Audrey, the caseworker with benefits
Audrey only dated works in progress, which wasn’t me at the time. She was a depressed social worker who often brought her work home with her. I met her as I was getting off the Greyhound, my first day in a new city. Her boyfriend was getting on the bus I was getting off of, en route to Sacramento to rekindle an old flame. I offered her some Kleenex.
Audrey, like me at that particular time in my life, only wanted to make others happy. The problem she had, however, was that she didn’t believe two people could be happy at the same time. Someone had to lose out. This led to her dating a number of deadbeats. She found meaning in helping out the utterly useless. I was never sure if it was compassion I was witnessing, or just gluttony for punishment. As she explained it to me, there was a kind of honesty to these men that others lacked. “There’s nothing truer than that which is whispered between two rejects in the dark,” she once said.
Feeling like I could do something positive, I found myself in her position—trying constantly to save her. Stupidly, I decided courting her was the best method to get her away from the bad guys.
One ought to be wary of women who date bad men—especially if they’re interested in you. It’s indicative of something; people tend to date in patterns. So, if you really hate your lover’s ex, you might want to think about looking hard in the mirror.
All of her old “works in progress” would continue to call at odd hours, sometimes even dropping by. I practically had to carry a stick around to swat all the low lifes that flocked to her. I became irritated, defensive and jealous. And then the fights began.
After one of her exes came by in the middle of the night to make things right with her, our argument escalated until I flipped out and punched a hole in the wall. Neighbors called the cops because of our screams, and when they saw evidence that I had become violent, they booked me, despite Audrey’s protests, so I could “cool off.”
Sitting in that jail cell, I thought of how I wasn’t happy anymore; how I no longer loved the city I was in; and how inadequate I felt, like I was incapable of keeping Audrey happy.
But, when she arrived to bail me out, I saw it in her eyes: pure love. I thought I was going to throw up. She was now interested in me just as she was all of the other creeps, losers and leeches in her life. I fell from grace into her good graces. Now, I was a fuck up just like the rest of them.
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