Trash of the Gods. Chapter 9, The Wet and Sad One

Robert had been using on and off again throughout Senior year. A few weeks after tammy’s party was when it all happened. The sort of official beginning of the end.
One day, during Robert’s on again off again usage, Robert, myself, Steve and the rest of the boys were hanging out outside the strip mall. Robert was clearly coming down off of some kind of random narcotic, and we all had just finished smoking a joint behind the subway. We were hanging out up front, Steve on his bike and me leaning on the hood of my car, drinking Arizona in order to combat the cottonmouth. We were talking about random this and that’s as we usually did, and then for some reason Robert got into one of his moods where he enjoyed humiliating me.
I don’t remember what caused it but for some reason he decided to start pushing me down onto my car. He just kept shoving me with this brutal force, making me drop my drink and making me look weak and pathetic in front of everyone. 
“Robert, back the fuck up.” The more I said it, the harder he pushed back, and the more he laughed.
“Robert, back the fuck up! ” 
He laughed harder.
“Robert, back the fuck up!! ”
He’d push harder.
“Robert, back the fuck up!!!”
And then, all I remember happening next was instinct taking over, and the loud “THUD!” that was skin of my fist against the skin of Robert’s cheek.
Suddenly it stopped, he wasn’t pushing anymore and we were both just standing, and he was just motionless, in shock, as if he was still processing what had just happened.
“You just punched me in the face,” Robert declared, still in disbelief.
“yeah,” I confirmed, still in a karate stance waiting for his next move.
He then mocked a sudden lunge of his chest, assuring I would flinch into another karate stance.
He then chuckled to himself, said “I love you man.” and again, I replied, “yeah, sure.” but this time, with nothing but sincere anger and humiliation behind it.
He then, without looking at anyone or saying anything, wandered off, stoned and smiling.
For a second I thought I was the one humiliated, but then the boys started wooping it up.
“That was a sweet punch,” said nick. after three years of hanging out, he gave me a genuine compliment.
“You really hit em,” Steve said, hoping to move on. Steve was never one for drama, unless his pipe broke or coke got mooched.
“yeah, yeah.” I just kept repeating that. It was a shock, it was as if the punch had earned me their honest respect for once and not just their impatient tolerance. from that moment in their eyes I was an equal, a man, and all it took was humiliating my drug-addled friend.
I accept the praise with a smile and the temporary confidence that comes from validation. Of course, I then went home feeling nothing but guilt and wondered what it would be like to talk to Robert in newspaper the next day.
He didn’t show up for class the next day, or the next day, or even the third day. But on the third day I did see him at the end of school as we both walked to the parking lot.
“Robert, hey robert, man listen…” I said when I caught up to him.
He turned to me with a look of anger, not rage, just dead anger. I knew he was junking out again. Before I could even a finish my apology or even say the words I’m sorry, he spat on my shirt, and walked away.
And he left me there, humiliated and alone with a mucus stain on my shirt that wasn’t mine.  
A few days later he was back in newspaper class, clear headed and saying he loved me as if we would always be friends.
On the surface the matter was settled, but we stopped hanging out after that, and I stopped hanging out at the strip mall altogether. I decided to get my weed else where and to find new friends. I didn’t like the validation I thought I was looking for.
Robert eventually had to leave newspaper at the end of the semester because he was failing all his other classes. He had to either take everything over or not graduate on time.  
I was busy with my new AP classes and started taking my time in newspaper more seriously than ever.  
Robert started hooking up with another girl and they just started doing heroine together and fucking. It became a rarity for me to even see Robert around it the hallways at school at all.
Robert did graduate on time, with a D average. I was off to college, and Robert was off to nowhere.

Published by James J Jackson

I'm a poet from California.

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