The happy ending that never was
Like the man once said, "It's the getting-away-with-it part I couldn't live with."
Who was Jenny? Jenny was my most favorite person in the world. We would sing together in private, each voice rising up the other's. My voice alone could never match what it was with her's and vice-versa. That's a tricky thing in even the best of scenarios. So I needed her - but couldn't see how see could need me. After all, who wouldn't want to be the great Jenny's singing partner?
We met at the local Maserati club. She an owner and I, alas, but a fan of the marque. Her being a chick that's into cars, that alone got me going. She's so cool! And then, the more we talked the more I found out we'd always been friends who'd just never met. That growing, exciting feeling you get when you meet those handful of people in your life, and you know this is something real: there's just nothing like it.
But I'd had another lifelong "friend" in my life too: gambling addiction. I can never get it straight in my head no matter how much I try. I need a way out and ten bucks an hour can never do. Everyone has to have hope no matter how unrealistic it might be. I see crazy rationalizations every day from the political to the personal that echo of the same desperation I have. On every corner, another false savior to be found; another fool who makes himself feel good about himself by clinging to the idea we live in a civilization.
I was very desperate for Jenny not to know of my darker side, all the while I was vastly consumed with the guilt of my dishonesty. I had nightly dreams of her visiting the track only to find me standing in a pile of losing tickets, i.e. a loser. Sure, I can't own a Maserati like she does but she never held that against me and once we started singing it took things to the next level. But the deeper our relationship got, the more overwhelmed I became with the dark secret of my private abuse. If only...
So that's how I was able to get into the inner lair of the most popular girl at the Maserati club. It was tough because I was unbearably jealous of the actual owners with whom I can never compete. I obsessed on getting a car of my own so I could have as much to offer Jenny as they. As it was, all I had was my singing and well, how good could that really be? In this age of American Idol everyone has aspirations of stardom. Jenny and I both were adamant on not hooking up to the train of self-delusion.
Still, I never felt more proud than when she said she was "damn proud" of the singing we'd done together. And certainly, after having planted a flower one has hopes and dreams and an overpowering desire to make it grow. We stood on the brink of that, wondering of the next step. She never knew my next step would be to reveal myself as a chronic abuser. All the life would go out of her face and I'd be cast aside from the Maserati girl who leads an honest life. I had no resentment about that but I was helpless to keep what I had.
I didn't have the guts to bring her down to the track and show her the shame of my existence, that this is what I'd made of my life and whatever talents I had. Like other mental contortionists, I had to have a way, of making myself believe - even if I didn't believe. I was going to gamble my way to riches, get a dream car like Jenny and show that I'd made something of myself. But really, even if I did hit that long shot, what sort of "success" is that? What does that contribute to society? In the middle-of-night agony I'd answer, "More than what I do now!"
It had to come out somehow, though, so the unthinkable crossed my mind. I'd take some of Jenny's cash to the track. If I won I could return it a conquering hero as I pulled up in the first new car of my life. If not, she'd see she how sick I must be to betray the person I most loved and trusted in the world. Sounds insane now as I type it out in the light of day, but I was going out of my head at the time, torn between endless desire and endless despair. "You have to answer for what you did, Carlo."
You've got to pay your debts.
Of course, nothing ever works out like you plan. It really is like in the movies sometimes, how it all just goes haywire. I took the money from her but Jenny never suspected me, never even crossed her mind. I needed her to blame me and hate me and scream at me and throw me out the door. Then I could explain my addiction and she'd see she didn't want to be my friend anyway. It was like a nightmare, her honest trust - something I'd never experienced before in my life nor expected, like I was somebody. She knew what we had was real so why would I grab for an illusion like money? God knows, I didn't want to answer that.
Needless to say, I did the worst thing possible, one lie leading to another and then another. I was silent on my theft and that caused me to repeat the cycle again, having to let her know of my thievery - by making her think I was stealing her friendship. That's sort of what I felt anyway. So I started dropping hints her singing could never amount to anything while at the same time adding pressure for her to go public with it. "Why not, Jenny?" I'd innocently ask, knowing she wasn't ready yet. But that was something she thought she had to hide from me, that I'd be disappointed in her. Nah, that's a lifetime project. She'd already won in my book just by being.
Naturally, I lost the money. I have no way of paying it back in my lifetime. I'm not even sure if I won the lottery I could face her anyway. I jabbed at Jenny so hard that if she ever saw me coming down the street she'd run the other way even if it meant heading into oncoming traffic. That was my plan for keeping my secret safe: to make her avoid me since I couldn't resist her. To this day she still thinks I stole her friendship but not her money. If only she'd hate me for the right reasons it would be an improvement.
I still haven't given up the track, I've got nowhere else to go. But every day I think about the songs we sang and wonder what I left on the table all those years ago. I told myself she was bound to find a husband and start a family and not have time for frivolities like me in the end regardless. I made up a million reasons to fail or run away. My fellow losers at the track have remarked on my physical degeneration since that time. Well, what do you expect from a degenerate? It's no fun finding out you're the bad guy, after all. Even if I won at the track I'd still lose. What is broken cannot always be undone.