The Saturday Boy, Two Years On
I struggled to get out the door of Olly's house as he kept pulling me back in for kisses and hugs. It was getting late and I needed to get back, call some friends, and see how bad things were between the band and me. I'd let them down big time with my family crisis, and although they had been supportive I couldn't blame them if they were just a little pissed off that we'd had to cancel some gigs.
My plan was to speak to Joey, see how Jack was and then make a decision on when I could get back out on the road. I really needed to speak to mum and dad as well because they should be dealing with this, but alas, dad wasn't really up on the highs and lows of gay relationships, not really knowing what to say, and mum… well mum was just mum, wanting to help, but always having her eye on the business.
I seriously thought Joey needed to get help with his… afflictions. It was true he had got worse over the last year or so. His moods had changed, he was angry A LOT, and he was drinking far too much, most of which was going on behind Jack's back. I felt helpless and annoyed, because usually, I knew how to keep my brother from simmering over or making bad decisions, but lately, probably because I hadn't been around so much, he was going right off the rails.
I was about half way home when I heard my cell phone buzzing around in the accessory tray in my car. Pulling off to the side of the road, I picked it up and saw Joey's name flashing on the screen.
"Joey, where the hell are you?"
"Uh… sorry, is this Roman?"
"Yeah, is that you Toby?"
"Yeah, hi, erm… Joey is here, and I um… well, you might need to come and get him. He's pretty drunk and I can't drive him home because I've been drinking too."
"Oh for fuck… Ok, gimme a sec I need to turn round, I was just on my way home. Why is he wasted AGAIN?" I hissed down the phone, frustrated.
"Jesus, Roman, I dunno what to say to you man, he's pretty cut up… told me all about what happened and shit, and… well I think he needed to let off steam… look don't be too hard on him, he's really down about how things went down on his birthday."
"Yeah, well! So, can I speak to him?"
"He's asleep, I didn't have your number, so that's why I'm calling you on his cell. I've put a blanket over him, and left him to it, but I can wait up until you get here. I just think it would be better if he was at home before morning as I have to leave early for work."
"Ok… look thanks, Toby, you know, for looking out for him. I'll be with you ASAP."
I pressed end call and threw the cell back in the tray banging my fists on my steering wheel. "FUCK THIS!" I screamed to myself. Putting the car in gear I spun it round and drove off at speed, more out of frustration than a need to get to Toby's place.
"Hey, boy, aint your clothes a'bit fancy to be stayin' in a dump like this, whass your deal blood?"
"It's cheap and I aint fussy… blood!" I replied, to some African dude walking past me just as I was putting my key into the door. I'd found a room in a hostel just outside the city centre. It was dirty, damp and filled with mould, but as I'd just told the guy outside, at eight quid a night… it was cheap.
I checked my phone, having left it behind after going out for food. Three missed calls from mum, well Sandra, but I called her mum. Two missed calls from Roman and one from Olly. "Jesus," I muttered, chucking it on to the mattress.
Puffing up the two gutless pillows, I had, I sat down on the bed and leaned up against the wall getting comfortable… or at least trying to. I'd bought some KFC, and looking down at the box, I sniggered, finding it funny that tonight's dinner cost almost as much as the room. I'd been here since Joey went mental; I just couldn't take it anymore, the anger, the jealousy and now this. What he had done to me, after all the effort Olly and me had put in to his prime birthday, was just… it was, unforgivable. At least, that's how I felt up until recently, finding I was starting to miss him. Today was the first day he hadn't bombarded me with calls. I told him I needed space, but he still called me relentlessly. I had to beat my hand away from my phone at times because I wanted to hear his voice so bad, but I was still insanely angry at him and embarrassed.
It was all going so well, the planning, the timing and I had felt excited for him. It was his special birthday and I wanted to be there, to witness him turning eighteen. It was something we was both going to look back on in years to come, hey Jack, do you remember what you did for me on my eightieth? I could hear him saying. But no, the green eyed monster took over and wrecked it all. I felt my head shaking just thinking about it.
I picked at my limp chicken and soggy fries, thinking how shit KFC really was when it was left in a box too long. I weren't that hungry to begin with, but just looking at the junk in front of me, made me want to go on a diet. The real problem with my appetite though wasn't the shit food, it was Joey!
A few weeks before Joey's birthday, Olly and I were sitting in the lounge at his place. Roman was practicing his guitar at a friend's house and Joey was in the cellar doing his thing. Olly happened to mention an idea he'd been having regarding Joey's special day, but was afraid of what our parents Sandra and Andy might think. After explaining it to me in detail, I said I would run it by mum and see if she would be ok with it. What we'd planned to do, was dress up in nothing but a thong and bow tie, use the club dance floor to do some silly moves to music, while presenting Joey with his presents. Kind of like those sappy tarts who give away stuff on quiz shows. It was all supposed to be really cheesy… camp, a great laugh, and something Joey would remember. But alas, he went and fucked all that.
We had it all planned out, and all the family knew what we were doing. I called Roman and asked him if he was able to come back a little earlier in the morning to get rid of Joey for a bit while we set up, which had been successful. The only problem was, I had got the timings wrong and we were ready a little earlier than I think Roman was expecting. I text him while they were out and told him to come back immediately as we were ready. The bit that went wrong was that Roman got back a little too quick and Olly and I were still changing, and well… Joey was kinda in the wrong place at the wrong time. A small part of me can see how this looked… Olly and me locked in a room, half naked, but the door was only locked just in case mum happened to walk in… at the wrong moment. But, Joey being Joey, he went straight in at the deep end thinking the worst of me. I really wouldn't mind if I had a history of cheating or whatever, but I don't! I mean, yeah I like to chat to guys, hot guys, but at the end of the day, I know who the fuck I go home to!
I loved Joey with all my heart, but he was wearing me down inside ,and I didn't know how to stop him. The thing that really scared me the most, was one day waking up and not loving him anymore, that would be heart breaking beyond belief. But right now I couldn't talk to him, not yet, things were still too volatile… he was still too volatile.
I had text Roman to let him know I was ok, and I'd also called mum to explain how Joey had made me feel. I think she felt torn, her real son hurting because he had been a prick, and her adopted son hurting… because her real son had been a prick. I didn't want her to take sides, it wasn't about that. But I did tell her I thought Joey needed to speak to someone… like a specialist. I think she was a bit taken aback by that comment, but I explained that if she really needed it to be explained she should to talk to Roman. Whether she has, I don't know. Anyway, she told me to keep in touch, which I have by sending a daily text, and I also gave the address of where I was staying just in case of emergencies. She had asked me when I was planning to come home, but I didn't feel confident of when I was. Also, I knew Joey would be grinding her down for answers, and right now, I wanted him to stew on what he had done… cruel to be kind.
It had been a heavy night, not just from the three bottles of wine Joey and I had consumed, but heavy mentally. Listing to Joey pour his heart out, stretched my understanding of gay relationships to the limit, and Jesus, I thought girls were complicated. I felt so bad for Joey, his mind tortured by his… mind! It was sad to see the once happy-go-lucky fourteen year old I knew from our old running days go down such a bad road with himself.
I was always the third friend, after Shaun and Dean, but I didn't mind. Joey and I spent much of our time together doing athletics which was what our friendship was mostly based on. Shaun and Dean were more of the general friends, as I liked to call them, but none the less, I considered us close right up until we stopped running together. Then of course I joined the same school as them and we got talking again. At the time, Joey was going through a hard time with his sexuality so we never clicked quite the same, but it was still nice to see an old face when I ended up in some of his classes and at lunch.
The whole gay thing, when it finally came out, never bothered me really. I didn't know any gay people, but somehow finding out Joey was gay didn't seem to make a difference to how I felt about him. In fact, I did start to think it was pretty cool. It felt like everyone had a gay friend they were close to, so when I could say the same I almost felt… in the club!
As time went by and Joey and I left school, we grew apart, naturally, of course, it's just the way things go sometimes when you leave a common place. But then he called me one day asking me how I was and suggested we meet up. I think he just wanted a face to vent to about Jack, but I really didn't mind, it was just so great to see him again. I became almost like an agony uncle after a while, and there wasn't much I didn't know about their relationship, even down to who sleeps on which side of the bed.
Just then, I heard a car pull up sharply outside. Walking over to the window, I peered through the slits in the blind and saw Roman's Orange Ford Focus, and him getting out of it. I went to the door and had it open ready for his arrival… it was better that way and then Conrad wouldn't start barking.
Smiling as he approached the stairs, we shook hands and I invited him in.
A stern and anxious look was on his face as we locked eyes. "Thanks," was all he said, and I led him through to my lounge where Joey was curled up in a ball on the sofa.
"He's well out of it, I'm sorry Roman, I didn't know how much he really drank in the end, but I'm guessing more than me because he was pretty wrecked after I called it a night." Roman followed my comment by nodding, but made none himself, preceding to shake Joey instead.
"Joey, its Roman, Bro, wake up, I'm taking you home."
"Toby?" was all that Joey groaned.
"Joey, C'mon, wake up, we really gotta… Jesus… JOEY!" he snapped, losing patience with his non-conforming brother.
"WHAT! What is it? Roman, what are you doing here?" Joey slurred, through slanted eyes.
"I've come to take you home, now get up, Toby needs his bed, and so do I!" Roman demanded, looking decidedly exasperated. I just stood there and watched, what could say to either of them? Perhaps it was my fault letting Joey drink so much while feeling like he does, but the evening just got away from us.
"I can walk Roman, there's no need to manhandle me!" Joey hissed as Roman was trying to manoeuvre him off my sofa.
"You could have fooled me, look at the fucking state of you, why do you have to get so wasted all the time."
"I'm not gonna answer that question, in this house, to someone like you," he slurred, prodding at Roman's chest and almost falling over. I gave Roman a sympathetic look before leading them both to my front door.
"Joey, get some sleep and rest, I'll call you soon, ok?"
"Yeah… yeah whatever!" he replied, staggering out towards Roman's car. Roman gave me a glancing goodbye look and caught up to his brother who was now leaning precariously on the car.
I pulled in to a McDonalds Drive-though and ordered a couple of coffee's, in my attempt to get Joey to Sober up. As I drove out his neck was lolling around like a well-cooked piece of asparagus and it seemed to get to me. I made a couple of turns and pulled into a deserted parking lot, switching off the engine.
"Joey, wake up… drink this, I can't take you home in this state, mum will have a fit!" Joey opened his eyes and took the cup from me, taking a small sip. I adjusted my seat and got comfortable, blowing on my steaming coffee to cool it. We both sat in silence while I looked up at the moon, watching clouds gently passing in front. It was deadly quiet, the only noise coming from our breathing.
"Jack's fine by the way… I guess… I guess you've been worried."
"Only like, out of my mind," Joey replied, blowing into his cup.
"Joey, what the hell are…"
"Don't Roman," he screeched, "Just don't start with me, I can't handle it."
"You can't handle it? Have you spared a thought for everyone else in your little mission of self-destruction?"
"Spared a thought? It's all I've been thinking about Roman," he said, still slurring, but at least he was making sense.
"I just don't know what to do Joey, you gotta tell me what I can do, because I'm losing patience with you! I'm not fucking mum you know, you're an adult now, and this shit has got to stop."
"I know… I fucking know, ok, I'm not stupid."
"You wanna think about that, for just a moment?"
"I've lost him, I know I have, there is nothing I can do now, it's all gone to shit."
"I don't know what to say to you Joey, I can't fix this for you, I can't make it right. When it comes to your relationship with Jack you're on your own. But if you want my advice, I would fucking fight for him like you've never fought for anything in your life. If you really love him, then you got to work your ass off to prove it."
"What's the point, he hates me!"
"He might well do, but he loves you, of that much I'm sure. You don't just turn it off like a switch Joey."
"How is Olly?" He asked taking by surprise.
"Pretty good considering, he's quite resilient, and as much as I'd like to see you stew over him, I think you should know, he actually forgives you and wants to move on from this."
"And you… do you hate me?" he asked, turning to look at me. His stare indicated he was eager for a quick decisive answer, but I actually had to think about the answer I was going to give. I didn't wanna let him off so easy, but I couldn't say I hated him… because I didn't!
"You've hurt a lot of people Joey. In one sweep of your fucking paranoia you've hurt them, and that includes me," I finally replied, turning to face him. A tear was starting to run from his eye, but this time there would be no hugs, no sympathy and no guilt, not yet anyway.
"I made the wrong call, but in my head it all added up at the time."
"Joey, do you REALLY think that if Olly and Jack were going to screw around behind our backs, they would choose the apartment, and on the day of your birthday? Just think about that for a second!"
"Oh C'mon, give me some slack, you must admit, it hardly looked very good did it? Door locked, clothes all over the floor, giggling and whispering."
"All that tells me is you don't have an ounce of trust for your boyfriend, so you're right, what's the point in you both being together?"
"That's not fair, I do trust him, look at all the people I have to stand by and watch chat him up in the club, trying to put their greasy mitts all over his body, while doing their best to get into his pants."
I rolled my eyes. "You have to put up with that now and again, maybe a little more on the gay night, but ask yourself this… out of all those people you say are all over him, how many has he gone to bed with, huh…how many?"
"None," he answered, in a sulky tone.
"I rest my case."
"So where is he?"
"I don't know, and do you know what, I'm glad I don't, because then that way, I can't be worn down by you."
"But he's safe yeah?"
"I got a couple of texts from him saying he was ok, that was it."
"Probably shacked up somewhere with some twink!"
I could of throttled him right there and then!
"And you really wonder why you always keep fucking it up," I said, exasperated. "Still, after everything, you relentlessly assume he's up to no good? You know most guys, gay ones I mean, would be over the moon to have such a faithful loving boyfriend like you do… or did. At his age, and with his looks he could have anyone, at any time, and yet he stays with a jealous fuck like you… I just can't work it out sometimes!"
"There's no need to be nasty Roman, I need your support right now."
"Support? SUPPORT? I've been supporting you ever since I don't know when, and you have constantly let me down, one way or another, you need help Joey, and that's not a fickle comment, I mean it. If you don't get some help with your issues, then…"
"Then… I'll have no choice but to involve mum, and… and I'll move out."
"Mov… you can't, I need you, mum doesn't understand me, only you do Ro, please don't make threats like that, they're out of order."
"This time Joey, it's not a threat, I want you to get some help or you are gonna end up in some serious shit one day. I watched as you have gotten worse, watched you bellow at Jack just for chatting to someone of the same sex, I've watched you attack Olly, OLLY, for fuck sake! When… when is enough, enough Joey? When does it get to the point where you realise what you are destroying?"
"But surely we can work this out right; you can help me make it better? I can talk to Olly and then I'll prove to Jack I can change, I know I can… C'mon Roman I need you!"
The desperation in my brother's voice was both heart breaking and pathetic. I really wanted to help him, AGAIN, but I kept doing that, and I kept saying it too, I needed to put my foot down with him. It's true, he does have a way of persuasion with me that can be crushing at times, but I was determined to get my way with him this time.
He was getting help, and that was that!
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