Chapter Twenty-Two

“I can’t do this anymore.” “Do what?” “Us. I’ve put in so much work and there’s yet to be any reciprocation. I’m tired. My mind has spent it’s last emotion on such a hopeless case as our relationship.” “You’re just gonna give up on us that easily? I must not have meant a thing to you.” “Don’t you do that, not this time. Your words, whether they’re dripping with emotion or not, aren’t going to work. I’m done. That’s it. You’ve done nothing to make me wanna stay.” “I love you.” “And I you. That’s why, as hard as this is to do, it has to be done.”

“Cut! That’s all for the day, everyone. Great job. We’ll resume tomorrow evening.”

I slid off the folding chair and shook hands with Shawn, the cameraman. I then turned around to shake the hands of the three other individuals working behind the scenes followed by the actors.

Allison, Wendy’s friend, had been performing better than I had hoped for. She brought a depth to the character that made the script leap from page to screen in an almost seamless fashion.

Unfortunately since her scenes needed to be filmed first, time with her was almost ending.

Ralph and I were the last to leave the set. After loading everything into Shawn’s trunk we each said goodbye and then made our way to Ralph’s car. “We’re ahead of schedule, it seems.” “I was thinking the same thing. Have we shot the Grand Central exterior scene yet?” “No, but I thought it was on the chopping block?” “It’s still a possibility. The scene is pretty strong. I’d like to film it and see if it will fit in.” “Why not just shoot the crowd, use it as a Segway into an actual scene rather than have the actors involved and then use the dialogue somewhere else, perhaps indoors?” “That’s a good alternative. Speaking of locations, its official that my office can be used this weekend. ”

Ralph still has no idea about the two-weeks notice. It isn’t as though I fear judgement from him, because he wouldn’t do such a thing. It’s just that I haven’t made the decision 100% yet. There’s still a smidgen of a possibility that I may stay.

Several blocks away from our apartment we spotted Freddy with a woman who was not his girlfriend; his hand was interlocked with hers.

A red light.

Our eyes watched the scene. He faced her, caressed her face, kissed her lips. She smiled. He spotted us.

Our eyes never left the scene.

A car honked behind us. Ralph drove off, pulling up to a nearby curb and then putting the car in park. Our eyes met. They said the same thing: who the Hell was that?

“Hey guys.” A voice from my window. A moment of silence, then “I guess we should talk.”

Ralph unlocked the back door. Freddy slid in, Ralph took off. The car was silent even as we pulled up to our building.

Ralph unlocked the apartment door, we filed in ever so silently. I immediately went to the fridge for three beers. Freddy unscrewed the cap and took a swig.

“Rose and I have had troubles of late. Despite our age my emotional level is different from hers. We’ve been squabbling of late on the topic of moving in together. She feels like its one step closer to marriage, something she isn’t sure about wanting to begin with. I, on the other hand, know I’d like to be married. Hence the invitation to move in.”

“So because of this you decided to throw your five year relationship out the window?” Ralph asked. “Let him finish.” I said to Ralph, then turning to Freddy. He took a long gulp.

“I thought Rose and I have been on the same page this entire time. Never had I imagined she took being my girlfriend as a mere title. We act like a married couple, our families said as much. Both hers and mine were for the decision. Then I got to thinking, what if its me? Or, what if she’s been getting something better from another source? So, I…experimented.”

“You cheated.” Ralph said. “If you felt this way why not just confront Rose?” “My questions were being avoided. What could I do?” “Wait.” “Is that what you would have done?” “Perhaps.” “I highly doubt it.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “He means you don’t have a track record of being the most patient person when dealing with confrontations.” “Are you siding with him, Johnny?”

I took a sip of beer. “I understand where he’s coming from.” Ralph and Freddy looked at each other and then at me. “What could you possibly-” “I’ve been seeing Wendy and Sofia at the same time.”

“Come again?” “Who’s Sofia?” “This incredibly sexy older woman we did a commercial for.” “So she’s a former client?” “We actually met her at a bar prior to her becoming a client.” “And this affair has been going on ever since?” “No. I started it after the fact.”

“You’re the last person I expected this behavior from.” Ralph said. “Why? My attitude towards relationships should be evidence enough.” “I have to agree with Ralph.” Said Freddy. “You may act as though women aren’t a necessity in your life but you’re human and you’ve got morals. You’ve never cheated on a test in your life, so long as I’ve known you.” “He hasn’t,” Ralph interjects, “so the news of you carrying on multiple relationships is baffling.”

“How long has this been going on?” “Almost a month.” “What’s your reasoning?” “I sided with Freddy on the experimentation because I chose to do it for the purposes of collecting data.” “This isn’t a science project, Johnathan. You’re fucking with people’s emotions.” “What kind of data?” Freddy asks. I outlined the situation starting from the day such an idea arose; the morning after Ralph and I met Allison to the article in Jane magazine.

“Men had different opinions on the matter that ranged from them knowing the woman would take her back to using a woman’s shortcomings against her. For instance, a man cheated on his girlfriend of five years because she never cooked a single meal for him. Wendy is similar to that mans girlfriend. Or ex, I have no way of knowing if they’re presently together.”

“So you’re ‘collecting data’ because Wendy refuses to cook you a meal?” Ralph asked, folding his arms at the chest. “That wasn’t the initial reason but upon further inspection of the situation, its one of them.”

“You’re un-fucking-believable, Johnathan.” Ralph said, and then proceeded to storm into his room. His door closed with a wall shaking slam. Freddy and I stood silent.

“I hope you know that as your friend I’m not judging your decisions.” “But you don’t agree with them.” “To a certain extent. It’s complicated.” “That it is.”

It truly is.

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