starts working it around his jaw like he’s Tony Soprano with a Havana or something.
I wonder. Is this going to be the moment then? At last? Is our elephant from that bedroom finally about to trumpet?
We both wait, the dilemma of it hanging there. Bigger than Texas. Bigger even than the meaning of life and the secrets to the universe.
But the opportunity to discuss that deep and meaningful life-changer sneaks by us again, and our small talk carries on, shallow and meaningless as usual.
Finally. ‘Gotta go,’ he says.
‘Okay.’ Say gidday to Tommy for me, I whisper towards his departing back. Off to his sun-soaked vineyard. Me to my cold flat.
Tommy; fairish skin, sandy-haired. Like me. Like a Blanc grape in the vat of Pinot Noir.