Monday, February 15, 2010

40.) The Blame Game

Soundtrack Song - The Classic Crime, Headlights

“I’ll get it,” he said, beginning to push himself off the floor. “Are you expecting someone?”

“Nope,” I admitted as I stood from my spot on the couch. “But it’s my fucking house, and I’ll answer my own fucking door, thank you very much.” I was still mad at Tubby. Even though we had tried to talk through everything, we had gotten nowhere; I had done a lot of talking, and Tubby just didn’t want to listen. And of course, in true Tubby fashion, he refused to leave—even as I had tried to practically push him through the door.

“Who in their right mind would come over this late without calling or being invited? Let me get it, Jo.”

“Don’t be so fucking paranoid. Honestly,” I sighed over my shoulder, sliding back the deadbolt and turning the knob. One bad thing had happened, and now he wanted to act like a billion more bad things would follow suit. I knew that he was just trying to be a good friend, but it was getting on my nerves. At some point, a friend has to be able to voice his opinion and then shut the fuck up already.

I pulled the door open just a few inches, wanting to see who it was before I opened it any further. The smile blossomed across my face as I first saw the bouquet of roses, held out by my wonderfully thoughtful boyfriend. I was too surprised to say anything at first—after all, I hadn’t expected to see him again tonight.

Before I could eke out a word, I saw the smile on his face fade away. It took me a second to realize why: Tubby had moved to my right side, placed his left hand on my shoulder, and yanked open the door so he, too, could see who had stopped over this late at night. I glanced up at Tubby and saw the expression on his face, knowing that his scowl was what was concerning Kris.

“If this is a bad time, I can come back tomorrow,” Kris said meekly, his eyes flitting between me and my friend.

“Nonsense, Kris. For you, it’s always a good time.” I stepped forward and accepted the proffered bouquet, leaning in to kiss his cheek in the process. “Come on in.” I then took his hand and pulled him in behind me, glaring at Tubby once my back was turned to Kris. I felt some resistance from Kris, so I tugged and made him cross the threshold.

Once we were all inside the house, I closed the door and realized I had no plan. I didn’t want to leave them together, alone, so I could go find a vase for the roses. Tubby was obviously still pissed at Kris, and Kris had no idea why Tubby was directing his anger at him. Because he hadn’t done anything wrong.

He seemed to read my mind, just like a good friend should be able to do. “Jo, why don’t you go put those in water while your boy toy and I have a little chat? You know, man to man,” Tubby suggested, nodding at Kris.

“No,” I replied quietly, before repeating myself with a bit more force behind my words. “No. Hell nah! Don’t pretend like the big, smart men need to talk about the important issues that my puny, female mind can’t possibly comprehend. I know what you’re doing, Tubby.”

“He needs to hear what I have to say, Jo.”

“No, he doesn’t,” I told him.

“Hear what?” Kris asked, finally speaking up and inserting himself into the conversation.

“You fucked up, man,” Tubby asserted.

“Preston,” I hissed, trying to stop this before it went too far, but it was like I wasn’t even there. They talked right over me.

“What the hell did I do?” Kris questioned, blatantly confused and unsure of what he was being accused.

“Last night is all your fault!”

“Stop it!” I yelled, trying once again to stop this from happening.

My fault?”

“You’re supposed to be responsible for watching out for Jo, and you didn’t do that! She’s not the only one who placed their trust in you. I did, too. I thought you were up to the task of caring for her, but you definitely aren’t. If I’da known you were just going to blow it off, I would never have let Jo go with you.”

“Oh, like you can tell me what to do,” I huffed, unnoticed.

Kris began to argue back, which was a change from his usually laidback demeanor. It was like watching a switch get flipped. “I was watching out for Jo. If it hadn’t been for me, she probably would have passed out in the bathroom! And she stayed with me all day. I took care of her.”

“You shouldn’t have let it happen in the first place. You’re her fucking boyfriend—how could you let that happen at all?” Tubby was pointing fingers, both literally and metaphorically.

“And you just want someone to blame, because you weren’t there and there’s not a thing you can do to change it. You’re pissed that it happened, and so am I. We’re on the same side here. I don’t like what happened to Jo any more than you do.”

“I’m not looking for someone to blame. I don’t need to look, because you are to blame. This wouldn’t have happened if I’d have been there.”

“You don’t know that!” I hollered again, feeling exasperated that no one was listening to me or heeding me.

“Of course it wouldn’t have happened if you were there,” Kris spat back, his face turning red. I’d never seen him get so riled up before. “Because you tag along and keep an eye on her, carefully watching every move she makes, and cleaning up her messes. But maybe if you tried intervening before, rather than after... maybe if you had spoken up instead of letting Jo get herself into these kinds of situations... then we wouldn’t be here, having this ‘discussion’ at all. Have you ever thought of that?”

“Oh fucking hell. Enough! Stop it!” I tried, one last time.

“So this is my fault?” Tubby countered, taking a defensive stance.

“No. It’s not your fault, or mine, or Jo’s. It was an unfortunate turn of events, but it happened. How is irrelevant. We’ve got to learn from it and move forward with that knowledge—”

“That’s a bullshit line. You don’t fucking get it. You just fucking waltz in here like it’s nothing. But you weren’t there through it all, when she was at her worst. I’m the one who cushioned her fall. I’m the one who boosted her up when she was at her lowest. But you’re the one who gets to take the credit....”

Finally, I shook my head and left them there. At that moment, I didn’t care if they tackled each other and really got into it. They could have it out, and it wouldn’t matter to me. If they wanted to yell and make a scene, then they could do that—but I didn’t want to see it if they started fighting over something so ridiculous, like me. Talking about me like I wasn’t a person anymore, but a thing.

I tried to tell myself that it was just because they were frustrated and needed to vent their emotions. But did they not think that I wasn’t upset by it, too? Jesus fucking Christ, after all, I was the one who had gone through it. I was the one who felt sick and attacked and targeted, the one who didn’t have any memories of how the night had ended, and I was the one who refused to play the victim here. The more they pointed fingers and tossed around the blame, the more they made it seem like I was some feeble chick who needed them to look after me.

That, most definitely, was not the case. I certainly appreciated the concern, and especially everything that Tubby had done for me for the past couple of years, but they made me feel like a goddamn baby, completely incapable of making any of my own decisions. Sure, some of my choices for myself had been less than wise or well thought out, but that didn’t mean I was incompetent as a human being.

It was so belittling, so I left them there and went back into the living room. I threw the flowers on the coffee table, sat on the couch, and took another sip of Mountain Dew, feeling hyped up and buzzed from all the caffeine and sugar and jittery from all the emotions coursing through my system, too. Then I tried to focus back on the movie we were watching, but my vision blurred and I blinked furiously, which caused the tears to spill onto my cheeks.

Did they really think those things of me? Was I really in need of that much guidance? No, I didn’t so. Maybe the past two years had been a little speed bump along the road course of my life, or maybe those years had to be spent that way in order to get me exactly to this place, right now. Maybe this is the way it was supposed to work out, always, from the beginning.

I shook my head, not really liking that option. My hand reached up to the locket around my neck, opening it and peering down at James’s smiling face, frozen in time. No, I didn’t want to think that it had to happen this way. There was too much hurt in my past to make it necessary. No one should have to go through all that. I wouldn’t have wished it on my greatest enemy, if I had one.

Fucking shit, I really wanted a drink.

The cushions dipped around me as Tubby sat on my left and Kris on my right. I kept my sight trained on the television screen.

“Jo Jo,” Tubby said, placing his hand on my shoulder, gently shaking me.

“Are you guys done yelling at each other? Because if you’re not, go finish in the other room. I’m sick of fucking hearing it and trying to break it up.”

“We’re not yelling,” Kris added quietly. “We’re talking.”

I laughed bitterly. Typical guys. “That’s what you call talking? Well, fuck me, then what have I been doing all these years?”

Kris leaned in toward me, pressing his forehead against my temple. “We care about you, Jo, and we just want what’s best for you.”

“Right. Because I don’t want what’s best for me. Makes perfect sense to me now, since you’re telling me what’s going on. Apparently, I’m unable to figure out what’s going on. And I totally need the two of you to figure it all out for me. So, thanks for your help, guys.”

“Point taken,” Tubby sighed to my left.

“No, point not taken,” I mumbled, looking at him. “You didn’t listen to me earlier, when I told you all this. You can’t blame Kris.” Then I turned to my other side. “And you, Kris, can’t make this worse by yelling back.” I faced forward again. “I’m not even gonna go into how wrong the two of you are. Seriously, seriously wrong.”

“I’m sorry, Jo,” Kris whispered, just loud enough, his finger wiping my cheek.

“Me, too,” Tubby apologized. “I’ll go.”

It was my turn to sigh. “Please don’t. Not yet, anyway. Listen.... You two are my favoritest living guys in the whole world. You have to get along, for my sake. Because I like you both. You both mean a lot to me, for different reasons. I’m not saying you’ve gotta be best friends or really even like each other, but at least get along. For me.”

“Sure thing.”

“Of course.”

I relaxed a little and slumped against Kris, who began to rub my back. “So no more of this blame game. I know it’s not gonna be easy to forget about it, but it’s over and done. There’s no use dwelling on it. So please, pretty please, let’s not talk about it anymore. I want to finish watching this movie.”

They nodded and did as I asked—they stopped talking. I wasn’t really in the mood to finish watching the comedy, because the humor in it was gone. So instead I tried to remind myself that I was surrounded by two good people, both who cared a great deal for me, and that’s why they did what they did and said what they said.

Even if it hurt to hear.


  1. AWWWW!!!! Stupid Tubby and Kris for making her feel all crappy. I have BEEN there! And guys are just dumb when it comes to that.

    I loved every inch of it Jay. The fight, the realization, and the reconciliation... kinda...

  2. Ok so I wanted to quote a bunch of stuff but I got way too caught up in this one... it was so emotional and real.

    I've been finding that a lot with this story. I read something and just think 'wow, I can totally see that happening'.

    I'm said that Tubby and Kris started going at it like that, but at the same time... hopefully this will be a turning point for them.
    They both just love Jo so much and want to do the right thing, but sometimes the right thing is to back off a bit.
    I agree with Jo, she might have made mistakes in the past but, who hasn't? She's capable of making her own decisions and doesn't need her boyfriend and best friend trying to control what she does.

    This was an update of epic proportions... I'm so up and down. The last one was hilarious and this one was so dramatic... geesh, roller-coaster ride or what? lol

    Can't wait for more!!

  3. Best part of this update...when the boys stopped talking, AMEN!

  4. oh man
    that was intense!
    agreed, val! the boys talking = happy jo!

  5. Okay first off, how sick is it that if I wake up in the middle of the night my first thought is "I wonder if Jay has updated yet" AND get up to check?!!! So the first time I read this was about 4:30AM.

    Now that I read it again it is even better! I love the whole blaming game. They probably both feel to blame and are mad that they can't control everything that happens, so they yell at each other. I really think Tubby is jealous of Kris. Maybe just because Jo listens to Kris, but maybe he has romantic feelings for Jo. At the very least he's sad he's being replaced as the man in her life.

    My favorite line (it's hard to pick just one);

    “I’m sorry, Jo,” Kris whispered, just loud enough, his finger wiping my cheek.
    So stinking sweet!

    As always a wonderful update. Thanks

  6. AWA! Tubby and Kris ): I know they just want what's best for Jo, but they won't resolve anything by getting into a screaming match. I want them to get along so badly because they're both such friggin' amazing guys! And Jo needs both of them in her life<3

    Jay, you're so amazing when it comes to writing pure emotion like this. Loved every second of it! (:

  7. So I honestly thought the conversation between Kris and Tubby was going to be MUCH worse. Thankfully it didn't!

    As always, great update!
    You're amazing!