Log:Amends Over the Phone
Sunset. And as local teens turn into Cash Freeland's pirate radio, they find the airwaves are silent. The rumor mill kicks up. Last time there was dead air, Cash had disappeared. But the answer is so much more simple that than that. Cash has a pair of phone lines he uses for Friday's call ins. One of those is unplugged and the other?
That one is ringing at the Marchant household.
Jade is only mildly stoned at the moment, which is downright lucid for him. He's in his suite, in shorts and a tank top, his hair slicked back from a recent bath (which Meezer meowed through, so God knows how it was relaxing at all). He drapes himself over the sofa in his sitting room and picks up the receiver. "Hello?" he says. The cat hops onto his lap with a 'mrp' and curls up.
"Jade? Hey, it's Cash. Don't hang up on me, please?" Immediately the way Cash sounds is different. There is a bass to his voice. Not timid, scared, or oddly stilted in that way he gets when trying to explain himself. It's similar to the confidence he has on the air but clearly, this is more serious. "Jade, I'm a self centered little shit and no amount of doctors poking at my brain are going to find a medical reason for /that/. It's not who I am, it's who I am becoming as...a stressed out kid with problems. But my problems are jack shit compared to my listeners and most importantly, to yours. I have prided myself in being a decent listener. I've failed when you needed me. I'm offering myself again. To hear you, Jade. You need someone to /hear/ you. Please, let me."
Jade is about to put the phone back down in the cradle, but Cash does ask nicely not to be hung up on. He exhales sharply through his nose. He's quiet for a moment, and there is the sound of a cat purring and mrping and hitting the receiver with its head. Meezer always seems to know when Jade need a furry buddy. Finally, Jade says, "Okay. I'm not on the air, am I? I'm not on some kind of love talk show?"
"No. It's not Friday. I'm using one of my lines but only because it's mine. Check the radio. I'm not even on the air right now, just spinning records. I wanted to talk to you." Cash takes a deep breath though clenched teeth. How do we know they were clenched? There is a slight whistle due to his braces. "And I noticed recently, moreso than ever, it's easier for me to talk on the phone. And that's why I'm calling. I missed cues. I missed words and I missed...I missed that you needed someone and I used to be really good at being that /someone/ to people. I don't gossip or anything. I keep secrets." He pauses a moment, clearing his throat. "Usually, I would say, if you need someone, I'm he--no. You need. You need it really badly and I wasn't until the night with Morrison that I put it altogether. I-I feel like I need...I'd come over if I trusted myself. I don't. Not quite yet."
"Jaden, what's hurting?" Beat. "Please trust me. I said your secrets are safe but not just from others but from my obnoxious indifference and fear of...feeling. I can feel deep enough to make me sick and....it's not an excuse but that avoidance has been coming up recently."
Meezer meows again, because his big saucer ears can pick up Cash's voice. Jade strokes the cat's fur, and maybe Meezer is Cash's wingman here, because it does seem to keep Jade focused and calm. "It's stupid," he says. "I liked him, and I was never mean to him. I never said anything bad." Which is probably a lie, but Jade has his own perspective. "And after what you said to him, and how you treated him, he picked you. Like, me at my best just isn't enough. It's a stupid thing to be upset about, but I can't get over it. I'm not enough. And seeing you two together, that's what it feels like. Like I almost took a chance, but I wasn't enough. And I told you. Like, I came out to you and you didn't even care. Because you got a lot going on right now, but it's like... that was a big deal to me."
"When you came out to me..." Cash begins slowly as he choses his words. "It passed over me because...I knew. I believed in Amanda though. I did. Funny, huh? But it wasn't a big deal to me. I don't think of you any different. You are still Jade. If I wasn't consumed by my recent issues, I could have been more attentive. But...it doesn't matter. I'm sorry. I really am. About Hector..."
He takes a deep breath and from the small commotion in the background, he's getting comfortable. "This I say in hindsight, alright? If you asked me the day before or the day after, I would have said that I hated Hector and he was a blight on my life. But, again, in hindsight, you weren't in a fair fight, man. Hector still loved me. I mean...I didn't care at the time. I wanted him to hurt as I did. But, Jaden, I didn't have it in me to hate him forever. And the second I let a little chink in my armor, he came right in. And I still loved him too. I'm only that nasty when I've been hurt badly. I had no idea you and him met last summer either." He exhales. "You could have had him but...it was me. I...won't apologize for his shitty taste. I mean. You are right. I'm an asshole. Why me?"
"Exactly," Jade says. "Why you? But it doesn't matter, because I'm back in the fucking closet, and I'm going to die there. Alone. And, you know, rubbing it in? Isn't helping. Can this not be about how you won? He was the only guy who's ever been decent to me. He was my one chance. So have fun, but I'm going to fucking die alone, and I get to be unhappy about that. And when you rub it in by talking about how much in love you are, I get to be unhappy about that, too. This isn't about you. This is about me. You and Hector can both fucking die in a burning wreck for all I care."
"Slow down." Cash says, calmly, evenly. "No one won. This isn't a contest. I picked a bad metaphor...as I am wont to do." He sighs. "I'm not bragging, dude. I'm telling you that you had your eggs in a bad basket. You didn't know. I didn't know." He pauses a moment. "When did I rub it in--oh. Oh fuck." He begins to stammer, breath quickens. "I remember, I still hated Hector but I wanted you to know, in a general sense, that life /can/ be good. I didn't know you'd take as bragging /after/ the fact. Dude, if I'm near Hector and you should up, I put like four feet between us. Did you not notice when I was speaking to Morrison. I saw you and I stepped away. I know you are hurt and I don't want to contribute to it. I only want to be your friend again. I have none. I don't count Ash because our bond is different. I don't count Hector either because...I trusted him once and he wrecked my life so I am hesitant with him."
"Don't be in the fucking closet because of one guy. One single bisexual male in the whole world has that kinda power? Over you? Jade Marchant? Come on, man." His tone is a little lighter. "I-I mean, you can feel however you want but we are just eighteen. This is high school. There is more past this. There are guys nicer than Hector. Hotter too, I'm sure. We just gotta get you out of this town after graduation."
"You're rubbing it in now," Jade says. "Telling me about how it was just a bad basket, and you and he both still loved each other -- I don't fucking care. I'm going to die alone in the closet while I watch you, the guy who told him to die of AIDS, have a happily ever after I'll never get to have. So don't tell me how fucking happy he makes you."
He sniffles. "You're trying to pep talk me past it so you don't have to feel bad. If he's what you want, enough to bring this down on you, then you'd better get right with him quick, because I'm not your shoulder to cry on. I'm sorry you're going through some shit with your brain, but I lost two of my friends too, you know?"
"I've been friendless my whole life because I don't fucking get people. I understand them on an intellectually level but not when people don't behave like a book says that should. E-E-Either way, this isn't a contest on who has it better or who has it worse. No races to the bottom here, dude." Cash takes a moment. "Can I ask you a question? It'll be blunt, okay because..." He sighs. "Blunt is my fallback. How do I make this right, right now? I didn't go on the air tonight. I called you. I want to focus on you and making you better. Making you right. Making sure you feel loved and cared for and safe. I can't deliver you the perfect boyfriend. I wish I could. I would do anything to make you feel..." He sniffs and there is the rustle of a jacket and the jingle of his car keys. "I'm coming over. Only if you want me to. Just know...I might be--harder to deal with. But I just wanna hug you now. So, tell me what to do."
"If you want to make this right," Jade says, "don't try to tell me it's going to be okay. Because it's not. Because I'm not putting myself out there again. Don't try to trump me up to be this big, strong person, when you know I'm not. You know what it's like being a Marchant? Always trying to be strong. You're not allowed to feel weak. You're not allowed to be heartbroken. All I do is fight to stand on my feet, and I'm tired. I'm tired, Cash. I don't need a pep talk. I just need to be allowed to be tired." He hesitates, then says, "I don't know if I can handle harder to deal with."
"I'll stay on the phone." Cash says and he's quiet for a moment. "Allowed to be tired...who is stopping you? I wanted to make you feel better and to look forward and not in this messy shit we're in. But if you want to be left alone to be tired, I will leave you alone. You can still come to me. Talk to me. And I promise you, hand to heaven that I will be a better friend to you. I will listen and try very hard to untangle you and understand you better. But there are things beyond me. And...that breaks my heart but, uh...as I was saying, I fucked up but I will never stop being there for you, if you need me. And...Marchants are supposed to be strong and Freelands stubborn and so on...I believe we are more than our last name and you can be and feel whatever you want. Right now. Just fucking decide and do it. That's how I came to run away. I just fucking made a choice. So...I love you. You're usually easy to read. You tell it like it is. You deserve to be loved too. For all the reasons I said and more." Beat.
"I'm sorry if I managed to make it all worse. I was going to ask you to stop making me look and sound like the biggest homophone ever but if it makes you feel better to treat me like shit, I'm okay with that too." Cash says, very plainly, honestly. "I don't actually remember saying it, oddly enough. I was just so angry. But, hey, I suppose I'm not allowed to be angry. Sorry to bother you, I guess. Scritch Meez for me."
"I didn't say leave me alone," Jade says. "I want to be tired and still have people care about me, instead of bailing on me because I'm not being the life of the party." He sniffles, very quietly, then he says, "I didn't make you look like anything. The words came out of your mouth. It was none of my business til you came at me about fucking him, then said what you did. I'm not trying to make you feel like shit, but the truth is the truth. But you know what? I forgive you for that. You were emotional."
Jade twines his finger around the cord, and Meezer headbonks his hand. "I appreciate you calling. I know you're trying, man. I do. And you're allowed to be angry, but you are 100% responsible, at all times, for what you say and do, no matter how angry or high or whatever you are. I'm not trying to make you feel bad, man. I'm just telling you a fundamental truth.
"I didn't say you were bothering me. I said I'm tired, and I want to be able to just be tired and still have people want me around. If you want a hug, I can give you a hug. Just go easy on me."
Cash exhales slowly. "Dude, everyone knows I am a failure at being a functioning social creature in high school...when it matters. But I know me. I take responsibility when I realize I have fucked up, do I not? Also, I know this isn't forever. We are almost finished with this so-called best years of our life. And...my parents are high school sweethearts. Loved high school. This has been four years of a burning wasteland for me. Radio was all I had. I live for Fridays still because I get to help people in my own little way. My point is, be hurt, be tired and I'll still fucking annoy you and talk to you and shit. I'll be kinder and gentler too. I--" He makes a muffled noise, like a sob. "I am trying really hard. Really, really hard. Sometimes I even look people in the eye. Even though it hurts. People like eye contact. So thanks for acknowledging my efforts. I'll hug you when I see you next, okay? I-I think I'm going to get on the air. I haven't been sleeping well so...requests?"
Jade sighs, and he says, "I feel better, Cash. Not a lot, but at least I'm not pissed about you telling me I need to learn empathy while I'm falling apart. Just be gentle with me. I'm all raw edges these days, and I'm finding some things to help numb me out. I'll be okay. I appreciate how hard you're trying." He continues to met Meezer, who can be heard purring in the background. "Play something by Belly. They're really good."