I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made […]. (9.136-145) Great Gatsby
The events leading up to me standing on the granite island with murder in my eyes were depressingly typical. We’d gone out to an upscale bar in the city. Shaun was annoyed that I was wearing a pair of his shoes. I guess he didn’t notice that I was also wearing a pair of his khakis. To be fair they looked better on me, and I made a mental note to take them when I left, if that’s what actually ended up happening. There was still was still a minuscule dollop of whipped hope that magically everything was going to be different. After a few drinks I told him that I thought he should look into a conservatorship so that someone else could be responsible for his money, bills, and life. I’d gotten the idea from when Britney Spears went crazy. He didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the idea. I really was trying to help. I didn’t want him to kill himself. More importantly I didn’t want us to kill each other.
We had a couple more drinks as I struggled to keep the conversation light. Shaun told me that he was tired and I told him to order a Red Bull, but I knew what he meant. He wanted to get crack. I was disappointed that no one was at the bar, so we end up leaving and going to one closer to the overpriced apartment we couldn’t actually afford. A business man sits next to us at the loud bar and shows us a parody of intervention called “addicted to twerking” and we laughed for the first time that night. We drink until Shaun is past the point of caring what I think, and I catch him texting one of our dealers. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another night watching the only man I ever loved cruising Craigslist for another dick to suck, so I left. The cab left me off under the giant portico and I stormed inside, almost falling on the faux cobblestones. Once inside I pushed the couch and the chair against the patio door in the living room. I had the only keys and I didn’t want Shaun getting in. Now it was time to deal with the suffocating feelings of hurt and betrayal. I pulled the large framed picture of a boat at sea that Shaun‘s homophobic dad had given him for his high school graduation off the wall and slammed it into the stained concrete floor. The glass erupted from its frame and went in a hundred different directions. It felt good so I started on the pictures in the hallway, even destroying a print that I’d bought with Paul’s money in Richmond. Soon the floor was shiny with bits of glass and I had splinters in my hands from the pieces of frame. I felt much better after the destruction and I went to lay down in our king bed.
I was contemplating finding a hammer and destroying the 70 inch TV Shaun loved so much when I heard the back door sliding the furniture across the floor. I stumbled out of the bedroom and down the sloping hallway to the living room in time to see Shaun, wide-eyed, slipping through the patio door. He saw what I’d done to the pictures and oddly just kept telling me it was okay. We both went into the kitchen and I asked him if he bought crack. He won’t answer so I get up onto the island and ask him again in a drunken yell.
So here we were again. Me, drunk and screaming, four feet above an equally inebriated Shaun. I’d had such high hopes for the night and this is what it had come down to. To my surprise Shaun finally answers me. “Yeah I bought some, but only a couple of grams…please get down now.” Tonight was the wrong night to finally get honest. Not that he had any choice in the matter if he intended to get high in the apartment. My vision darkened and the last thread of restraint finally snapped in my head. I jump off the granite with my right fist aimed at Shaun‘s head, and I make contact with his left eye. I’m screaming like a drunk viking as I land fist after fist into his body. Somehow he flips me off of him, and I can feel the bits of glass pressing into my back through my collared shirt as Shaun gets both of his large calloused hands around my neck and begins to squeeze. I can’t breathe and I can’t move. Even if I could scream it’s almost 3 a.m. and the only light comes from the oven in the stainless steel hood. Pinned to the floor, all I can do is kick my legs. I make contact, and my Timberlands goes through the drywall. I pull my boots out of the wall and kick again. My feet strike one of the wooden cabinet doors and it snaps in two. Shaun just squeezes his hands harder. This isn’t working and I’m starting to black out from lack of oxygen. I kick one last time and break another cabinet door into pieces, but I’m no closer to escape than before. So this is how it ends, I think, getting strangled to death on the glass-covered floor of my gorgeous apartment. I can see my friends at the funeral whispering to each other “we told him so”. Then I see my parents, their wrecked faces dripping tears on their expensive black suits. I can’t just slip into unconsciousness, even though the blackness and detachment seem enticing. I looked Shaun in his wide eyes and managed to whisper “you’re killing me”. A tear slips out of my eye, the truth and tragedy of the situation finally made real by my spoken words. Shaun finally released my neck and my limbs convulse as oxygen returns to my body. I finally sit up and my eyes meet Shaun‘s. Neither of us speak and we stare at each other in silence. I can feel my nose starting to swell and I taste blood in my mouth. Shaun‘s left eye is also starting to shut and it’s dripping blood down his cheek. At least now I have my answer on whether leaving him is the right decision. Other than that my mind is a blank. I’m just happy I can breathe again. That’s when I heard a knock on the door. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I’m not going to jail again for this bullshit. I grab the bag of crack Shaun left on the granite, along with the tiny glass pipe and kick the pieces of picture frame out of the way as I run to the small bathroom next to the foyer. I sit on the floor and load the pipe. Luckily there is a lighter in my pocket. I suck in the bittersweet smoke and hold it for as long as I can. The world becomes sharper, and I can hear Shaun answering the knocks of the concierge through the locked bathroom door. This is why I prefer depressants and opiates to cocaine. I want the world to melt away, not become clearer. Shaun apologizes to the uniform and assures him everything is ok as I continue loading the pipe with off white rocks and melting them into smoke with my Bic. Did I mention that I hate crack? The only thought in my head after the first hit is more, more, more. There’s never enough rocks to stop the voice, and I doubt there would ever be enough before it was satisfied.
Somehow Shaun gets rid of the nosey dick at the door and comes into the bathroom with me. His eye looks terrible. We sit in silence in the cramped bathroom, passing the pipe back and forth. When the crack is gone Shaun leaves to buy alcohol and concealer for his face. He has to work tomorrow and one of the female Finance managers already asked him if he was being abused at home. I laughed when he told me about it but I guess it was the truth. When Shaun gets back he’s carrying two bottles of champagne and a black eye patch. I still hate him but can’t help making a pirate joke and he laughs. I still see the failure of our relationship as his fault. It would be years before I admitted any responsibility for our failed attempt at gay yuppie bliss in the nation’s capital. The things I hated in Shaun were the same things I didn’t like about myself. The dishonesty, infidelity, and lack of willpower. It was just easier to hate him instead of myself. It was almost as if I’d manifested a partner with identical shortcomings, the ultimate cosmic joke. Existential thought ceased the moment I put the little glass pipe to my lips, and the only thing on my mind at the moment was pouring warm champagne down my throat to curb the paranoia. I lay in bed with Shaun and we passed the green bottle back and forth. For some reason I keep telling Shaun that my mom is going to be furious that he broke my nose. We finish the first bottle of champagne and I uncork the second. The alcohol allows me to talk again after the verbal strangling from the cocaine and I finally tell Shaun that I won’t be coming back to D.C. after my vacation. He doesn’t seem surprised but he starts to cry. Part of me wants to ask him how he can be upset that I’m leaving when he can barely open his bruised and swollen eye, but I know the answer. He loves me. We’d become dependent on each other. The idea of being without him terrified me, but for the first time I was more afraid of what would happen if I didn’t leave.
My nose is still slightly crooked from Shaun‘s fist, and every time I assess my appearance in the mirror I’m bothered by the lack of symmetry. I daydream about saving the money to get it fixed one day, and maybe shave a little cartilage off the tip. Even with the money, I doubt I’d ever go through with the procedure, and maybe it’s for the best. My off-center nose is a cautionary tale of what happens when you depend on someone else for your happiness. I always wanted Shaun to make me feel whole, and maybe the adjustment to my nose serves a purpose. Still though, when I think of Shaun, I can’t help but wonder if we could still work out.