So much for a peaceful walk around the park.
About five minutes shy of reaching Fulton Park, we were stopped by an incredibly unwanted visitor. Our visitor wore blue jeans and a sweater that looked like his grandma was only a few fabrics short of knitting him a puppy-dog face on the very front. This prick was a guy that me and Heidi knew in high school by the name of Paul Sadler. Paul was born and raised in Kansas, moving to Brooklyn when his old man got hired on for a teaching gig. Fortunately for Paul, he was never one to fall into the “new kid” trap.
He made friends quite easily.
He was always on the Honor Roll.
He was in just about every school club that didn't exclude guys from joining.
Paul was perfect.
A real boy scout.
Unfortunately, me and Heidi each had totally different opinions of the sniveling bastard.
Upon hearing him call out to her on the street, Heidi immediately let go of my hand and ran into his arms. They tenderly pressed their lips together while she ran a hand through his blonde shoulder-length mop. He hummed at her touch, wrapping an arm around her waist. By looking at the two of them, you'd think they hadn't seen each other in years. But I knew that was bullshit and so did they. Paul made it a point to see Heidi at least once every single day. Any day where this wasn't possible, he'd call her on the land-line and keep her on the phone for hours on end. It's been like this now for almost five years.
Yeah, you read that correctly.
Five goddamn years.
The kiss was thankfully short, but it nevertheless left them both seeing stars and me seeing red. He playfully gave her auburn ponytail a quick stroke before letting go of her. “What's good, you?” Heidi purred blissfully. Paul smiled wide. Her voice always made the boy scout stupid happy. He often compared her voice to a thousand angels singing a holy hymn all about peace on Earth. “But those thousands of angels singing about peace are no match for the one angel standing in front me, singing her song of peace to me,” is a line he's used on her about five-hundred times now; well, that I've heard. Who the hell knows many times he's said it when they were alone?
“My day just got a hundred times better,” he chuckled. Heidi giggled like a little schoolgirl. “You don't mean that.” He winked at her. I ain't talking about a proper wink a man gives a lady to let her know he wants to take her home. I'm talking about one of those long, exaggerated “I know something you don't know” types of winks. Like if they were in a TV sitcom and his wink was directly at the camera, followed by the live studio audience cracking up. But that didn't matter to Heidi; she found it endearing...somehow. And this unfortunately led to a series of really...oh, just read it and you'll see.
“You're such a dork!”
“But I'm your dork, baby.”
“Are you only my dork?”
“You know it, sugarbabe!”
“Oh, I love you!”
“I love you more.”
Did I mention already that these two have been together for five years?
Sick of the mushfest, I pulled out my second cigarette within the hour and lit up. Like a charm, the initial smell of lit tobacco jolted the both of them out of their verbal masturbation session. Heidi had a look of guilt, like she felt bad about forgetting that I was there watching them. Paul's look of discomfort served as bonus points for me, though. The wimp has always been nauseated by the smell of cigarette smoke.
“Hey, Genghis. Umm, do you mind?” Paul said, pinching his nose together to block out the smell. I cocked an eyebrow at him. What a terrific question.
Did I mind putting out my cigarette in his presence?
Did he mind not macking on Heidi in my presence?
Oh, what's that?
He did mind?
Then so do I, asshole.
I blew out a cloud of smoke upwards, but it was enough to make the boy scout hack up his lungs. “Genghis! Do you mind?!” he repeated, this time with a bit more frustration in his voice. I gave him a smirk and shrugged my shoulders. We're outdoors, stupid. It ain't a crime to smoke here.
Heidi gently grabbed his arm, deciding to intervene. “Don't mind him, okay? He's...had a rough afternoon.” Paul gave me a look indicating that he was curious. “How rough?”
Oh, here we go. The thing about Heidi is that she always feels the need to try helping me out by explaining to others my “issues”, regardless if they ask or not. She justifies it by stating that it's “to make them understand”. You know, it would be one thing if she accomplished this by bluntly telling people to stay away from me when I was in the zone. But...no. I can't get that kind of satisfaction.
Heidi, you see, has this incredible gift for making me, a twenty-year old man with questionable interests, sound more like a two-year old that she's trying to potty train. That ain't even an exaggeration, you guys. She uses the same heightened pitch in her voice that people usually use to talk to babies, she uses the word “accident” to describe something I did while I was on a roll, and tops it all off by saying the phrase, “He's gettin' better, but sometimes he makes a little boo-boo.” Without proper context, people would automatically assume that she was referring to her young son who constantly shits his pants.
Yeah, so I have that going for me.
If you're shaking your head and thinking, “I dunno, Genghis. It can't be that bad,” then why don't you just listen to her describe the incident at the soup kitchen to Paul and make your own judgments?
“Genghis sorta had a...little accident at the soup kitchen today.” My palm loudly met my forehead. Do you even need to know how the rest of this conversation went? I think that statement alone is enough to prove my point! I bit my bottom lip and growled loud enough for her to hear me. Yes, Heidi, please—make it sound like I had a random bowel movement right there in the middle of the goddamn soup kitchen!
She, of course, ignored me and continued.
“He kinda startled a bunch of people towards the end there. Mrs. Frier told me that he was actin' funny, so I went to check it out. I found 'im pacing really fast back and fawth, breathin' really loudly; almost sounded like he was hyperventilatin' or somethin'!”
I guess that was me gasping, then.
Paul's eyes widened. “Oh man, what happened? Did somebody say something creepy to you? There's no shame in being scared, Genghis.” My hand immediately flew up, flipping him the bird. Heidi slapped my hand away. “I really wish he'd tell me when he was feelin' mad nervous. Then maybe it would be easier to avoid causin' a big scene!”
I don't get “nervous”, sweetheart.
I get excited.
She put an arm around my neck. I knew the big line was coming. “He's gettin' better, though. I can honestly say that. He's been better at keepin' himself in check. But sometimes he makes a boo-boo.” Oh honey, if only you knew.
If only you really knew.
She playfully jabbed my shoulder. “He really had me scared! He screamed really loud when I tried to get him to tawlk to me.” Paul laughed. It wasn't an “Oh shit, that's unsettling” kind of laugh, either. It was more like an “Oh you adorable little creature; you do the darnedest things!” kind of laugh. He was really lucky Heidi was there.
“So I guess he was pretty scared, too!”
No, I wasn't.
Heidi smiled. “We were on our way to the park. Genghis always enjoys goin' there. Gets him away from the chaotic city for a minute.” Paul smiled at her. “You're such a good sist—” I cleared my throat loudly, attempting for the first time in the last half hour to speak. “Step. Step-sister,” I said with a venomous tone. Paul responded with an uneasy chuckle. “My mistake, buddy! It's all okay. We all get a little anxious sometimes, right Heidi?”
Fuck me; there's this, too.
Paul Sadler, trying to be the perfect boyfriend to Heidi, makes every attempt possible to try sucking up to her family. Once a month, he'll come over to our apartment and spoil our fathers with gifts. He always gives her old man some kind of football memorabilia and he gives my old man some shitty present like a coffee mug or a baseball card for his collection. This simple trick of manipulation, of course, always works because both my father and Heidi's father are drooling morons.
And oh boy, the ways he's tried winning me over.
One time, Paul tried hooking me up with some girl in his third period art class. That's right, this turd thought I needed help getting a girl despite the fact that I had way more sex than he did. “You could use a girlfriend, Genghis. Love is a wonderful thing to have!”
That's so right, Paulie!
Just ask Heidi.
At least the girl in question was a looker. Her name was Lacy Franklin; sophomore. She looked an awful lot like Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club, aka the only thing about the poster that enticed me enough to go see it when it was in theaters. Anyway, it turned out this girl he wanted me to hook up with was not only in the closet, but had the hots for just about every broad on the cheer-leading squad. I promised her I'd keep her secret if she told Paul we fucked during a party once upon a time. She laughed and asked, “Does it have to be good sex?” I shrugged and told 'er, “It could either be the best fuck you ever had—made you scream like a banshee. Or I could've passed out after just two thrusts. I doan care.” I guess that answer surprised her because she kept her end of the bargain and I kept mine. And considering Paul didn't walk up to me and offer any condolences, I'm gonna assume she spoke well of my “performance”.
Anyway, the point I'm trying to get across is that Paul has been pretty desperate to get on my good side. Most of the time, he tries being my best friend by complimenting me, inviting me out with him and his friends, and laughing at my snarky comments that, sixty percent of the time, are actually about him; he's just too stupid to catch the hint.
The worst of his attempts, however, are these.
His attempts to relate to me.
“If you feel more comfortable talking to a fellow guy about your problems, I'm right here, champ!”
Don't you dare talk to me like you understand me, “fellow guy”.
The only reason you care is because you want Heidi to keep going down on you.
I'm mentally ill; not stupid.
“I'm out,” I barked irritably, pulling away from Heidi. I dropped my cigarette, stamping it out. I was done hearing these two talk about me like I was some special needs case. The longer I was around them, the more aggravated I got. I needed five minutes to myself.
I was almost on the road until she grabbed a hold of my arm. “Genghis, where do you think you're goin'?” I pulled my arm away from her. “Across the street to that gas station. I'll be back in a minute.” I continued onward, watching out for traffic. Unfortunately, the lovebirds decided to follow me like a bunch of ducklings following their mother.
“Do you need somethin'? I can get it for you, you know!” I rolled my eyes, breathing out an annoyed, “I'm just goin' to the bathroom, sheesh.” Once we reached the other side, Paul made the big statement that he was gonna go with me.
“Yeah, no you ain't,” I muttered as I pushed the door to the gas station open. Heidi waited outside and he continued to follow me on his dutiful quest to make his girlfriend proud of him. “I-I insist, my man! Besides, I drank a little too much coffee this morning. It's gone through my system big ti—”
“Go piss against the wall outside,” I said, navigating through people browsing through chips and candy. I could hear Paul laughing behind me. “You know I can't do that, Genghis. That would be very unlawful. Not to mention disrespectful to the establishment!” I bit my lip, my temper threatening to let loose on this bozo. “Then you go to the bathroom; I'll meet you outside,” I responded, turning around to leave. He grabbed my arm. “Whoa, man! Don't do that. What if a cop sees you?”
Well, the bastard put his hands on me.
That was all the justification I needed.
Before Paul Sadler could say the phrase “I love Heidi Leanne Boy”, my fist snuffed him right in the nose. He, of course, yelped like a little bitch and spun around, nearly bumping into some fat guy having trouble choosing between Cheetos and Pringles. “Yo, watch it!” the guy spat out, not caring that a guy just got physically assaulted in public.
Ah, gotta love Brooklyn.
Paul turned around to face me, beginnings of blood trying to run down his nostrils. “What the he—” I grabbed him by his collar and pulled him close enough to where he could feel my breath on his face. “Listen here, chump; I doan need your fuckin' help. I just want to breathe for five mother-fuckin' minutes without you and your woman givin' me shit. Alright?!” He nodded like a bobble-head. “Now be a good boy-toy and protect Heidi from the crazy New Yorkers outside.” With that, I pushed him hard onto the floor and turned around to enter the men's room.
I shoved the door open and walked in, letting the door slam loudly behind me. Without examining my surroundings, I unleashed a series of punches against the wall. “Fuck all these people!” I growled loudly, determined to get most of my anger out of my system before facing Heidi again. I was shaking with rage.
How dare they talk to me like I'm some kind of idiot.
How dare Paul try to use me to impress Heidi.
How dare Heidi love him more than life itself.
How dare Paul move to New York in the first place!
I kicked the nearest stall before turning around and sitting down on the ground, leaning against said stall. There was a row of about four urinals and two stalls, all of which were unoccupied. So at least I had the room to myself. Finally.
I beat my fist against the ground a few times, but quit when my knuckles started feeling sore. I leaned my head back, trying to control my breathing. It was something I remembered from a few years back when I was forced to undergo anger management training. “Relax, young man,” the therapist told me, “try to avoid thinking of those pesky triggers. Breathe in, breathe out. Think of something that makes you happy.”
That would've made me feel happy had we actually gone there.
But no; Paul had to show his ugly mug around and get Heidi's panties love-stained.
I positioned myself to where my knees were up, legs spread slightly. I lowered my face into my kneecaps, wrapping my arms around my head and knees. This breathing thing wasn't working for me today. The bad thoughts just wouldn't shut up.
The thoughts...they never could decide what they wanted to be. Did I want settle down and start a family, or did I want to take over the world? Did I want to submit to the corporate world and get myself an honest job, or did I want to continue sticking it to the man in anyway I could? Did I want to be in love, or did I just want to be alone? No, never alone. Anything but alone. Anything.
Please don't cry.
Please don't cry.
You're a man; you can't do that.
The bathroom door opened and I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as possible. I guess the boy scout got whipped into coming back to check up on me. Well, I wasn't about to let Paul have the satisfaction of seeing me tear up like a baby. As a matter of fact, I wasn't gonna let him smile his way out the shit river he's sank himself into. He can have Heidi mad at me all he wants, but I'm going to be straight with him. I'm going to let him know exactly how things are going to be for now on. I could go further, if I wanted to. I could tell him so many things that would fuck him up permanently.
Things about me.
Things about Heidi.
Things about our family.
The poor bastard wouldn't know how to deal with any of it.
I was ready to pop off at him the moment he said a word to me in that bathroom. However, the word never came. The door opened, footsteps came walking in, and then they stopped somewhere past me. Eventually I could hear what sounded like a fairly large zipper coming undone. I lifted my head up and turned to see what was going on.
Somebody was occupying a urinal, but it wasn't Paul. It was some pale-ass motherfucker with short blonde hair. He wore a jersey like the ones at my old high school, though he, himself, I didn't recognize. Either he was new, or he was just a freshman. He was definitely younger than me, no doubt.
And here he was today.
In the same bathroom as me.
Currently in a terribly vulnerable state.
While I was itching to get my hands on someone.
Didn't even need to be Paul.
Didn't even need to be Paul.
There was my smile again.