The View from Room 629
It was the summer before my 23rd birthday. My friends Caleb, Micah, Patrick and I had just finished our fourth year at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Everyone but Patrick graduated. He needed to go to summer school to finish his required credits, too much partying and not enough book time had finally caught up with him and he was scrambling to get his degree in Anthropology. Patrick wanted to be a forensic pathologist, a solid profession but one he hadn’t quite committed to and if he wanted his father paying for the next four years of med school then he needed to get serious real fast. So we figured we’d give him one last hooray weekend before he buckled down and walked the straight and narrow.
I’m Jessie Marshall, average height, average weight and average student. I went to college to major in drama. I thought if I became an actress maybe I could transform this average person into something a little more interesting. But as it turns out, I didn’t really like the whole process. Now don’t get me wrong I love being on stage, the lights the sets the audience. It makes you forget who are and become anyone you want to be, but there’s always the auditions and the rejection and just the whole mess that comes before the actual performance, and I didn’t have the stomach for it. So mid way through school I decided to change my major and I’m proud to say I graduated with a degree in hotel management. I don’t know, maybe I’ll go to cosmetology school, they seem to make okay money and they get to pick their own hours.
Micah’s my best friend. We’ve known each other since kindergarten when on the first day of school she punched Jeffrey Deninger in the arm for teasing me about my lunch box. Granted it was ninja turtles but I thought it was cool and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Micah is beautiful, tall, lean and very smart. She could easily try out for America’s Next top Model and give those girls a run for their money, but her interests are more of the brain than the face and she loves children, so next semester she starts her new job as a science teacher for Ira J. Earl elementary school where we met, talk about full circle.
We got to know Caleb and Patrick in our first year at UNLV. Caleb was in Micah’s math class and Patrick had taken drama to broaden his chances of meeting another Queen. Yes, Patrick is as gay as they come and loves everything about himself, which is okay because there’s a lot about him too love. He’s kind and generous with his friends and he’s the least judgmental guy I know. When I wanted to switch mid gear and drop drama for business, he stood by me and never asked why, he just said, “as long as you’re happy.” At first Micah had an enormous crush on Caleb, who wouldn’t? He’s 6’2 with sandy brown hair and light blue eyes. His body looks as if Michelangelo himself could have carved it and his smile can melt your heart. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before Micah realized she lacked a certain kind of equipment to get his gander up. So we decided to introduce Caleb to Patrick. They’ve been together ever since. I was pretty proud of my successful love connection; too bad I couldn’t have the same luck with my own romantic endeavors.
I’ve been dating Gideon Cooper now for about three years. He’s about 6’1, slender build with medium brown hair and light brown eyes. He bares a striking resemblance to the actor Patrick Swayze from his Dirty Dancing era but without the captivating dance moves. No, really, Gideon can't dance. He says he loves me and I’m the only one for him, but his love for himself sometimes over rules his feelings for me and that’s where my dilemma lies. Now don’t get me wrong, I can be a pain in the ass just like the next person, but I believe that if you love someone and I mean truly love them, there is no one else for you on the planet share one soul kind of love, then sharing your life with them simply means just that, sharing your life. For instance, Gideon loves cars. Anything about cars he absorbs like a sponge, he watches car shows, he goes to car shows and he takes great pride in any car or truck that he’s ever owned, and believe me he’s owned a lot of them. So when a car show comes to town, we go. Do I love cars? Hardly. Yes, I like having my car look nice and clean and shiny, but beyond that I don’t care if it’s a Nissan or a Lamborghini. As long as it’s dependable and gets good gas mileage, because gas today is literally killing everybody, I read last week that this elderly man couldn’t afford gas for his car so he didn’t go and fill his diabetic prescription at the pharmacy. They found him in his apartment a few days later, he had gone into a coma and died, so I do mean literally when I say the price of gas is killing us, but beyond that a car is a car to me. And do I complain when we go and spend three hours walking down each row and ogling at the tricked out paint job or custom interior, no. Do I think it’s boring? Yes. But I go and I have a good time knowing he is having fun sharing something he loves with me. Then it’s my turn, I love the movies. I don’t think there is a better day than going out for breakfast and catching an early show. Something about being in the dark with the huge screen that draws you in to whatever story your watching. Every movie looks and sounds better at the theater and the popcorn, no matter how hard you try at home it never tastes as good as the bucket you get at the theater. But Gideon doesn’t like going to an early show, he says it cuts into his day so he only wants to go to an evening movie. Okay, I can work with this, a little dinner and off to catch the 7 p.m. show, sounds good right? It is, until the closer it gets to 7 and the worse his headache gets or his stomach hurts so we wind up going to red box and renting a movie, minus the popcorn. After three years I’ve decided I want to go and catch the early show and I want someone who will keep his promise and not make me feel he’s sacrificing his first born just to go to the damn movies. So yesterday I broke up with him, do I feel better? No, I feel more like the day you realize that yes, it is the flu you’ve caught and not just allergies. My head is pounding, my stomach his nauseous and my body feels like Mike Tyson used it for a practice bag. I think the thing that surprised me the most was his reaction. I expected a little opposition, but his was a down right last stand. He did not feel the same way about breaking up and professed he would change and be more attentive to my needs. He hadn’t realized he had made me feel so hurt and he loved me and he knew he could make it better. I have to admit, I almost wavered, but I had Micah’s voice in the back of my head and she can be pretty persuasive when she puts her mind to it. So I went through with it, yeah for me.
It was Friday morning and we were all going to Primm Nevada to see the Pretenders in concert. The show was Saturday night and Juliette Lewis was opening for them. Now I know Primm Nevada doesn’t sound like much, but we all figured we’d get out of town and have a good time without having too much of a good time. We thought of going to Southern California, you know the clubs, the beach, and etc. etc. But we had to get Patrick back for classes on Monday and we thought this would be the better way to go. Okay, we were wrong and So. Cal. would have probably been the better place for us that weekend, but in our defense we didn’t know it at the time.
Micah was packing and we were going to pick the guys up around 10 a.m. We figured if we went early we could hang out at the pool, catch a little summer glow and maybe check out the mall. Primm has a really nice outlet mall and the guys wanted to check out the Marc Jacob store. On Saturday Caleb wanted to take a few rides on the Ferris wheel and roller coaster so we figured we’d have plenty of time to do everything and relax too. This last semester had been crazy busy and taking time to unwind was something we all needed, well everyone except Patrick who is the reason why we were going anyway. I hope he can settle down and get through this summer. His dad had made it very clear that he was totally fed up with his carefree attitude and I think this time he really meant it. Patrick’s a great guy, he’ll be the first one to give you the shirt off his back if you need it, but I think he’s just afraid to grow up. For Patrick it seemed like becoming an adult meant he couldn't enjoy all the other things in life that he liked to do. For instance, Patrick loves comic books. He not only collects them, but he writes and draws his own and they’re pretty good. He’s never sent them in for anyone to see, but he shows us and they’re really interesting. I think if he had his way he’d do that for a living, but his dad thinks it’s a frivolous hobby. I’m not saying he won’t be a great forensic pathologist, but I often wonder who he’s doing it for, himself or his dad? Well, enough of that, the weekend was supposed to be about cutting loose and having total fun, Monday would come soon enough.
Micah and I loaded the car; by the way I have a Nissan Altima, beige, like me. We headed over to pick up the boys. Soon after they had gotten together they decided it would be better to share a place rather than spending rent on two separate apartments, so they have this cute little one bedroom not far from school. Our apartment was only about a ten-minute drive away so it was pretty convenient all the way around. I was putting the last suitcase in the trunk when I heard the phone ring; Micah was inside doing a last minute check around the place so she answered it. I heard her voice get hard and abrupt, it must be Gideon. I slammed the trunk and looked up to our apartment, Micah was standing at the door with the phone in her and a very pissed off look on her face. As I got closer to her she was shaking her head no, I knew what she meant. I grabbed the phone and walked inside. “Hello.”
“Babe it’s me, please, don’t hang up.”
“Gideon what do you want? I thought we settled this the other night?”
“Maybe it was settled for you but not for me. I love you, I’m sorry a thousand times over for not seeing we were in trouble, but please we need to talk about this. You can’t just chuck out three years, babe please, can we just meet for a few minutes?”
“I can’t. I’m leaving and I won’t be back until Sunday night.”
“Leaving? We’re are you going?”
“Primm. Me, Micah and the boys are getting away for the weekend. So I’ll think about it and maybe we can talk when I get back, but for now it will have to wait.” I could hear a long lull of silence, this was really hurting him, go figure, I thought I’d be the one carrying the bigger torch in this break up. Not that I’m not dying a slow death inside, just the sound of his voice makes me want to forget the trip and drive furiously over to his house. But I know that’s not going to solve anything and besides, Micah would tackle me before I reached the car and for a skinny girl she’s pretty strong. “Gideon. You still there?”
“Yeah. I’m here. Promise me we can talk when you get back, okay?”
“No, I’m not going to say that. I told you I’d think about it. You’ve done a lot of damage this past few years and this time I’m not just gonna let go and have everything the way it was. You’ll just have to be happy with that answer because you’re not getting another one. I have to go, Micah’s waiting in the car. Good bye.”
“But babe… .”
I didn’t hear anything after that; I’d hung up the phone.