We still just stood there. I thought once my parents were gone and we were in an empty house, Jerry would just explode. “Well, until you all want to discuss things,” I grabbed some trash bags and headed to the nearest table, “let’s clean up the house. I have to actually do the excuse I gave to an extent.” At first it seemed like Jerry was going to start things, instead he too followed my pursuit and started cleaning. The other three did the same.
‘Fine. If they don’t want to talk I will at least get some help cleaning.’
I was happy for the help, but enough was enough. Jerry was helping, but purposfully bumping into Jeremy; causing Jeremy fall and making things worse. “Enough! What gives? Are you really so unable to realize that everyone makes stupid mistakes when they were younger,” I walked across the room and helped Jemery stand back up on his feet. “That
yeah, he was a jerk in sophmore year,” I paused somewhat to make sure Jeremy understood.
Jeremy regained his composure, “No arguments there. I was definitely an immature jerk back then.”
“Only back then,” Jerry said under his breath.
“Say it loud enough for everyone to here. I thought we were friends. We never kept things to ourselves, we would just say whatever needed to be said to the other’s face. Have you changed so much that you are a coward now?” I was done with the slide remarks. We needed to move past this. Jerry was about to speak but I cut him off; I was not done. “Did you hear what Jeremy said. “An immature jerk.” Immature. Meaning he has now matured.” I could see that Jerry was fuming, but I was too.
“So what if he has matured. Should he really be forgiven for ruining someone’s life? So what if he was…what was it again?” Jerry looked to Ken.
“Verbally abused,” it was Jeremy who answered instead, “and since you have luckily never experienced it before, I would prefer you not speak your mind like you know anything about it,” Jeremy answered calmly, but his body was on edge.
“Fine. I won’t assume anything about what you went through. But can you understand that what you were dished for so many years, you in turn, did it to another human being. A girl,” Jerry waited for a response.
There was none. ‘I’m guessing because Jeremy couldn’t refute that. He did dish what he was served.’
“Why am I the only one chewing him out? What about you Matthew,” Jerry swiftly turned to the silent Matthew. “You had more to say after I got back; what happened to all your opinions?”
I looked at Matthew. He looked down, and then away.
‘What happened?’ Silence…
Slowly Matthew lifted his head back up; he looked me in the eye. It was an apologetic look. Then he turned to Jerry, “I judged Jeremy based solely on rumors. I apologize to you, dude,” Matthew looked to Jeremy, “I apologize for talking behind your back without knowing the facts.” Matthew waited for a response from Jeremy.
Jeremy just nodded.
“Jerry. You have to admit that you were wrong in your assumption. The rumors were that Jeremy was just a spoiled rich kid that just wanted to ruin other’s lives. I’m just quoting the rumors,” Matthew threw up his hands claiming innocence. “But seriously dude, now you know what he experienced throughout his entire young life, how can you still dislike his guts this much?”
Jerry didn’t answer.
“What I am more curious about,” as I spoke Jerry’s head snapped up, “you went to school with Jeremy for the past two years. You moved past your differences quickly. Why did you completely flip your opinion of him after you got home? What happened that I don’t know about?”
“Do you actually care?” Jerry spat out.
“Of course I do. What’s your deal?”
Jerry stepped towards me, “You…” Matthew pulled him back.
“It’s not unreasonable that Jerry said that George,” Ken finally chimed into the conversation. “You haven’t actually been here, virtually or present, these last two years.”
“I…” I stopped and just looked at them. I knew what they were saying was true. But they should understand that there was no way for me to be more present, with my schedule these last two years. “I get it. I know I was not there these lasts two years, but I was so busy. I’m sorry.” We need to get back to the real issue. ‘I do feel somewhat sorry for not being there for the guys these last two years, but I am not sorry about my choice.’
Matthew and Ken both slugged me on the shoulder while answering together, “No problem bro. We weren’t the best at keeping in touch either. School was crazy.”
I let the slugging slide, because we were good now. ‘Now Jerry.’
“Yeah. Fine. We are good,” Jerry said, but didn’t move.
‘That was painful to watch. At least we were past that.’ “So, since we moved past that…can someone tell me what happened?” there might have a tone to my voice, but it was just exhaustion; still, I wasn’t about to end this conversation until I found out the details.
They just looked at each other. Jeremy was silent next to me, but Ken, Matthew, and Jerry seemed to be talking without actually speaking. “Out loud…”
“Jenny was harassed in junior year,” Ken blurted out.
Matthew sighed, “Yeah. A couple of your old buds,” regarded Jeremy, “transferred to our school in our junior year. They tormented Jenny for days, saying it was your idea. That you told them to continue your legacy while you were gone,” Matthew looked to me.
I wish he hadn’t. I was fumming. Not at Jeremy, but the thought of what Jenny must have gone through. I couldn’t speak.
“Now do you understand why I hate this guy?” Jerry pointed once again at Jeremy.
“Can you not do that,” Jeremy changed his stance; he was now prepared.
“What? This!” Jerry thrust his hand almost inches from Jeremy’s face.
I reacted. I stopped Jeremy before anything could happen. Jeremy slammed into my back sending me forward into Jerry; we both laid sprawled on the floor. Jeremy just stood there controlling his shaking. I had seen this once before… Jeremy was doing a lot better than last time.
I stood and helped Jerry up. Then I walked over to Jeremy, “You good?”
Jeremy didn’t answer, but the shaking subsided. Before, Jerry’s face would have been rearranged. Jeremy has really changed this past year.
“Is he good?” Ken asked. He had just watched what happened, but seemed glued to the floor.
“Yeah. Just one of the many aftermaths of being abused for years,” Jeremy huffed out, bending over catching his breath. “Sorry,” he was now speaking to Jerry, “the
pointing is a trigger. My dad and old coach used to do that, so much that I associate the pointing to what happened to my mom…” Jeremy stopped.
‘A whole new can of worms was just opened.’ I looked at Jeremy; Jeremy seemed annoyed that he said those last words. Silence. All eyes looked at Jeremy; when they got no response, they turned their gaze to me. Again I looked to Jeremy, and he was staring at me. I couldn’t tell if it was a, ‘You talk and your dead stare, or an explain for me stare.’ “I can’t read your mind, dude.”
“Just tell them,” Jeremy sat down on the couch and dropped his head into his hands.
“Jeremy’s mom was almost killed by his dad,” I stopped. With good reason, because all of their faces showed true horror. “Thankfully, his dad was not successful,” I added because I could see the questions forming on their faces. They all sighed of relief. “I know that his dad is serving time now for attempted murder. But the important part is, his…” I looked over a Jeremy’s hunched body; I knew I needed to say the next part, but I didn’t want him to feel the guilt all over again… “after hearing his mom’s side of the story, pointing became a trigger. I guess his dad did it to Jeremy’s mom just before he was going to…you know…” I wasn’t about to say it. “So Jerry, no more pointing,” I sat next to Jeremy; he was still working on his breathing to stay calm.
Matthew and Ken were the first to walk over to where we were sitting. They gave Jeremy reassuring pats on his shoulders. ‘I think Ken smacked him a little too hard, but Jeremy didn’t seem to notice.’ Finally Jeremy lifted his head up; he was calm once again.
We all sat there waiting for the fourth one to own up to his mistakes and put in the effort. I looked at Jerry; his face was still stunned. He wasn’t looking at me; it seemed like he wasn’t really looking anywhere. Finally he moved. Jerry finally stood in front of us. He still looked like he was in a daze. Nothing…
I was about to help him along, but…
Jerry looked up, “I’m…I…” and he dropped his head back down. Silence.
Jeremy got up and extended his hand to Jerry, “We good now?”
Jerry’s head bolted up. He looked at Jeremy’s face and then his hand. He just stood there looking at Jeremy’s hand…
Again, I thought nothing was going to happen, and I was about to smack Jerry out of his daze…
“Yeah. We are good,” Jerry shook Jeremy’s hand. “And…I’m sorry, I…”
“No problem, but no more pointing. I don’t know what would have happened if George didn’t step in between us. Your face might have been rearranged, like the last guy,” Jeremy chuckled.
“Maybe you should have done it,” Ken stood up from his chair, and walked towards Jerry, “he might actually get a date if he had a scar.”
We all laughed. Including Jeremy.
“Sleep with one eye open Ken…one eye,” Jerry stepped towards the laughing Ken.
Jeremy was the one to stop Jerry. “He’s my bud now,” Jeremy said stepping backwards to Ken and swung his arm over Ken’s shoulder.
“I like this,” Ken smuggly nodded accepting Jeremy’s statement this time.
Again we all abrupted with laughter. ‘Good. All things were fine now.’ Looking around I notice that the house was still as messy, as it was when my parents left. “Well since we are good now, do you think we can do a little bit more cleaning before my parents get home,” I scanned the area surrounding us…
“No problem,” Jerry took charge, “let’s divde it up.” Jerry drew imaginary lines in the air seperating out our spaces. “The first to finish their area wins. He will get to have a free pass of anything. Anything,” Jerry smiled creepily at Ken.
‘Anything.’ That reminded me of Jenny. ‘What happened to Jenny in the end?’ Before I could ask I heard and loud, “GO!” and everyone started to swiftly clean their areas. I’ll have to ask later…