Bell was here a few weeks ago. He brought Christmas presents for everyone. I got a mug. It is huge and it is made out of an ox horn. It’s one of the most badass things I own, and I will use it next time I have my Barbarian Goat Drinking Party. For details on that, read my fantasy work, but now, please know that he is still in my life. He is a force for good and I love him dearly.
Burg, I never see. He is out in Seattle being a father and a husband. He is living a great life. I love him dearly, but every time I tell him, he gets this uncomfortable look on his face because I used the word love with him. It’s hilarious and endearing and though we have not talked in years, I could call him right now at this obscene hour and tell him I needed him, and he would get out of bed and talk to me. He is a great man.
They both are.
But the Droogs are dead. We don’t call each other that anymore. I used the term with Bell the other day and he ignored it. He doesn’t want to be called a Droog anymore. He is not my Droog. See, it all dried up when they stopped coming to the house.
Stopped is strong. They didn’t stop coming to the house until I moved out of it. We all stood in the empty apartment looking at the spot that had once meant so much to us and we had a few laughs. I cried, Burg said some great words, and we walked out. But things had started to fall apart even before the end of the apartment.
It all fell apart after I was called the Corrupter.
They didn’t want to be around Bekah. They were furious with her and every time she showed up, they found reasons to leave early.
This will be a recurring theme in my life. My best friends will fall out of love with the girls in my life and abandon me. They can’t stand to be around the girl, so to get out of dealing with her, they just walk away. The Droogs saw the life I was willing to live with my soon-to-be wife and my in-laws and they started to slowly fade away.
Burg will be back. He and I shared an apartment the summer after my first semester of college. You will hear all about that.
Distance played a part of it, but a lot of it was that they didn’t want to see me marching down the path I was marching. They couldn’t make me see the abomination that my relationship with Bekah was becoming.
When it came to Bekah, Shadow was dismissive at best, belligerent at worst. He bad mouthed her when she was gone, and he said a lot of things that made them think he was going to break up with her the next time he saw her.
Then, when she walked in the door, Guardian would rush to her and grab her. Kiss her and tell her how much he loved her. They were confused. They were mad. But most of all, they were over it. The drama was ramping up and all of it was getting obnoxious.
When I was packing up my apartment, Bell was with me. He did not help, but he kept me company while I worked, and I had a lot to do. When I had moved in, it had taken half an hour to get all my things in the apartment and unpack. But I had been there for a year and a half and my belongings had grown. I had just a few hours to get everything in boxes and it was not working, when I got a phone call.
“I need you over here helping me,” Bekah said. “I am packing up my room and I need you. Get over here.”
“I can’t make it. I have to pack up my place. I worked until seven and I have to be done by the end of the night,” Guardian said.
Silence on the other end of the phone. Anger rolled around in that silence. And Guardian spoke up.
“I’ll hurry and come over to help you,” he said.
Bell’s eyes flared and he looked at me. When I hung up, he said, “What was that?”
“She needs me to come help her. Will you stay long enough to drive me over when I am done here?” Guardian said.
“She wants you to what?” Bell snapped. “Tell me again.”
Shadow rose to his anger. “She fucking wants me to stop what I am doing and go over to her parents’ house to help her pack. Can you believe that shit!”
He still didn’t see it. Bell still didn’t see the shift in body stance. The change in pitch of voice. The radical twist in ideas and motives. When I went from “can you give me a ride” to “fuck this bitch” in the span of a breath, Bell didn’t blink. He didn’t ask himself what just happened. He just rolled with it.
“Fuck that, man. You stay here. How long has she had to get this room packed?” he said.
“She had been at it all day,” Shadow said.
Hymnal and Vigil were moving across the country. They had movers coming the next weekend and they needed her to pack up her room. It had been a job we had seen coming for a while. Both of us had seen this job looming in our future. Knew that it would come down to this night, at this time. But no prior thought had gone into it. No planning. No, “first your house, then the next day mine.” None of that.
Because we were broken. We were limping. We spent our nights desperately holding on to each other saying one wrong thing after the next and trying to forgive each other for them. Our pain and Shadow’s rage had drawn us together. We were frantically trying to fix the one thing we never wanted broken. But it was not working, and time was running out.
We had spent all weekend holding on. Trying to make things special again and this final push had snuck up on us.
I kept packing. Guardian trying his best to get done so he could get over and help her. Shadow kept stopping for breaks and stories about the building they were leaving. He knew she was working at her house and he delighted in the idea of her doing it alone.
Work needed me. I had forgotten to sign a piece of paper. Had forgotten to log out of the system. Any of the many things you have to do when you are leaving a job had been left undone, and Business called me and asked if I could run down there and perform this task.
Bekah had called two more times since, but we were almost done, so Bell ran me down to Pizza Hut. While I was there, she called the restaurant and demanded to talk to me.
She yelled that she needed help. She needed me to get over there and what was I doing, visiting friends at a place she knew I did not work at any longer.
Bell heard this. He was furious.
Guardian apologized and promised to get over there as soon as he could. It was ten. The next day was moving day and I had five girls and Bell and Burg helping me move out. We did not have time to pack. It needed to be done. He said he would come soon, and took off.
Back at the apartment, we went back to work. We were making progress when the phone rang. Shadow let the machine get it.
Now, just for a minute, I will explain what that is. An answering machine was a machine that hooked up to your phone and after three rings it would play a recorded message telling the caller you were not home, then it would record a message. You could let the machine “get it” and hear the message the other person was leaving. If you wanted to talk to them, you could pick it up and the recording would stop. Shadow let the machine get it and Bekah could be heard commanding us to come to her house now and help her finish. It was not a request. We had moved past that. This was a command.
She said, “Get over here now!” And she hung up.
Then Guardian shifted out. He played the message as Bell began to cuss and he looked up at Bell and said, “Take me to her house, please.”
“I will not!” Bell said. “You have work to do here! Fuck that! She can stay up doing her thing, but you have to be out of this place by tomorrow. If she has to, she can come back during the week or her parents can help her out. She has Bliss and Misty. She can call other people in, but you have this to deal with.”
“Are you going to drive me?” Guardian said.
“No, fuck that!”
Guardian grabbed his coat and walked out the door. Bell followed.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m walking to Bekah’s house.”
“Dude,” he grabbed my arm. ” This is bad, you can’t give in to this. You have responsibilities here. You can’t let her demand you come to her house right now. It’s not fair. It’s asking too much.”
“I have a long way to walk, man. Walk with me or we can talk about it in the car,” Guardian said.
“Get in the fucking car, then!” Bell snapped.
We drove in silence. When we got outside her house, he looked at me and said, “Go on. But this is your life now. Her telling you what to do, whether it is possible or not, and you running to do it. She is your master now. Think about it before you get out of this car. Think about what this move means.”
Guardian told him to take him home. It was the first time Guardian ever let Bekah down. Maybe the only time. When he got home, he called her and told her he would not be coming. He had too much to do at his house. She needed to take care of it herself. He was sorry.
It broke him to disappoint her and he left for the rest of the night.
Shadow finished. Bell left and Shadow went to bed.
She came home that night and climbed into bed with us. Shadow berated her until she apologized.
I’m not sure who was wrong and who was right, but that was when the Droogs died. They refused to be around her anymore. They moved me out and walked away. The best friends I ever had in my life were not in my life anymore.
Now, part of it was distance. Part of it was that I was in Springfield now and they were other places. But they never called. They never came around. We were not all in the same place again for about four years. Even then we did not refer to ourselves as the Droogs. We knew that bond had been played out. They could not follow me where I was headed.
They didn’t want to.
You should read about this night from Bekah’s point of view here.