The night we first met was when my temporary lack of sanity kicked in; that’s what I call it anyways. My roommate Julie and I were going to grab dinner at a sports bar wing joint downtown. There we would meet Julie’s boyfriend Kevin and his friend Brad. Brad thought he was so cool with his baseball cap and Ralph Lauren light pink polo hanging out of baggy blue jeans. That didn’t stop me, however, from letting him buy me a pitcher of beer and some boneless wings. At the end of the night, I even let him drive me home so that Julie and Kevin could have some alone time.
Hopping into his new flashy GWM truck, he turned to me and said: “Emma, I wanna play a song for you."
Interested and slightly concerned, I replied: “Alright, let's hear it."
Puke by Eminem comes on. “This song makes me think of you,” Brad said jokingly.
For those of you who haven’t heard the song, it’s about as charming as it’s title. Pulling up into the parking lot, Brad looked at me and started to lean in. Abruptly stopping him I yelled “Are you kidding me?! You say I remind you of that disgusting song and yet you wanna try and kiss me?!”
I open the truck door, jump out and say “Get over yourself.”
But that didn’t stop me from seeing him again. You see, Brad was desperate and tried way too hard. While I, being young, dumb, and full of great ideas thought maybe I could help. I tried to help him get a job. I tried to help him be a good dad to his newborn son. I tried to be supportive and a good influence. It didn’t matter though, none of it did. He needed help beyond my capacity. He needed help from someone who wasn’t naive and trusting.
Brad suffered from having zero accountability. Other than me, I don’t think he had anyone in his corner. No family to lean on and no good friends to be around. Just him and his wild thoughts. As much as I wanted to believe he was done with the drug dealings and the theft, I was right in the middle of it. At the time, I had no clue. I didn’t even question why there were so many empty men's wallets in my room. I figured he just kept his old ones. I didn’t know they were stolen.
I was a sucker for him and I never even loved him. I picked him up from jail not just once, but twice. I even wrote him letters when he was in prison. I had to handle Brad so delicately to not set him off.
When spring came around, I was still seeing Brad but in a distant and less frequent form. He was still off doing his dumb shit and I was trying to make it through the rest of the school year. I drove out to his place, returning some clothes he had left behind with me in what I hoped would be a quick drop off. However, he invited me inside so he could show me something. Sitting down on his hand-me-down couch, all I could smell was cigarette smoke and week-old pizza boxes. He handed me his laptop with an email thread pulled up. Puzzled at why Brad would be showing me this, I start reading.
“HOLY HELL!” I screamed.
“Are you freaking serious?! When were you gonna tell me you were gay?!” I asked infuriatingly.
“Well, I’m not… gay…” he shamefully mumbled.
“I wouldn’t consider offering men off Craigslist money in exchange for sexual favors to be straight.” I scornfully rebutted. “You didn’t even take into consideration the safety of anyone else you may or may not have been sleeping with," I said to Brad.
Getting up off the couch to leave, he stopped me before I got to the door.
“Please don’t leave. I didn’t actually go through with any of it. I don’t even know why I was doing that. Please Emma, please don’t go.” Brad begged.
See there’s that desperation again. Those dark eyes, looking like a helpless puppy dog.
“Let me go.” I pleaded.
Opening the door, I sprinted to my car. Brad grabbing something out of the kitchen followed me outside. While looking back at him, something long and shiny caught my eye. Brad had a serrated kitchen knife in his hand. Immediately going into a panic mode, I told him to put the knife down while slowly backing away from him as he got closer.
“You think I am crazy!” he yelled at me.
Careless of the neighbors that may hear or see something, it was the middle of the day in a quiet neighborhood and I was standing there bewildered at what was going to happen next. Clutching my keys in my hands, I couldn’t think and I couldn’t move.
“Well I’ll show you crazy,” he dared to say as he took that knife cutting the inside of his arm from wrist to elbow. I saw a long stream of thick dark red blood pour out of his arm as he fell to his knees. I ran inside to call 911 and grabbed a towel to wrap his arm. He begged me to tell the paramedics he cut his arm on the lawnmower blade as if they would actually believe that. Brad immediately apologized as if that would fix what just happened.
I told the police and the paramedics the whole story including every little detail about his life I knew. I honestly have no idea if that was the right or wrong thing to do, but I hoped that maybe if they knew everything, he could get the help he needed. After making sure Brad got checked into the psychiatric ward, I left and never saw him again.
I wish I could say that I never heard from him again, but he still calls on occasion. I wish he would forget my number since I am too stubborn to change it. I guess I will just settle for calling the detention center every six months to update my number on the “Do Not Call” list. Last time I checked, he was in prison for Grand Theft. I am grateful for him being behind bars for a few more years, but I give my condolences to his son who now must see him in an orange jumpsuit.
After everything was said and done with Brad, I still have no clue what I was doing. I don’t know what I was thinking, not sure why I put myself through all that unnecessary toxic bullshit. I could blame the dark devilish eyes, but I knew better than that. I think it was how much he wanted to be with me that kept me around.
Brad is a painfully good liar and I was young enough to eat up every word. If anything, Brad taught me to see through stupidity. He taught me what the ideal candidate doesn’t look like. I learned from Brad that no matter how gigantic the need is, nobody can fix you. You have to fix yourself. You need to be the one to take charge of your life. You are the only knight in shining armor the world will ever give you.
So one down and four more to go, who is next?