Hi Folks. It’s been a while. It’s the weirdest thing, but when someone you love gets sick and no one has a clue of how or why it scares the shit out of you. So, after a couple of months of testing and prodding and treatments that may or may not have done anything, we’re home and she’s healthy again. For those of you who don’t know it, after my divorce, I was bitter and angry and all of the other things we go through after the person we planned on spending our life with betrayed us. Getting part of that anger out was why I started writing these things.
After a couple of years of that this tiny, but feisty creature literally forced herself into my life and made it 100% better. I say forced because on paper we shouldn’t have worked. When we met, there was a twenty year age difference between us, that I thought was insurmountable. Now seven years later, I don’t think I could live without her, so her being hospitalized almost killed me. But we’re better and we’re back. Here’s the first of the stories I wrote while we were in the hospital.
I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. I told myself for the fiftieth time that there was absolutely no chance that she was there.
Her car wasn’t in the driveway, so she couldn’t be here.
I took a second breath ... and remembered the things they’d said. They were my family too. Or so they claimed.
Maybe it was too soon. I took a third breath for bravery and lifted my hand to knock. Then I decided that stepping onto the porch had been a good first step and turned to leave.
Before I could step away from the door, it opened, and an arm snaked out to grab my arm.
“Aaron, where’re you going?” chirped an energetic young woman. “Did you leave my present in your car?”
I couldn’t yank my arm away from her without hurting her or making a scene, neither one of which I wanted. But standing there and being pulled into that living room made me feel strange.
As soon as I got into the house, her father appeared, with her mother right behind him.
“Aaron,” he said, with a big smile on his face. “How’s it hangin’ Son?”
He clapped me on my back.
“This is a surprise,” said his wife, staring at me over her daughter, who was still wrapped around my arm.
Maybe she saw something in my eyes, but her face softened. “Aaron, Honey, what I meant is that you, stopping by, or coming over for a visit shouldn’t be something that rarely happens. It should be a regular event. You’re a part of our family.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said.
“I know that what happened was hard on you, Aaron,” said her husband. “It was confusing and hard on all of us. I never understood it. Shit, I still don’t. It’s incredibly hard to just sit on the sidelines and watch your child do the dumbest fucking thing in the world.
This was hard on all of us...”
“Especially me!” said the young woman.
“Erica ... how was it hard on you?” laughed her mother.
“Well if you have to know, being around Aaron exposed my true nature,” said Erica.
“You’re not a lesbian,” laughed her dad.
“Nope, I’m trans,” said Erica.
“You are not!” laughed her mom. “You’ve never wanted to be a boy.”
“Not that kind of trans,” said Erica. “I’m a trans-siblical.”
“What the hell is that?” asked her dad.
“It means that I was born in the body of the wrong sister,” said Erica. “Aaron should have married me. We’d still be married, and you guys would have A BUNCH of grandkids by now.”
“So, Aaron what’s your story?” asked her father, in an effort to change the subject. “Where’ve you been and ... why haven’t we seen you in almost three years?”
“I’ve been away, a little while, sometimes I just can’t help myself,” I said seriously. “When my mind’s running wild, I seem to lose grip on reality. And I try to disregard the crazy things the voices tell me to do, but it’s no use.
I tried to own it, write songs about it. Believe me I tried, in the end I needed to breathe. Find inspiration, some kind of purpose. To take a second to face the shit that makes me, me.”
“I told you, he wasn’t gonna get over it easily,” said Erica’s mom. “Did you really hear voices?”
I nodded. “They kept telling me that I wasn’t worth anything and I should just end it all.”
“I ought to kill that bitch,” hissed Erica.
“It’s okay, Squirt,” I said. “I got over it. I got better and I moved on with my life.”
“So, what are you doing with yourself now?” Asked her father.
“The same thing,” I began. “In the same old place. I’m just making a hell of a lot more money. I’m the new engineering manager at the plant I used to work at.”
“Wow!” said her dad. “Aren’t you a bit young for that kind of job?”
“For the past few years, I haven’t had anything else,” I said. “So, I threw myself totally into my work. Hard work pays off. I worked my way up to associate manager of engineering and when the job opening came up here ... I applied for it and got it.
The climate around here doesn’t appeal to everyone, plus my familiarity with the facility, both worked in my favor. So here I am ... home again and ready to take back my life.”
He smiled for some reason when I said that. A knowing glance that passed between him and his wife, reinforced the fact that there was something going on here that I was unaware of.
“So how long have you been back?” asked Erica.
“About a month,” I said. “Just long enough to settle in at the plant and get a house...”
“Did you say house?” gushed Erica. “Need any help decorating it?”
“From you, Squirt?” I laughed. “Any and all suggestions would be appreciated ... as long as you don’t mind arguing.”
“I love arguing with you,” she smiled taking my arm again.
“Great,” I said. “I’m having a beach party ... swimsuits are optional ... A week from Saturday and...”
“Is this just an attempt to see me naked?” chirped Erica in a very flirty voice. “Cause if it is ... you don’t have to wait that l...”
“When I said swimsuits are optional, I meant that you could wear regular casual clothes ... but if you wanted to wear a suit for swimming or any of the lake activities you could,” I said.
“I know that, Goofball,” she laughed. “If I can’t joke around with my own brother, who can I mess with. But seriously Aaron, your face got so red that it tells me something. Either you’re really looking forward to seeing me in a swimsuit and don’t want anybody to know it, or you’re just being super shy with me ... the way Tammy always said you were with her. She loved it.
She said it always made her feel really special, that you loved her so much that she could get you all flummoxed without even trying.”
She noticed then that the mood had dropped when she mentioned Tammy. And I noticed that her parents were looking at me with concern written all over their faces.
“Sorry, Honey,” she said. “My mouth started up before my brain could catch up to it. But you have to toughen up. You can’t let someone just mentioning her name ruin your day. That bitch ain’t worth it.”
“Erica, that’s the second time today that you’ve called your sister a bitch,” said her father.
“Holy Shit!” she exclaimed. “Only twice? I’m waaaaay behind schedule.”
“I’ll call you, squirt, and give you the details, sometime during the week,” I said, as I headed for the door. I hugged her mom and shook her dad’s hand.
“No way, Jose,” she said. “Now that we’re back in contact, things are going back to normal. I’ll call you in about an hour. I realize that I fu ... goofed up by mentioning her name. But you don’t get to run off with your tail between your legs because somebody said her God da ... Gosh darned name.
I wanna hear about why you’re having a party on the beach instead of at this HOUSE. I wanna see this HOUSE ... and soon. So, toughen up. If you want me to, I’ll beat Tammy’s ass for you. It won’t be hard she’s used to ge ... I’ll call you this evening, so we can catch up,” she said.
The three of then walked me out to my car, a bright red 2014 Boss 302. I’d picked the model; the color had been someone else’s idea.
“Some things never change,” laughed Erica’s dad. “Still love those Mustangs huh?”
“I never drive anything else,” I smiled.
It just felt weird. I was shocked that my feet weren’t hanging over the end of the fucking bed. I felt like such a failure. At twenty-nine years old, I’d moved back in with my parents.
I’d only been here for a couple of days, but it already felt suffocating. My parents are the greatest, kindest, most accepting people in the world. They’d accepted me back with no questions asked and no recriminations.
A flash of anger had been on my dad’s face when I knocked on the door. It hadn’t been directed at me. It was directed at the bruises on my face and arms and my black eye.
“I’m calling the police,” he said. “That asshole should be in jail. If I wasn’t in my sixties and suffering from a heart condition, I’d go over there and beat his ass myself.”
“Dad, I have a PPO,” I said. “He isn’t allowed to come within 100 yards of me, but it doesn’t help. He’s out on bail, waiting for his trial. He comes to the apartment to see me anyway. He just leaves before the police come. He doesn’t know I’m here. In the past I always stayed with friends. If we go to the police and they bring him in, he’ll see you and know where I am. I’ve filed for divorce. I’ll see him in court.”
“You know where your room is,” he said.
My dad has been treating me like I was made of glass and my mom has been making all of my favorite meals. I’ve been relaxing and trying to get over the hell I’ve made of my life, for the past few days.
The only fly in the ointment has been my sister, Erica. The first day that I was here, she just sat down in a chair and stared at me, like I was an exhibit at a museum. She kept changing the position of her chair and looking at me from different angles.
When my dad told her to stop it, she just smiled and left. Erica has always been spoiled. She was an oops baby. I’m twenty-nine and she was born when I was eleven.
At first, I thought that Erica was just pissed off about having to share our parents’ attention. But it suddenly dawned on me that my sister and I hadn’t spoken in two and a half years. Although my visits had been very sporadic and very far between, she was never home when I came over.
Even the time that I came over a few months ago for her eighteenth birthday, she’d been on her way out as I got there, and she stayed out until after I’d left.
I was so busy worrying about my own issues, that I hadn’t really thought about it.
Over the past couple of days, I’d considered that after giving my bruises some time to heal, maybe I should work on the relationship with my sister. I envisioned, shopping trips together, and other bonding activities that would not only take my mind off of what I was running away from but would make Erica and I the sisters that we should be.
It took an incident or two to make me realize that things wouldn’t be as easy as I’d imagined.
I was standing in the mirror, earlier this morning looking at the bruises in my face, when she passed by the open door to the bathroom.
“So, you think makeup will cover my shiner?” I asked her. I guess I was thinking about that whole sisterhood of all women, more than the fact that she was my flesh and blood sister.
“Why the fuck would I care?” she asked. Her delivery was so calm and so cheerful, that what she’d actually said, didn’t register.
I was ready to say something else about makeup when her actual words penetrated my brain and my mouth dropped open in surprise.
“You deserved it,” she said, as sweetly as if she’d just taken in a spoonful of strawberry ice cream.
I had to grab the wall for support. Her words, and her entire demeanor, seemed wrong. I had to take a serious look at my little sister. She sounded and she acted as if I’d done something to really piss her off.
It almost seemed as if my own sister was siding with my, soon to be, second ex-husband. That couldn’t be right. As far as I know Erica had hated Brandon on sight. She’d refused to come to our wedding or even help me and my mom plan it. Truthfully, my mom had been less than enthusiastic about it too. That was why we ended up with an out of town, surprise wedding.
But Erica ... it didn’t make sense. Was she really insinuating that she thought that Brandon had the right to beat on her own sister? I needed to have a talk with Erica, to figure this out.
Just as I tracked her down in the living room, it happened. I had never really noticed that at eighteen years old, my sister wasn’t a little girl anymore. She was a fully functioning adult human being.
She had a slim but curvy little body that probably drove boys crazy. She’d done much better in high school than I had and seemed to have a good head on her shoulders.
I was sure that we could sit down and talk things out and fix or at least settle whatever was wrong between us.
She was in the living room with my dad. She was looking outside through the gap in the drapes. As I approached her, she turned to face me. “Uh ohhh!” she said. “Your ex is on the porch!”
The panic that went through me, wasn’t lost on her. And the way her lips curled into a smile didn’t escape my notice. She headed straight for the door, as if she was going to let him in.
I panicked and retreated to the kitchen. Even my dad was surprised and at his age, I think that he was a little afraid of Brandon.
I went into full flight mode and began opening the back door in case I needed to run.
My dad was right on my heels, trying to calm me down. “Honey, calm down,” he said. “You’re home and you’re safe.”
In the background I could hear my sister chirping cheerfully with someone.
My dad reached into one of the drawers in the cabinet and pulled out a mean looking gun and stuck it in the waistband of his pants.
My surprise at my father having a gun in the house, was dwarfed by the sound of the voice that I both, wanted to hear more than anything else on earth, and wasn’t ready to hear at that time.
I needed to talk to Aaron more than I needed air. But I didn’t want him to see me all beaten up and looking like hell. Erica was seriously playing with me.
She knew that if she said, “my ex,” I’d assume that she meant Brandon and react in abject fear. She’d wanted me out of the room when she let Aaron in.
And then the veil parted. Recognition of the situation dawned on me. My sister had always had a crush on Aaron. That was what was going on. My own sister hated me for the way I’d treated my first husband.
I wish that there was some way I could have explained to her that she needed to get her skinny little ass in line. Maybe she hated me, God knows my parents were both disappointed in me. But all of that paled in comparison with how badly I hated myself.
I’d had it all. I had a beautiful modern condo, a nice car and a man who loved me more than life itself.
I pressed my ear against the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the living room and listened.
My parents were obviously glad to see Aaron. But my sister took the fucking cake. She was all over him, right in front of our parents. Aaron was always kind of shy, and my sister was flirting with him shamelessly. She kept calling him Honey and other pet names.
I was on the verge of bursting into that room and choking the life out of her.
The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had to know what Aaron had to say. A lot of it was exactly what I needed to hear. Aaron had taken our divorce a lot harder than I ever thought. And clearly from the way he got upset when my name was mentioned, he still had feelings for me.
The saddest, yet somehow most wonderful part of it all was hearing that not only had Aaron returned to the area, but he had an even better job and a house of our ... I mean “HIS,” own.
And Aaron coming back into town, and coming to see my parents, was typical behavior for him. He loved my parents like they were his own. And they were really close to being so.
Before I could make the decision about whether to go out there and let him see me all battered and bruised, or to wait until my eye healed, he was gone.
As soon as the door closed, I went into the living room. I stared at him through the window. He walked down the driveway and got into a bright red Mustang. I have no idea which model it was, but it clearly wasn’t the car he’d been driving when we divorced.
“Get your eyes back where they belong,” Erica hissed at me.
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “Erica, I have no idea what’s wrong with you, but you’re a lot too young for Aaron.”
“I know that,” she spat. “But if he hasn’t found someone by the time I’d done with college, I’m gonna take my shot. Until then, I’m gonna be the best little sister he’s ever had.
And part of my sisterly duties is keeping him away from skanky whores, who don’t have his best interests in mind.”
“Erica, watch your mouth,” said my father. He turned to me. “Tammy your sister has a point. Things didn’t end well between you and Aaron. As much as I love you, Sweetheart, I’m not sure I want to watch you hurt that man again. It’s like watching somebody kick a puppy.
Just because your second marriage didn’t go the way you wanted, going after Aaron again just isn’t fair.”
“Dad this isn’t about me going after Aaron,” I said. “This is about righting a great wrong. I was lied to. I was taken advantage of. I was abused. I just want to get my life back on track. Things weren’t what I thought they were going to be. So, I just want to make everything the way it was ... the way it’s supposed to be.”
All I heard then was laughing.
“How stupid can you be?” asked Erica. “Please don’t ever go to the casino. I can see it now. You’re at the roulette table. You put a stack of chips on a number and lose. You tell them to give you your money back because it didn’t go the way you thought it would. They would laugh their asses off at how stupid you sound.” She walked away still laughing.
Boy was I pissed. By all rights, Erica should have been on my side. I was angry enough to chew nails. I wondered if the redness in my face would cover my black eye.
I went back up to my room, with the sound of my sister’s laughter still ringing in my ears. I looked in the mirror again as if the half hour or so that had passed since I’d last stared at my eye could have made any difference.
My eye looked pretty much the same, but I noticed something else. I looked a lot older. I got my phone and scrolled through my pictures. I compared a photo from a few weeks ago, with the face I saw in the mirror. And then just for a comparison, I looked at a photo from three years prior.
It was like night and day. I scrolled through several photos and then a few more and then a bunch more and it finally hit me. In all of my recent photos, I looked old and washed out.
I know that the years change us. But the past two and a half years had aged me far more than they should have.
Before I knew it, my mind was drawing conclusions based totally on what I saw in dozens of photos.
Out of perhaps fifty photos of my recent past, Brandon appeared in only three of them and that included our wedding photos. In most of the photos, I looked tentative and uneasy.
In the few photos where I smiled, even that appeared forced. On the other hand, the photos from before I married Brandon, showed a completely different girl.
I was always wearing the biggest, cheesiest smile in the world. It was as if I had the world in my back pocket.
It would be easy, to chalk the changes up to me being to three years older, but I looked at least ten years older at least. Again, it could have been because I had gained so much more responsibility over the past few years. I had also gained weight and looked less healthy.
I’d attributed all of that to the sacrifices one makes for love. Adulthood and adult responsibilities were another excuse I’d been making, but comparing those photos told another story.
In almost every one of the photos of late, it almost looked as if the weight of all that responsibility was weighing me down. In the older photos, I appeared to be floating on a beam of light.
Another thing was that it was difficult to find photos of myself from my first marriage, where I wasn’t smiling, and even harder to find an image where I was alone.
Aaron was always there beside me, smiling as brightly as I was and in most of them, he was always touching me.
Something my granny had once told me came flooding back into my consciousness. “Love doesn’t weigh you down, it lifts you to the heavens,” she’d said.
I’d been visiting her one summer and was arguing with my boyfriend at the time. The argument was serious. One of my girlfriends had told me that not only was Jason running around with another girl from our class, he’d taken her out to one of the notorious make out spots in our area.
My friend went on to tell me that Jason had even tried to put a move on HER, which was why she decided to call me.
I called Jason and confronted him, which led to a bunch of screaming back and forth and finally to us breaking up. After a bunch of time spent hiding and crying in my room, Granny sat me down for a talk.
I guess that until now, I hadn’t really given her words any weight, but they seemed prophetic, now.
And suddenly, I was hit by a flash of insight. I suddenly realized again how stupid I’d been.
My entire life of stupid mistakes stretched out over the screen in my mind for me to review.
Jason was the mold. Most of the guys I’d been with had been simply versions of him. I seemed to have a taste for the bad boy type. And Brandon had been the baddest of the bad.
After being dumped by Jason, for what seemed to be irreconcilable differences, just prior to college ... irreconcilable differences meaning that I was unable to convince him that being in a relationship meant that he couldn’t screw other girls ... I moved on.
I met Brandon in my freshman year and settled into a much more mature relationship. We actually talked. We made plans for what our life would be like after college.
It wasn’t a perfect relationship, but then few are. I was so into Brandon and our plans, that I overlooked ... or just pretended that I had no idea that Brandon cheated on me occasionally.
In fact, after losing Jason, I’d figured out that most guys do cheat. And it really didn’t matter did it? Maybe he was just gaining experience or sowing his wild oats before we got married.
Brandon was always talking about our future. He typically reminded me that once he went into the NFL draft, we might end up anywhere in the country, so setting my mind on working for one particular company wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
I loved hearing him use my two favorite words, “US,” and, “WE.”
The problem though was that one of US, wasn’t doing well. Brandon was only in school on a football scholarship, and he was not doing well at all.
Brandon’s plan was to compete for the starting job as quarterback in his freshman season. He figured it would be easy for two reasons. The first was that as he put it, “He had no respect for the current quarterback’s game ... or lack of such.”
So, he would go head up against him, and even if it was a close match, or God forbid, Brandon lost ... the other quarterback was a senior, so Brandon showing of his skills would simply cement in the minds of the coaches, that next year and the couple of years after that ... Brandon was their guy.
But things didn’t quite work out that way.
Imagine his surprise when he discovered that he was one of four quarterbacks in the system and after a week of practices, realized that he was the smallest, weakest and slowest among them. He was also the only one of them who hadn’t shown up at least a week early to start scanning film and memorizing the playbook.
“This is my first year here,” he said, punctuating it with his patented, “Good ole boy grin.”
The coach wasn’t buying it. “Three of you are rookies,” he said. “And yeah, Josh was my starter LAST year, but we’re running a completely new scheme THIS year. We have a new Offensive Coordinator, a new quarterback’s coach and three new wide receivers. That means you’re all on the same page. You’re all starting from scratch. You’re all in the same God damned boat, only you put a hole in yours. So now you’re gonna have to bail AND paddle at the same time, if you want to get anywhere.”
“But ... but I didn’t know we were supposed to report early,” whined Brandon. “Nobody told me!”
“Nobody told anybody,” laughed the coach. “But it was all I could do to keep those three out of here. Two of ‘em showed up a month early, trying to get the jump on the rest of you. That kind of work ethic ... that fire in the belly to play, goes a long way.”
Brandon, based on their workouts, was the weakest in terms of how much weight he could lift, the slowest and least agile, in terms of running and dodging, the least accurate in terms of his ability to hit a target with a football and worst of all didn’t know the routes for the receivers or any of the plays.
After the first week, the coach benched him until he had memorized the entire play book. He was still allowed to work out in the gym, but he wasn’t allowed on the field until he could satisfy the coaches that he knew the material.
It wasn’t what the golden boy of our high school was used to. He was accustomed to getting his way, most of, if not all of the time.
We realized that there was a problem when the first scrimmage came around. Brandon hadn’t played a single snap, even in practice. The worst part of it was that his entire family and a lot of our friends showed up to watch him take his next step towards football glory.
They were all disappointed and none of them understood why, Brandon hadn’t gotten on the field. After the game, Brandon limped his way over to them, pretending to be injured.
That seemed to soothe their feathers a bit, but Brandon and I knew the writing was on the wall. Scholarships aren’t based on how nice you are or how much you want to be a part of the team. There are a limited number of scholarships available and Brandon was in jeopardy of losing his.
He redoubled his efforts to learn the plays and it led to nothing but frustration. The quarterbacks coach ran into Brandon in a fast food restaurant on campus. He had two small kids with him and out of the blue, asked Brandon a certain play.
“Sorry Coach, I don’t know that one,” smiled Brandon. The Coach asked Brandon another play. “I haven’t made it that far back in that thick old book,” said Brandon.
“Son, that one is the third play in the first part of the book,” said the coach. “It’s our bread and butter crossing route. Which plays do you actually know?”
“I’ll work harder,” said Brandon.
“Son, Jeff and I went out last night to scout a kid last night, who will be on the roster next year. We’re only gonna roll with three QBs and right now you’re the guy in the bubble. It’s one thing to lose your spot because you didn’t have the goods ... I mean some guys just can’t make the transition to the college game. Maybe they peak in high school, you know.
But it’s a God damned shame to lose your spot without ever getting to see what you can do. Maybe you aren’t cut out for the pros. Maybe you’re not even a good college player. But we’ll never know if you can’t even get on the God damned field!”
As the coach walked away, I saw an anger in Brandon. It was the most intense emotion I’d ever seen in anyone. He was so angry that he slammed the bag of our food in the ground and kicked it across the parking lot.
I was glad the cows that went into our burgers were already dead, because being kicked like that would have killed them. Brandon drove me back to my dorm and then left without saying a word.
When I hadn’t heard from him the next day, I got a ride over to his building and went to check on him. As luck would have it, I ran into his roommate on my way up to his floor.
He let me into Brandon’s room. Brandon was there, but he wasn’t alone. He was slamming his dick into a girl I’d seen hanging around the football team.
I was sure that if she’d been prettier, she could have been a cheerleader because she had enormous pom-poms. She giggled a bit as she noticed me and then wrapped her hands around Brandon’s waist to urge him on.
Brandon suddenly realized that they weren’t alone and turned to see me standing there.
His eyes bugged out of his head and he split in two. As recognition dawned on him, his brain started trying to figure a way out of the situation he found himself in, but his lower body continued to slam into the woman he was on top of. It was an involuntary movement. While his brain was otherwise involved, his body continued on auto-pilot.
Before he realized that he should stop, his hips clenched and the woman under him, moaned and wrapped her short, thick legs around him.
Brandon’s brain finally kicked in and he pushed himself off of her almost forcefully.
“Baby, it’s not what it looks like,” he whined.
“Yeah it was,” smirked the woman on the bed. “It looked like we were fucking, and we were.”
I turned and ran out of the room as quickly as I could.
A couple of days later Brandon showed up, acting as if everything was fine.
“Tam, I’m sorry,” he said, handing me a small bouquet of flowers that were so wilted, they had to have been dead for several days. I was sure that Brandon had either found them in the trash behind a flower shop or had repurposed them from a cemetery.
I looked at the flowers and then back at Brandon.
“I did it for you,” he said. “I did it for us.”
It was my turn to react in shock, then. “What makes you think I wanted you to fuck some skank?” I asked.
“Did you see what I was doing to her?” he asked. “It was brutal. It wasn’t gentle Brandon and Tammy sex. It was all about anger and getting it out of me. If I ever did that to you, it would kill me.
I’m fighting for my life here, Babe. I’m fighting for our future. Those dumbassed coaches aren’t even trying to help us. All they see, all they know is their way. I love you Tammy, but I need you to believe in me ... believe in us ... believe in our future ... okay?”
Maybe I just wanted to be loved. Maybe I just wanted to believe in something. Maybe I just didn’t want to go back to being just another girl without a boyfriend. So, I nodded and the next thing I knew, Brandon was hugging me so tightly that I could barely breathe. I was sure then that Brandon loved me.
The next few days were like living in Utopia. We were always together. We went to parties on a nearby beach. We went for walks in the woods. Whenever I came out of class, Brandon was waiting for me. I felt like I was in heaven.
Until a few days later, when that little bubble of perfection burst, and the real world intruded on the fantasy.
I came out of class and there was no sign or sight of my boyfriend. I called him and got no answer. The second and third calls yielded similar results.
I walked back to my dorm, wondering what was going on. I was certain that it had something to do with the football program.
I started studying, but still had Brandon’s whereabouts on my mind. I didn’t see Brandon again until the next afternoon. He came striding across the path between a couple of buildings. He looked really angry, but he got that way sometimes. He was carrying an open bottle of liquor, which was a no-no on campus.
I figured that Brandon could probably get away with it because he was on the team. A lot of things that applied to regular students, either didn’t apply to the athletes and super rich students, or the security squads and campus police looked the other way, figuring it was more trouble than it was worth to arrest or try to fine them.
The funny thing was that Brandon didn’t seem to see me. People near him seemed to get out of his way. There were lots of kids sitting or hanging out in the small green space between the buildings. I planted myself firmly on his path.
“Hi Honey,” I said cheerfully. He looked at me and his face transformed into a mask of anger.
“This is all YOUR fucking fault!” he hissed. And out of nowhere, everything went gray.
When I say it went gray, I mean that I was flat on my back on the sidewalk, without any knowledge of how I got there. I wasn’t knocked out, but I was barely conscious. Brandon was looking down at me, with his obvious anger still seemingly growing.
My face hurt badly. Brandon leaned back and in one pull, drained the rest of the liquor from the bottle.
“If I hadn’t wasted all of my FUCKING time on YOU,” he screamed. “I could have LEARNED those STUPID, FUCKING plays ... AND I’d still be on the GOD DAMNED team!”
“BITCH,” he sneered. The look on his face was almost feral. “You’re gonna pay for costing me my future.”
The funny thing about it was that there were people all over that green space. None of them moved towards us, but they all watched. My face was already swelling up, as Brandon raised the bottle to throw it at me.
Suddenly a figure from the crowd slammed into Brandon, knocking the bottle from his hand. The figure placed himself between Brandon and me. I realized that I was still in trouble.
With my mind clearing, I saw that my would-be savior was woefully inadequate for the task he’d given himself.
Brandon, while the smallest of the quarterbacks in the team was about six foot four and well over 220 lbs. The guy staring him down was probably five foot nine and maybe 170 ... if he was soaking wet and wearing his backpack with all of his books in it.
He also didn’t have that slim but wiry, all muscles and gristle look that guys like Bruce Lee had. I was doomed. All this guy would do, was delay whatever Brandon had planned for me. And not by that much.
“Get the fuck out of my way, Aaron!” sneered Brandon. I was shocked even more then. Brandon was lucid enough to know the guy’s name, but still so drunk out of his mind that he wanted to kill me.
“Brandon ... I ... I can’t,” stammered the guy. Brandon glowered menacingly at the guy, who for some reason stood his ground.
I looked around and saw several bigger guys watching. Some of them were as big as Brandon or bigger. But they were all just watching.
I did notice a few people on their phones, furiously texting or taking video or photos.
Brandon lurched forward. But again, the little guy stood his ground. Brandon tried to shove him out of the way, but the guy made sure he kept his body between Brandon and me.
All it did was made Brandon angrier. “Look Aaron,” hissed Brandon. “I know what your problem is. All through high school, I knew that you had a crush on her. I thought it was funny. You had like NO shot at even having a shot.
You’ve proven your bravery or stupidity or whatever, but it’s time for you to get the fuck out of my way or get hurt.”
The little guy just shook his head. “I’m gonna miss the way you wrote my papers,” sneered Brandon. He hauled off and pushed the little guy so hard, with one hand that the guy fell to the ground.
From the whoosh of air that came out of the guy when he landed awkwardly on his back, I was sure he was done.
But even as Brandon, stepped forward, the little guy got awkwardly to his feet and took a swing at Brandon. The punch landed on Brandon’s muscular chest and had absolutely no effect ... except to make Brandon smile.
Brandon reared back and hit the guy so hard that I was sure I heard something snap. My would-be savior was flat on his back, on the grass. Even as Brandon turned to me, I heard several guys laughing, and a lot more people cringing at how hard Brandon had hit the guy.
Brandon had hit him in the face so hard that he’d broken his glasses and blackened his eye. He was out of it. But he still tried to get up and with the last of his strength, he whispered... “Run, Tammy,” as he grabbed Brandon’s leg to slow him down.
I was too afraid to even move, when Brandon kicked the guy in his face, like scraping a bug off of his shoe. But the guy refused to let go.
That was when four Campus police officers showed up. They all tackled Brandon, and then handcuffed him, once they got him on the ground.
One of them took a look at the guy on the ground and called an ambulance. Another came over and looked at me, while the third guy, went over to the people closest to us and simply snatched their phones out of their hands. He sneered at one huge guy and shook his head.
“Kowalski ... you’re on the fucking wrestling team! You’re the biggest guy here. Why didn’t you at least try to help?”
“Not my monkeys ... not my circus,” said the guy. “We have a tournament this evening!”
“Who’re you wrestling ... a bunch of girl scouts?” sneered the cop. “You coward!”
“That guy was crazy,” said Kowalski. “He could have had a gun or something. When can I have my phone back?”
I tried to sit up but the officer who’d checked on me told me to stay down until the EMTs had a chance to check on me.
I rolled my head to the side so I could see what was going on. The officers seemed really concerned with the guy who’d helped me. They had it all wrong. I was sure that I was the one they should be taking care of.
Another group of officers arrived to help, including a female officer. She came over to me when I gestured for her.
I asked her why the EMT’s weren’t there to check me out first, since I WAS the victim.