Green Room II
After emailing G, I was overwhelmed by guilt and misery in the knowledge that I'd cut my only remaining ties with sanity and hope.
Surprise! G'day, Stuart!
So you love me! Woohoo! I am stoked! I feel like you and Kyle did when you made up after a fight. Hey, you got a funny way of telling me how much I mean to you, but that's okay. I can read between the lines. You didn't even say hello or goodbye; you must have been mad as hell. But for all the right reasons.
You need me? Do you have any idea what that means to me? Sure I tested you in my last email, but you also tested me. I took a stand, not to mention a risk. But it worked.
Anyway, mate, you're the surfer god and I'm the fossil, but we're equals. You have your qualities and I have mine, just like it was with Kyle and me.
I'm delighted you got mad at me. You could have walked away, and I worried that you would. But I needed to take a stand, together with what that stand involved. Mind you, I'm not happy with your latest drug purchase. I don't approve of the way you cave in under pressure. I don't like your tantrums, nor your attitude when depressed. However, I do my best to empathize with your predicament.
When I'm mad at you, I remember the things Kyle said about you, the things Brett said about you once he cooled down, the things Fingers said about you. I remember how incredibly brave you've been. But your moods are like a swinging pendulum.
I'm just about to serve my favorite curry: a wonderful blend of flavors that reminds me of you. Together, the ingredients are awesome, but some are bitter by themselves.
Hey, Stuart, I'm no different. I need to be needed too. I'm chuffed that we need each other. However, I must admit I'm pretty strong. I've survived many past dramas and I'll survive a few more. But existing from day to day is not my ideal. I want more. I want somebody on a pedestal. Okay, the ladder is greased but I can wait.
The answers to your problems are not simple. No way. You've grabbed at straws almost all of your young life. There's much confusion about who you are: the blond surfer god or the tragic druggie. What a contrast.
Me? Confirm that you're on the road to ruin? Nope, I won't do that because I know that's what you expect me to do. I chose my words very carefully when I last wrote you. Confirmation of your own self image is what you seek. You were successful in turning Melanie and Graham against you. Let me say this: if you can turn the wheel one way, you can turn it the other. When Brett first met Kyle, he thought he was a lunatic, and the feeling was mutual. What does Brett think now? "I loved him more than anyone in the whole world, and still do." When Brett's pendulum swung, it stayed swung. I believe the same can happen in the case of Melanie and Graham.
"Here's the deal," you said in your email. Well, here's my deal. As long as I believe you're trying, and being fair dinkum, you and I will remain joined at the hip. I expect honesty, and I won't go to pieces if you occasionally stumble. That's not a license to be weak, by the way.
I am a strong person, but my strength alone is not sufficient. I don't want to be the only palm tree in a hurricane. I need to draw strength from you, like I did from Kyle. And I want you to draw strength from me.
Thanks for being mad at me. Thanks for calling me every name under the sun. And thanks for making it clear that you need me. And so, my tall handsome mate with the smile that Kyle adored, let's work together for a common purpose: to make you happy. Your smiles will be my smiles, just as your tears will be mine also. However, I need to draw the line somewhere, and you know where that line is.
As I write this, you're probably dining with the Ts. You've probably seen Kyle's room, and been flooded with countless memories. Lucky you. I wish.
This is not a bonus mail. I just need to write. Yesterday, after I sent that last mail, I became depressed like never before. I battled to sleep, thinking about ... thinking about everything; my life, Kyle, Brett, Melanie, Graham, you... everything.
I wasn't sure what best course of action to take; I entertained the idea of shooting up everything I could lay my hands on. I reckoned that would be easier because I'd be unconscious when the pain and paranoia hit, and just sleep my way through. Thought about dying, and the possibility of meeting Kyle again. Or is that all just bullshit?
This morning, I received your mail. You know how I feel about it because I replied right away. And even got another from you this afternoon.
My intention was not to get into H. It was to get off the planet. The depression is the hardest to take. I sit and think about Kyle and Graham and dissolve into tears.
Your comment about my dad not expecting anything from me was so low, it hurt bad. I was so pissed off, I smashed the full length mirror on my bedroom wall. No one here bothered to check: "Oh, it's Stuart again on another trip." But I'm a backup person; I got another full length mirror on my closet door. Hahahaha!
Yep, my comment about your dad was meant to hit you right between the eyes, Stuart, but not to smash your mirror. Sometimes, pussy-footing around gets you nowhere. I knew that note was risky but you were at a stage where I felt I had no choice.
Bob tomorrow? Blame curiosity. I'm not selling my body to him for H. He would never sell that stuff to me, knowing my current mood. It's weird, but you'd actually like him, G ... not for the business he's in, but for who he is.
I try hard to dismiss Graham from my mind. There's a pic of him on my notice board with pins in it. Maybe he'll suffer headaches or something. Maybe I do deserve his anger but I didn't ask for those grommet morons to call me `acid head' on the phone, or to be beaten to a pulp by the older brother. They asked for that. If anything, the whole bunch deserved their asses kicked.
No, I haven't been to the Ts yet. That's this evening. I'm incredibly nervous, and tempted to phone Mr. T with some lame excuse. But I need to be near Kyle again, just to feel his presence.
I ironed my chinos and shirt about a hundred times. Doing a Brett impersonation, hahahaha! It's just that I can't handle anyone around me right now. So I did the ironing myself, and polished my leathers. Check the halo.
It would be easy for you and me to stop the emailing right now, and go our separate ways. But right now, this minute, I'm just so fucking lonely.
I'm sorry for what I said to you. You're the last person who deserves that kinda shit from a screwed teenager. Thumbs up for me tonight, G. I'm shitting myself.
Next day: A lot happened during the past 24 hours. Late yesterday afternoon, I showered and dressed in my beige chinos, which fit snug and show off my butt. I wore a dark blue, short sleeve, button up shirt. I sprayed Blue Stratos under my arms and on my chest and stomach. Yes, hahaha, before I put on the shirt. I also wore my only pair of black leather shoes and checked that my hair was tidy. The bruise on my cheek is fading, and the cut is healing. Looked pretty damn snazz if I do say so myself.
I was so nervous you won't believe it. I took a box of chocolates I bought, and rocked up to the T's front door. Mr. T answered the knock, and I saw that he was okay impressed.
"G'day Stuart," he smiled as he shook my hand. "Come on in, Mrs. T is in the kitchen."
Besides my nervousness, my heart was incredibly heavy. The house hadn't changed, it was still Kyle's special place. Mrs. T beamed when she saw me. I gave her the chocolates and got a peck on the cheek in return. "Did you think we were having a formal dinner, Stuart? You look so smart!"
I followed Kyle's dad through to the den where a million memories instantly flooded my mind; memories of the many happy times that Kyle and I shared in this room filled with so much history. One of the first things I noticed was a range of photographs of Kyle on the TV cabinet. One was an enlargement of him in Speedos, exiting the water at night. I know you have that pic, G, the one of his smiling face and laughing eyes.
As a result of my valiant effort to restrain the tears, my throat became sore. Luckily, Mr. T launched immediately into conversation, and wanted to know how I was doing at school and surfing. I lied about visiting the surf again--I said I had. Then he asked about school sport. The convo was cool and relaxed. He noticed my hands shaking like I needed a stiff drink, so he enquired about the kind of shit I was on. "I haven't taken anything for quite a while." He probably figured I was still undergoing serious withdrawals.
Mrs. T joined us and the convo got around to Brett and my trip to Fremantle. She asked about his welfare and stuff about the yacht. Brett was like a son to the Ts as well.
Supper was roast lamb with baked mixed veg and potatoes. Delicious! Kyle always praised his mom's cooking, and he was right.
"So, why haven't we seen you lately?" she asked.
It was a question I couldn't--or wasn't prepared to--answer right then. Instead, I made some of the lamest excuses of my life. I sensed that Mr. T understood, though. He knew I invented all that crap as I went along. Meanwhile, I wondered if Mrs. T was giving me the eye like she did Brett. Hahaha! She's a good-looking woman, a fact Kyle was aware and proud of.
His folks made me feel completely at home. That's their traditional style, always treating friends like family.
After supper, Mr. T invited me to visit Kyle's room if I wanted. Mrs. T stacked dishes as I left the kitchen and walked down the hall which led to Kyle's pad. I switched on the light and saw that everything remained as Kyle last saw it the night he was killed. His room had obviously been kept clean, but every item was in its regular place. Right away, my eyes filled with stinging tears ... the books and magazines, the poster of Endless Summer. His wetsuit hung next to his surfboard. I ran my fingers over the smooth glass of the board and felt the last coating of wax. Tears streamed freely down my face, and my chest heaved. "Damn you, Kyle!" I pictured that board flying through the surf with Kyle's feet shuffling as he changed tactics or direction--his outstretched hand scraping the inside of a wave as he turned sharply to cut back or line up--his fists stabbing the air with absolute delight as he raved about a wicked ride.
There's a picture stuck to his closet door that he got from you, G. It's a pic of a Kyle look-alike taken from the air, probably a chopper. Underneath, the caption reads `Kyle Hero'.
"It's almost like you can smell him, huh?"
I recognized the voice right away and turned to face Graham, who wore brown cargo shorts that hung below his knees, and a red fleecy top. I was too choked to speak. "It's like he's here but invisible," he continued. "He'd dig it to see you here right now, Stuart. I know that for a fact."
I broke down completely and sobbed, my arms hung like dead weights at my sides. I was unable to stop the flow of tears as Graham approached me from behind. "Hey, I'm sorry," he said softly.
I turned to face him again and noted his watery eyes. I knew he wanted to hug me, so I took the initiative, wrapped him in my arms and hugged him long and hard. Somewhere and somehow through the tears I managed to say how much I loved him and missed him. I don't know how long we stood there in each other's embrace, but eventually the tears abated and we drew apart. For a moment or two, the situation was uncomfortable. Neither of us knew what to say. Then he spoke first.
"I didn't realize your situation was so uncool. I didn't know you tried so hard to quit the drugs. I don't think Kyle would dig how I treated you. I'm not going with Melanie. That was just another way to get under your skin. It was soooooo not good."
Kyle's folks appeared at the doorway to announce drinks and dessert by the pool. I dried my tears as best I could, as did Graham. Then, for no apparent reason other than immense relief, he cracked up laughing, and I followed suit.
The remainder of the evening was fantastic, and I managed to relax a lot more. We spoke of so many things, for the most part, I can't remember it all. The ambience was surreal and a haze. A Kyle haze. But it was magic, as if he were there with us.
When I had to leave, Graham did too, which gave us an opportunity to speak privately on the street. "I'm sorry for what I did, Stuart. I was a right jerk."
"Do you realize how happy I am now?"
"Fuck you, grommet. You know already how much I've missed you, and how I hated being unable to tell you what was happening to me. I so badly wanted to see you beaten up and hurt."
"Mr. T is a snitch; he told me all about it, at least what he knew." Graham raised his arms and flexed his biceps, which formed two solid balls. "Dunno about beating me up, though. I do boxing training at school."
"Wanna hit the surf sometime?"
"Gotta sort things out with the guys first. Hope you can handle that."
"Cool," I responded, despite my heart sinking. "I'd like us to be mates again."
"I'd like that too."
"How did you know I was at Kyle's?"
"Mr. T told me you were coming. Wanted me to be there for supper but I wasn't sure about us being friends again."
"So why did you come over?"
"Hey! You were in my room! I saw the light come on while I did my homework." Graham turned to ponder the house once more, then offered to walk me a ways. It was as though Kyle's voice told his li'l bro to go easy on me.
When we arrived at the end of the road, Graham gave me a quick hug. I carried on home while he stood and watched me for a minute or two. Then he waved before heading back to his house. I hoped he felt as elated as I did.