I was right outside the door when the argument began. Marley was my best friend since high school. She knew everything about my life. She knew the ups, the downs, the failures and the times I wanted to give up completely. Marley has always been there. We've always been there for each other. She struggles with things too, ya know...but not really the same things.
Marley's fiance was having dinner with us and I suppose we had talked too much about our friendship, trying to let him in on the fun is all. He didn't like that-not being the center of everything. Gus didn't understand. He's kinda intolerant in a way and, to be honest, I never really cared for him. She just seemed so happy that I went along with it. I wasn't sure that I wanted to hear the discussion and I tried to block out the low, but disgruntled voices on the other side of the wall until about three minutes had passed. Apparently, it wasn't one of those quick, 'Get your act together and be polite', conversations. Gus knew nothing about me, really-only what he'd heard Marley say, (in the event he was even paying attention).
I creeped a little closer to the door. I could tell by their voices they were on the other side of the room and I could hear the boards in the floor creak as they shifted their weight back and forth. Of course, it could've just been Gus. Fat ass. That pompous, fat-assed jerk. At this point, their voices got a little louder-above a whisper. Now, Marley has this tone. I know my girl. She's always so together, even when she's hopping mad. I've always kinda envied that. I just usually fly off the handle and slug someone but Marley's always got things together. She gets this tone though...it reminds me of my mom. If you didn't know her and couldn't see her expression, you'd think it was just another day, another conversation- but I know. More than once, I've been on the receiving end of that voice.
Their words are fairly clear now. Gus hushes her a few times, not for saving feelings but appearances. She gets louder. She never hides anything from me. "Augustus Benjamin Watson!" Oh, wow. All three names. I giggled to myself. I didn't care what he thought or said about me. If she believed him, I'd die. But him? Nah. "Look, kid. If you wanna get married, fine. But if you expect me to be friends with that woman- that certifiable NUT-JOB, THEN YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!" " You listen to me to me you arrogant jackass! That woman in there is THE best friend I've ever had. Just because you can't open your mind a little to try and understand her..." "Understand her?! Who in their right mind would try an' understand her?! You'd have to be just as crazy as her or live with her for 7 years, which may be okay for you but I've had it!" Ok, the tears are coming now. I thought I'd be okay. I've heard people talk about me so much I didn't think I'd fall apart. "I don't want to get to know her! She's a nobody goin' nowhere!" "You better watch yourself right now, Mr. Watson. I've had about enough of you", she said quite calmly. Her eyes must have told him to go to hell because he slapped her. Hard. Things got quiet...real quiet. I started sweating.
"Mar..." They were closer to the door, now. Next to the folding door, there was an arched opening overlooking the living room and I could see the soft, kitchen light cast their shadows on the wall. I wanted to shoot him right then and there. Marley always needs closure. She'll get it and if he pops her again, I'll be ready. "Get OUT!!!" Marley howled, her hands ripping at her hair. "I'm sorry, Mar. You know how I get when she's around. She drives me crazy! I just can't be around her. Listen, I can fix this. I'll make it up to you. Just tell her to go and I'll make it up to you." I'll show him crazy. My dress was soaked through with sweat as I began rocking. Nobody but Marley knows the truth about my past. No one has to know. Restraining myself was taking too much work but I knew better than to walk in on her before she said her piece and besides, I couldn't lose control again. The sad thing is, outside of my dad these are the only kind of men we had ever known. Maybe all men are animals. Wild pigs that lie and scheme and beat the women that try to love them. I just wondered what he was like when he was drunk. A shiver went up my spine at the thought. There was a stillness of anticipation over the house. "NO, Augustus Watson, let me make it up to you..."
I heard a noise that sounded like a softball falling back to earth. "Hey Liz!" Oh, no... "you want to see a REAL nut-job?!"
We never seen much of Gus Watson after that night but we heard he joined the choir.
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Gus. A short story.
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