Suggested Audio Candy:
 John Harrison “Jaws”
 Survivor “Eye of The Tiger”
 Bernard Herrmann “Psycho”
 Lil Louis & The World “French Kiss”
Brendan had been dreading this moment all weekend. In a few minutes, there would be three knocks on his door in quick succession and he knew only too well who would be waiting impatiently on the other side. He had been working himself up for this since the second his alarm reminded him it was judgement day and had half a mind to simply draw the blinds and pretend he was not home. However, doing so would only put off the inevitable and, besides, Joy had a front door key in case of such eventualities. Not that she used it mind, it was far more appealing to her knowing that she was his main priority and considered herself far more important than anything else he could be partaking in without her.
His palms were sweaty and, with the dreaded 8pm fast approaching, nausea had just begun to set in. He knew all too well that this was not going to be easy as she would make damn sure that his planned revelation didn’t go unpunished. They had been together for almost a year now and, to begin with, everything appeared to be going swimmingly. However, increasingly of late, Brendan had felt ensnared and the negatives of their association now far outweighed any dwindling positives. Thus, he had deemed it high time to “shit or get off the pot” which was ironic as, right now, his stomach was so knotted that he could crap through the eye of a needle.
7.59pm and his throat began to close up as Joy was rarely so much as a minute tardy. She may have had numerous faults but timekeeping certainly wasn’t one of them and he could pretty much set his watch on her arrival. Last minute checks seemed like the order of the day and he paced uneasily from kitchen to lounge making sure any sharp objects were hidden from plain sight in case things went how he fully expected them to. Of all of the uncomfortable tasks he had been required to perform over the years, none held a candle up to this and he lived in hope that a garbage truck would run her over on her way over or a wayward grand piano would drop from the sky and land on her pretty little head, crushing her skull into oblivion.
No dice Brendan. Deep breath. It’ll all be over soon and you’ll be able to get back to wanking yourself senseless. Right then, here goes.
The walk from kitchen to front door ordinarily took around seven seconds give or take but tonight it felt like a good minute plus change. Like a prisoner on Death Row preparing to meet his maker, every awkward step delivered him closer to his inescapable fate. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, he arrived at his destination and, inhaling one final breath, Brandon reached for the latch and slid it across reluctantly. He was still clinging onto the fading hope that, standing on the other side, was a Jehovah’s witness. However, as the door swung wide open to reveal his fate, any such hopes were swiftly vanquished.
“What happened to baby?”
“Sorry baby. Not been feeling too great today”
“Aw. Poor baby. I know just how to make you feel better”
Just as he thought. She didn’t suspect a thing. This was going to be one helluva shock to her system. His primary consideration was to back out and save the heartbreak for another day but there seemed little sense in delaying the inevitable any further. Besides, his stomach couldn’t handle another twenty-four hours of fretting. It was now or never. Time to man up and put this baby to bed.
“How does a massage sound? We’ll have you fighting fit in no time”
Brendan loved massages and, under different circumstances, would have had his top off and the oils out before she could finish her proposition. However, he had to remain focused on the task at hand, as there were more pressing issues than a good all over body rub. Meanwhile, Joy was already in the kitchen, shoes were off, and any chance of a swift conclusion was looking decidedly unlikely.
“That’s cool. I’ve taken some ibuprofen so they should be kicking in soon”
Blatant lie. Nothing his pharmacist could prescribe would do away with the twist in his abdomen.
“What is it? Your tummy again. God baby, you really oughta lay off those energy drinks. They’ll rot you from the inside you know”
“Haven’t had one today. Must’ve been something I ate”
Another mistruth. He had just finished his fourth can in an attempt to kick-start his adrenaline. It was no use feeling lackluster, to crack this nut he would be required to be bouncing from the walls and excessive caffeine appeared to be the perfect weapon of choice.
“What would you do without me baby? I swear, if I wasn’t around to take care of you, you wouldn’t last a week. What was it…reheated pizza again? I’ve told you that shit doesn’t keep well.”
Now entering Def-Con 2. Joy had seated herself in the usual position and any hopes that this was a flying visit were now soundly dashed. He shouldn’t have been surprised as he knew her well enough to expect a long and arduous transaction. No wasn’t a word that Joy took particularly kindly to and “no I don’t want to see you again” would likely incite a full-scale riot. Why couldn’t this be easy? When your pet cat is on its last legs, a simple trip to the veterinarian, and the ordeal is over. One swift burial later and you’re on easy street. Not the case here however.
“I’ll be alright.”
“You will if you take off your top and come here. Mama’s got the perfect remedy for you. I’ll have you ship-shape in no time.”
She would as well. Joy knew every last one of Brendan’s erogenous zones and how to milk them for all they were worth. He had never considered himself a premature ejaculator but, a few gentle caresses, and he would be fighting off the knee trembles. If amazing sex was the basis for a healthy relationship, then he would have asked her to elope with him months back. However, there was far more to Joy than a cracking piece of ass and he just had to keep reminding himself of her downsides.
“Thanks. I might stand for the moment.”
“Okay…weird but okay”
Shit. Was she starting to suspect? If this was the case then all available exits were now sealed off and that shit or get off the pot moment was fast approaching.
“I’ll be fine in a minute. Just do your thing and I’ll be there in a jiffy”
“Do I smell or something?”
Joy always smelt delightful. Brendan was starting to curse his inner monologue as it kept throwing up reasons why he shouldn’t cut her loose and he had come too far to back out now.
“Not at all. I just need a second”
“This is most unlike you baby. Normally you can’t wait to snuggle up”
Granted, ordinarily he loved a good nuzzle. However, it historically led to some place far less inviting.
“Maybe I’m coming down with something”
Chance would be a fine thing. Right now he would have taken a hefty dose of all-encompassing man flu to the thankless task at hand.
“You are. It’s called cheap ass pizza that should have been thrown in the trash days ago. Now get your butt over here for some TLC”
No more putting off the inevitable. Time to inhale one last breath, puff out his chest, and tear this poor girl’s heart from its cavity. TLC just wasn’t worth the hardship.
“Will you stop calling me that? It makes me feel like you’re going to reprimand me or something. Actually, carry on. I don’t mind if you put me over your knee.”
“What is it already? Shit baby, you’re really acting strange tonight, you know that?”
Silence. It was as though the words simply dried up in Brendan’s throat. All that build up and he was going to bottle it at the critical moment. Jesus, what did she see in him anyway?
“Well. What is it? Something is clearly eating you up.”
“Do you fancy a drink?”
Bottled it just as forecast.
“No. I want you to tell me what’s going on.”
Come on Brendan. Remember the Eye of The Tiger. What would Rocky do in this situation? He’d get the living shit beat out of him and get a lucky punch in at the end of the final round. Something was telling Brendan that he had a fair few body blows to absorb before that moment arrived.
“That’s good baby. Now try the second word.”
“We need to talk.”
No turning back now. The fact that Joy didn’t grace him with a response could only mean one of three things. He was speaking in a different dialect. She needed to get her ears syringed. Or she had an idea what was coming and was about to explode like a punished piñata.
Still nothing. This was every bit the torturous ordeal he had dreaded, perhaps even more so.
“Joy. Are you even listening to me?”
“Yes but I’m not sure I like where this is going Brendan.”
Okay. Now she was calling him by his birth name. No more tiptoeing around the subject, she was no fool and “we need to talk about us” is rarely followed by “I’ve cleared out a draw for you to keep your socks in when you stay over” or “I think it’s time we take our relationship to the next level.”
“Can I sit down?”
Please do. In front of an articulated lorry travelling at full speed would be just grand.
“Knock yourself out.”
Joy slid her legs from the sofa and made space for the bad news bearer, looking decidedly less than chipper all of a sudden. Reluctantly, Brendan took a seat next to her, if only because he felt like his legs were going to give away at any given moment.
“I need you to listen and try to understand okay. This isn’t easy.”
“Can I butt in?”
Wonderful. That is just what he needed right now, to have his right to talk snatched away. All of that momentum gone in a second and right back to square one.
“Don’t even think about saying “it’s not you, it’s me. If you’re going to do what I think you’re going to do, then I would rather you just skip the bullshit and tell me what I did wrong.”
This could take some time.
“But you haven’t done anything wrong.”
Another shameless mistruth. He was becoming a little too adept at lying through his teeth. Not ideal for someone who usually prided himself on his honesty.
“Then why are you going to split up with me?”
“I didn’t say I was.”
Actually, that was precisely what he was saying.
“So you’re not then?”
Shit. Don’t wimp out now Brendan. All this hard work would be undone in a second.
This wasn’t going at all well, not that he had been expecting her to greet being dumped with shrugged shoulders and a polite smile. However, the fact that she was now sobbing silently into her hands suggested things were only going to get more tricky from hereon in.
“Baby I’m sorry.”
Sorry I didn’t dump your ass before things got so goddamn complicated.
And so begun the uncomfortable silence. Well not quite silence. There was always the sound of her snivelling uncontrollably to provide additional ambiance, while the voice inside Brendan’s head was having a ball reminding him that “you’re an asshole, a real fucking low life.” To be fair, he had expected a rough ride and knew Joy well enough to be only too aware that she wasn’t going to make this a cakewalk. But it’s one thing playing the scenario out in your head and entirely another doing it in person.
“So are you going to just get it out-of-the-way then or what?”
“You told me to fuck off.”
“I’M HEARTBROKEN BRENDAN. In case you haven’t realized, things aren’t that peachy.”
Crystal clear. In the history of uncomfortable scenarios, this was right up there with the time he accidentally sat on his right testicle in seventh grade. His eyes still watered at the very thought of the nutcracker incident and that had nothing on his current dilemma.
“So what can I do?”
“I’ll tell you what you can do…”
This was ominous. What could it be? You can stick your finger in a live plug socket. You can go outside and throw yourself off the nearest bridge. You can gouge your eyes out with a spoon, place them in a blender, whip up a smoothie, throw in a few shards of glass, and knock it back in one. What could he possibly do?
“…you can just be fucking honest. I don’t want to hear that I’m a great girl and deserve better than what you can give me. Do me a favor and don’t insult my intelligence. It’s clearly something I’ve done, some character flaw that you can’t stand. I’d rather you just be honest with me and give it to me straight. I’m a big girl. I can handle it. Not saying I’m gonna be all smiles but I’ve handled worse.”
“Okay. What do you want to know?”
“Don’t make me drag it out of you Brendan. You know what I want. You’re breaking up with me right? I’m not stupid”
“Don’t give me uh-huh. Uh-huh is what you say when someone asks you if you want a hit on the bong.”
“Yes. You’re breaking up with me?”
Be a man Brendan. Time to reveal that back bone.
“Yes. I’m breaking up with you. I’m sorry.”
“Fuck you for your sorries. What did I do that has made me so repulsive to you?”
“You didn’t do anything.”
“I swear I’m going to lose it in a minute.”
“Okay. Listen, I can’t keep up with you okay.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
It was now or never and damage limitation appeared the only available option. Should he be clear and precise, then perhaps this would all be over with in an hour or so and he could go back to being the biggest prick on the planet. Self-loathing didn’t bother him particularly. Confrontation, on the other hand, did. Time to puff out that chest one last time.
“Some of the things you want me to do are just too much for me. I can’t keep up with it. I’m not sleeping properly. Hardly had a decent meal in months. Shit, I’ve lost 20 pounds since Christmas.”
“And that’s my fault?”
Yes because you’re a fucking fruit cake.
“Not at all.”
“Then why do I need to know about it? Just tell me what I’ve done.”
Where to possibly start? It had to be the cutting. That was the real underlying issue here. By partaking in this dubious exchange, he was going against everything he believed in. These actions led him to push everyone else away and wallow in his own self-pity. They say that misery loves company but it also likes to have you all to itself. Say it Brendan, just say it.
“It’s the cutting.”
“I thought you liked that. You said you did. Never seemed to be a problem until now. Why the sudden turnaround?”
“Look, I know you get off on it. But it really fucking disturbs me okay. While you lie there all sliced up and fast asleep, I’m not sleeping. I’m laying awake all night with a sick feeling in my gut. Then, when you go home the next morning, I call in sick for work and sit around binge eating and feeling sick to the stomach. It’s too much for me Joy.”
“Then why not just say.”
“I am saying.”
“No. You’re dumping me. There’s a difference. Nine months ago would have been better. Saved us both some time.”
“No. You haven’t tried Brendan.”
She had a point there. He liked to think that he had attempted to break their ties but, the truth is, his heart had never been in it. For all her considerable defects, her parents had named her Joy for a reason.
“We’re just too different.”
“So what if I told you that it doesn’t matter anymore? We don’t have to do it. We can be like every other boring fucking couple and have missionary every second Thursday.”
“Jesus baby. Why didn’t you just say something earlier? Why let it go on so long?”
Something in her tone had softened. Calling him baby again was a good start. No need for Def Con-3 just yet.
“I wanted to tell you. I’ve tried to be alright with it but it’s just not for me.”
“But that’s not everything is it? You don’t find me attractive anymore clearly. I’m repulsive to you.”
This was a hint that Def Con-3 may just be necessary after all. Time to tread carefully. One false move and he will have achieved Hiroshima. The truth was that Joy was drop dead gorgeous, it was her penchant for the infliction of pain that bothered him.
“You’re not repulsive at all.”
“Then why can’t we just work things out?”
“It’s not fair on you.”
It also wasn’t fair on him either. He had never felt anything like the self-loathing he had endured over these past few months. Sure, she got his motor running, but it ultimately left him felling burned out and melancholic.
“And this is fair?”
“I’m trying baby okay.”
Why not throw in a baby himself just to soften her up for the next bitter body blow?
“I just think we’re too different. I’m a different person when I’m around you. I can’t just be myself. It’s exhausting.”
This was very much true. He hardly recognized himself in the mirror anymore. Being with Joy had its upsides but the inevitable lows had pretty much destroyed any feeling of self-worth he had previously prided himself on.
“Course you can. I don’t want to change you. I’ve never asked you to do that. That’s just mean.”
“Our lives are just heading in different directions. We’re not good for each other.”
“I get it. So that’s it then? Ta-ta and don’t let the door hit you on the vagina when you leave?”
“We can still be friends.”
Gulp. Ordinarily this comment alone would have been instant call for Def Con-5 but Joy didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. He’d evidently made up his mind and nothing she was going to say or do would change that.
“Fine. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. I think I get it. Then in a couple of months, I’ll text you. Then a couple later, I’ll drop you an e-Mail. I think I know the way this works.”
“I’m truly sorry you know.”
“So what now? I just leave right?”
Please. That would make this ordeal a whole lot easier.
“You don’t have to leave.”
Brendan felt like the little boy sitting on his grandfather’s lap, looking into the old man’s eyes, and saying “you don’t have to buy me that ice cream” to the tune of nearby van jingles.
“Can I ask that we do one last thing?”
Fine. Ominous. But fine.
Go our separate ways without another word spoken? Just throwing it out there.
“I want you to cut me.”
His heart instantly sank in his chest. Brendan had had a feeling this was going to come up at some point.
“Call it your parting gift. I’ll only go home and do it myself anyway. I’d rather you do it.”
This was where it always grew decidedly sticky. Surely there were better gifts to part with. A gold watch for loyal service perhaps? Anything but cutting. Once that started, he would be rendered toothless and lay awake all night tormented like he did every time the C word was spoken.
“I can’t do that.”
“You have done for months. What’s one more time?”
“It wouldn’t feel right.”
“It would make me feel better. Right now I feel like shit. Call it closure if that makes it easier.”
Brendan knew full well that his options had severely depleted at this point. Should he continue to deny her final request, then all hell could be about to break loose. However, if he were to just grant this solitary wish, then perhaps they could just shake hands and part ways in a dignified manner. It was seeming increasingly like a no-brainer.
“I bought a new toy for tonight. Was going to surprise you. Thought we could have some fun with it.”
Joy reached down into her clutch bag and fumbled around for a moment. Moments later she produced a shiny new razor blade, custom-made, and with the single word “Ours” engraved into it.
“Cut me baby.”
She delivered this line as seductively as always but, this time, Brendan wasn’t feeling particularly frisky. He just wanted this ordeal over with and knew that this presented the best way of gaining closure, so grasped the blade, while Joy prepared to assume the usual position. As she stood up to unzip her dress, he couldn’t help but marvel once more at her incredibly pale but flawless skin. The crazy thing was that he was still very much attracted to her and always would be but had long since given up hope of things changing between them. She was damaged goods, despite possessing a body that made him hard at the faintest glance. With Joy milking this moment for all it was worth, he just had to keep reminding himself of that.
By now she had unhooked her bra and had both hands on her waist, preparing to tantalizingly remove her silk white panties and likely bend down to pick them up, revealing just enough to tease his member a little more. He hadn’t even noticed the blood running down his wrist from the blade he held onto a little too tightly for comfort. Instead he was fixated on her bare white flesh, willing him on to do something he knew full well he’d later regret. Eventually, the charade ended and she repositioned herself face-down on the sofa.
Brendan hesitated momentarily but was already compromised in the pants department and starting to grow visibly aroused. Damn his penis and all its foul betrayal. A few seconds of throbbing loins and he could take no more, so placed the blade on her left shoulder and commenced running it southward. He could have sworn it was too gentle to break the skin but Joy’s new toy was all too willing to separate. Gradually, the seven-inch mark down her back began to open up and, at this precise moment, she let out a gasp of heightened pleasure.
Brendan obliged and repositioned the blade to her opposing shoulder-blade, where he proceeded to work symmetrically. The resulting slice was indeed deeper, just as she had requested, and this incited a far more guttural response. He could already feel her quim moistening between his legs as he straddled her and knew that he hadn’t lost his touch. Growing increasingly hot under the collar, he fashioned another two identical incisions, this time closer to her center, and she convulsed pleasingly to drive him even deeper. Her entire back was wide open now and inviting him further inside.
“One last time baby.”
Unable to restrain himself any longer, Brendan obliged and returned to the first of his masterpieces. This time he worked down into the cavity, his blade meeting gristle as it continued to carve its path. He could feel her cum as he reached bone and decided to give her the explosion she so openly threatened. With each throe of pleasure elicited, another cut was revisited and, eventually, climax become a foregone conclusion. When it came it was swift but more intense than ever before. He sat there, looking at the mess that was once his girlfriend and knew he had achieved suitable closure. Then, after a few more moments, Brendan glanced to the side and, there beside her clutch bag, was a single crisp bank-note. Rotten bitch had only gone and done it again.
He hated himself for even pondering his next move. This was not an alien emotion to him as he had spent the past few months hating himself. In that time, his entire world had capitulated and that was entirely down to Joy and the effect that their association had on him. Granted, she was utterly radiant, never more so than when laying before him in such an inviting manner. But each quick fix came at a cost and he was pretty much all out of emotional resources by this point. He glanced once final time at the crisp banknote before him and commenced to roll it up, sick to his stomach for being hoodwinked once again. This was to be their final embrace. True love shouldn’t feel like this. Another sleepless night beckoned and one full of the usual restlessness and self-loathing. Next time would be different. It had to be. Ultimately, certain joys just aren’t worth the pain.