The Victim

Chapter Two: Friends

Can’t have your cake nor eat it

I have noticed several times now that he suddenly acts… I don’t know, weird. Usually at the AA meetings and out on the street. He usually looks behind our back, thinking I don’t notice. I’ve asked him why, but he always either denies doing it or refuses to talk about it. “Please, let’s go home,” he begs me suddenly as we head to an AA meeting one monday. “Look, we’re going anyway,” I answer tiredly as I drive through the streets, hungry and cold. “Can we at least not repeat this ritual every day?” I ask him. He remains silents.

“Besides, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. These meetings are for life. You can’t just magically cure yourself. Eventually you’ll come less and less often, but you’ll still have to come.” He sits in his seat, looking outside the window in silence, angry at what I’ve said.

As we park on the building where the meeting is taking place, I notice people going in. I begin taking my stuff to leave when I hear him whisper. “No, no, no, no. It’s not right, it’s not right.” “What is it?” I ask, concerned. “I’m sorry, I can’t—” he says before he opens the door and runs down the street.

I look at the people going into the building. It seems like regular folks to me, there’s even a family with a baby in a carriage. I look at him go. It seems like he’s running for his life, crossing red lights and nearly causing an accident or two. I promise myself I won’t chase him. “He’s not my problem,” I tell myself. “Let him go.” But I know he’s headed down a road back to relapse. Or something worse.

I fight the urge to go after him and return to my apartment. My friend from school is there, still preparing her breakfast. “Hi, aren’t you here too soon?” she asks. “Yeah, he-he ran away,” I say. She stays quiet, thinking “I told you so.” “Are you going after him?” she asks as calmly as she possibly can.

“No,” I reply with determination, trying to convince myself. “If he doesn’t want to get better, there’s nothing I can do. I won’t lock him up or police him. I don’t have the energy for his drama.” “I think that’s wise,” she says. Of course, why wouldn’t she think that. She wants to get rid of him badly without looking like the bad guy. And unfortunately, I can’t say I blame her.

The next two days I keep looking at my phone, waiting for a message or a call to pop up. Then, when I’ve just about given up on him, he appears once again at my door. But this time, he’s covered in blood. “Oh my god, what have you done!? Are you ok!?” I yell immediately, trying to find the wound. “Please, let me in, quick,” he asks. “I can’t go to the hospital.” I let him through.

She helps me carry him to the couch. We put a blanket under him, so the couch won’t be ruined. He lifts up his coat and we see the cut, right under his heart. Immediately we clean up the blood with towels. In just a few minutes, it looks like there’s blood everywhere. She looks at me, terrified. “I-I think he’s dying.”

“No hospitals,” is all he says. I try not to panic, and stop to take a deep breath. Then I put my hands on her shoulders and breathe deeply, looking into her eyes. She follows my lead. He passes out, or at least I think he only passes out. I don’t let her see it, keeping her eyes on me. “Ok, the wound doesn’t look deep,” I say. “I think all we have to do is disinfect and bandage it. At least that’s all they do in the movies.”

I take the bottle of rubbing alcohol from our medkit and just spray his wound with it. “Holy f-word! F-word f-word f-word!” he screams. She and I quickly take our hands off him, scared we’re hurting him. Then we take a bandage from the medkit and put it on his wound. It’s not large enough to cover all of him, so we put more bandages.

Actually, we overdo it, and end up putting like eight bandages, covering most of his chest. “Now what?” she says. “It needs to hold.” I take duct tape from a drawer. “Sit him up,” I command. She looks at me in horror. “Look, we don’t have anything else to make it hold up.” She manages to make him sit up and holds him still while I wrap his bandages with duct tape. There’s much less blood now on him, it’s all on the cloth and towels we’ve used. He complains a couple of times about what we’re doing, but we keep going until he’s essentially wrapped up like a present.

“… water, please…” he mutters after the intervention is over. I pour some water into a glass and give it to him with a straw to drink from. After he slurps it away, he falls sound asleep. She is sitting in a chair next to the couch, and I come sit by her side.

She looks at me and shakes her head. A tear forms in her left eye. “Why?…” she asks, but shuts herself up. I take her left hand and look back down at the ground. “No, you know what, I’m not gonna stay quiet now,” she practically shouts, distressed, letting go of my hand. “This is not normal, you know that, right?” she starts, exalted. “Who wants to be normal anyway,” I sigh. “Ah. You don’t understand. This…” she points at the ground, littered with bloody cloth and towels, “is wrong. We shouldn’t have to deal with this.”

“I know, and I’m sorry,” I apologize to her. “No, no, no. Don’t apologize for him,” she says indignantly. “This is his fault. The only thing that can make this up is that you kick him out as soon as he can stand up.” I avoid looking into her eyes. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that…”

She takes her hands to her face and wipes her tears off. Then she wanders about the apartment for a few seconds. I know what she’s gonna say. I don’t want her to say it. “Then I’m leaving. It’s clear you will keep picking him over me. A person can only stand so much.”

I stay silent. A tear forms in my right eye. “So you have nothing to say, right!?” she says. “Right. Well, enjoy… him,” she says as she goes for the door. But then she turns back. “No, you know what! I’ll tell you the truth, someone has to. You have no clue what he has done and—” “What do you mean?” I interrupt her. “Do you know?” I ask. “Look,” she says. “That right there is a broken man. He’ll never be fixed. And if you let him, he’ll suck you right into his vortex of… f-wording chaos… F-word!”

Now she’s gotten out everything she wanted to say, and leaves still crying. On her way out she slams the door violently. I feel myself shaking without control. I’ve let her go. Why? Why!?