Women Always Leave Me
She was putting on her jacket getting ready to head out.
“Where did I put my goddamn keys?” she hollers from the other room.
I was sure her question was rhetorical so I didn’t answer, fearing I might receive a response marinated in anger. I just sat on the couch and continued watching TV. Next I could hear her throwing shit around the kitchen, shouting profanities, pounding on the countertop, all of this accompanied by intermittent groans of frustration.
“Have you seen my keys?” she whines, her voice resonating throughout our small apartment. “I could’ve sworn I just had them…”
Suddenly she’s standing right before me, and blocking my view of the set.
“Are you gonna answer me?” she demands. “What’s your fucking problem?”
“No love, I haven’t seen them,” I reply, adopting a sympathetic tone. “Would you like for me to help you look?”
“If it wouldn’t be too much of a chore.”
As I get up to assist in her search, she goes to turn off the TV, to ensure I won’t be distracted. As she slaps the power button, we both hear a familiar jingle as her keys drop onto the floor.
“I believe I’ve solved the mystery of where your keys are,” I say while laughing. “They’ve been in your hand this whole entire time. I’ve done the same thing more than once myself. It’s your mind playing tricks on you, letting you know that you’re only one step away from insanity.”
“It’s not funny,” she snaps. “So you’re saying I suffer from some type of mental deficiency?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. All I was trying to do…”
“I’m sorry,” she says. “Just having one of those days when everything feels off-kilter. And no, don’t you dare ask if I’m on my period!”
“When have I ever acted in such an insensitive manner?” I ask. “You talk to me as though I’m some college frat boy. A dim-witted shit for brains with the manners of an inbred hillbilly. What have I done, or most likely not have done, to cause you to treat me with such contempt?”
“Santi, I need to know what we’re doing!” she says. “Where we’re going? There’s no plans for our future. It’s the same routine over and over. It’s no fun anymore. Are you going to be a drug-crazed addict your entire life? Are we going to stay together? Do you love me?”
“Jesus Christ Jess, which question do you want me to not have an answer for first? Come here, sit down. Let’s talk about this and see if we can possibly come up with some answers to your questions.”
“Oh no you don’t! You’re not going to pull that shit on me! I know exactly what you’re doing, you silver tongued con-man. I’m savvy to your used car salesman pitch. I’ve witnessed you convince someone you owed money into not only feeling guilty for asking for payment, but they end up lending you more on top.”
She had me pegged. I’d planned to sweet talk her into a state of tranquility, knowing that eventually she’d drop the subject.
“Jessica, why the hell are you still here with me if you’re so displeased by our current arrangement? You act as though it’s a deplorable lifestyle and I’m the cause for your every touch of sadness. There aren’t any bars or chains preventing you from leaving. You’re not a hostage or prisoner being kept against your will. You can’t just bushwhack me with all these questions, expecting me to have answers for the future. I’m not a fucking psychic. If you’re unhappy with me and the way things are, put your ass on the tracks, leave, take the Midnight Train back to Georgia and your ex-husband. There won’t be any hard feelings or harsh remarks whatsoever.”
“But Santi, I love you… Why can’t we live a normal life and be happy, grow old together? We could travel through Mexico, Central and South America like you promised. Your addiction is out of control and getting harder for us to afford. I’m not peddling my ass on the street anymore and I want you to get clean. Is that too much to hope for?”
Honestly, I didn’t know how Jessica had tolerated this lifestyle for as long as she had. I would’ve laid odds she’d have been a memory long time ago already.
Women always leave me. I’ve had dogs that stayed with me longer than any woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. If I wasn’t so sure they’d been to blame in most instances, perhaps I’d start to consider that I might be the reason for their departure.
“The only normal I’m aware of is in Illinois,” I tell her, “and no way I’m going back there. I’m not saying our lifestyle is typical behavior, but you knew the circumstances before getting involved. I’m correct, right?”
For some unknown reason, women make it their priority to change a man after becoming romantically involved. They don’t fall in love with the man you are but with the man they want you to be. She knew what the box contained before she opened it. I’m aware that I may not be a dream gift, although I’m certainly not a consolation prize either. My baggage has always been perfectly transparent. I’ve made no excuses for my indiscretions or for relationships that have gone awry in the past. True, I may be far from perfect, and possibly a bit crazier than most would care to realize, but I am what and who I am.
“I know, Santi,” she says. “I just never thought I’d ever feel the way I do for you now. You’re so smart, you’re funny and make me laugh. You have so much potential and it hurts me to see you wasting it. Plus, you’re easy on the eyes, even good looking I’d say most of the time.”
“Saying ‘you have potential’ is just another way of saying ‘you’re not as dumb as you look.’ I don’t know what you want from me. What do you want me to do? I’m not going into another rehab program. Rehab is for quitters, and I’m no quitter!”
“How can you joke at a time like this?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve got a question for you. Why do you have all those keys? Did you buy a car? Get a job as a maintenance woman or a real estate agent or something? And where are you heading off to this early in the morning?”
“Early in the morning? It’s five in the afternoon, dumbass, and I’ve been working at Jeff’s Pub for the last five days. I told you I quit being a prostitute. I have the keys because I open and close the bar sometimes. Oh yeah, and Jeff doesn’t want you to come in when I’m working. You forgot I was working there, didn’t you? Perfect example of your apathy concerning our relationship.”
“I didn’t forget, I’m just unable to recall.”
“Ya, I’m sure. I’ve gotta go, babe. Don’t go pawning the TV for dope! I bought it so we could watch movies together. Well, so do you?”
“Do I what?”
“Do you love me?”
“Did you misplace your keys again? This all started because you couldn’t find your keys. Let’s not go through this again. Yes, I love you.”
She gives me a long sweet kiss goodbye and sashays out the door.
I entered a rehabilitation program two days later. Jessica came to visit on Wednesdays and Sundays, but after about a month she never returned. I stayed for ninety days and got clean. Entered a halfway house, but that’s the worst place to attempt to quit using. The main goal for most residents is to go on getting high while hiding it from the administration, so I left after a week because I wanted to stay clean.
I never heard from or saw Jessica again. Later Jeff told me she ran off with the apartment manager, Harry, Larry, Terry or whatever the fuck was his name.
Women always leave me.