I still hope my friend is just playing a trick on me…

Do you know the cold feeling when something is happening that makes no real sense? I am sure most of you know it.

It is often only there in those short moments before we remember that one detail that explains what is going on. I have been searching for it this whole evening.

Last night, as you all know, was Friday.

On Friday I usually hang out with a good friend of mine, Frederick. We are both not the party and bar type anymore. Instead, we tend to hang out at his place, have a couple of beers and watch a movie or two on his home theater projector.

Yesterday wasn’t much different. When I finally made my way home, it was almost three in the morning. You could say I was pleasantly buzzed, but not wasted.

The next morning, I woke up when my phone notified me that I’d gotten a WhatsApp message. Cursing that I forgot to mute the damn phone again, I checked to see who it was. It was by Sue, Frederick’s girlfriend. She’d sent me a picture of the two of them in front of a well-known sightseeing attraction in her town.

I was a little surprised. Why’d Sue send me a picture like that at nine-thirty on a Saturday morning?

As I was preparing myself some coffee, her reply arrived. She said that the two of them had been there a couple of minutes ago.

I slowly read the message over once more, but I hadn’t misread it.

She and Frederick were in a long distance relationship, and Sue lived on the other end of the country. There was no way that Frederick could be there right now.

I told her to cut the joke, but she asked me what I meant. I sighed, this was stupid. As I sent Frederick a quick text, that Sue was trying to play a joke on me, he sent me a picture too. It was another picture of the two of them, this time in front of a different building. I put my phone away. I was not in the mood for their shenanigans.

In the early afternoon, my phone buzzed again. I looked at it and saw Frederick had sent me a short video clip. I sighed and pressed play, prepared for it to be some clip of him farting or something. Instead, it was a video of him and Sue in front of a small indoor stage.

Suddenly a wave of cold rushed over me. I read the name ‘DarkBeatz’ in bright letters behind them. ‘DarkBeat’ was a small Indy festival in Sue’s town. Frederick and I had been talking about it, and I remember declining when he asked if I wanted to join them. I looked it up online instantly, and everything checked out:

‘DarkBeatz: 10.03.18 – 11.03.18’ the website said.

I called him right away.

“When did you even get there, Fred?”

“Last evening. By train. Same as always?” he answered a little confused.

“When did you even leave? At four in the morning? How would you even be there by now?”

“What are you on about at four in the morning? I left right after work.”

“Stop shitting me, man. We hung out last night.”

“What are you talking about?”

I told him my story, but of course, he didn’t believe me. Now it was him who said to me that I should cut the joke. Then he told me, he had to go now, since the first act was starting soon.

What was going on? It must be a joke. He was fucking with me. There was no other way.

I went on my way to his place then and there. Funny, I thought, really fucking funny. Well I had to do some shopping, I thought, so the trip wasn’t completely useless.

I rang the doorbell but got no answer. Then I rang again and after that a third time. Still nothing.

I told Frederick to open the door and to cut it out. He’d got me good this time, I admitted. His reply was nothing but a question mark. I told him to open the damn door. This time I got no reply. I cursed at him and rang the doorbell a few more times, only stopping when a neighbor yelled at me to give it a rest.

I tried calling Frederick once more. He answered only on the third try. There was loud music playing in the background, and he had to almost yell in the phone.

“The fuck is your-” then I heard him curse as he seemed to walk somewhere.

“The fuck is your problem, man?”

“Dude come on, turn the stupid music off and just open the damn door, it is not funny anymore.”

“I have no idea what you are on about. I. Am. With. Sue.”

And to prove it to me, he handed her the phone for a moment.

“Hi, Andy, Sue here, what’s up?”

I heard her voice loud and clear.

“Anything else? Or can I hang up now?”

“If you’re really at Sue’s,” I babbled, “then how were the two of us drinking together last night?”

“Dude, what the hell are you talking about it?”

“We were drinking at your place last night and watched this movie, Cold Weather.”

“Ok man, really funny.”

“I am not fucking joking with you Fred! We were both at your place and you-”

“Dude stop. Really. It was funny for a while, but not anymore. You are creeping me out. I just want to have a nice weekend with Sue, ok?”

With that, he hung up.

I felt the strength drain from my body. I felt strange and weird. Was he really not playing a joke on me? But then how…?

After shopping, I went through all sorts of scenarios again, but there was no other way, he had to be playing a trick on me.

The more I thought about, the surer I was. Sue and he must be at his place, having a good laugh at my expense. I’d had it. I have been pacing around my apartment for at least an hour by now.

My friend and I have a spare key at each other’s place. In case we lock ourselves out, we can go to the apartment of the other and get the extra key.

It was with this key in my pocket, fuming, that I made my way back to his place. It had to be one of his dumb jokes, and he’d kept it up all day.

As I went upstairs and unlocked the front door to his apartment, I was prepared to hear the sound of laughter from his living room. Instead, the place was dead quiet.

I went from the hallway to the living room, then to the kitchen and at last the bedroom. Finally, I yelled out his name.

In sheer frustration, I sent him the message ‘Dude come out!’ and attached a picture of myself in his living room.

I got a call right away.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You aren’t seriously at my place, are you?”

“Dude I know you and Sue are hiding somewhere, just come out. Seriously, you got me real good this time. Here I even laugh: ha ha.”

“You are really there? Are you for fucking real?”

I could hear Sue in the background asking him what was going on.

While I heard him tell her that I was at his place for ‘some stupid reason,’ I found some empty beer bottles standing on the couch table.

“Hey Fred, are those bottles yours?” I asked him right as he was about to give me another earful. Instead, he was quiet.

“What bottles?”

I sent him a quick picture.

Frederick is suffering from OCD, quite a severe case. Doesn’t matter how drunk he is or how late it is, he cleans up the place as good as he can after people leave. Empty bottles, glasses, snacks, he puts it all away. He once told me, that if he doesn’t, he can’t seem to fall asleep.

“I told you I’ve been drinking with you on Friday. This must be the-”

“Fucking stop, ok? And for fuck’s sake stop drinking at my fucking place when I am not around! Those keys were-”

“I told you, man. You were here as well!” I retorted, “I have no idea what-”

I didn’t have a chance to finish the sentence. He cut the call. I tried calling him again, but it went straight to voicemail.

To be honest, his reaction was way too real for a simple joke. This was not an act. For a moment I just stood there, waiting desperately for him to appear laughing, to tell me he got me good. I waited and waited, but the apartment stayed as quiet as it was.

I went over to the empty beers on the table and checked the brand. It was the same type I had drank last evening, with Frederick sitting next to me.

It is now around midnight, and I am sitting in front of my computer typing all of this out.

That last call pretty much convinced me that he is not playing a joke on me. But if I am right, then what happened on Friday? These empty bottles show that someone was there, that I was there. If Frederick was on the train to visit Sue though, then who’d I been drinking with?

I am asking myself, again and again, trying to find that one little detail that could explain it all, that one detail that could convince me that it is somehow all just a trick.

But I can’t.