Our seating arrangements were just as awkward as the atmosphere. Our butts were on the floor and our backs resting up against the grey-ish blue-ish couch Brian and Samantha had purchased together on one of their strolls along their path of building a future together. Samantha had been adamant that no food was to be within ten feet of the couch. Brian wasn’t so anal, so on his blind fit Brian took whatever condiment he could from the fridge and stuffed a bit in between the cushions. It was a perfectly expensive couch, one that would probably cost even more to repair, but he was so angry that he couldn’t even care less. From now on whatever Samantha held dear and Brian couldn’t give two-fucks about he was determined to destroy. But his blind fit only lasted all of ten minutes. After that, we settled on the floor, a prolonged silence following afterwards.
It seemed as if our thoughts were louder than the controlled breaths we were producing within this uncontrolled environment. As if a mediator, I was stationed in between Brian and Daniel. When Brian asked a question, Daniel answered with civility masking the hesitance in his tone. Although Daniel wasn’t one to sugar coat, and since I was there too, listening for probably the hundredth time (at least it felt that way), he was under tantalising scrutiny. Whether it was intentional or not on Brian’s part, we might never know.
It was after Daniel had explained, with slow hand gestures that swirled our lingering waves of panic into submission, what exactly happened between Daniel and Samantha (and what Samantha said about Brian not satisfying her) that Brian stood to get a third beer from the fridge (as well as top ups for Daniel and I) and weed. Brian had taken up smoking weed after he found out that one his favourite actresses, Milla Jovovich, was one of the many that wanted to legalise the use of marijuana. He had eyes rolled and lips pursed at him at the fact that it was an actress that was the source of his encouragement and urges, but he always said the same thing over and over again: “I’m not Snoop Dogg so go fuck yourself.” And he wasn’t; if there was ever a pattern for his usage then it would be highly random. Every few months, the intervals varied but prominent, he would whip out a ciggie and light up like Christmas morning was here. Generally over the most stressful or catastrophic times, he would wait with pure pleasure and eagerness for that cloud of smoke to reign upon him. Taking over his mind, body and soul; his spirit remained intact. Eventually, the snow would subside and the smoky haze of emerald grass would lift the darkness, revealing the crystal clear light of reality.
In this moment, I couldn’t blame Brian from wanting to escape reality. But I wasn’t much of a smoker myself, so I coughed and coughed and coughed until Brian took the hint. He resorted to Marlboro’s, which weren’t exactly the kick he wanted but the strength wasn’t as alarmingly robust as the itchy sharpness of the weed he was puffing circles out of just a minute ago. We were satisfied.
“Here,” Brian said, offering the cigarette up to Daniel, “you look like you could use a hit.”
Daniel wasn’t a smoker. He knew I detested the suffocating scent, but he reached out and took a puff anyway, and then handed it back to Brian. Daniel coughed a little and took another swig. Our displeasures of other particular substances made this whole night bearable. Daniel and I were accommodating Brian as much as we could either way. It wasn’t Daniel’s night, it wasn’t mine, it was Brian’s. Hard times call for hazy measures.
“Well it’s obvious what I have to do,” Brian said, inhaling another trail of smoke.
Daniel nodded. “Whatever you got to do to make yourself happy, you do it.”
“This isn’t fair,” Brian said. “This wasn’t meant to happen to me. I’m a good guy. I’ve done everything right in my life. And still bad shit happens to me.”
“Bad things happen to good people I guess,” Daniel shrugged his shoulders.
Brian scoffed. “Don’t even give me that bullshit song. I’ve heard it before. ‘Bad things happen to good people’,” Brian chuckled humourlessly, “that means there’s no such thing as karma, and then Samantha wouldn’t get her comeuppance. Am I to expect that? That she will never understand how it feels to have her heart ripped out of her chest? I mean, she’s going to come out of this clean and I’m going to have to live with this shit? It’s not fair.”
“Well you can’t stay with her and just forget about it,” Daniel mumbled.
“And why not?” Brian asked. “How do I know that the story you’re telling me is the truth. I still haven’t heard her out. What if it’s all your fucking fault? Not just partial, but all?”
“Believe what you want, I’ve said all I could,” Daniel took another swig. I could hear in his voice that he was exhausted. He was also inhibiting himself from lashing out at Brian again. The echo transferred from his mind to mine: ‘I’m telling you the truth, God dammit! You deserve better! I’m begging for your belief in me!’
Brian lifted his head back as he soaked in the last drop of his drink and then took another puff. “I’m just trying to look for someone else to blame. I want to avoid the fact that I’ve been so foolish enough to be so blind.”
“You’re not foolish,” Daniel said. I shook my head in agreement.
“No, I am.” Brian smiled, tapping the shaft of the cigarette and watching the ash sputter into the tiniest of flakes. “When we would go to parties I would usually see her with other men, flirting with them. I tried convincing myself that it was only a little harmless flirting. I didn’t think—no, I hoped that it didn’t mean anything. Then afterwards, I would get this aching feeling in my stomach. As if I swallowed a capsule full of dark tar and it burst inside of my stomach, latching onto every nerve and cell, bringing me in deeper and deeper. Shrinking me into a pulp of distrust and confusion.”
“How did you get out of it,” I heard my voice say. I hadn’t spoken the entire time, but it was a feeling that I had felt before. Remnants of that tar still haunt me till this day, and I never could get over the feeling it constantly gave me.
“I glared inwardly at myself and thought, ‘how dare I think of Samantha this way?’,” he burst out laughing. Daniel and I smiled as Brian’s laugh trailed off. “Now I’m thinking….ugh, I don’t know what to think.” Brian rubbed his eyes. We were well into the night, and our eyes were bloodshot; eyelids heavy with the threat of sleep. Samantha was nowhere to be found. Probably out whoring herself till she’s ‘satisfied’.
I held Brian’s hand. “Now you’re thinking that you’re going to do something for yourself for a change. Samantha isn’t worth all this pain and hurt and time; she’s not even worth a dime. You’re going to start being selfish for once in your life and figure out what you want to do and what makes you happy. Do you.” I said the last words awkwardly and furrowed my brows. Luckily, Brian saw the humour in it and fist-pounded his chest, followed by a peace sign. Then Brian pointed past me, over to Daniel. I turned to find Daniel’s head laying on the edge of the couch, his mouth wide open.
“I’m so fucking tired too,” Brian managed to say through a yawn. “Let’s go to sleep.”
Brian and I occupied both ends of the L-shaped couch. Neither of us wanted to enter the bedroom; it went from being a wonderland to a grave.
A couple weeks flew by, and in that time Brian moved out and decided to crash at Daniel’s while he was in search for another place. Daniel gladly welcomed his company. By Brian’s account, there had been a lot of crying and begging; shaming and screaming, from Samantha. That girl would use any tactic to keep a man, especially when the only thing keeping her afloat in New York is a man. Last I heard, Samantha couldn’t pay rent and was shit-out-of-luck on landing a decent job. Payback’s a faithful bitch, ain’t she?