We all have our faults. No one is perfect--not even Brian, though he was maybe as close to perfect as anyone I've ever known. Maybe if I told you a bit about some of his faults, it'd help. Make things a little clearer. Help you understand how he got himself into this mess in the first place. I dunno. But who better to tell you than me? I mean, who knows him better than I do?
When I first met Brian, we were in middle school. I was on my way home, when a group of eighth graders cornered me in the alley I always took as a shortcut. The alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. You know the one. Anyway, these three older boys surrounded me, started shoving me around, calling me names. "Tabitha, Scabitha, gross gunty Flabitha." Kids can be real assholes, you know that?
The biggest of the three--I think it was Billy Ray--shoved me down in the dirt. They took my backpack and were digging through it, dumping out all my stuff--pens, notebooks, my sketchpad--while this kid, Billy Ray Warbler, stood with his foot on my back. Its when they were talking, wondering what to do with me next--horrible things, I'm talking, really bad--that Brian rounded the corner, and even though he was a year younger, and had half of Billy Ray's body mass, he started hollerin', kicking up a fuss that would have gotten the shit kicked outta him if the police station hadn't been just a block away. These bigger boys got scared and hightailed it, leaving me face down in the dirt, crying.
Brian could have left me then. I would have been safe. But he didn't. His heart was too big for that. He came over, asked me if I was alright, dusted me off, helped me gather up my things. He even offered to walk me to my front door, in case they came back, but I wouldn't let him. Maybe I was a little vainer back then, but our house isn't anything to shake a stick at, and I didn't want him seein' it.
But the point I'm trying to make is that Brian was generous, kind almost to a fault. He was so filled with love that he would give away pieces of his heart like it was parade candy. I mean, seriously, the guy had seventeen girlfriends between the tenth grade and his second year of college. Nineteen if you count Laurie and Sue, but I don't. I think we can all agree that that was two weeks of mistakes better left forgotten. Every one of those girls would walk away with a piece of him, and as he got older, I could see him getting a little more guarded, a little less like the boy who had helped me in the alley between the SuperSave and Bernie's. Greedy girlfriends who would walk all over his generosity and take it for granted started to take their toll on Brian, and there was really nothing I could do but watch. So, I guess his generosity is his first real fault, if you can call it that.
I knew, from that day when he helped me, that we would grow to become the closest of friends. And we did, though Brian never admitted it outright. I wasn't exactly what you would call "popular", if you hadn't guessed. Not some fucking cheerleader. Brian's second major fault was that he always cared too much about what people thought of him. That's why he would never publicly acknowledge our friendship. That stung a little, I'll admit that now. Sometimes it stung more than a little. In his defense, though, he always had my back. And I always had his.Those seventeen girls? They never got to know him like I did. Not even close.
Anyway, yeah, Brian cared way too much about what people thought. Always put a little extra effort into his hair and clothes. Always had those girls swooning over him, and could you blame them? Still, I knew even then that his heart would never belong to anyone as dopey as any of them. He was a special guy, and he deserved a special girl. I think I figured that out a long time before he did. If he ever figured it out at all. All I can do is hope that he figured it out before the end.
Brian's third fault--and this is the biggest one--was that he was too trusting. Always too trusting. I remember the first time his so-called "buddies" asked him out drinking. (I say "so-called" because they were always getting him into trouble. He would have done so much better without them in his life). He would have been, I dunno, fourteen? It was our first real party, and though I wouldn't drink, I tagged along. They told him it would be fun to do shots of tequila, but they lied. He trusted them, and he wound up spending most of the night heaving up the ham and provolone sandwich his mother had made him for lunch. He wouldn't even let me help him. Kept pushing me away, telling me to just fuckin' leave him alone. Goes to show how messed up tequila can make you, huh? Though that experience didn't put him off of it. By the time he had finished his second year of college -- did I mention we were both lucky enough to get into the state college here together? Yeah, different programs, but at least we got to be on the same campus-- he was partying every weekend. That probably goes back to his need to please people. His need to belong. But in the end, I guess that's what everyone is looking for.
I'm rambling. Back to trust.The moment I met Samantha, I knew she couldn't be trusted. I mean, think about it. Can any woman with red painted fingernails and red lipstick be trusted? Especially one who wears her skirt about four inches above the knee? I'm not really one to subscribe to stereotypes, but there was something essentially evil about her, that I sensed the moment I first saw her. They were eating lunch together outside the campus cafeteria. Her long black hair shone down her back and she was smoking a cigarette, probably giving Brian lung cancer, the poor dear boy. All that second hand smoke. She smoked like a chimney, or like Satan. I'm not sure.
Apparently, he had met her a few nights before at the on campus bar, the Lazy Owl. I hadn't been able to make it that night, because I was visiting my father up at Sunnybrook. I guess you guys would know all about him, wouldn't you? If I'd been there, I would have put a stop to it. But by the time I first saw Samantha, it was much too late. She had sunk her claws into his heart. That was probably why her nails were so red, nevermind her lips. Harpy.
Within a week they were facebook official. Within a month there were 142 pictures of them up together, mostly of her being a camera whore, shoving Brian to the background. Which is exactly what their relationship was like, though I don't think he really noticed. He was, by this point, totally smitten with her. She must have been great in bed, but I don't really like to think about it.
She would text him constantly. I checked his phone once. Every five minutes it was "I wuv you snugglerabbit", or "can't wait to see u tonite", or "Should I buy those shoes we saw?". Disgusting. She was slowly beginning to take over his life. Every single evening was spent with her. He slept at her place at night, and ate lunch with her every day. He bought her things--clothes, jewelry, concert tickets. Like I said, Brian was always really generous. I imagine she felt like she had a pretty sweet deal in him, and wanted to keep it that way. Yet, for some reason, I was the only one who could see it. I was the only one who realized how she was manipulating him, gradually, towards that one night back in March when he got down on one knee at the Oriental Gardens and asked her to marry him.
I couldn't let that happen. You have to understand. I couldn't. Brian was too essentially good to wind up bound for life with that crazy, overbearing, greedy, red-nailed slut. Pardon my language.
So, I decided to put an end to it. The night all this happened, I went over there, to their new apartment, while Brian was still at work. All I wanted to do was talk to her. Confront her. Call her out for using Brian in the same way all of his previous girlfriends had. I couldn't stand to see him used and hurt again. She pretended not to know who I was, but I knew she knew better. I knew Brian would have told her about me. After all, I was his best friend.
I guess that made me angry. That she pretended not to know who I was. It was when I was pulling the stainless steel kitchen knife from her chest cavity for the fifth time that Brian walked in through the door. Though she was gone at that point, her blood turning the white tiles a lurid crimson, she had not released her hold on him. It was the first time I had ever seen Brian really angry, when he lunged at me, but even then I knew he'd get over it. True friends can never stay angry at eachother for long, right?
Its true. He didn't really look angry anymore, as his eyes began to glaze over, and I laid him down on the floor. He looked peaceful. Peaceful, like he finally understood. I think, at the end, he finally knew how much I meant to him. I knew then, that I had done the right thing.
So those were Brian's flaws: that he was too generous, too concerned with appearances, and too trusting, all of which led to the situation the other night. But I can't really blame him. Like I said, we all have our flaws. Its just a matter of learning to deal with them, and making the right decisions.
**yay for twisted short story. Too bloody hot to sleep, so I thought I'd finish it tonight.