The limo stops, again, and I nearly spill my whiskey.
“Sometimes I think we should take the subway,” Dmitri says, sipping at his drink.
“Two billionaires sweating through our suits on the F train,” I say, shaking my head.
Then I look outside at the endless line of brake lights in front of us. Maybe he’s right.
“I was joking,” Dmitri says.
“It might actually help my image problem,” I say.
“Eric,” he says, “come on, you’re imagining it.”
“I’m not,” I say, gulping down the rest of my whiskey. “People think I’m a total asshole—”
“I am,” I say, grinning. “I had to be a dick get where I am. Now that I’m there though, I need to actually work my image. If you wait too long to do it, they’ll make a movie about you like that Facebook asshole.”
“Zuckerberg,” Dmitri says. “Dude is going to run for president, so maybe he’s got a point.”
Dmitri wouldn’t try to improve his image at any cost. He loves being seen as an asshole.
“Your image is good with the ladies,” Dmitri says, grinning.
I sigh. Good for one-night stands, bad for the long-term. I’m known as something as a serial “dater,” with the term “dating” being stretched to its loosest definition. Is two drinks and a fuck really a date?
“There’s this new thing,” I say, “New York’s best couple…”
Dmitri laughs. “Imagine the asshole couple who will win that.”
“What if I won it?” I ask.
Dmitri gives me a sidelong glance. “Eric, you need an actual girlfriend to win that thing. You’d have to date the same woman for at least a month, more likely two or three.”
“It would be worth it,” I say, “for the image boost.”
“Charity costs more,” Dmitri says, “but it’s way less of a sacrifice.”
“Charity is old news. Every asshole billionaire throws a few million here and there at some causes, and everyone still thinks they don’t really care. You know what, Dmitri? I think I can win this best couple thing. What do people love more than a bad guy getting tamed by a good girl?”
“Where are you going to find a good girl?” Dmitri asks, unconvinced.
I shrug. It’s a good question. The girls that are drawn to me are not the type you’d bring home to your mother, and certainly not the kind that could win “New York’s Best Couple.”
“When I turn on the charm,” I say with confidence. “I bet you I could get any woman to win with me.”
“Any woman?” Dmitri asks. “Is this a real bet?”
He gives me an eager look. Dmitri loves a good wager, and his eyes look hungry. I know it’s stupid to commit to this. Dmitri is notorious for holding people to bets. He once ran a man’s career into the ground for trying to back out of a bet.
Still, I know I can win, and I’m a man of my word, so there’s no risk in needing to back out.
“Sure,” I say. “You pick the woman, and I’ll date her up and make her win best couple with me.”
“Any woman?” he asks.
I nod. It’s a big risk, but I need to change my image and fucking my way through models isn’t going to get me there.
I look outside again. We’ve moved about fifty feet.
“I could walk home faster than this,” I hiss.
Then I see a bike shop outside: “The Fixed Gear.” I used to bike to work before I hit it big. That was ten years ago, but shit, anything is better than this traffic. We’re driving from a meeting in the financial district back to our office uptown; it’s a route we often have to take and traffic is always an issue.
I hit a button and roll down the window separating Dmitri and me from the driver. “Ernesto, go ahead without us, we’re getting out.”
“We are?” Dmitri asks.
I shrug. “I’m going to buy a bike, you can get Ernesto to take you back to the office if you want.”
“Nah,” Dmitri says, “I’ll go get a drink or something, then call my driver out to get me when the traffic’s cleared.”
We get out of the car. We’re near the Brooklyn Bridge—just south of Chinatown. The bike shop looks a bit like hipster spillover from Brooklyn. There’s a lot of road bikes locked in front of the building.
“This place looks fucking grimy,” Dmitri says, walking up to the door right behind me.
“I thought you were going to go get a drink?” I ask.
He shrugs. “Maybe I’ll get a bike too.”
I give him a skeptical look. He’s in good shape, but he’s famous for only exercising in the privacy of his air-conditioned private gym. I can’t imagine him sweating outside on a bike.
I open the door, and we both step inside.
We see two guys with gauged ears working on a bike that is upside down on a rack. One has a dirty, greasy rag in his hand, and the other is smoking a vaporizer while he strokes his scraggly beard and watches.
“I know a place uptown,” Dmitri says, “That is more... clean.”
“This is fine,” I say. “I don’t need a Tour De France bike to commute.”
The ‘guy’ with the dirty rag turns around and greets us, and we realize that it’s actually a girl. She’s wearing cut-off jeans and has short hair.
“Any girl…” Dmitri whispers to me.
I look at the bike girl and grin. I whisper back to Dmitri, “She has to be straight though. I’m good, but I can’t turn a lesbian.”
“If she is straight…” Dmitri says.
“Then she’s fair game,” I say.
There’s another woman helping another customer at the counter. She’s got an undercut on one side, and her clothes look like they were torn up by an angry dog, but her bone structure is good, and she’s got an athletic figure. Nice tits too.
“She’d work,” I say, leaning my head in her direction so as not to draw too much attention.
Dmitri scoffs. “Way too easy, bro. Fix her horrible haircut and put a dress on her, and she’d be fucking hot. You said you could get any girl to work, so I really want to test you. These hipster bike chicks are just hot girls with unfortunate style choices, put them in the right environment and they’ll be model girlfriends. What I need to find is someone who is completely hopeless, someone with no sense of fashion or taste.