The Aftermath of Two Fuccbois Colliding, part one
by Shaun Terry
As Hugo pushed open the door, James sat on the dilapidated couch, half-mindedly playing guitar. “What’s good, Hugo?”
Hugo spoke slowly and deliberately. His voice wasn’t wavering, but it wasn’t even, either: “You know what, man? Is anything good? I don’t know that anything’s good.” His eyes widened, as he considered the thought. “Maybe nothing’s bad. I dunno.”
Hugo paused and, peering at James, quickly collected himself, “Everything’s fine.”
James was caught off-guard. He stared down at the beat-up old guitar. He was very proud of his guitar. It sounded beautiful. But right now, he was too distracted by the guitar to pay attention to Hugo and too distracted by Hugo to play anything worth hearing. “Hugo… what’s up?”
Hugo took a moment, “You remember that girl Lily?”
“The one you were gonna be Happily Ever After with, but you fucked it up instead, right?”
Hugo’s eyes shifted from side-to-side. His face was tight and alert. He was focused, but on nothing. The guitar clanged as it fell from James’s lap, and neither of them reacted. James stared at Hugo and stood up.
Hugo labored through his speech, carefully thinking about every word and every possible word, replaying the past and imagining what-could’ve-beens as he responded, “I really fucked that up, Jimbo. I really fucked it up and I’ve been fucking up ever since. I was fucking up before that, but maybe Lily was the lucky break I was supposed to get. I don’t know if everyone gets a lucky break. Maybe I was getting a lucky break of a sort that most people never get. It could’ve been okay to have fucked up all that other shit, but this was different. This is a real-life tragedy.”
James stared at Hugo, and Hugo looked down at his feet. They both knew it wasn’t really a tragedy. A boy fucked things up with a girl. Okay, a man fucked things up with a woman, but the reality was that Hugo wasn’t in any real danger. No one was dying, but What’s up with Hugo? It looks like he’s crying. Is he on drugs?
“I mean, I know it’s not like that, you know? I’m catastrophizing.” Hugo’s eyes pointed at his perfectly intact hairline. “I’ve tried. Really, I don’t know what more I could’ve done. This is just how I am. I don’t know why I’m like this. I don’t mean to feel sorry for myself. I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. In fact, I feel bad for everyone around me. You shouldn’t let me stay on your couch like this, man. Maybe I’m one of those people who needs to learn things the hard way. I’m just a blood-sucking nuisance. I come into people’s lives and I ruin things. Even if someone manages to escape my destruction, no one leaves being made better. Not in any way. Never. People just escape me clinging on to whatever I haven’t taken or damaged.”
James spoke calmly. He seemed wise, “Hugo, in the time I’ve known you, and from what I’ve heard, you’ve only had hard lessons. In a lot of ways, I don’t know a more unlucky person than you.”
“No way. No. I’m super lucky. You have no idea how lucky I am. I didn’t grow up like you or like a lot of people.”
That’s probably at least a little racist, James thought. Or maybe just homophobic. Is biphobic a thing? I guess it is. Whatever. Listen.
“I was raised in a medium-sized town in America with every opportunity. I was in the Gifted Program, you know? I was good at sports. I excelled in drama and art. A lot of people liked me, even if a few realized that I was worse than everyone else. People liked me for stupid and shallow reasons, but the fact is that I had advantages. So many people are less lucky than I am, but I constantly do the wrong things. I mean, I barely do anything, but when I do anything at all, I fuck it up, and not just for me. And then I feel bad for it and I miss out on the opportunities in front of me. A lot of times, I can totally fix things, but I’m so goddamn distracted and shitty that I don’t even realize it. And then I take what opportunities I do get and I completely squander them and the cycle repeats all over.”
“Well, Hugo, you weren’t exactly rich. Your family wasn’t exactly great. Hugo, what happened?” James’s hands had become loose water hoses and his voice suddenly had more power.
“You wanna know what happened?”
Hugo’s big, soft hand went up to his brow and wiped down over his face. His forefinger and thumb rubbed down the edges of his O-shaped mouth. His eyes were as big as apricots.
“I’m gonna die alone, James.” Hugo laughed a little, and James’s brow wrinkled, forming a firm, cushiony shelf over his eyes. “Think about it. There’s no alternative, really, if you think about how I am. The longer I go on, the more I ruin things. Everything. Lily’s alone, too, you know? She has been for a long time now. I ruined her, huh? I mean, she changed after me. She’s going around looking for someone who’s just like me and being afraid of everyone who’s just like me. It’s bad enough that I fuck up my life, but now her life is VERY fucked. She doesn’t deserve this. I probably did irreparable damage. The best-case scenario for her is that she gets over everything in a few years and then she’s just jaded. That’s the best option. That’s fucked up for a best option, Jimbo. It’s no good. I did that.” Hugo was shaking his head, scowling.
“Hugo, look at me.” James’s hands were in the air, mimicking someone pushing a box on a shelf, with his palms moving toward Hugo. “That’s not the best-case scenario. Look, normally, I’d say you need to forget her, and I believe that, too, but the thing is if everything you’re saying is true, then you still have some effect on her. It’s a bad effect, so you need to stay away for now, but she’s going to heal from this, you’re going to heal from this. Who’s to say that in a few years, you couldn’t meet up and exchange a good conversation and you couldn’t apologize to her and tell her about all the good shit you’ve done since then and maybe y’all could get some counseling or some shit? I mean, I don’t want you to fixate on that and that’s not a good goal for you to have, but if it’s meant to be, somehow, that shit’s gonna be. You’re really dramatizing this shit right now, Hugo. I don’t know why now, but shit’s gonna be fine. You don’t need to be trippin’ out right now. What happened, anyway? What set this off?”
Hugo avoided the question: “Nothing. I dunno. I’ve just been thinking. I just can’t believe shit went down like that. You know, I used to imagine being married when I was a kid. Not the wedding, not like that, but I knew I’d be married and have kids some day. And she’s all I ever really wanted. I could’ve been content, I could’ve been okay. Everything was right for a minute.
“Someone told me that she drinks more than she used to. I asked if she ever talks about me, and my friend said Lily hates talking about me and mostly limits discussion of me to mildly insulting things, through sneers. But one night, this friend of mine saw Lily in the restroom, crying, and she asked what was wrong, and Lily just started bawling, talking about how sweet and smart I was, how perfect it all had been, how she constantly misses me, constantly thinks about me, how she even fantasizes about me.”
James looked at Hugo curiously. Their eyes met awkwardly.
“Yeah. Sexually. But my friend was saying how Lily kept going back and forth because she sometimes didn’t know if she’d made the wrong choice, but that all she had to do was remember my freakout to realize she’d made the right choice, that I was a complete disaster and incredibly dangerous.”
Hugo was bothered by this thought. He paused to keep from crying. He was a little angry with himself, “She’s right you know. I am a dangerous disaster. No one should come near me.”
Hugo felt embarrassed and was consumed by the feeling that there was something very wrong with him.
“But the thing is that other guy was fucking awful to her and even worse for her.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’d dated him before, you know. They’re just not compatible at all. I mean, they get along okay in certain ways, but he’s so boring compared to her. I have no idea why she was into him. He’s kinda weird in a way and she’s used to him. Who the fuck knows?
“Anyway, I know you don’t really know what happened — not all of it. The thing is that what he did was so shitty. He knew that she and I were dating. She told him that she wanted to be friends with him, but he didn’t respect that. I don’t totally blame the guy. What would you do if you were in love with someone? Still, the whole thing is fucked. She and I were having these long talks about philosophy and we were joking around. Things were getting more serious and we’re thinking about how we can maybe date long term and shit.
“She told me how stupid her fights with him had been and those fights were nothing compared to my past relationships, but that’s just the thing: with her and me, there wasn’t really any fighting. Our conflicts were all so quickly defused that we never managed to get really mad at each other. I mean, sometimes there was tension but it was almost nothing. We respected each other and we had compatible strategies for dealing with these things. When she and her ex would fight, he’d just be a dick to her and not take any responsibility for anything. His strategy was to run away, punching the whole time.”
James was alarmed, “He’d hit her?”
“No, no. I meant figuratively. He’d just attack her as he was running away and then he’d stonewall her. This was his instinctual way of dealing with conflicts. He’d blame her and say shitty things to her and then wouldn’t talk about anything. You know people like that?”
“I think it’s pretty normal, really.”
“I agree. Anyway, she and I didn’t really fight; at least, not in an unhealthy way. With her, everything was good.”
James knew Hugo to be dramatic. He was skeptical, “Everything? Communication? Sex? Money?”
“I mean, neither of us was rich, but it wasn’t that big a deal. I was working a shitty job, and she wasn’t doing much of anything. She’d just come back from France.”
“What was she doing in France?”
“You know, I never totally understood it. She was studying and she was working, but it didn’t sound like she was doing either, exactly.”
“What’d she study?”
“Art and international politics.”
“Man… that shit’s fancy. She must’ve been a rich girl.”
“I mean, not rich, but her parents did okay. Anyway, yeah; everything was basically pretty good.”
“But you said the sex, though.”
“Yeah, man. The sex was good.”
“Was it really good, though? Tell me that nasty shit, Hugo. Like, was it the best you’d ever had?”
Hugo paused. “It was very good sex, but honestly, we hadn’t had all that much sex. When we’d started out, we hadn’t had sex because we knew she was going to France and we didn’t know what would happen. I mean, we only finally kissed right before she left.”
“That’s some real rom-com shit there, Hugo, but you’re avoiding the question. Best? Not the best?”
“Yeah, lemme explain.”
“Well, so yeah, at first, it really was some cheesy shit, but it was so nice. We would mostly just talk and joke around. We’d stare at each other a lot and we’d find little excuses to, like, brush up against each other. We’d kind-of, almost hold hands, until finally we did hold hands and later that day was when we finally made out, right before she took off. She was kinda fascinated with me. I was fascinated with her, too, of course, but she mentioned over and over how she liked my energy, and she would just stare at me. She’d think I didn’t notice, but I did.”
“Hugo, you’re not even that good-looking. I mean, you’re handsome and shit, but why the fuck would anyone just stare at you?”
“Well, she’s an artist, right?”
“And she’s one of those weird, curious, introverted girls.”
“You’re right. My bad. Well, she’s pretty weird. I mean, she’s into philosophy and politics and she’s super-creative. Most of the times I’ve ever seen her, there’s been paint on her somewhere. She often smells funny. Not bad, and not even really in a hippie way. It’s funny and it fits her. It’s sweet in a way.”
“You’re idealizing this shit, but go ahead. She smells like shit. Proceed.”
“Whatever. Well, yeah, so the sex was like, it never starts out as good as it gets, right? Well, that’s not true. You could fuck someone and the feelings are right but the sex itself is actually mediocre and somehow things quickly become very boring, so the first time or two is as good as it gets and then it wears off, I guess. At least, that’s happened to me before.”
Why was Hugo saying this shit? “Okay.”
“Okay, so this was different. It started out and we didn’t know what each other liked, you know?”
“Or, like, do you wanna be slapped? Do you want dirty talk in soft whispers? Is doing it in front of people your thing? Do you like some serious dominance? You can’t know at first, really.”
“Well, but you guys had been talking for a year, right?”
“No. I mean, yeah, but we had sex before then. Oh, right, so we didn’t have sex before she left, but she came back six months into her trip, just to visit family and shit. So we fucked then.”
“Yeah, so the thing was that we were so into each other at that point. I mean, by the time we saw each other when she came back, we both knew we were in love. I mean, we didn’t know until we saw each other and we didn’t say it to each other until after she went back to France, but we both knew. Maybe we knew before then. Maybe we’d known right away. But by then, we definitely knew. So the sex was crazy because of all this emotional tension that was pinned back, waiting to make its way out of us. It was just one of those surreal things to be finally making love to this person who was so amazing and such a positive force in my life. I knew her so well in so many ways and I trusted her. I finally felt safe. I’d been fucking around and ruining relationships and finally, someone knew me in this deep way, this way that you can’t describe, and she wanted to be with me. She wanted to be close to me and she wanted to experience things with me. We did all these things together and they were unique things and they were even more unique because they were with each other. We’re unique people but we also had this unique dynamic. It was really special. She wanted to be my girlfriend and I knew all this about her. I knew from the way she would still just stare at me. I knew because we could have these crazy conversations about things that we couldn’t talk to lots of other people about. Well, that’s not totally true. I mean, she and I were really similar and we had similar views. I think that it was special, but she’d tell me how there were other people in her life who were smart and curious and thoughtful and she could talk to them in a similar way. I don’t know that her conversations with others were as special as the way we could talk, but maybe I’m just biased.”
Hugo made an irritated face, half out of a sense of obligation. “So the sex was magical in a way, but we also didn’t really know what the fuck we were doing, yet. We didn’t really know each other’s bodies.”
“Y’all were talking all that time, and you didn’t know what each other was into?”
“Well, we were always talking about ethics and campaign finance reform and how much we like trees and spirituality and shit. I mean, we talked about some sexual stuff, but almost not at all. And she wasn’t that experienced. She’d fucked like two or three other guys or something: her totally inexperienced, shitty ex, and some other guy. Maybe another guy, too? This isn’t a detail I put too much care into remembering.”
Hugo stopped a second to remember where he was trying to go with the conversation.
“So it’s weird because this magical feeling eventually wore off a little, though not too much and not for long, since shit ended so abruptly. But the sex didn’t get worse because of it. It’s funny because I could tell she learned some shit from me. There was some shit that she really liked doing with me. It was cool because it was some shit that I really liked to do, but I could tell that, for her, maybe part of it was the novelty or something or maybe it was something else, but it was new and exciting for her. Anyway, we were getting better at figuring out how to fuck each other as we got more used to each other.”
Hugo looked away from James, as though the answer would suddenly appear in the environment. “Was it the best sex I ever had? I had some pretty fucking good sex with a couple other women. I’ll say this: it was the best sex in terms of me having been an actual, full-grown adult and it being so early in the relationship. Sex with other women always took a few times to get really good, so you have to try to compares apples to apples as much as you can.”
“I guess it would’ve become the best sex I ever had. I’m sure it would’ve been. It was the best early-on sex I ever had and everything was there for it to be the best. She’s so beautiful, so sweet, so sensitive, and we were so connected in such a profound way. If we’d fucked a few more times, I think that our beds would’ve become orgasm machines. It was getting there. I guess he was better at fucking her in some way.”
“Don’t do that, man. You taught her some shit. You just didn’t have the whole opportunity.”
“Yeah, and then she probably got him to do it to her.”
“Yeah, man; that’s how that goes. That’s life. It’s like a Drake song.”
“Yeah. Fuck, man.”