33 missed calls.
How did I miss that? How did I not wake up knowing the moment had finally come. Hadn't I felt that sense of connection from the beginning? yet, somehow, I slept through 33 missed calls. I had known this would eventually come. I had seen in the fine print from that first day.
I sighed knowing calling the number back was going to probably be worse than I could imagine. But I dialed. My heart cramped in my chest as I waited for the voice.
"Hey." The voice on the other end sounded dead, tired and somehow swollen.
"Whats going on?"
"He's in jail."
What. Wait. How. Really? Did he screw up that bad? Had he really thrown his life out the window like this? What an idiot. I honestly. Honestly? I started to go down a list of potential reasons he'd have landed himself in the shittest place after being awarded a fabulous life and charming smile. Oh my god, he was probably getting eaten alive in that place. With his faux hawk and girl jeans. He barely had enough muscles on his arms to comb his hair anymore. How would he manage to defend himself against the men in jail? Did he get busted for drugs? If so, he had that one coming. He'd been dealing and using since the day he moved away and it was about time that shit caught up to him. I was sure the coke was the reason for the muscle loss in his arms. I knew it wouldn't be a big deal if he had gotten busted for drugs. Just a slap on the wrist and maybe some community service. Maybe he'd gotten a D.U.I. He'd been driving drunk since the summer of his senior year. His parents turned a blind eye and let him store 24 packs of Corona in the garage. He'd one time shown me the flask of vodka he kept in his glove box and proudly taken a shot of it while driving on the freeway. That was the same day he slapped me across the face. I mean that was a sure fire sign he'd end up in jail, wasn't it? I had to have known then that the innocence I once saw in the deep of his eyes was long gone. But I held on, hoping for something better. Something more.
I kept running down the list of why he was in jail now. Stealing. He always did that. Lying. About who knows what. Can you even go to jail for lying? Did he get into a bad car accident. Why would he be in jail for that? Grand theft auto. He loved cars. As I wandered through the list and options in my mind I couldn't grab onto anything without my stomach turning. He was in jail. For who knows what.
"Hello?" the voice on the phone interrupted my thought process.
"Where are you? What are you doing? What happened?"
"I'm in the hospital."
"What the fuck."
"He beat me up."
and it stopped. my heart. the world. time. life. everything. stopped. as i stood on the cement steps outside of my job, in the freezing cold of winter, trying to not pass out, life as I had known it stopped.
Everything. Stopped. Dead. As cold and empty as the winter wind in Colorado that day.
Although I had thought through the options of what he had done wrong it never dawned on me that he had spent the previous evening beating the shit out of his girlfriend.
"I'm in the hospital because he beat me up."
"Don't worry he is getting out in a little while. His dad came down here, he's bailing him out."
"What?" WHAT! WHAT! WHAT?!
I didn't understand. It didn't register. Code error in the message being conveyed to me. I couldn't believe the boy I had known and loved for the past five years had wound himself up in this horrible mess of shit. What was he thinking? Was he even thinking? I knew this was in no way her fault. Knew that he had always shown the warning signs. He had always loved the taste of danger. Lived in the moment. Feared being left out or looked down upon. He always had to prove himself. Be stronger, bigger, smarter, better, cooler, than those around him. I always felt his battle. The one with himself. The one he had with the world. The one where he was told to be something and he was, just so no one would look at him differently. I saw him hit harder than he knew how to just to be one of the guys. I saw him mask his feelings and his thoughts as a means of protection. His heart often was fragile, if he allowed it to breathe. Most often he spent his time crushing his heart into nothing so he could be an intellect and a thinker. He never really wanted to feel. Not in a long time anyway.
When I first met him he was sweet. He was also a big time charmer and a ladies man. He wanted to get girls attention and he wanted to get the prettiest girls attention so he could be seen as someone worthwhile. He certainly had the looks going for him. Anyone who met him knew it. He was cute and he had his own personal style and he was smart. He knew how to say things to entrance a crowd. He knew when to lie and when to tell the truth. He had this charismatic way about him and there was no denying his personality. Everyone who met him recognized it and commented on it, to me and to him.
Ironically, he hadn't charmed me though. Not at first anyway, I was guarded around him. Afraid of his game and his mesmerizing smile. Plus he wasn't my type. He was too short and he had dark hair. I liked tall blondes. I didn't trust this boys quick wit and intelligence. In a way it intimidated me. I didn't like to be intimidated, I liked to be the one scaring the boys off. I walked carefully in the beginning of my relationship with this one. I led my own life, didn't take his crap, and even dumped him when he didn't call me for a day. I had no time for him and his ladies-man attitude. But somehow I fell in love with him, over time. It might have been the way that he was always eager and willing to do anything I asked. Or the fact that his tricks finally wooed me into submission. Whatever it was, I loved him. I knew there was a really hard and painful side of him. He had an arrogance about him that I knew was a cover-up for something else but when no one was looking he would cuddle with his mom on the couch, and had to sleep with a special blanket. Perhaps it was that knowledge that made me hold on to the hope that he was really a good person but this frantic phone call was proof otherwise.
(more to come...)