Friday, February 12, 2010

38.) Bad Reaction

Soundtrack Song - Barenaked Ladies, You Run Away

I could already see Tubby, sitting on the steps leading to my front door, when Kris pulled up in front of my house. He was leaning back on his palms, his legs sprawled out in front of him, which was so like Tubby. He had that kind of attitude and swagger, like he owned the place.

I was really not looking forward to this. Tubby always saw himself as my Great Protector. Our friendship had always been that way. Needless to say, he wasn’t gonna be happy at last night’s unfortunate circumstances. He wasn’t going to like the news I had to tell him at all. As much as he was my best friend and I could tell him anything, I didn’t want to tell him this. If I had it my way, I would never have clued him in; it was over and done with, and telling him wouldn’t change it—it would only anger him. But he had overheard Kris say that he wanted him to stay with me, so he figured something was wrong. And when something was wrong, Tubby wanted to fix it. He was a proactive problem-solver.

Kris put his car in park, and I glanced to my left at him. He was a helper, too, but in a completely different way. Kris was a talker and a listener, passive and contemplative in his assistance and therefore ultimately leaving the decision and action to me. Not like Tubby, whose genius idea of “fixing a problem” was decking Tony Barber, in the middle of the cafeteria during lunch, for telling the whole school that I wouldn’t put out, in the tenth grade.

I spoke first. “Thanks for bringing me home.” He nodded with a lop-sided, almost sad smile. “Call me? Sometime. Whenever,” I mumbled, trying not to sound needy.

He gave me a funny look, but he leaned over and I met him halfway, over the center console, for a quick, tender kiss. “Sure thing, Joanna.”

“Jo,” I corrected. “Have fun at the game.”

He rolled his eyes, and I realized how I had misspoken. I didn’t mean it that way; I did want him to enjoy himself and watch it, but I guess that would be hard to do because he wouldn’t be playing. Kris moved his hand to the back of my neck, keeping my head in place so he could press his lips against my forehead. “’Kay. See you soon.”

“See you,” I replied, opening the door and stepping out into the street. I observed Tubby nodding his head at Kris, and Kris doing the same. My flip-flops made loud thwapping sounds as I walked to my front door. I tried to lighten the mood and avoid the inevitable. “Buenos nachos, El Tubbo,” I greeted, giggling at the way he scrunched up his face.

“Don’t you mean, buenos noches? Good night?”

“No,” I laughed. “I’m hungry, and I could really go for some nachos. Although, some good nachos would totally make for a good night. Am I right?” I unlocked the front door and waved to Kris, who beeped the horn and drove off for the arena.

Tubby shook his head. “Whatever. So weird.” He followed me into the living room. “Anyway, so... what’s up?”

I sighed, delaying as much as possible. Explaining what happened wasn’t going to be easy. “Nothing. What’s up with you? Do you want something to drink?” I asked, immediately heading for the kitchen.

“I can help myself,” he said, once again following me. I opened the fridge and pulled out a can of Mountain Dew, and Tubby reached for a bottle of beer. “You aren’t drinking?” I shook my head and metaphorically bit my tongue, not wanting to say anything yet. There was a lilt of laughter in his deep voice as he pressed on, “You overdo it last night when you went out with your boy toy and his friends? Get shit-face wasted?”

“Um, something like that?” I didn’t mean for it come out like a question, but I was so unsure of the words that my tone lifted at the end.

“What happened?” He wasn’t judging or disappointed, but he did look at me curiously. I shook my head, still not wanting to confess. “Come on, Jo. It couldn’t have been too embarrassing, because I saw him kiss you in the car. What happened last night? Too many J├Ąger bombs? Puke all over yourself? Is that why you’re wearing his clothes?”

“I... uh. You see, um,” I stuttered and stumbled over how I wanted to phrase it. He was assuming last night had progressed the same as any other of my drunken excursions had. Tubby looked at me like with utter exasperation and impatience, so I closed my eyes and just blurted out, “My drink got spiked.”

He didn’t move; he was frozen in place, and there was a stoic and blank expression on his face. It felt like eons passed before he spoke, and with every passing second, my stomach turned and somersaulted with anxiety. His reply was brief. “What did you say?”

I nervously bit my lip. I knew he was going to be mad—not at me, of course, but he was still going to be absolutely livid. Which is why I didn’t want to tell him in the first place. “My drink was spiked last night. Some guy slipped me a roofie. I only just woke up a few hours ago. Apparently, it was bad, but I honestly don’t remember much.” I shrugged. “So, I’m laying off the booze.”

“I still don’t think I quite understand,” he said slowly and gruffly. “You’re telling me that someone roofied you last night?”

With a shaky breath, I nodded and waited for the explosion. Tubby put his opened beer on the counter and left the room. Two seconds later, he paced back into the kitchen, one hand on his hip and the other behind his head. “You’re okay, though, right?” I nodded, and he exited the room again.

Patiently, I waited. I heard him holler some expletives and choice words from the living room, but I wasn’t going to chase him and calm him down. It was making me anxious and upset; I didn’t want his emotions to get me worked up again. It was still an unsettling situation to be in, and I wasn't okay with it... but I thought that Kris and I had done enough moping over it. I couldn't change the past, so I wanted to get over it. To do so, I took a cue from Kris and tried to take what I could from the experience, and use it to avoid the same thing in the future since it was definitely something I never wanted to deal with again.

Then I heard a thud, and I wondered what the hell Tubby was doing—but I stayed in my spot in the kitchen, leaning against the counter and sipping from the green can in my hand. I knew that Kris was rubbing off on me, as I let him fume and waited for him to come back to me to talk.

Now that I thought about it, I was a very different person since I met him. I always thought that the past didn't matter, and that you shouldn't plan for the future. My philosophy was that the present was the only moment worth living for; don't rock the boat; and take the path of least resistance... but I didn't think like that anymore. And it was all because of Kristopher.

The sound of Tubby's heavy Timberland boots on the floor pulled me out of my thoughts. I looked up at him as he stomped back into the room. “How the hell did that happen?”

“Some guy at the bar was talking to me, and I guess his friend slipped it into my drink while I was distracted. I’m not exactly sure, but....” I shrugged as my voice faded out.

He scowled. “Where was your boy toy during all this?”

I lost my temper. “Will you stop calling him that?”

“Why? You don't like that? Well, that's what he fucking is.”

“He’s my boyfriend, not just some guy.”

“Really? Because what kind of boyfriend lets this happen to his girlfriend?” I clenched my jaw and folded my arms in front of me, shooting daggers with my eyes. “Fucking hell, Jo, you and I have gone out tons of times, and this never fucking happened. You go out with him and his friends once—once!—and you fucking get drugged?”

“That’s some kind of coincidence! This didn’t have anything to do with Kris or him being a bad boyfriend. You’re being ridiculous. You should be mad at the douche bag that did it, not—”

“No, I'm mad at the fucking douche bag that was supposed to be fucking watching out for you. I’m mad at the guy for not stopping this.”

“That’s fucked up, Preston,” I bitched, using his first name. “So the guy with the drugs doesn’t have any liability here?”

“You and I both know that guys are going to do shit like this. It’s up to the good guys to be vigilant against it. What the fuck was he doing when this fucking happened?”

I didn't answer him, assuming that he was asking a rhetorical question as his misplaced anger bubbled over. However, he made a face at me like he was impatiently waiting for my response. It got under my skin, and I wanted to bitch slap him hard enough to get that look off his face. Never before had I ever been this mad at Tubby—not even after he got suspended for punching Tony. “I don't know where he was! I was trying to make friends with his teammates' girlfriends, and then I went to the bar to get a drink.”

“That still doesn't fucking answer my fucking question,” he growled, and I hated that every other word out of his mouth was the F-word. “Where was he? Why wasn't he with you?”

“Because he doesn't have to be with me every second!”

“Oh, come the fuck on. I know you—you were drinking. At least drinking. You do this all the time, and he would know that if he knew anything about you like I do. And, lemme guess, he was sober, because he's like a fucking monk. He should have been with you, making sure you were okay. I wouldn't have let you out of my sight. And I’m just your friend. If he’s your boyfriend, he should fucking act like it.”

“I'm not a baby. I don't need watching over, and that’s not his job.”

“Apparently, Jo, you do. And if Kris isn’t willing to take on that responsibility, then you should drop him like a sack of shit.”

“Fuck you,” I hollered, my throat hurting from the force of my yell.

Tubby crossed his arms over his chest. “That's what your human dildo's for. That's all he's good for, because he doesn't give a shit about keeping you safe.”

“Stop saying that! He does care! You should have seen how upset he was today. We didn’t allow this to happen—”

“Oh, no, I'm not saying it's your fault. I'm saying it's his fault. Is it supposed to be a coincidence that the one time you go out with him, something bad happens to you? I wouldn't have let this happen—nothing bad has ever happened to you when I was with you. Hell, if I had been there, no guy would have even thought about drugging you.”

“Well, you weren't there,” I bit out at him, spitting venom.

“You're right. I wasn't.” He hung his head and shook it with long, sweeping motions. “Fucking shit, you still need me here. How the fuck am I supposed to go back to U Penn if he can't keep you safe? I can't go. I can't leave.”

“What are you saying?” I asked, still angry and not able to follow along with his confusing logic.

“I have been here for you through it all. I watched you go through everything. James. Your parents' divorce. Deciding not to go to Carnegie Mellon. Calling me in Philly, drunk and stoned, crying and upset, and not even lucid enough to know where you were. You needed someone here for you, because you didn't have anyone else. Things weren’t easy for you, so you needed to... just let go and forget it sometimes. So that’s what I let you do, but I always made sure you were okay all the while. I dropped everything for you. It was my duty as your best friend to be here.”

“Don't push that on me. I never asked you to come back.”

“You didn't have to ask, Jo. That's my point. The people who care about you are going to go out of their way to pick you up when you've fallen. I did it because I wanted to make you sure you were okay. I was only going back to Philly because I thought you didn’t need me here anymore. Apparently, I was wrong.”

“Stop it, stop it, stop it!” I screamed, losing all composure. “Go to fucking Philadelphia if you wanna go. I’m not stopping you. Lose your fucking scholarship for all I care. It’s your life.” I ran past him and up the stairs to my bedroom. I fished around in my underwear drawer, searching for that plastic baggy of herb and my pipe—the blue, glass-blown pipe that had been Tubby’s present to me for my nineteenth birthday.

“It may be my life, but it would be a shitty life without you in it, Jo-Jo,” he said behind me, using my long-forgotten nickname. “You’re my best friend. I need you to be okay. I thought Kris was helping you with that, so I was fine with him because I thought he was taking care of you the way you needed to be taken care of. Helping the way I wanted to help. The way I tried to be there but couldn’t, because... you just wouldn’t let me.”

I fingered the bag in my hand. I was going to regret this, but I wanted to smoke so bad. The things he was saying made me so sad, and if I ever needed to feel numb, this was one of those times. “Take this with you when you go,” I told him, thrusting the marijuana in his direction. Eighty bucks, down the drain. But if I didn’t get it out of here, I’d surely break my promise to Kris already.

“What? Why are you giving me this?”

Sighing, I finished my story. “Kris and I talked today, and we decided that... I decided that I should quit this stuff. Not put myself in a vulnerable situation again. It was scary, waking up like that this morning, feeling sick and not remembering what happened. I don’t ever want to feel like that again.

“And it could’ve been a lot worse, if it hadn’t been for Kris. He does care, a lot. He was pissed, but he took care of me regardless. He’s a good man, even if you don’t think so, and I really like him. So deal with it, or leave.”

He looked at the bag, now in his hands. “You’re giving it up? Just like that? Just because you talked to him about it?” I nodded. “Shit. If I’d’ve known it woulda been that easy....”

“Then why didn’t you say anything, Tubby?”

“Because you're so fucking pig-headed sometimes! You bitch and fight and argue, and you're going to make your own decisions. It's not my place to tell you what to fucking do, because you're gonna do what you're fucking gonna do when you fucking wanna do it,” he explained, the frustration audibly evident in his voice. “Why is everything so different for him? Why do you listen to him when you ignore everyone else?”

I shrugged, not really knowing the answer. Dropping onto my bed, I looked up and waited for Tubby’s next move, to see if he was going to stay or go.


  1. Poor Tubby. He loves her and has put his life on hold to protect and save her. I think he's going to feel a little lost without her to take care of. That's why he needed to feel that Kris wasn't doing a good job of keeping her safe. It must also hurt that after all he has done to help her, she willing to change "just because you talked to him about it"

    As always just wonderful!

  2. awwwww. im sry shit hit the fan w/ tubby but happy shes improving her life 4 kris....

  3. Oh once Tubby dissed Kris, that was it for my Tubby love!
    He wasn't very nice up there!!

    And I'm sooooo happy that she handed him her stash and said to take it, yay!!
    Kris would be happy, happy, happy!!

    Great update!!

  4. i haz a tubby?... lol

  5. Excuse me Tubby, this is Kris's fault?!?

    I'm still stuck on that.

  6. Once again, allow me to comment on how much I LOVE TUBBY!!!

    I mean, ok... obviously it's not Kris' fault BUT, Tubby basically just went through all the stages that I good friend should.

    He's her protector and I love that she can always count on him for that... count on him for everything.

    ALSO, I almost feel really, really bad for him... in the sense that Kris and her just talk and she'll change something, but then Tubby is so out of the loop.
    He wants to be her friend so bad, that he doesn't want to try and change anything about her (even the 'not so good' stuff).

    And that last little bit, where he's like, "why do you listen to him, when you ignore everyone else?" ---> Made me super sad!
    BUT I KNOW WHY!!! It's because she loves him =) YAY!

    lol ok... now that all that is out of my system... this update was AWESOME!
    I was literally like holding my breath when I was reading everything Tubby was saying. I felt like I was actually standing there and watching them fight.
    The conversation was SO REAL in this and I loved it!

    I can't wait for more and... Tubby, please, please stay =)

  7. Agreed, I know it isn't Kris' fault, but Tubby is just displacing his anger. I looove Tubby and want one of my own.

    Great update.

  8. oh tubby.
    i missed him!!

    aaaaaand i agree with zigh. SHE LOVES HIM!
    she knows inside. but she doesn't want to admit it.
    hdfghdfkjgi i love this :]

  9. Aw! Tubby!<3 I completely get where he's coming from! Not so much the blaming Kris aspect of it, but the fact that he just wants to protect Jo as much as he can for as long as he can. HE'S SUCH A GOOD FRIEND! He'll always be there for her and that's what a real friend does.

    This was such a good update, Jay! I hope Tubby stays. (: