"Pretty nice guy is code for what? Insecure, egotistical asshole? Limp dick, five-minute fuck?"
I laugh at his reply. He always thought he was right. Despite my facade, I knew he often was.
I wasn't going to let him tear ribbons out of my new boyfriend. If I admitted, even in the slightest, to any of these faults, he won. He always assumed he was better than them, and never subtle enough when letting me know. My self-proclaimed 'soul-mate', my 'friend', my 'hunter'. This was always how it went: mentioning we haven't spoken in months, cordial trivialities, then the overly personal, cutting retorts. Back and forth, back and forth for hours. Loud and demanding attention like gunshots.
"So you're moving to ******? Hell, who isn't? You're following the crowd, babe. Like a mindless lemming. You're insular, always have been. You'll die in the city."
I laugh again. Always sardonic with that cheap undertone of practiced malice. Always with the friendly camaraderie and teasing. Always coming back, no matter how hard I push back his relentless, blood thirsty advances.
"Well, I know we haven't spoken in a while. I didn't want your cerebellum to explode violently."
I've finished enough of high school biology to envision how that would be; sudden and graceless.
"Right," I reply with a small grin, "I forgot you left me in a state of insatiable desire. Remind me again how much I need you." I can see him smiling, shaking his head slowly at his mobile screen, miles away though he was. He's always appreciated this banter - and returns it with an eagerness that is often startling. He's greedily begging for more in the process, and so am I, until one of us caves and admits something that should never have been there in the first place. It's a game, it's a war. Who else can excite you more than a lover or an enemy? What if they're both?
I'm anxious for his characteristic Don Juan-esque reply. That piercing, compelling wit that I pretend to roll off my back while it's embedded in my shoulder blades. I already fire up three insults in my head for such an approach, but I never receive the trigger confirmation. I'm confused a moment. He never retreats until one of us loses. I stare blankly at the space where his coercive sabotage is supposed to land. It is a while before I make the connection. I've been driving for a long time.
I lost service.
With my sudden offline appearance, I can picture him laughing at my evasive maneuver. I won, with a strategically placed cold shoulder turned to him by the limits of this damn city rather than my own cunning. It's not a real victory, but the season is not over yet. The next time we play he's going to have a new arsenal. I have the foreboding feeling he's going to open up with a blast to take down half my ramparts. I can't wait.