He’s taken by surprise by the swollen and battered face he sees judging him through the mirror. Black blood has dried and crusted over from several lacerations barely visible over the dark purpling lesions budding from the bridge of his nose and slowly flowering over and under both eyes. His head hurt to the touch, various portions of his skull throbbing with a stabbing pain from a size eleven men’s flip flop being rammed against it several times.
His flip flop.
His eyes begin to well for the first time since waking up from what he had hoped was a horrible nightmare. Sharp pains in his side suggest another few bruised ribs, nothing new. It hurt like hell but he was positive nothing hurt enough to be cause for serious concern or require the medical attention he couldn’t afford either way. Noticing the oddly darker than usual flesh making up his ear he reaches to touch it but only flinches at the pain in his swollen right hand. Checking his ear canal for blood he remembers having to resort to punching him several times in an attempt to snap him out of his vicious rage.
The man he spent a better part of six years trying his best to make happy but never quite succeeding. The man who he opened his home, his family to when he needed it the most. The man he gave everything he possibly could to. The man who claimed to love him. The man who claimed to be his best friend. The man who should have been out of his life years ago.
“Go away. I hate you,” echoed in his head over and over and he remembered dodging punches and long, thin hands reaching and closing forcefully around his throat. He gently touches the reddening area on the front of his neck but is met with a shock of pain he wasn’t expecting. He notices how his own hand barely fits the imprint of the bigger hand and he forces back a sob that comes from a place inside himself he didn’t even know existed. His body convulses awkwardly from a combination of crying in a way he can’t ever remember crying since he could consider himself an adult and from the physical pain his sobs send through his every limb. Gut wrenching whimpers rack his beaten body as he is brought to his knees from the hurt he feels both inside and out.
He wonders why? Why after everything they have gotten past? After all the lies, all the betrayals they had finally seemed to reach a place, an understanding where they would be able to coexist happily and still be able to live their separate lives. All he asked for, all he ever wanted was honesty. Why was that such a difficult task?
Why make it damn near impossible to walk away after he abruptly moved out only to end things like this? After the move he wanted to keep the distance between them thinking it would do them both good. To let them both walk away with no hard feelings so they could both be free to do what (and who) ever they wanted. Isn’t that what he wanted this whole time?
Why did he allow himself to be sucked back in? Every “I love you”, every “I need you” now rang hollow.
“You’re my family. My life would be nothing without you.”
Words used to console him, to quiet and calm him down. To manipulate. Words. Only words. Did he ever mean them? Was anything he ever told him the truth?
“I love you,” he heard him say in his head as he couldn’t escape the reflection of his battered and beaten face that seemed to come at him from every corner of his room.
He had his out, he thought. Why did he come back to only share a couple of good weeks together before blowing everything to hell? And all for what? What was the catalyst that started the whole ugly sharp downhill turn the night took? Because he got called out copping a feel and making a move he will later claim to not even remember along with everything else about the night that would cast him in a bad light? Guess blaming it on the large quantities of top shelf liquor consumed earlier that night would be the simplest way to deny culpability. For once in their eight years of knowing one another he wasn’t able to deflect the blame because it all rested solely on his shoulders. So what does he do? He claimed to have blacked out though clearly retaining every moment of HIS discomfort. Getting punched in the face, the barefoot 20 block walk home from the park after he was dragged out of the car kicking and screaming. How can one take an apology seriously from someone who claims can’t even remember what he’s apologizing about?
“You got off lucky,” he tells him later. Pretending to not remember must be so much easier than actually dealing with whatever problems or thoughts or whatever he was having at the time that made him think would be a good idea to open the passenger side door and hang his body half way out the car while the vehicle was in motion or to jump out of the moving car and run away into oncoming traffic.
If only he could be the type of person to just say “fuck it”. If he would have left his ass the first time he jumped out he would have avoided the kicks to the body and face after yelling at him to stop kicking the car’s windshield after managing to crack it. He could have avoided swerving onto on coming traffic when he thought it appropriate to pull the wheel out of his hands or kick it while trying to drive him home. Why couldn’t he just let him be someone else’s problem? Doesn’t he have a boyfriend to take care of him now? Why was it still his responsibility to take care of this guy? Unfortunately after everything, after all this, he still cared too much to abandon him drunk and completely out of control on the side of the road to get into who knows what kind of trouble.
Seeing his own blood dripping from his nose onto his lap while he was driving made him realize he didn’t recognize the person writhing and screaming his hatred sitting on the passenger side. In a moment of clarity he realized how toxic this person has been to several aspects of his life. He tells him he’s done. He tells him he wont be his punching bag anymore. He tells him how lucky he is that he doesn’t pull the car over and beat the living shit out of him. Angrily he tells him to call someone because there was no way he was coming back home with him. Anyone. He even offered to drive him to his boyfriend’s house but it only got worse. And still he couldn’t bring himself to do anymore than to pull over and forcibly drag him out the car leaving him on the side of the rode.
Then there was the scene he caused in the middle of the night trying to get into the house after walking home and waking everyone. The obscenities, the names he called him. Or the embarrassment of being treated like a battered housewife when the police showed up and he had to explain what happened. And still, he couldn’t bring himself to give them his real name for the police report, worrying more about what would happen to him.
“I love you.”
Empty words. Empty promises. Empty hopes for the future. Everything he predicted had come to pass. He knew the ending to their story years before the sad situation ever happened. He knew in the end he would leave him broken and alone.