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Roger Young
taking the long way home.

in a wave of confusion

"What is there left to say? In this world of ours,
Where everything has been written and said and thought.
Sure I could explain all the reasons I have for leaving you.
Or I could write a list of novels, pile you with books,
Demarcated in margins where the emotion is relevant.
Cut together clips from all the films that are this, now, how I feel.
All is done. All has been said. Our love is so unoriginal.
So beautiful it was. I have no more words. Its over"

to begin. Maybe on that day of quiet desperation. When they knew their love was gone? Or on the day when he wrote that note. Or on the day when she discovered that she wanted more than this. The point is there were days. And days of desperation. That was enough. Oh, Sure they had had their days of wine and roses, so to speak (though it was more vodka and heroin than anything else.) Heroin lite mind you, not the heady world of addiction and junkiedom, just the slow dirty fluorescent buzzing of every other weekend, arms scratched to shreds, going to work on Monday irritable. For him that is. She didn't work, she lay by the pool. He had made partner in an advertising agency soon after they had moved away from the city they met in. Bought a house, there was no need for her to work, yet she ought to do something, shouldn't she. Anyway these things we must roll out one by one. The point is, there were quiet days of desperation by the pool. There were days staring at the freshly photographed watches lying in their caskets in the studio. There was a day when it began to end. And then it did.

Jem, Jeremy, victim of late first love, forever doomed to wander the earth knowing he had failed, to wonder why he was so ill equipped. When you pick up the schoolbooks late, there is no easy way to catch up; you must face certain experiences with certain amounts of knowledge in order to get the same certainties as everyone else. He took his time about falling in love; he took his time about his first kiss even. This was in the distant past and was probably the beginning, the wrenching leaving of his first love, Cathryn, Kate, Katie, why, he mumbles slowly to himself.

On the morning when Karen left him, because he had tried to leave her and at the last moment said
"No, fuckit, give me that note back, don't read it."
say those words aloud,
"No, fuckit, give me that note back, don't read it."
But she had and she was out the door in tears, and he was on the bed thinking not of Karen but Cathryn.

Because she had called. She had called. After six long years, she had phoned him two days prior, crackly "I'm in Cape Town, what are the chances of seeing you."
And that was when his life had emptied.
His love, his job, his life, all of it had inhabited some vague surrealist realm for a while, now drained away. Nothing had relevance; Jeremy thought then, "How could any of this have ever had relevance." He found himself looking at the newly minted prints of the whisky bottle on his desk, next to his layouts, the print outs, the invites and all the other things he cared not to consider anymore and thought,
"Maybe I have another chance."

As anyone who knows anything about love knows, there is no second chance, maybe a quick catch up in a coffee shop, a lifetime of regrets, but it never blossoms twice in the same garden. The rotting bulb may be exposed, and we might cling to that because all else has failed us. But Jeremy came to the house of love late and missed the opening lessons. That all is said in the heat of the moment, however long and hot that moment is, it cools and the words lose all meaning. He looked at the muted faces of the clients in the approval meeting as his ideas were shot down with focus groups, thinking how irrelevant all of this was. And he booked an aeroplane ticket to Cape Town for Friday, returning Sunday night, because for whatever reason, he would like to just see her again, hoping against hope. Karen is out there; in the house packing her bags straight back to mother. Time, Jeremy should have learnt by now as he has dredged through all the media, reducing it all to references. Time, Jeremy is the thief; once something has been swallowed by time it doesn't come back. An irreversible word, a hard glance, fifteen seconds, five years, time is the killer, second by second,
"No, fuckit, give me that note back, don't read it."

Friday afternoon, bloody Mary's on BA 637 to Cape Town, the sun sinking over the crumbling metropolis of Johannesburg.
1. Stop me if you think you've heard this one before

The running of feet on the cobblestones, the old church standing guard on the square, their shadows mingling with the faint moonlit cast of ancient trees, running, ducking as you do, sequestering themselves behind dustbins away from the shouting police, running like over enthusiastic hunting poodles. Cathryn and Brian hid in an alley and watched the two policemen flickering out into the darkness of the Cape Town night.


"Fuck" said Brian. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."
"I'm sorry"
"Katie, you said you knew those guys, you said this was safe."
"Listen, I've been away, how would I know that they're being watched."

Out past the parked car's they talked, walked down past the tourist bars and frolicking street children and coloured rent boys. Brian's taut German-ness a threat unto itself. His hair slicked over his forehead in a sweat that was alien to him. "A drink, christ, I need a drink" and he turned them into a bar.

At the counter Cathryn felt strange and she could not put her finger on it. What. Oddly familiar, yet she was sure this place wasn't here when she had left six years ago. Six years, she thought and said, "Double Johnny Black on the rocks" and then again "Six years" and she turned on her stool to face the room.

Dim lit, wood panelled, filled with foreigners, pretty boys, posing girls, some drug dealers, derivative acid jazz wafting through the hubbub. She was tired of bars like this. Everywhere she went in the world there was a bar like this. A model bar, a slumming model bar, not slick, a place where the hip had stumbled in and stayed, claimed it for them. She hated them. In her ear Brian was babbling angry sounding but she was looking thinking, how much I hate them. And then she realised what he was saying.

"How beautiful they are, look at them Kate, all our beautiful clients." She faces his smile. "Just think, most of these people will take some of our pills this summer, we will affect these people, they just don't know it yet."

My God, he's proud of himself. He likes doing this. She drank a little faster.

Tamsen materialises out of the gloom and walks right up to her and says,
"Fuck, Kathy, where the fuck've you been?"
It takes Cathryn a full two seconds to recognise her through the enhanced lips and the hair and the Stetson and the vacant look.
"Tamsen chrissakes, look at you, you're all..."
Tamsen patiently waiting for the sentence to finish, can't, suggests
"Grown up?"
Looking at Tamsen while they hug, Brian sees disappointment on her face.

So he offers Tamsen a drink. Whispers in Cathryn's ear,
"See if she want 's or knows who wants."
Talking, talking, Cathryn and Tamsen, Brian patiently waiting, scanning the room, models a buzz.
A policeman pokes his head in, looks around. The hubbub dies; Cathryn shoots a look to Brian, already at her shoulder. Calmly he says,
"They can't prove a thing."
Then to Tamsen.
"Like another drink" as the buzz restores it's self.

Stepping out onto the pavement Brian does not wait before he says to her that-she's-got-to-try-sell-the-pills-or-find-someone-to-sell-the-pills-to-by-single-or-bulk. He says how's-he-meant-to-he-doesn't-know-anyone-and-you-know-that-we-don't-have-time. He says.
"Brian, I used to fucking baby-sit her, I can't sell her ecstasy."
Which he absorbs and says something about it being a fine time to develop a sense of morality.
"Not morality, shock, you know, the horror, the horror." hand signals inverts.
"No, I don't know, actually. All I know is we need to be back in two weeks with all the fucking guilders, and forty kilograms of weed or we are fucked."
Which comes out in a very matter of fact uber alles kind of way with no fear in it and he steps ahead, walking faster. Leaving Cathryn to think and dwindle to a stop, lean against a wall. Think about nothing but how long, how far and how tired she is.

000

oh god. a baby. he wants a baby. maybe that's it. he's training me for a baby.

Lying by the pool, she sat up, now looking at the house, thought of how he never pressured her into trying to get a job, into anything. He just went to work.
Came home, ate they got drunk, did drugs whatever, had sex.
The drugs would stop the moment she said, I'm pregnant.
This thought rattling around in her brain. I'm too young to have a baby.
And then fun that had begun to drain out of this relationship, the moment he got a job, make a sucking noise and spiralled away.

It was afternoon and clouds had begun to cover the sun. But she jumped into the pool anyway. Under the crisp water she could almost see the sand and almost expected to rise on the beach of her hometown. She did not want a baby. She did not want to just wait around like this, nothing to do all day, a housewife with a maid to clean up after her, and only nineteen.

The water slipped off her as she got out of the swimming pool. She looked around to see if anyone was watching, and then took off her bikini top, walked over to the sliding doors and surveyed her breasts in the reflection. And she looked at her slim young body and she cupped her breasts and let them flop. She was pleased at the lack of flop, so to speak, she was pleased that she still had young full firm breasts and she turned, the sun glinting off her and the sound of a bird made her look up into the sky squinting, a small flock flying into the sun. And she took three fast running steps to the pool, feeling her body, her youth pounding and she dives through the air, into the water, knowing full well she will surface somewhere else.

000

The photographer was talking up underexposure and the stylist was flashing various shirts of different colours at him and he was looking through the crack in the open door at the model, changing oblivious, thinking about Karen's breasts. But also thinking about having sex with the model, but the irreconcilable thing was that as he visualised having sex with the model, he could only see Karen's breasts, pasted on badly in photoshop. He didn't want to have sex with Karen though, he wanted to fuck the model and he felt a bit dizzy.

Not sex with Karen because she had lost all the life and joy that she ha had. Since he had got this job, she did nothing but wait for him to come home. She didn't want to do anything with her life. And that made him unable to find her attractive, it was only in heroin stupor when he could see who she was truly that he desired her fully, when he got past all his bullshit about ambition and he could just see her for who she was, innocent, guarded, afraid, beautiful. If only she could snap out of her funk and find something to do.

Some ambition, like the model, who half-naked had noticed him looking at her and she stood there and smiled and he knew he could have her and that was enough. Then for some reason from somewhere the thought hit him. Maybe she does have ambition; maybe Karen does want something, my god what if she wants a baby. I don't know if that's what I want, shit, maybe she wants a baby, that must be it.

It was then while Jem was standing there. Looking at a naked girl, thinking of his girlfriends' breasts, wondering about fatherhood, and quite frankly, looking dashing in his dark blue suit while lost in this whorl of inconsistent thoughts and motives that his breast pocket vibrated. For one second had one clear thought, "Must answer that".
It was the last clear thought that he had. Because the voice on the other end said,
"Hi Jem, it's been a long time, but it's me it Cathryn, I'm back in the country, where are you."
The shoot ended early and the model went home alone. Jeremy's mind was awash. He was grabbing at branches flowing past him in the whirlpool current. He was being sucked toward something. He reached for his pen and began to write a note.

000

It takes some drunk to get you to walk in like that. And expect it to all be normal, sure the same people are in the same toilets, at the same bar, at the same pool table and it's all the same but no one knows your name, no one's glad you came and the mini bar drunk is fading fast. And he finds himself amongst strangers, in a strange place, that looked real and familiar, but none of them will know the pixies, none of them will understand my witty Depeche Mode references. The white girl with the blond braids, the body popping coloured boy, the tall gawky guy, grey haired it is all so unfamiliar, coming home. Jem thought there would be people shocked to see him, open arms, people to welcome him home. To welcome him home. The central belief he had held for so long was that there was a place that he would be welcomed back to. He stood at the bar, saw what he had seen a million times before, but the faces had changed, and he told himself. That no one was out tonight, no one goes out on a Thursday in this town. And that he'd see them all tomorrow. After all he'd only been away for eight months. And nothing changes that fast; another shot of whiskey, another beer.

Jem felt the motions. He consoled himself, that first night back, with the thought that he could appreciate what all these kids where going through, lazing back on the bar, he wanted to start a magazine, he wanted to include them in campaigns, he wanted to glorify them. He couldn't just admit to himself that he was looking for ways to be involved, because he could not be involved as Jeremy the guy anymore, because even though the gap was three or four years small, the gap was there. Somehow he had traversed it. The only thing he could be now was the mirror. He was no longer the reflection. The floor was moving another whiskey, another beer.

Oh God, all he'd ever wanted was to hold up the mirror and show what his friends, what his generation, how the people he knew were breaking through. And he was now able. He was finally able, to grasp a mirror, and his people weren't the people. Another whisky. And he held onto the bar and was trying to say, it's good to be home, goddamn I made this place, I am this place, but there was no one to tell.

Desperately wanting to put a coin down on the table, holding back knowing the concentration was gone. As he lurched toward the fresh air, he saw all the old men, he had seen lurch toward the front door, and all the pity and hatred he had felt. Jeremy in his stupidness could not put together that the old men were fifty and he wasn't thirty, for he could feel it. The fifty-ness. Knowing he couldn't no longer do the slice double back shot he used to get cheers for. Now, on the pavement, take away beer in hand, cars coming toward him in the street, the stars, the mountain, thinking, where, where and who is there to understand my references. And my past and what happened to the wild high times. Head in his hands, beer in his ear, looking to the pavement, a set of heels and he looks up and sees the perfect girl of his youth.

Wearing heels and socks, she is marching down the road and he follows.

Because what else, there it is, the mini bar talking, there she is and if I was younger I would not be able to express. Faltering, why am I here, winding up in a snack shop. And Socks is whining to her boyfriend about an ice-cream, and the boy friend has no money but for cigarettes and she is moaning, and this feels like a gap, and he buys what she is asking for, pays and as he gets to the door. Jeremy hands her the stuff, she looks mortified, looks in the bag, looks up, thanks him and runs to the back of the store and as he walks out hears "baby we got everything, that drunk freak just gave it to me" and he hears in his mind on the way to the rental car, the silent mocking that he used to dish out to desperate men trying to pick up his girlfriend. And the pride he used to feel. He was all alone in the city of his birth, knowing full well that there was no one who was the same, and the people who were the same he didn't know. and he was alone.

There is something quite unholy about sprawling into your late twenties at the beginning of a century. The niggling doubts you have as you being to approach mid-life are exacerbated by the turning of the zeros. Into a cab and back to the hotel. A hotel room alone all my teenage expectations shattered. Not even a bible in the bedside.

Jeremy naked and lost at the window, looking out at the grid map below him, thinking all the places he could point out as progressive steps in the journey to him. He could see the first nightclub or at least it's block, and he could see a glimmer of his first, second third apartments. His old house, the sea, the stars. Knowing how much he had seen under all this, all his life and he started in the dark to blame the places. For him. And why he was here. Why was he here so early? I'm only seeing her after lunch, why this extra platter of hours. Why did I leave so quickly, where is Karen? His thoughts degenerating into the mush that hid from the sunrise under the blinds, his thoughts nothing but those of everyone else still awake at sunrise in Cape Town in February. Strangely awake before noon Jeremy. Maybe it was the austerity of the situation. Maybe it was just that he couldn't stop the poncey words running through his head as he looked out on Cape Town and thought of the times he had looked up at this very hotel and thought how high above the city it was.

High above the city. Well as high as city ordinance will allow, being so close to the sea, but high, but not so high that the building might obstruct the view of the mountain from the freeway. Okay not high, ten floors up, but what a view. The same view you can get anywhere in the city. But god what a view, how good to be back.

Precisely as if last night had not happened, he was glad to be back. Sucked immediately in by the mountain and the sea, he wondered why he had ever left. Not even the boredom was considered, the wasted days afraid of the endless sun. The endless opportunity for outdoor activity. Not even the winter hell of heroin, to pass the time to the summers of endless opportunities. In this haze he had met Karen. Beautiful, bright, bitchy, bored Karen, he was determined to make her live. Across all those meeting of clique's dinner tables, he had watched her, tried to engage her. Slowly drawn her in by oblique invitations, by disjointed friends to equally disjointed dinners, and slowly through moments grabbed in overcrowded toilets he had engaged her.

Those fuelled moments that they had clicked together in, wasn't that the whole scope of everything that came after. The night he and Karen had finally given in to each other was not clear. They had not made a conscious decision to do it, either of them; apart from Jem's pursuance he wanted her more as an idea, more as an echo of that unobtainable first love. Because she had the same irreverence and because he had the drugs they had ended up together. Which is not to say it wasn't a happy union. It was that and they had soldiered through the haze to find real happiness. Not even everything Jeremy had lived through could make him not feel a little remorse for his leaving her.

Robe'd now, room service lunch, chair on his little hotel balcony, the last two skittering hours were over and he was reaching calm. He was going to see Cathryn; she had wanted to see him. She was back in the country and she wanted to see him. Karen was gone. The past was gone and Cathryn wanted to see him.

000

Why won't he stop, she wanted him to stop pacing, and elaborating. She knew the deal. She knew the implications. And she had offered to help out. So fucking desperate, he was so cool and together and she almost loved him, but he was falling apart now and she hated the fact that it was up to her. All I'm after is a strong man, but they all show their cracks if you spend enough time. Pacing, stop pacing.
"I'm only seeing him later, why don't we go to a movie, or lunch or something."
Anything to make him stop-it-now.
"You go, I need to think."
She was beyond the point of trying to rationalise him down, and the small pile of leftover cocaine wasn't helping. Evident already that there would be no cash from the ecstasy, that he would barter it all for other drugs and potential leads to sell the rest, and they would never raise the money they needed to pay off Brian's debt.

What was so amazing was that she had seen it before, and taken the drugs and said the right things to other men in the same situation as this, her boyfriend. At the first trade she had known, they were not getting back to the 'Dam with the money and they only thing that would prevent swift death for Brian and herself by association was to bring back as much weed as possible. Even then that would only buy them another bag of pills, probably double and another trip back to sell them to the people they were failing to sell them to now. And return after that empty handed would be death, for Brian. Oh well, she could probably fuck her way out of it, perhaps.

All this while she stood about to open the door, wish he would stop pacing.
"Okay, I'll see you later."
"Are you going?"
"Ja."
He grabs his jacket, "Maybe I need some air." he is turning the handle and she is thinking all I want is to be alone. They are walking to the lift together, she is somehow bonded to him, jittery him, stupid him backed up into a corner desperate him, charming Brian cracks showing.

"Bri, baby?" the numbers counting down, "I'm going to need some time before I meet Jeremy later, y'know, it's been a little while and I, well y'know."
Brian has to think before he wonders aloud if perhaps Jeremy still doesn't mean something to her.
At which point she decides that whatever happens, she is not landing in the 'dam with this little fuck, whatever happens.
"Bri, you asked me to find some guy to carry, and this is the only guy I know I can make carry."
"That doesn't mean you don't still care." He can't even look at her, completely and utterly afraid of the answer.
"Fuck, off."

There is only the silence of the descending lift and when the doors open he starts moving fast out to the lobby doors, dodging incoming tourists, weaving across the red carpet. She follows slowly, two things certain, that he needs her and that he doesn't know how to get around in this, her, city.

000

She finds him two blocks later, on a park bench, staring madly into the traffic.


"Bri, baby." No response, save a shift of the leg. Cathryn sits, her hand on his leg.
"I thought you wanted me to fuck off."
"No, and I'm not going to explain myself, you know what I mean."
"Yeah, that I must fuck off."
"I'm doing this for you, because I want to help, I came here with you because I want to help."
"Well help then, we need to move these pills, or I'm fucked."
"I've been away a lot longer than I thought I had, things are different, but I'll make it work,"
She cradles him in the mid-morning heat,
"I'll make it work, I promise." she just wants quiet as she is cradling, rocking, hoping no-one in the passing cars sees her, recognises her and wonders. There being little chance of this.

000

Jeremy's head blank, like the cursor he faced every time a new brief came in. normally he bought cocaine, had some whisky and a thought fell out. That wasn't going to work here, facing Cathryn. She sat down in a noise of clothes and innocently ordered lemonade. She glanced at his two umbrella cocktail, opened her bag, lit a cigarette. " Hey Jem, howzit going?" and looks at him. He does the nodding of the head, "yeah, cool, cool. And you?" The smoke drifts out of her mouth as she surveys him, "Really well Jem, really good, what you been doing with your life?"

"I ended up in advertising."
"Yeah I know, but what else, are you married yet", she takes his hand to look, "no.", puffs the cigarette, "girlfriend at least?"
"Until recently" as if out of the stupor of seeing her, he shifts forward and bursts,
"Fuck Cathryn, where the fuck have you been, what have you been doing with your life?"
She shakes her head a little,
"I got to London, worked a bit in bars and shit and met some people and then..."
She stubs her cigarette out.
"Drugs, Jem, I sell drugs." Last exhale.
For some reason Jeremy is not surprised.
"Oh, er, what kind?"
"Fuck. Off. I mean it."
"I believe you, I'm asking, what kind, how, to who?"
"Are you the police now?"
"No, I mean, do you hang out at raves or do you drive a b.m. and deliver coke, I just want to know, like what kind of life it is, y'know."
"Wholesale, whatever to whoever. shit." a long look at him, she calls the waiter and orders a double whisky. He orders one too, puts his cocktail aside.
"You're still an asshole Jeremy."
"I'm sorry, I was interested. You brought it up."
"Me too, I'm sorry, god knows you didn't really want to know, anyway, things aren't great to be honest. But enough of that, I really just wanted to see you and know that your life had turned out good."
Jem puzzled,
"Yeah, it has, I'm partner in a medium sized agency, I own a house and a car and I was happily involved until the beginning of this week."
"And then what happened?"
"I think she wanted a baby and it freaked me out."
"You think? She tell you?"
"I sensed it, y'know."

"I'm not even going to talk to you, what do you mean you sensed it?"
"Let's not talk about it, what else you doing?"
Nothing hey, selling drugs is a full time occupation. It's why I'm here.
Serious, that's all you do.
I'm not going to get all predictable and don't judge me on you but lay off, it's what I'm doing now, yes."
I'm not judging you, Kate, fucksakes; it's just not a career I thought you'd choose, s'all.
He is earnest in his attempt; she can't stop playing with objects, shifting things. In her don't know what to say silence she can't look at him and then stands, steps to him, he looks at her doing this, looking up at her,
"What?"
Cathryn nervously shrugs a little, "stand up, let me hug you, it's been so long."
They are standing holding each other in the small coffee shop, in a tiny rough voice she says, "You always thought I was so much better than I am". He pulls back to look at her, the trace of a tear, "Are you okay, Katie?" She nods a yeah, "This place is crap, lets go for a walk, okay?" He agrees by leaving money on the table, they step outside and start walking up the street.

000

Brian is rearranging the hotel room, the bits and pieces of their luggage, the bathroom soaps, thinking, I should just nap, a little lie down, I could sleep. That towel doesn't look right there and so on. We'll be up all night selling, running around, just like it was when I first started this back, back... back when I started this, a fresh town, it's going to be like being a teenager again, making himself another line, yeah, a little lie down, and then to work.

His vulture debt pecking at his scalp, pacing the box of the holiday inn, a mess. If you were to sit him down and ask him how he'd got here, to this point, step by step, he'd want to know what you meant, as if you were implying there was something wrong with this point, with what he was doing. And he could run a mean justify on you about not hurting anyone.
"No, Brian, it isn't a moral question, it's more a question of, y'know, this isn't a great place to be, you're in deep shit at home."
He sits up.
"Well, yes, but it's nothing I can't get out of, it'll be easy to offload these pills and the prices here are great. Once that's done Me and my beautiful Cathryn'll head off up the coast taking it leisurely, holidaying a bit, buy the marijuana and send off this idiot of hers and by the time we land in the 'Dam, we'll be free and clear. But you know this already."
We pace the room, wanting a line but, being merely theoretical at this point, we can't touch it.
"Yes, we do know this, but what if it all goes horribly wrong?"
"You know that too, I'll be fucked. Use that for dramatic irony later in the story okay?"
Brian's comment makes us feel self conscious, as if we should just be enjoying the book and not being so damn analytical.
"Hah, hah." we say, "We'll stop caring then, shall we?"
"Fuck man," chopping a little line, "You can be such a queen, now leave me to sleep."

We retreat to the corridor; the sounds of Brian flapping around the room are like a rat scratching on the door as we sit on the floor. It's kind of obvious that this isn't going to go well for most involved; it has an air of "The Last Score" about it. Brian doesn't know just how alone he really is.

000

They found themselves sitting in a disused park talking about Timmy. Timmy who had gone off to Los Angeles to "make films" and was now running an animation company. Timmy had once had a crush on Cathryn, she had felt sorry for him and had let him take her out to dinner which had degenerated into Timmy giving her a list of reasons why she should leave Jem go to him.
"I still have it, the list, in storage somewhere in the world."
"The things I have in storage," he said rolling onto his stomach and looking up to her, "I don't think anyone we knew lives here anymore y'know".
Wiping her mouth of strawberry McDonalds shake she shakes her head, "Some must, come on, I saw Tamsen last night."
"Jackie's little sister?"
"Jackie's surgically enhanced sister, yeah, she's like Rodeo Barbie now."
"There should be a law against anyone we know having plastic surgery."
"Or becoming a model."
"She's a model?"
"I think, anyway she's still here so there must be more around."
"I was at Joe's Bar last night and not only doesn't Joe even own the place anymore but I didn't see anyone I knew, I thought I'd just surprise everyone y'know?"
"Maybe they were at home with their girlfriends, you must phone around, it'll be fun to see everyone."
The light going just slightly gold now, the traffic starting to pile up on the road below them. Cathryn smiles a warm smile and puts her head on Jeremy's stomach.
"We had simple lives, hey Jem?"
"We had great lives."
"I didn't mean to leave you."
"Whoa!" and he sits up, "Hang on, it's great to see you, I've really been wanting to know how you are, but it's all resolved, you left me and left town, it was quick and hurt and you told me why and I dealt with it. I've had two very serious girlfriends since then; I even nearly got married to one. Fuck." He has delivered this in the other direction but now has to look at her, "Don't tell me you've concocted some other story now to compensate for your cruelties okay?"
She is a little put down, "Have you been saving that all afternoon?"
"You are just as big a bitch as you think I am an asshole." Jeremy starts to pack up the stuff around them.
"No, Jem, stop, Lets stay, it's nice here, I didn't mean anything, I mean, it was this town, you know that, I wanted to do something with my life, as teenagers are wont to do, you always knew that." He is on his knees with a bunch of stuff in his hands. She is beautiful in the afternoon light, her hair just too short to cover her shoulder in shadow. It wasn't that he still loved her but strangely everything he associated with her was good, was stuff he could never be again.
"Fuckit, okay but I'm sensitive, I just left my girlfriend remember." He sits again. In her eyes right now he is everything she missed about this place, but it's not enough, she has to help Brian, she's his girlfriend now.
"Jem baby, once you said that no matter what happened to us, if I ever needed you, like needed help, that you would, remember?"
Her best pitiful look.
He nods slowly searching her face for any sort of clue,
"And?"
"I called you because I need help, I'm in trouble and I've got no-one left in the world to go to, my boyfriend is useless. I sound like a fucking romance novel." She lets out a little snort of derision. Jem is now concerned and trying hard to see what he should be, it comes out.
"I have money, I can take leave. I can do something, I can try. I'll try. I will"
She lurches over hugging him close, a real tear traces down her face and for a moment she rests.
Jeremy can see the face of a man stuck in the traffic below looking up, noticing Jem looking at him; he signals thumbs up and smiles.
The traffic moves slowly on.