I continued. "He is the biggest dick that I have ever met. Thank you for your time." I turned off the microphone and set it down. I figured I pretty much had the corner on inflicting public humiliation and Pat had, for the time being, incurred my wrath, so he became the target. There was only one time where I was outdone in this department, and that was on my birthday when Max solicited a sold out theatre crowd to sing happy birthday to me just before the previews started rolling.
Despite Patís bad qualities, which he eventually did outgrow, there were certain things about him that were eminently noteworthy. Like a few of my friends, Shawn and Max, he had certain principles and standards which he refused to deviate from. You always knew where Pat would stand and could trust him not to deviate from what he openly professed. When Pat told me that he would do something, I knew that I could count on him to do it. As a consequence I put a lot of faith him.
As a basic rule of thumb I put my trust in almost nobody. Humanity has demonstrated to me over and over again that they canít be trusted. There are only a few proven people who I break this rule for. I knew I could count on Pat to back me up. I knew that I could trust Pat when I couldnít trust myself, and that he would be there to help me out.
Terry, Rich, Pat and I continued to party non-stop. It wasnít long before I discovered why they had nick-named the apartment the Love Shack. One evening I curtailed my drinking abnormally early and hit the sack about three oí clock in the morning. When I woke up there was a naked woman in my bed. I didnít know how she got there, but I took it upon myself to do what needed to be done. This happened to me several times, and I always took the women up on their offer.
I began to feel tinges of self-loathing. I was doing something my grandparents had taught me was wrong. I was treating these women like pieces of meat. I cared nothing for them and they, probably, cared nothing for me. However, it was all too easy to mask my reservations with bitterness over my break-up with Heather, and soon I would forget my misgivings altogether as I washed them away with another bottle of Jose Cuervo.
In my sober hours, Heather was like a specter hanging over me. I couldnít seem to shake my thoughts of her. My wandering mind always returned to her and reminded me of the pain. I hid it behind an uncaring exterior. Just when I thought that I had put Heather behind me, she would track me down and give me a call. She took great delight in telling me about her new boyfriendÖconcentrating on the little details, so she could twist the knife a little more- as if I didnít feel enough pain.
To me, this occasional wound-salting revealed a second side to Heather that I hadnít seen before. It was one thing to break off our relationship because she had decided that I wasnít for her anymore. It was another thing to keep showing up in my life and torturing me about my loss. I wondered what could possibly motivate her to do something so utterly evil to me. She had to know that I still wanted her back. I was a wreck, though, I canít blame her for not wanting me.
Almost as suddenly as it started, our campaign of drinking ourselves to death stopped. Rich quit drinking and Terry went into an alcoholic treatment program. During this five months of partying until five in the morning, Terry must have aged ten years. His face was lined, and gray tinged his hair. The physical changes that had taken place were appalling.
Pat and I felt as though Terry had passed the mantle of corruption and perversion on to us. Somebody had to carry on.
Devil Bug and the Tree Stump
I bounced around a lot after being kicked out of my grandparentsí place. They were the only true stability that I ever had in my life. Without them I was wandering like a ship without a rudder. I was fast-talking and scraping up money wherever I could. I got a job at a games store that I had often frequented. The owner of Fantastic Games was a short, pudgy, balding man named Scott. He seemed remarkably eager to give me a job and take me under his care. Perhaps I should have been more suspicious, but I took it for granted that there would always be people who would, like my grandparents, help because of the goodness in their heart and not because of some ulterior motive.
Scott had purchased the ailing store from its previous owner, Lee Weslund, who had been forced to file for a bankruptcy. Scott had his well off parents purchase the store for him as an investment of a sort. I donít think that Scott had ever managed anything as large as an ant farm beforeÖso as I became more involved in the daily workings of the store, it became obvious that he was totally out of his depth.
I had shifted around and lived in about five places over the period of two months and once again needed a place to sleep. I had spent several nights sleeping in a rust and primer colored Volkswagon bug that my grandfather had given me, but the seat didnít tip back and it wasnít very comfortable sleeping accommodations. Scott offered to let me sleep at his place indefinitely.