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- Is karma real?
There's a part of me that wants it to be. Where...as long as I know that I'm good to the people around me, there will be some big pot of gold waiting for me at the end of the rainbow. There's just something that seems to make sense about a world where the honorable get rewarded and the wicked get punished. But...we'd all be living in a fantasy world if we tried to pretend that things really work like that. Hell, I'd probably be better off if karma didn't exist to be honest. I'm sure I'd have more punishments coming my way than rewards at this point.
I know that I'm still sort of squirming in my skin, waiting for Brandon to write...or to call...or to give me some kind of clue as to what he was thinking when he said we needed to talk. But I fought the urge to bug him about it today. I was going to exhibit some self control and wait for him to write to me first. Or...you know...not.
I guess he chose 'not' today. But, you know...whatever.
I think what really got to me today was Dizzy crying at work. He kept trying hard to fight back the tears, but I think he was just...really sad about something, and he had to keep running into the back office to compose himself and come back out on the floor. Scott couldn't really do much for her other than take her off of the register and put her way in the back of the store. He told her that she could work in the Jazz and Classical sections today if she wanted to. It was pretty quiet, not a whole lot of customers, soothing music...I think he thought a bit of privacy might help.
Terrell was constantly going back there to check on him, just for a hug or two. Ollie and Calleigh took turns watching the front counter while going back to give her some comfort too. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant at first. I wasn't sure if everybody knew me well enough for me to just...go back there and claim to be willing to offer her some support. I certainly didn't know enough to offer any advice. But everybody at the store just had such a family dynamic that Dizzy seemed more like a sibling than a co-worker. And seeing him in such distress reminded me of what my mom was going through at home. So I just found my opportunity...walked to the back of the store...and asked Dizzy if he was ok.
He looked so hurt. So vulnerable. And when the tears started up again, I thought that I might have made things worse just by making him think about it. Which nearly scared me off.
Instead, Dizzy just came forward and gave me the warmest hug. She was like, "Thank you, Billy. Awww, dude, it means a lot. Thank you."
I don't know why I said 'she' when I've been teaching myself to know better. But those tears, and that hug...I don't know. It caused me to slip this time. I guess it's just some stereotype reaction lingering in the back of my mind. I wish I knew how to get rid of that.
I asked what was wrong, and Dizzy was like, "I'll be ok. Honestly. I'm just having a really tough time today. I know that I'm a mess, I just...I'm trying really hard to maintain right now..." And he started to cry again, wiping his eyes the best he could. I felt really bad for him, and I had to go back to my section for a few minutes to help a customer, but then I came right back to Dizzy the second I was done. I think he appreciated that.
I was like, "Do you want to talk about it?"
He didn't. Not at first. But after another hug, he said, "It's my dad. I just...I heard him talking to my uncle over the phone this morning, and it totally fucked me up for the day. That's all." I asked what happened, and Dizzy told me, "They just...they're trying to get some kind of small family reunion thing together for this Summer, and there are going to be family members there that we've never met before..." He started to cry again, and I was lightly rubbing him on the back while he attempted to keep talking. I don't know what it is about rubbing somebody's back while they're crying, but there's got to be a magic 'feel better' button back there somewhere. He was like, "I overheard them talking about whether or not they wanted....to bring me along..."
I was like, "What??? Why wouldn't they? What do you mean?"
He's like, "I know my father was trying to be quiet about it, and technically, it was a private conversation. I shouldn't have been eavesdropping..."
But I said, "No. Wait...what's that got to do with anything?"
Dizzy told me, "They don't know if they want to go through the whole process of trying to...'explain' me, I guess. Some of my family comes from smaller towns, some can be a bit on the religious side, and some just might not understand." More tears came to the surface, and she...UGH...HE...was like, "I didn't think that meeting extended family would make me such an 'oddity'..."
He began to sniffle as his face turned red, and I hurried over to one of the side counters to get him some tissues. It sucked to see Dizzy in pain like this. He was one of the coolest people ever! Just...different. What's so wrong with being different?
Dizzy thanked me for the tissues and said, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to fall all to pieces like this, Billy. I just...I really wish that it didn't matter, you know? I wish I wasn't some freakish secret that had to be 'explained' or nervously whispered about in secret, just to save my parents the embarrassment of having to introduce their baby girl as their son, 'Dizzy'." After a few more sniffles, he said, "It's funny how you feel like the most normal person in the world...until somebody else comes along and tells you you're not."
Giving him another tight hug, I said, "You know what, screw them! If they don't accept you for who you are, then fuck 'em! I love you just fine, Dizz. Promise."
But he was quick to say, "Oh no...Billy, it wasn't like that. Really. My dad, he has trouble understanding me sometimes, but he really is supportive. Honestly. I know that he's got my back in all of this. If anything, my dad and my uncle were doing this to save me from having to deal with more people who would alienate me and make me feel bad about myself. They were trying to protect me. I know that." He wiped his eyes. And then he was like, "But how am I supposed to feel...when my very presence is considered weird and confusing? How do they think I feel, knowing that I could ruin my own family reunion just by showing up?"
As he started crying again, I realized how much he was really hurting inside. It was a pain that ran so deep that you could feel it welling up in the back of your throat as he tried so courageously to hold back the pain. All I could say was, "I'm sorry, Dizz. I'm sure they're just looking out for you."
He said, "I know they were. The thing is, they shouldn't have to. People just need to grow up, that's all. My dad's not a bad guy...but that doesn't mean that this doesn't hurt. A LOT!" I think Dizzy was actually beginning to feel more humiliated about crying in public than he did about the issue itself. So when he said that he just needed some time to be alone and think...I bowed out gracefully and just let him deal with things in his own way. Sometis it's just better that way, I think.
But then...I took my lunch break, and that pretty much just made me feel like trash for the rest of the day. I still feel a little weird about it. I guess that's why the karma question is bugging me so much today. If so, I may have some dark times ahead. And I'd deserve it.
I was pretty much finished eating in the food court and just slowed down so I could stretch out the rest of my break and didn't end up going back to work early. What would be the point of that, you know?
And then...I see AJ hanging out in the mall. With another boy. A boy who wasn't Robin...
I JUST said that I was willing to give the son of a bitch the benefit of the doubt in yesterday's entry! I JUST said it! I can turn back a single page and look right at it! I was looking at him with such a disgusting cramp tightening in the center of my stomach when I saw him there. He didn't even have the common courtesy to go to some place other than where his so-called 'boyfriend' WORKS, for crying out loud!
Both of them were headed in my direction absentmindedly, chit chatting with one another, sharing a few smiles...and I actually wanted to hide my face and pretend that he wasn't even there. I wish I hadn't seen anything at all. He practically made me an 'accomplice' just by being in the same building with those two.
Then, AJ sees me, and instead of being the least bit ashamed for being caught red handed like that...he smiles at me. He actually smiles and walks over to say hello. I doubt that I could roll my eyes hard enough to express what I was feeling at that moment. AJ was like, "S'up, dude? This is my friend, Rodney. Rodney, meet Billy Chase. A virtual angel in the flesh."
The 'Rodney' boy smiled and gave me a timid greeting. He was the kind that AJ always went for. A little shy, but very cute. He was really slim, with sandy blons hair that curled at the ends. A smattering of faded freckles on his cheeks and across the bridge of his nose, just under a set of light brown eyes. And a smile that glistened with a full set of braces. Already, I could see that AJ viewed him as a target. I doubt he could see him as anything else.
I'm like, "Hey..." But I was quick to finish what little I had on my tray so I could just...get away from him. Him and this whole situation. I paid good money for my lunch, I didn't want to lose it all in the nearest trashcan.
AJ was like, "Hey, Rodney? Why don't you go on and grab us a table at the restaurant really quick. I'll be right behind you in a few seconds. Ok?"
Rodney asked, "Are you sure?" And when AJ nodded, his arm lightly touching Rodney on the front of his shirt, Rodney blushed and said, "...M'kay. Don't be too long."
AJ was like, "Get us a booth by the window." And off he went, just happy to be getting attention from AJ and not knowing what kind of evil spirit he had lurking within. AJ waited until he was gone, and I could see that arrogant smirk come back to his face. I wasn't going to say a single word to him, but he provoked me. He was like, "Alright. I see that look on your face. What is it now?"
I'm like, "I'm just trying to finish my lunch. That's all."
But he's all like, "I know what you're thinking, Billy. And it's not like that. I just met Rodney the day before yesterday."
I didn't look him in the eye, but you could always feel that annoying smirk beaming at you whether you looked at him or not. I just said, "Well...good for you."
AJ's like, "Seriously, Billy. Right now, we're just a couple of friends, hanging out at the mall."
Still trying to bite my tongue and not drag this conversation out any further, I said, "Well, why didn't you invite Robin? He seemed to be really interested in seeing you today."
AJ said, "Robin couldn't make it today. He said his parents had him doing something with them instead. I'll see him on the weekend, I'm sure. Same difference."
I'm like, "So Robin couldn't make time to see you right here, right now, and you just went and hopped on the next best thing, is that it?" I didn't want to sound so angry. I didn't want to make a scene, and I certainly didn't want to talk to AJ for the rest of my lunch break.
AJ sat down in the chair next to me, making me cringe, and he said, "I told you, Billy...it's not like that. Rodney and I haven't even gotten that far yet."
I'm like, "'Yet'..."
He's like, "What?"
And I'm all like, "YET! You just said you haven't gotten that far YET."
His smile broadened instantly, and AJ says, "Well...I mean, he's definitely a cutie. There's no denying that. If he makes me an 'offer' or gives me an opportunity, I'm not gonna turn him down. Hehehe, what am I gonna say? No?" He saw the look I gave him after hearing that, and he's snickers like, "Seriously, Billy...Rodney and I are JUST hanging out today. We're having fun."
I asked him, "What about Robin?"
He's like, "What about him? I just sent Robin a few texts this morning. Everything is fine. I send him a couple kisses during commercial breaks while I'm watching TV, and he loves it. It makes him happy. What's wrong with him being happy?"
I wasn't going to argue with him. Besides, AJ is impossible to deal with once he got his defenses up. So I just...I took a deep breath, and I tried, desperately, to appeal to his humanity in all of this. I said, "AJ...dude, I don't think that Robin is taking this as 'casually' as you are, ok? Robin really likes you. I think he's really into you. Like...in a big way."
AJ just shrugs his shoulders and says, "What's that got to do with anything? Dude, it's not that serious. Relax."
I asked him, "Have you actually taken the time to TALK to him? About your relationship? Did you sit down and actually define what it is that he means to you? Because Robin is absolutely convinced that you're totally in love with him. He's got some real feelings for you, AJ."
He's like, "Oh, he does NOT. Hehehe!" What the hell is AJ laughing about??? He says, "It's like I told you a long time ago, Billy...we FUCK! Me and Robin? We get together, and we fuck. That's what he wants from me, that's what he gets from me. Sex. Just sex. All of Robin's supposed feelings for me could be satisfied with five minutes of privacy and a splash of baby oil in his palm. But he doesn't want that. He wants me. That's all this is."
Hurt by the very idea that he could look at Robin in such a heartless way, I tried to get him to understand. I said, "I don't think he sees it that way. Dude, I know that you're you...and you do what you want, but...Robin...his heart is a little fragile right now. Ok?"
AJ grinned, like, "Billy Chase. Heh...you just don't want me to be happy with anybody, do ya?"
I said, "It's not that. Just...don't take advantage of him. Ok? Please? He's a really nice boy who doesn't deserve to get his heart broken like this."
I made no progress.
He just shrugged again. He's like, "Look, it's not my fault that Robin got himself all topsy turvy over this, ok? That was never my intention. He knows that. It's just common sense." AJ was like, "It's not like we had some big sweeping romance and a passionate kiss under the harvest moon. I met him here at the mall. The same way I meet EVERY boy that I take back to my place. I fucked Robin in the ass ten minutes after our very first kiss! And that was only the third time we had spent any time together. The amount of work I put in doesn't even add up to a solid hour of boyish flirting before I got him hard, naked, and ready to go. Did he expect candy and flowers after that? Or did he want to call me up and get fucked again? I don't even know Robin's last name, to be totally honest. But I know what his cum tastes like when he's super excited. That's gotta count for something."
Quietly, I looked down at the table, and I said, "Sadler. Robin's last name...it's Sadler."
AJ scoffed at me. He said, "Well, good for you, Billy Chase. Bonus points for the team with the oversensitive conscience. Tell me something, did you know that my first name was 'Alex' when we starting having fun? You know, before Jimmy told you, much much later?" I didn't answer him. Actually, I barely remember. AJ was like, "Ohhhh...so we're quiet now, aren't we? Don't feel guilty about it, dude. You wanted to get fucked, you got fucked. Mission accomplished. I kept a smile on your face for a long long time, and you didn't know anything about me. Why would you have to? Your 'feelings' for me weren't about that. They were about me being hot and you being horny, end of story. There's nothing wrong with that. Everything else you built up in your head, and that's fine. If you had a good time, then so did I. You can call me up and have even more good times if you want to. I don't mind. Most people will take a sexy illusion over a harsh truth any day. And that's my way in. With you, and Jimmy, and Scott, and Robin, and hopefully with Rodney if I can get him to quit being so bashful about it." How do people like this exist in the world? How is AJ not cursed with a thousand years of pain and suffering for the things he's done??? AJ took out his cell phone, and he's like, "Here...watch this. It takes nothing at all."
I'm like, "What are you doing?"
He says, "I'm texting Robin right now. Just look. Umm...'I miss you. Wish you were here with me right now. I love you. Can't wait until this weekend.'" And he put in a kiss and hit send. He's like, "I'm willing to bet that Robin has been waiting on this message all day long. It doesn't mean anything, really, but it makes him happy. I'll bet..." He got a message back before he could even finish that sentence. He's like, "You see? Hehehe, he says, '::Falls Over On The Floor:: I LOVE YOU, TOO!!!' He's giggling his ass off right now, feeling a rush of euphoria that's probably making him dizzy. And that's all it takes. Twelve seconds worth of effort. So who's hurting him, Billy? Me? Or you?"
I was so hurt that I actually heard a trembling in my voice. I couldn't look at him. I just couldn't. I whimpered, "Have a heart, AJ. Ok? Just this once? Let him go. Don't do this. Please? Don't do this."
AJ was like, "You're free to tell Robin whatever you want to about me, you know? Call me a cheater. Call me a liar. Tell him I'm an emotionless bastard, if you want. Pull him aside and tell him that he's wasting his time on me and that he could do so much better. I can guarantee you...it's not going to make a difference. Because, at the end of the day...it's either casual sex and flirty giggles with me, or the road back to loneliness and unfounded dreams for him. You don't have much to bargain with, Billy. I hate to tell you that. You tried to warn Jimmy, didn't you? How well did that work out for you?" And that's when he said, "As long as I get what I want, Robin will continue to get what he wants. That's how this works. And when I get tired of him and decide that I want something else, so be it. I'm not trying to be cruel, I'm just going after what I want. You should think about doing the same instead of trying to be Superman all the time." He told me, "Robin doesn't need saving. He needs me. He needs to be happy."
I stood up from the table, taking all I could take. I tried to reason with him. I really did. But there's no soul in him left to appeal to. I just looked at him, that smug little smirk on his face...and I said, "You know what, AJ? You were my first. Did you know that?" I was like, "My first boyfriend. My first sexual experience. My first...'everything', really. You're a part of my history. I'll never be able to look back at my life...and not see your face...the way I'm seeing it right now. Last year, I used to write in my journal about you. I used to brag about you like you were the most beautiful, most tender, most amazing boy to ever walk the planet. Heh...gosh...thinking back on it all...I thought I was so insanely in love with the very idea of you. A cute and sexy boyfriend of my very own. You can't imagine how fast my heart used to beat every time I heard your voice over the phone. Hehehe, it was crazy." Then I was like, "But there really isn't much to love about you at all...is there?" AJ rolled his eyes, but he was listening. And if this was the last conversation we ever had together...I wanted to get this out, once and for all. "You just use people. You hurt people. You really think that everything is all about you and what you want, no matter what the cost. No matter who you hurt. But you wanna know something, 'Alex'? I'm not as blind as I was back then. I'm not as desperate. I'm not as lonely. I've actually tasted true love...and I know the difference now. I know how pathetic your imitation love is when matched up against the real thing. I know what it's like to truly care for somebody and have them truly care for me in return. I know what it's like to sacrifice, to forgive, to do the most horrible things to someone and have them love me regardless. For no reason at all. It's something that you'll probably never ever experience, not a day in your life. And I think that's sad. Because...one day, people are going to get 'tired' of you too, AJ. And when the manipulations and the fake text messages and the weekend booty calls come to an end...when you're all, washed up and alone with nothing but a trail of hurt feelings and broken hearts left behind you...you'll understand. That's when it'll hit you. And by then it'll be too late. All because you never took the time to realize..." I said, quoting Jimmy, "...Other people matter, AJ. Other people matter."
I started to walk away, but AJ followed behind me for a few steps before letting that be the last word. He's like, "Great speech, Billy. You should put it in an audiobook. I'll play it in Robin's basement this weekend and let him suck the cum out of my dick while his mom is out grocery shopping! Don't worry, we'll be sure to 'cuddle' afterward. He'll love it!" I just let him talk. I kept walking. I'm done. AJ's power over me? It's been dwindling for a long long time now. Today, I can finally say that it's completely gone. Not a trace of it left in me at all. I've got much better things to worry about. And even if Brandon decides he doesn't want anything to do with me ever again, I love myself way too much to fall for his line of bullshit. The last thing I heard from AJ was, "You're heartless TOO, Billy? Don't you deny it! You're just as much of a bastard as I am!"
Yeah...so, it kind of ruined the rest of my day. Just like I said.
Not because of AJ, really. I think I feel more sorry for him than anything else at this point. But...because it brought me back to the whole idea of karma again, and it stopped making sense to me. Should AJ suffer? Why? He's got a point, doesn't he? It's not like I didn't chase after him for the exact same reasons that he mentioned. Jimmy kept going back for more. Robin keeps going back for more. And this 'Rodney' boy will get a taste and keep going back for more too. So what's the difference? If karma comes after him...won't it come after me too? Fair is fair, after all.
And what about Dizzy's dad? He hurt him to his very core this morning. He was in tears all day long just trying to deal with it. But, according to him, he's not a bad person. If anything, he was trying to do the right thing. Will karma come for him? Or is 'good intentions' enough of an excuse to provide yourself with a shield against the dark repercussions headed your way?
Does it count? Does it matter? Does it even exist? I guess that's been on my mind today, and I can't seem to let it go.
When I came home from work, shortly after Mom made me dinner, I went back to my room and thought about Jimmy tonight. I don't know what it was, but...sometimes I compare myself to AJ and realize just how much of his 'slut motto' I had incorporated into my life. 'Fuck 'em hard and walk away'. That's how AJ used to say it. And that's exactly what I did. Exactly...
My mom had taken some of my clothes to fill up her basket for a full load of laundry, and as she walked into my room to lay them out on my bed, she hadn't really noticed yet that I was crying.
I don't know where the tears came from or why they didn't stop when she knocked on my bedroom door...but I felt really hollow inside at that moment. Just...empty.
My mom was talking normally at first. She was like, "I'm still hearing that rattling sound in the car whenever I start the engine. Sometimes the 'Check Oil' light comes on for no reason. I'm going to talk to Frank at work and see if he can get his brother to come look at it for me. Maybe I won't have to spend the money to take it to the shop..." Then she stopped. The room fell silent. Maybe I sniffled or something, but I had my back to her, so I didn't think she'd notice. That's when she put the clothes down and walked over to put both of her hands on my shoulders.
The first squeeze of her fingers caused tears to roll down my cheeks right away. She askedme what was wrong, and I said, "I don't know, Mom. Sometimes I feel like I don't know anything at all."
She leaned down to give me a hug and a kiss on the top of my head. She was like, "You know...when you were younger...you always wanted to tell me everything. You couldn't hold it in. Your father couldn't do so much as sneak an extra slice of pie out of the fridge without 'Little Billy' running into the other room to tell me about it." She smiled. "But...you teenagers. You have so many secrets."
With a sniffle, I said, "Trust me, Mom...all of our secrets are disgusting. You wouldn't want to know."
She didn't really want to push too hard, but she asked, "I may surprise you, Billy. If you want to talk, that is."
In a moment of weakness, I tried to wipe the tears from my eyes, and I said, "I think I just...I did something. Something that hurt a friend of mine, really bad. Really bad. I guess I just wish I hadn't. Or...you know, whatever. You know? I feel awful about it, that's all."
My mom said, "Well...I'm sure if you take some time, and let things settle for a little while, you'll feel better in no time. No time at all."
But I thought about Jimmy's face that afternoon when I told him it was over...and thought about AJ's approach to what was going on with him and Robin today...and I told her, "You know what, Mom? I don't think I want to feel better right now." I felt some more tears bleed from my burning eyes, and I was like, "I just feel like I should have been a better person. Like...I should have made better decisions. I want to avoid being the kind of person who hurts people and doesn't care what happens after. I don't ever want to become one of those people. So...I think I just want to sit here, and...'feel'. You know? I think I just want to let this gnaw on my conscience so I'll remember what this feels like next time. Does that make any sense to you?"
Thankfully, my mom gave me a smile with misty eyes, and she said, "You are certainly your father's son." She said it with such pride. I think it helped me to feel a little better. She says to me, "You've got his heart. If there's one thing I wanted your father to pass down to you, it was his heart. You're certainly something special, sweetie. Truly special."
She gave me a kiss on the forehead and left me to grieve and sulk in peace for a while longer. But sometimes...the pain heals more than it hurts. I never thought such a thing was possible before. It hurt...but I wanted it to hurt. It should hurt. This is the part that AJ is lacking. This is the missing link that allows him to do the things he does and sleep well at night.
No...let it hurt.
When I finally get a chance to talk to Brandon again, I'll understand. I'll empathize. And, hopefully, I'll be ready. No matter what he has to tell me.
Maybe this is karma. Maybe it's not meant to reward, not meant to punish. Maybe it's just a reminder. Something to keep us grounded. Something to keep us anchored to reality and take into account that...other people matter.
I'm exhausted at this point. I'm starting to reach the end of another journal already. I can't believe it. At least now I've got a job that'll make it easy to pay for the next one. I'm going to bed.
I checked my messages just one more time before going to be, but Brandon didn't send me anything. The wait continues. 48 Hours to go. I can only hope that he's got good news for me.
Write more later. K?