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Backup – Part 4: Bad Habits

By September 25, 2014Backup Novel

The lights were turned off but the apartment was well lit. The game on the television screen would cause the room to glow and flash in blinding bursts of white. Occasionally the room would turn a red hue and some swearing would ensue followed by Bob or myself quickly taking another drink of our beverages before our character respawned and commanded our attention and focus back to the battle developing on the screen.

Bob was a pro at this game. He knew all of the places to hide and where all of the special power ups and ammo caches were hidden. Bob was one of those guys who bounced around between jobs a lot and had a lot free time to perfect game like this because of it.

Bobs issue was with authority. Whenever he was lucky enough to survive at a job long enough for him to get promoted he would thrive. Leadership was where Bob ultimately belonged but getting the other leaders to see that and give him a chance was usually pretty hard to accomplish.

Bob’s screen turned red and he spat out a stream of incoherent slurs that would have had a trucker blush. He quickly tooka drink from his beer which emptied too soon apparently because he mumbled some more swears and raced off to the kitchen, stumbling over the cord to his controller on the way.

“You really need to get yourself a wireless controller dude.” I hollared after him. I heard a chuckle from the kitchen.

“What so i can leave it here for you to masterbate with? Suuurre…” he laughed at his own joke for a second while he fumbled around in the fridge drawers for a can or two. “Beer?” He asked as he came back in with four of them in his arms.

“Yea bud, thanks!” It was the little acts of kindness that Bob showed that really made him a good friend. He never would go easy on you or take your bullshit but once he knew you weren’t around to get something from him he would bend over backwards to help you out and be considerate. But you should never point that out to him or he’ll go right back to giving you a hard time.

I hid my character in a corner I felt was pretty safe and finished the open beer. I tossed it on the table and grabbed at my controller right as my character was stabbed in the back. “Damnit…” i sighed and popped open one of the beers. As the screen faded to red I saw Bob’s character run off, he was next to me rocking back and forth trying to hold in his laughter.

“Dude I followed you around for like five minutes, how did you not see me?” He continued laughing while i pointed out the obvious.

“I shouldn’t have to see you you’re on my team dumbass.” He just laughed harder. There was no point in trying to get Bob to play by the rules once he started acting this way, he was basically a playground bully whenever he played games. Always throwing sand in your hair and looking all innocent and confused when you called him on it.

The screen faded to white with a bright red FAILURE plastered across the screen, our team had lost, no thanks to the best player on our team. It’s hard to win a match when you’re fighting your own team. Bob just kept on giggling as most of our team logged out and went elsewhere. “Well bud… how about we get this bible study rocking?” Bob said as he flipped open the good book and a pipe and bag of weed fell into his lap.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to explain what happened with my now ex girlfriend and I. We had a bad falling out. A really bad one, like this shit only happens in the movies kind of bad. The major problem was to cope with what had happened on the day everything had gone to shit I basically had decided to reenact the whole evening. Sans the girl i suppose.

I don’t know why I never brought this part up with Jane at the coffee shop. I suppose it could be that I didn’t know her that well but I suspect it was more likely I simply didn’t want the cute girl taking pity on me to think i was a complete asshole.

Maybe i am just an asshole who only looks out for himself. God knows enough people have eluded to that. Only one of them had the nerve to say it and she had been walking out the door as she did.

I like to think I’m not a selfish self righteous asshole but let’s face it, just because you like to think something it doesn’t make it true. So while i sat there next to Bob who loaded the bowl and passed me his pipe i thought to myself, “I’m not an asshole… I’m an idiot.” He handed me his lighter and with a click and a few “i didn’t inhales” as the politicians say, my mind raced off to Neverland.

Bob was still playing the games on the tv and he would occasionally go off on a rant about how some company was doing this and how it was awesome or stupid and then it would change to how the government was overstepping themselves and any day now there would be a revolution.

Every thought he blurted out, however boring or obvious was intensely interesting to me but instead of engaging him in a conversation about it my mind would race off in another direction. It was like a silent internal 6 degrees of seperation simulation was occuring in my mind and literally everything he said lead back to the previous night and reminded me of just how much of a horrible person i was.

Eventually Bob realized i hadn’t been talking to him. That my controlled sat lazily my lap and my beer had been gradually warming itself in the firm grip of my hand. “Dude what’s going on?” He asked with a goofy smile on his face. I just stared at him. A few seconds later the smile faded away as he remembered what was going on.

“Sorry bud, i’m off in my own world right now, I forgot.” Bob wasn’t one to apologies and if i hadn’t just smoked i would have been amazed that he did but at this point i was simply accepting everything that was happening at face value.

You know that strange feeling yoi get when you’ve held your eye contact with someone for just a little too long? Every second felt like that as i contemplated asking and then inevitably spat out, “Am i an asshole, Bob?”

It is so much easier to ask these questions when you don’t care about the response anymore. The smile came back a little when he replied, “hell yea bud, why do you think i love you so much? You tell it how it is and you don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks. You tell the world whats up and piss on it if it it says otherwise!” He was obviously trying to make me feel better and in a way it did but the underlying issue was still peeking through the fog of his compliment.

At the end of the day i definitely was an asshole, a self serving ego inflated piece of shit asshole who drove away his girlfriend by “keeping it real”. I forced another smile and said, “thanks for that bud.” He was already turning back to the game.on the tv so i finished the last of my beer and grabbed the pipe with the intention of capping the night in a haze of forgetfulness.

I don’t remember much else from that chill session with Bob but I do remember that we talked about the night my world had fallen apart and I do know that I relived that whole night in a dream. I have recorded it for you the best I can but even where I’m at right now doesn’t bring back the memories that my brain couldn’t record. It doesn’t matter how good the camera is, it won’t capture the footage flawlessly if you’ve impaired the lens and fucked with the storage process.

This is what I do remember and it’s the perfectly cut key for the doorway to hell i built slowly and unlocked and entered in just a few hours time.

I had come home late. Reeking of cheap weed and abandonment. She was sitting on the floor, her back was leaned against the couch and her knees were pulled up to her chest. She was staring me dead in the eye, her piercing gaze burnt straight through to my heart.

I knew i was in trouble this time. My stomach dropped. She might not be crying, not right now, but her eyes were red, her cheeks puffy and damp. She had a hurt look mixed with a glare with a twinge of disgust.  I had really fucked up.

My tunnel vision was beginning to expand. The room that initially seemed dim brightened. The smile playing on my lips relaxed and softened, fading to a quivering line. The joke I had been remembering dissolved back into the ether. The keys I pulled from the deadbolt fell to the ground.

And then all of a sudden as if it had been waiting in the tall grass rattling its tail at me a certain important memory resurfaced. My stomach felt tight. Oh shit. We were supposed to be on a date right now. Our reserved seats at the restaurant went cold. By now reassigned to a lucky couple who had arrived on time.

I looked back into her eyes. She just stared through me. The edges of my vision were darkening. There is nothing more intense than knowing you have fucked everything up and to know that if your relationship doesn’t survive the next hour it’s entirely you’re own fault. There’s something to knowing that you wouldn’t blame her either. This was the third time i had tested her trust in me with a promise and failed to deliver. In a row. Third time in a God damned row.

Of course I couldn’t blame her but oh how I wish I hadn’t thrown it away so simply. I should have fought for her! One last time. I should have came home from work on time and showed her just how important she really was to me. But i didn’t.

instead i had gone to my buddy’s house to get some fun in after a hard day at work and before sacrificing my relaxing time between when i work and sleep for time with my girlfriend. I saw her all the time! Why did we have to go on a date? I mean we did live together did we really have to go out and spend our extra money? My extra money?

I complain about her to Bob. He laughed at all the right times, clapped me on the back and generally supported my feelings. We smoked a little and sat on his couch watching cartoons. We talked about the old days. How much we were feeling like adults and that we were noticing how often we marveled about the price of food and a particular frying pan we both knew of.

I made a comment about how our 15 year old selves would kick our assess for acting this way and Bob and i almost died from laughter! We were in a fit of hysterics when I had checked my phone to see how much time we had left. It had only been three minutes, which rekindled our laughter and we lost it for awhile until a rather complex scene in one of the cartoons caught our attention.

The next thing we knew we were talking about politics and the how we’d give anything to have a 10 minute conversation with our younger self and explain to him how little time there really is and that he definitely should work harder and have a more interesting life.

We wondered aloud whether that younger version of ourselves would be smart enough to listen. Or would he be as dumb and egotistical as we were sure he wound be? I checked my phone again for the time and noticed i had missed a call from her, twice. And 30 minutes apart too. Bob marveled at her clinginess and i nodded along. Not really worrying about it, we were just having a guys night. No big deal she understands! But still… something felt wrong about that. My stomach got a hallow feeling in it which i announced. Bob muttered, “women…” and passed the newly loaded pipe back to me.

After that i remember stumbling into the elevator of our building (i still don’t remember getting home) and having trouble lining up my key to the deadbolt keyhole. I remember her face looking up at me. I remembered how i had hurt her that night and suddenly the feeling in my stomach at Bob’s house made sense.

Suddenly I was sober..and though my mind kicked into high gear. And thoughts to dig me out of this situation raced to my aid at 100 miles per hour they headlong into an freight train of the raw emotion of a woman scorned. They all disolved, like the life of mine i regretfully threw away.

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