Old Friend

I hadn’t seen her in a long time, so we made a date to catch up at a new bar in north Austin.

We grew up together raising hell, but we both settled down after her rehab, and my new admittance to university.  Not that she was worse off,  I had spent my time in rehab as well,  just not as recent.  I think because we had started at such an early age, we were both already exhausted of the shit colors drugs had brought to our lives.  Like I said, it had been a long time since we had seen each other, about 3 years to be exact.

It was early around 5:30 p.m. when we met at the bar.

She was sitting there just as beautiful as always, grinning at me with that familiar, mischievous grin when I walked through the door.  I noticed two guys in suits next to her that gave me the kind of look that warranted us moving further from their area.

Giving her a big hug, I whispered , “You want to sit down here?”

I suggested the seats furthest down the bar from the covetous men.  She agreed, while glancing at them salaciously. She was always a sucker for the worst types of men, way more than myself. I shook my head at them.

I once pulled her out of a bathroom with a needle sticking out of her foot while getting groped by two junkies, but thats another story.  I guess track marks are easier to hide when they are on your feet.  I wouldn’t know.

She looked good in her newfound sobriety plumpness, with her freshly cut blond hair and clear blue eyes.

I spun her around on my finger tips, “You look good, I missed you.”

She smiled, bowed, and adjusted herself in her seat, “Why thank you!”

She swirled her straw around with her tongue and took a sip of her drink, “Mel, I’m getting married.”

Not a suprise to me, I rolled my eyes, “To who?”

“A guy I met in rehab from California.”

“Jesus Evie.  That sounds like a brilliant fucking idea.”

She laughed, “I know, I know.  Fuck it, he asked me, and I said yes.  You know me, I love love, and I’m terrible at saying no.”  She laughed and crossed her legs, flashing another smile at the men across the bar.  They ate it up and when they shifted their eyes to me, I said ‘fuck you’ with my mine.

“Evie, A good sober fuck isn’t always love honey, or even marriage worthy.”

Evie was always textbook manic, rash in her decisions.  Her highs were as high as highs get, and lows as low as you can pretend to imagine.

Breaking the men’s stares at Evie with another ‘fuck you’ look, I indulged, “Well then tell me all about this lucky guy.” I knew she would never listen to any objections. She rarely did, in fact, she enjoyed doing the opposite of what others wanted, especially those she loved.

I don’t know which one us had the most sense growing up, but she was definitely more risky than I was, ready for death if she was having a good enough time.  I was usually the one that stopped things from getting completely out of control, which was a high threshold for me to face during those days.

She smirked, enjoying me humoring her latest endeavor, “He’s sweet and good enough.  Ex-heroin addict.”

“Sounds like a match made in hell.  How are your parents?”

Not that they would be too thrilled of our rendezvous.  Especially, after we drained her dad’s business bank account by forging checks to an elderly teller in a small town, but again, that’s another story.

“My parents are good, excited about the wedding and my sobriety.  Moving into a smaller place.  What about you?  How’s your mom?”

The men across the bar laughed, sending chills down my entire being, and spouted,  “Sobriety eh? Looks like that is working out for you.”

I wanted to smash a bottle over their heads and instead, I ignored their comment, ‘like a lady,’ and continued, “My mom is doing better, she just recently had a hysterectomy, so I was down in McAllen taking care of her for a couple of weeks.”

Evie looked confused, “What’s a hysterectomy?”

“Well, it’s when they remove the uterus due to fibroids causing heaving bleeding.  She was bleeding for months without telling anyone, she could’ve died if she’d continued to bleed much longer.”

I noticed a look of disgust in one of the guys faces as I spoke of my mom’s uterus and bleeding, he shook his head, “Come on ladies this isn’t exactly the type of bar talk we want to hear.  What are y’all doing later?”

I swallowed the heat rising through my throat to my head and snapped my head around, “And what the fuck makes you think I give a shit about what you think of our private conversation?  Mind your own fucking business!”

He began to walk closer towards us, “No!  Stay in your little area.  Leave us alone, we aren’t interested in fucking either of you, so back the fuck off.”

Evie, poised, let me talk and continued to finish her drink, tilting it at the bartender for another.  I could tell she was feeling my heat and waiting for her moment to do something, possibly worse, than what I resisted in my mind.  Old habits die hard.  I waved my hand over her face to break her thoughts, “Just chill, you don’t need anything else on your record at this point.”  She nodded at me gripping her drink so tightly the ice began to melt.

The man stopped and walked back to his seat, “What makes you think either of us would want to fuck some up tight bitches like you anyways?”

Evie, got up, walked over to the man, hiked her leg on his stool, slipped a knife out of her boot and slid it right between his legs, while licking his ear.  It took him a minute for him to look past the ear licking, and once he noticed the blade grazing his balls, he froze and his friend sheepishly took a couple steps to the side.  Smart move mother fucker.

I shifted my attention to the bartender, “You make it a habit of letting men harass women like this in your bar?”

The bartender shrugged and laughed it off, while pretending to clean a glass.  This piece of shit.

I walked over to Evie and pinched her under the bar signaling her to get up.  She didn’t, and whispered in his ear loud enough so I could hear, “No Mel, I want to feel him piss himself first and then we may go.”

She was in it, so I shrugged and faced the bartender, “Well I can tell you,  we will never come back to your shit bar.  You don’t even have the balls to protect your own female customers from assholes like these…Actually, it seems my friend here is preoccupying one of your precious patron’s balls at this very moment. Due to your lacking, she might give them to you if you ask nice enough. Although, they certainly don’t seem worth much, but you know, beggars cant be fucking choosers.”

Knife still tucked under the poor saps sac, I slid Evie’s drink to her, which she slammed, while making close eye contact with me.  The bartender still said nothing.  I grabbed an empty beer bottle from the bar and looked at Evie while squeezing her hand.  She nodded and I immediately threw the bottle against the back mirror of the bar, shattering it to pieces.  I laughed and finished my drink while the bartender yelled something I didn’t give a shit to hear.

Evie, knife tightly wedged in the scrotum, threw her head against the man’s nose, his blood immediately spewing over the two of them.  She wiped the blood from her arm with her tongue and lapped it all over his face.  She spit blood on his friend with accuracy and spewed out, “’The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts. While the stupid ones are full of confidence.'”

I whispered, “Run,” as we walked calmly, hand in hand towards the door.

Sliding Scale Therapy

“I wasn’t sure you were coming today,”  she was startled at the site of me when she rushed past with a bowl full of chili.  Smelt good.

“Margaret, just ring me when she’s done paying and we can get started,” she winked at me.

I missed my last appointment and I don’t blame her for being surprised to see me.  I thought about not showing up.

I appreciated the cheap sessions and her fresh university face.  The truth is, I need a bad, old heinous bitch to put me in my fucked up place, not some sympathetic college student.  And that’s exactly what she was, Rachel.

She was too young, too inexperienced.  She seemed to feel too much for me, the exact opposite of what I needed from a therapist, which is why I won’t be signing up with her again.  When I explained my life to her at times the only thing that would run through my head was, “Jesus, get a hold of yourself,” as she would fight back her own tears.  She was too fresh, too sympathetic, like I said, she felt too much for me.

Margaret, oh Margaret, front desk woman with way too many sweets on her desk for just broken hearted fucks like me.  I knew they were mainly for her.

Margaret swiveled around in her overly comfortable chair, “Did she say she’d come get you sweetheart?”

“No, she told you to ring her once I was done paying.”

She reached for my credit card while shoving a mini snickers in her mouth.

The credit card machine beeped and I knew she didn’t hear a word I had said or the beep.

————————

Every week the same thing.  I walk in, tell Margaret my name and my therapist as loud and slow as possible.  She fumbles looks through the files, pulls out the wrong file, and begins to scribble on it as I interrupt, telling her I’m not Melissa Moravitz.

I wonder if Melissa Moravitz has to deal with the same shit.  I also wonder if she knows that I am as “clinically depressed” as much as I know she is “anorexic.”

Margaret finally finds my file, reaches for the credit card I’ve already given her and complains about how slow the machine is being today…Everyday.

Then, I stand there like an idiot with my hand out, while the machine continuously beeps, until she finally notices me with a squeal and hands me back my credit card.

I sit down and watch her forget to call Rachel.  Ten minutes later either Rachel comes out wondering what’s taking so long or some other sappy therapist notices me and sends me back.  Meanwhile, Margaret continues stuffing her face with chocolate and absolutely no recollection of me or our painfully recent interaction.  I wonder if she gets free therapy, I think.  She should.

————————

Same thing happens today. Rachel comes out ten minutes later while I’m still waiting patiently, or so it seems.

“Come on back Melissa.  Sorry Margaret didn’t let me know you were ready.”

“She never does,” I responded.

Her room smelt of chili and all I could think of was her slamming her food right before our session. I snickered a little.

“Usually when people skip a session they never come back, that’s why I wasn’t expecting you.”

Girl you don’t have to explain lunch to me, I thought.

“Well I tried calling (lie), but the phone is always busy (truth) and there’s no answering machine (truth).”

“I’m just glad to see you here now Melissa.  How are things? It’s been a couple of weeks since we last met.”

“I’m ok.  Just working a lot.” Jesus, it’s like talking to a complete stranger.

“Have you been in contact with your ex?”

“No (truth).  I have been just focusing on working and getting used to being alone.”

“How are you feeling about being alone?”

“Um, I guess how everyone feels about being alone…Bored.  Seeking attention in all the wrong types of men, or boys, I don’t know.”

She put her pen in her mouth, “What do you mean by the wrong types of men?”

“Oh, you know, the kinds with girlfriends, or wives, or emotional problems.”

She seemed excited, “What types of emotional problems?”  Fucking therapists.

“Not entirely sure what kind of emotional problems, but the kind that wrap their palms around your throat while orgasming and finally let go once they see your turning blue and begin to cry in your groin…Those types.”

She looked uncomfortable and stayed silent, so I continued, “I think I’m over that though, I was just lonely.”

She shifted in her seat gathering courage, “M-Melissa, that’s extremely aggressive behavior, I’m glad you are okay.  Did you report him? He could have hurt you.”

“Since when do cops give a shit about protecting women?  So no,  I didn’t report him,  I didn’t even get his name.”  She continued to stare at me in horror, so I continued again, “Don’t worry I won’t be seeing him again.”

She finally took a breath, relieved of my loose epiphany, “Well it sounds like you won’t do that again.  How is everything else?”

I rolled my eyes, “Ok I guess, I laugh still so that’s good.  I’m lonely, like I said, but I think I’m just processing.  It’ll go away or I’ll just become accustomed to the loneliness.”

When I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’m already accustomed to loneliness.  Me and lonely have been friends for a long time, too long.  An old childhood friend that I’ve never been able to shake.  The friend that you clean up bleeding outside the bar because of their own stupidity.  An old childhood friend that you know, if you had met as an adult, you would have never given the time.  But because lonely and I have been friends for so long and know each other like the back of our own hands, we keep each other around.  Bad choice as an early childhood friend, lonely.  I wonder why I still get shocked with being alone, I guess there’s different levels.

“Have you been having any thoughts about hurting yourself lately?

Annoyed, I snapped back into our session,”I told you before, I’ve always had thoughts of suicide but I’m not going to do it, pretty sure those days are over.”

I’m too numb to kill myself.  I actually prefer feeling it.  I can feel comfort in loneliness sometimes, it is just more in gray scale rather than color.  Like I’ve accepted this destiny, like the calm right before drowning after all the pathetic flailing.

“Have you been wanting to contact your ex?”

Again, I snapped back to our session, “No (lie).  I just know that I can’t (truth).  It has been years of us torturing each other.  These two and a half months are the longest we’ve gone without speaking.  I’m okay with it, I understand that our relationship will never work and I forgive myself (truth).  Being lonely is worth it, if it means I don’t have to be with him.  I know what I need out of a lover and I know he’s not it and so does he.  There’s no point for us to be in contact, when in the past I didn’t think that.  I always thought there was a reason we should stay in contact.”

She looked proud, “Well you certainly seem more confident about this than the last time I saw you.  You were still upset with the outcome and with yourself.”

“Oh, I’m still upset with the outcome but not with myself.  I know neither of us did anything wrong, we just aren’t right for each other.”

“This is a very healthy realization and step for you Melissa. This is our last session, so what now for you?

She thinks she’s accomplished something, this simple bitch, “Hmm, well I guess just keep going as usual, trusting myself and my intuition.  Not letting relationships dictate my happiness. I feel stronger, lonely but strong.  I don’t regret my decisions and my progress in the last three months.”

She smiled, “Well I think you will do just fine in life Melissa.”

I fake smiled at her, “Well I think you will do just fine in your life as well Rachel.”

She stood up, “I have a survey that I’d love for you to fill out and you can begin sessions with me again in January if you like.”

I gathered my things, “For sure I will check it out after the holidays (lie), good luck in your career (truth).

I walked out of my last session feeling relieved and lonely, yet confident in my decisions to move forward in my new life.

When I got back in my car I turned my phone back on.

A text from my ex…”This might sound crazy, but I really want to have sex with you.”

“Come over,” I replied.

Tarot Bully

It was New Year’s Eve.

“Mom, just pick a card!”

She looked terrified.

“It’s just tarot, you can make whatever you want of it.”

She looked away from me, nose high, “I don’t want to, it’s just not my thing.”

“Well it’s kinda my thing. Don’t you want to step out of your box for a moment and try something different?”

“Mel, I don’t know why you stopped coming to mass, you know you can be forgiven.”

I sighed, ” I don’t need to be forgiven.”

“I’m just saying with all the men and the drinking, it’s not healthy for a girl your age. You should be finding a good husband, planning children. You don’t have as much time as you might think.”

“What about me screams husband and children? Besides, I’m a lesbian!”

Her mouth dropped, “Are you a lesbian?”

“Mom, no, I’m not! But what if I was? You could have really offended me.  That was fucked up how far your mouth just hit the floor.”

She relaxed a bit in her seat, “You know I would love you no matter what, right?”

“I know. Now just pick a damn card.”

“I told you I don’t like to play with this dark stuff.”

“It’s not dark. You do realize there are different forms and avenues for spirituality don’t you? Now, you spent my whole life shoving yours down my throat. It’s time for you to take a crack at mine.”

She hesitated and pulled a card. The devil. God damnit of course. The absolute worst card a god fearing woman could pull. She gasped and I began laughing hysterically. I couldn’t help it.

“I told you I didn’t want to pick a card Mel! Why did you have to push me so hard? This does not align with my faith!”

She stormed out and I still couldn’t stop laughing as I reached my hand for hers.

“Mom, you really think your god is that petty? Let me explain the card!”

The bedroom door slammed and I heard a muffled, “Fuck off!”

“Well that certainly didn’t go as I planned,” I mumbled to myself while pouring us two glasses of wine. Still giggling, I sheepishly snuck into her room.

She accepted the wine and we both shared a good laugh. Nothing more satisfying than hearing your mom awkwardly say “fuck.”