Him: Thanks for answering the phone.
Me: My god, of course, Bobby. Of course. What the hell happened? Do you want some tea, or… I have some braised pork in the fridge? I’m going to make some food.
Him: I know it’s way before five, but do you have anything stronger than tea?
Me: Yes. Yes I do. I guess bourbon is okay?
Him: That’s fine. Have one with me?
Me: No. I have to teach later, but you can have my shot. I’ll pour a double.
(long pause, sets cutlery, boils water, makes food and drink)
Him: I guess you’re wondering what happened?
Me: James Blackheart happened?
Me: Who hit you? You look like you got into a fight with an elephant.
Me: Do you need a hug?
(they embrace for a long tme, Bobby shakes, trembling)
Me: Okay, let’s sit back down. I don’t like this side of you. You’re too good looking to walk around with cuts and bruises on your face.
Him: He stopped taking his meds.
Me: And then what?
Him: He came home late at night and started throwing my things into the hallway. He was with another boy, and started screaming about how I didn’t live there anymore.
Me: Wait, what? He came home with another guy? Did you two break up?
Him: We were talking about it, but he’s constantly talking about that sort of thing. He’s not stable when he doesn’t take his meds.
Me: Or even when he does…
Him: He works very hard and makes a lot of money.
Me: So did Kim Jong Il.
Him: He’s a good provider, Michael. You don’t see that side of him, or when he’s sweet for days or weeks on end. He’s a good man.
Me: Good men don’t beat their boyfriends.
Him: It was complicated. We were shouting at each other, he was destroying things – throwing my things out of the apartment. He screamed about how he’d always paid the rent and he was evicting me. He asked the boy to stay and he did for a while, but then it got so ugly – the boy left. The neighbors came over, threatening to call the police. We argued with them. They called the cops.
Me: How did you get those cuts and bruises?
Him: James hit me. That had happened before.
Me: Wait, how often does he hit you?
Him: It had happened before. Not often, but often enough to make me afraid of setting him off. He’s got chemical imbalances.
Me: Bullshit. He’s a dick. He’s an evil man. That’s not a chemical imbalance – that’s a character flaw.
Him: People go through phases, Michael. People aren’t always kind.
Me: But kindness is always an option. There are folk who won’t treat you like that. There are nice, rich guys that would pamper you and spoil you, and not keep you on high terror lockdown.
Him: But I love James.
Me: Did your father hit you?
Him: We were terrified of him, growing up. He wasn’t a nice man.
Me: Okay, so you’re now in a cycle of the same pattern with your boyfriend. Your ex-boyfriend.
Him: Can I stay here for a while?
Me: Obviously. You’re moving in today.
Him: Thank you. I knew you’d help me.
Me: We don’t know each other that well, but I can’t have you walking around like an abused housewife. You’re talented. Have you been singing?
Him: Not really.
Me: You’re joining the band, for a while. You need to get back to what brings you joy.
Him: I can sleep in your bed with you, and we can –
Me: I think that phase of our relationship is over. You can take the couch, or if you have a date that goes particularly well, I’ll take the couch. We’ll split the chores, and for the first few weeks I’ll buy all the food. If you need to stay more than a month, we can talk about rent, etc. – is that okay?
Him: That’s more than… Thank you!
Me: How did you get that gash?
Him: He smashed a wine glass on my head, right before the police showed up.
Me: This relationship is over.
Him: We both stayed the night in jail. Different holding cells.
Me: Good lord.
Him: He’d wanted me to get a job, and the funny thing is I’d gotten a retail job, but it wasn’t good enough, or the money wasn’t coming fast enough. I’d only been working there for 10 days. It’s not enough time to develop a clientele, or anything. Plus he was jealous I was ‘flirting with old men in Chelsea’ for a living.
Me: Flirting with old men is your favorite pass time!
Him: Preach. Anyway, I think it’s over. I hope he hasn’t destroyed my things.
Me: We’ll get you new things, or if need be, we can go over there with a bunch of people so he can’t hurt you. Here’s an extra set of keys.
Him: Thanks mister. Do you have an enema? I need to get ready to go out tonight.
Me: Oh Jesus, this is gonna be trouble.
Him: I can behave, too.
Me: No. Just no hard drugs in the apartment, please, and don’t bring over anyone who looks like a junkie or a thief? And no singing after 1am. I have a coke-head neighbor who’s pushy and demanding about his quiet time. Every time I go over there he’s watching porn on multiple screens and cracked out of his skull.
Him: Is he cute?
Me: He’s like… if you smashed Chris Farley together with Golem. Is that your thing?
Him: No, but I like porn.
Me: Look. Here’s the enema. Please don’t leave it out.
Him: Don’t worry, I will!
Me: I know, baby.
I know you will…
You’re safe now.