Sunday, October 12, 2008

No time for losers...

So what am I gonna do? Well, as always, things are not as simple as they seem...

When I heard the news that Shawna dropped on me, of course I thought right away that this was indeed my big chance...and I guess I just figured that, if this rumor was really true, then all the work might just be done for me...I'd just have to swoop in there at the end & finally get this thing over with once & for all. In any case, I knew that the only thing I could really do was wait a while, anyway.

What I figured would happen was: Roxanne & Shawna would talk before too long, and Shawna would tell her what she'd seen. Roxanne would be skeptical at first, if only because she so hates change & is so terrified of upsetting the balance of her life that she just wouldn't want to hear it, but that after hearing confirmation from Doug & confronting Laura with it, that the truth - if indeed it was true (which it all but certainly was/is), she'd eventually have to deal with it. Now, how she would deal with it is anyones guess, but I think I could influence things there given the opportunity.

I didn't know how soon any of this could happen, though...after all, Roxanne's show ran for the next six weeks straight. That means she'd have about 2 hours total of free time per day, and no matter what was going on, I sure didn't want to see her world turned upside down at such an important time in her life., and nobody else did, either.

Of course, that also meant that Laura was going to have plenty of time over the next month or so to dig her grave even deeper, if that's indeed what she was doing. In fact, it seemed to me that she almost wanted to get caught. After all, why would she have brought Shawna & Doug to her personal hangout where she supposedly conducts her illicit liaisons? I mean, I don't think she's all that bright in the first place, but it just seemed a little funny.

What seemed even stranger was what happened a couple of days after her show opened. 2 nights after I was there for the sneak preview, her whole family, Laura included, had planned to all attend together. Well, apparently at the last minute, Laura decided that she wasn't going to be able to make it because she was going comping instead...and guess who she was going with?

Now, I heard this from Shawna, who heard it from their friend Natasha...and I have no idea if Laura & this girl were the only 2 people going, or if Roxanne knew who was going, or anything. According to her brother, if she was upset about it, she didn't let on at the show (not that she would have, anyway).

But still, I heard nothing.

Next thing I heard was a week or so later...labor day weekend. Jerry had stopped by Roxanne's place to have lunch & came by my house afterward. I still had not told Jerry any of the things that I had learned (I knew that, if something was really going on and, if & when word got to Roxanne, that in no way, shape, or form could I let the news have come from me), so I asked him how the happy lesbians seemed to be doing. He told me that they seemed to be fine, but that Roxanne mentioned that she had a bone to pick with Shawna...because she was allegedly spreading false rumors about Laura having an affair, and Roxanne wanted to set her straight, or something.

I played dumb (something I hated to do with my best friend, but I did anyway), and asked him what was all this about an affair. He told me that Roxanne said it was nothing & he just assumed it was Shawna creating drama again for no reason. But, he found it odd that Shawna would make up some malicious rumor about the SO of her surrogate sister, and odd that Roxanne would even think that Shawna would do that in the first place.

I posited a theory: maybe Roxanne just wanted to talk to Shawna to get the real story, but there in front of Laura, she had to make a show of acting like it was all bogus. Who knows, he said...but if anyone ever cheated on his sister, he was gonna be plenty pissed, and he made that clear. I ached to tell him what had happened in the bar, but I kept my mouth shut I have to this day. I figured it would all come out in the wash.

Finally, the next week, Roxanne called Shawna & asked her if she would meet her for lunch. Shawna said of course, but something was strange...she insisted on meeting at the bar where Laura works. So much for the theory of her wanting to probe Shawna for info.

Shawna agreed to go, of course, but she didn't know what to make of it (and neither did I). She asked me if I thought that maybe Roxanne wanted to ambush her there with Laura around to back her up...or vice/versa. I told her that, yes, it was weird, but that was almost certainly not the case. First of all, that would be manipulative, which Roxanna simply is not. Secondly, I'm sure that, affair or not, the last thing Laura would want is a confrontation where Shawna could spill the beans on her late-night bar disappearance.

I told her that, as far as I can figure it, mostly likely one of two things happened: either Roxanne is so overwhelmed with everything going on in her life right now & so worn out from running herself ragged, that she just wants to make sure that she doesn't have to confront anything right now...she wants to see her friend, but she knows with Laura there, that nothing will come up to rock her boat, and she won't have to deal with it yet.

The second possibility is that, somehow Laura has managed to convince Roxanne that nothing at all shady was going on; that she wasn't having an affair, that Shawna simply misinterpreted what she saw, and that Roxanne has already filed it away & doesn't want to deal with it right now. I hoped it was the former; I worried that it may be the latter...and I still thought that the whole thing was weird, in any case.

And, after they had seen each other, I still don't know, and neither does Shawna...because nothing at all was ever mentioned about it. Roxanne was obviously not upset with Shawna in any way, and they talked like sisters just they way they always do...just not about any of the current events.

So, still not knowing what was going on, I waited. I figured I would give it until her show was over & see what happened. It closed last week. And a couple of days later, so did my window. Maybe...

Roxanne & Jerry went to lunch a day or 2 later, and he - still not knowing what I know - asked Roxanne just what all this affair business was about, anyway.

Well, according to her, it was no big deal. She said that Laura is just a very needy person, and that, with her show going on & everything, Roxanne just didn't have a lot of time to spend with her, so Laura just latched on to this girl for a while...nothing sexual or romantic anything, you understand...she just needs to feel needed & needs her friends close to her. Or some kind of bullshit like that...Jerry didn't really buy it either. So, he pressed her further, and asked her if anything like this has ever happened before.

"Well...", Roxanne said, "there was one thing that happened...about 3 years ago."

Apparently, Laura had what Roxanne described as an "emotional affair" with another girl a few years back. Oh, nothing sexual, you understand...just emotional. It was difficult (and I'm sure that many of our exchanges went on during this time, whenever it was), and they almost didn't make it through it, but eventually she forgave Laura, and they were ok.

Jerry didn't know what to say. He knew that his sister was perhaps the most loving, forgiving person in the world, but he honestly didn't think she would let herself be walked all over like that, and he told her so.

She cut him off quickly, telling him that he couldn't compare this latest incident to the past one, and that everything between them was really going great, and that they were re-doing the living room, and buying a new flat-screen, and yadda yadda yadda....but he didn't really buy it.

And I sure as hell don't...but then again, I can't really trust my instincts when it comes to that, anyway.

So, that's where things stand, as we speak. I don't really know a goddamn thing for sure...other than I'm starting to feel that, no matter what is going on with their life, something, somewhere has got to give.

This thing can't go on much longer. I can't go on like this much longer.

I don't have another 20 years to waste on this. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the waiting & the wondering. I'm tired of the dancing back & forth, and the empty talk that gets us nowhere. I'm tired of trying to move on, and knowing that no other girl I'll meet in my life will ever get a fair shake until this is resolved, one way or another.

I've tried to bury it, I've tried to move past it, I've tried everything but one man up, take a stand, and actually try and do something about it.

And that's what I have to do...I have to just lay it all on the line for her & see once & for all if this is what's really supposed to happen. I have to present my case, and I have to ask her to choose. I've got to shit or get off the pot.

I don't know if it's the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life, or the bravest. I'm pretty sure leaving her in the first place was the dumbest thing, so at least I know it's not that. But I still don't know what's going to happen.

I mean, I'm pretty sure she still loves me...and I'm pretty sure that, if it just came right down to what she wants, I'm pretty sure that she'd go for it...but again, things aren't that simple.

Roxanne is a lot of things, and first and foremost, she's loyal. Loyal too a fault. She has a life that she's built with this girl, and she's heavily dependent upon her, financially. Not that she'd have to worry about that with me, but it'd still be a factor. And i know that she loves her. I don't know that she loves her the same way that she loves me (I could always be wrong), but I don't know that she would ever be able to bring herself to hurt Laura like that, even if it's what she really wanted.

And then there's the issue of me, and my track record. By all accounts, she should never have even spoken to me again...much less give me another chance...a third chance. Yes, I know she finally said that maybe we should try it again one day if we found ourselves single...but she's not single. And again, I don't have another 20 years to wait around for that to happen.

So, here I stand, a man with a mission that I've been preparing myself for for years...and I have no idea how to pull it off. Hell, I don't even know if I'm doing the right thing...I just know that I have to do it, for me if nothing else. Because this is it this time. After Annette & everything else, I know that I have to deal with all this somehow...I either have to finally make it part of my life, or I have to find a life apart from it. Somehow.

Now I just need a plan. Any suggestions would be most welcome....'cus as of right now, I don't have a fuckin' clue...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Brilliant Disguise

NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that I need to give a fake name to the boy/girlfriend, however hesitant I am to do so, if only for the fact that it's a bitch to type, and it'll appear frequently from now on. So, henceforth, Roxanne's partner will be known as "Laura".

So anyway, after Shawna told me that, I was speechless...for a moment. Then came the details.

Apparently, Shawna & her husband had gotten VIP tickets to see a concert that had come thru town a few weeks back. They had special box seats, or something, and it turned out that Laura (the boy/girlfriend...remember?) was also going to the show; not with Roxanne, but with her longtime best friend Natasha. Anyway, the two of them apparently got trashed, met up with Shawna & Doug (husband's fake name) and basically crashed their VIP section & made huge asses of themselves.

After the show, Shawna & Doug had had their fill of Laura & Natasha's drunkenness for the night & tried to go their own way, but Laura managed to play on Shawna's inability to disappoint people to drag them across town to her favorite watering hole - a really shitty, redneck dive bar that my little brother used to hang out before he decided it was too redneck even for HIM, which is saying something, trust me.

So they all sit down for drinks at the bar and, after a while, Laura (who was sloshed before they got there) gets all melancholy & starts pouring her heart out to Shawna's husband Doug (a guy who hates getting involved in other people's drama). She begins to tell him that she's worried because Roxanne never seems to want to kiss her anymore. Apparently, they haven't been, 'intimate' lately, and even when Laura comes home from work or from whatever bar she's been hanging out in that night, Roxanne doesn't even like to kiss her goodnight because her breath tastes like beer (if you'll remember, or even if you don't, Roxanne is a recovering alcoholic).

Apparently the correlation there is lost on Laura, though, because she seemed surprised when Shawna said "Well, Laura, if you were a smoker who had quit, would you want your partner to come home every night & try to kiss you with 2 packs of Marlboro's on their breath?" She still didn't get it...hell, she's jus' a good ol' gal who likes to have a couple' drinks & party a lil' bit; ain't nothin' wrong with that, right?

Sometime around then, some girl named Mandy walks in. According to Shawna, this girl runs over to Laura, who squeals with delight, grabs her & they spin around, embracing & giggling like schoolgirls. Laura is a friendly person, so this doesn't raise any eyes at first, but after introducing this girl to Shawn & Doug, something started to seem funny. Laura said something like "Mandy, this is Shawna & Doug; they're good friends of mine AND good friends with Roxanne!". Hmmm...

Anyway, the talk about Roxanne stopped the minute that this Mandy girl entered the bar, and she & Laura were soon lost in their own little conversation, leaving Shawna & Dave completely out of their element, until Natasha came back over & sat next to them. Natasha was three sheets to the wind herself (she's apparently an even worse alcoholic than Laura, which is no mean feat), and made some snide remark under her breath about Mandy being there. Shawna didn't really catch it, but just about then, Laura's phone beeped. It was a text message from Roxanne, asking when she would be home.

Laura texted her back, letting her know where she was. Shawna said that Laura started saying how she had forgotten to let Roxanne know they were going out afterwards, and in her drunken stupor, she was feeling bad about it & started typing out a long message to Roxanne about how much she loved her & how she'd be home soon. Now...upon seeing Laura sending her love to Roxanne via cell phone, apparently this Mandy girl suddenly got all huffy & puffy...out of the blue & for no apparent reason. She made a little scene of some sort, basically acting like a jealous girlfriend, and then abruptly got up, declared that she was 'not sticking around for this shit' & stormed out of the bar, startling the whole table. Laura stood up & started calling after Mandy. Shawna & Doug looked at each other, puzzled, and started to say something. Laura, however, cut them off by saying "Hold on, I have to catch her! I cigarettes are in her car!" before running out the door to follow her.

Shawna looked over at Natasha, bewildered.

"What was that about?", she asked her.

Natasha tried to dodge the question with some lame answer like "Who knows, they're drunk.", but Something was definitely fishy here...Ray Charles could see that. It became even clearer when, after another 15 minutes, Laura still hadn't returned. Finally, Shawna turned to Natasha & asked her point blank just what the fuck was going on.

Who knows if it was good or bad that Natasha was as drunk as she was at that moment, but in any case, she hesitated for a moment & then said to Shawna "Well...Laura's cheating on Roxanne. With that girl."

Shawna & Dave were shocked. They asked how long it had been going on. Natasha said that she wasn't sure, but she didn't think it had been very long or had gotten very serious. She said they had been spotted making out behind the bar several times, but Laura hadn't told her any details & that was all she really knew...or could think of, in her current state. She said that she hated to rat on her best friend, but that Roxanne was such a sweet person & she felt so bad about it that she just couldn't hold it in any longer.

So, they talked about it some more & waited a while for Laura to come back. She never did. She totally ditched Shawna & Doug after dragging them across town with her. They left & went home. Shawna said she debating calling me & telling me what had happened right then, but that Doug talked her out of it, knowing they should have all the facts first, which he was right about.

So, the next day, Shawna is pissed. She contemplates calling Roxanne (whom she refers to as her surrogate sister), but after debating it for a while, she decides to call Laura first, to give her a chance to explain herself. So, she calls her up & Laura immediately launches into a vehement apology for the night before & denies everything even before Shawna has a chance to accuse her of anything. She said that Mandy was upset about something else & she just went to try and comfort her & lost track of time. She tells her that it's not true that she's having an affair, it's just some horrible rumor that people have been spreading for...well, for no real reason apparently. She begs & begs Shawna not to tell Roxanne; that it's nothing that she needs to worry about & it would just upset her to hear such ugly, horrible lies.

Shawna, however, ain't gonna budge. Rumor or not, she saw some shady shit go down that Laura has no good explanation for. She loves Roxanne, and tells Laura point blank that she will, at the very least, have to tell Roxanne what she saw. So Laura breaks down & begs Shawna to at least let HER be the one to tell Roxanne about it...that way, she can explain to her that it's just a rumor and that she has nothing to worry about, yadda yadda. Shawna isn't buying it, but she tells her she'll think about it for a day or so (she told me this was because she wanted to have a chance to talk to Natasha about it when she was sober, so she could find out the whole truth). With Laura still pleading with her, she hangs up the phone.

So, next she tries to call Natasha, who doesn't answer her phone. Figuring that she's still passed out from the night before, she leaves her a message asking her to call when she wakes up.

After a while, she still hasn't heard from Natasha, so she calls her back. This time, she picks up the phone, but tells Shawna that she'll have to call her back in a minute...that she just woke up & that she's on the other line - with Laura. Finally, after another half-hour or so, Natasha calls back & Shawna asks her again to explain what's really going on. Then the backpedaling began...

Natasha told Shawna that nothing was really going on between Laura & Mandy; that she had been drinking & taking a lot of pills the night before & had made the whole thing up. She said she was sorry for having said such awful things about her best friend, and that none of them were true; she can't even remember what all she said or anything that happened the whole night. Conveniently.

"So, you just made it all up?", Shawna asked.

"Yeah...I must have", Natasha answered.

"Why would you make up something like that about your best friend?"

"I don't know...I was just fucked up, I guess". Mmm-hmm.

She had her story & she was stickin' to it. So, Shawna finally got off the phone. Five minutes later, the phone rang again. It was Laura. Shawna answered the phone & Laura started in again right away, pleading with her not to tell Roxanne & promising that she was going to tell herself when she got home from work. She was crying hysterically, and Shawna asked her why she was so upset it it was all just a rumor. in fact, if that's the case, why was she worried about it at all?

Laura said that she was so upset because she can't believe that someone would spread such a horrible lie about her...she couldn't imagine who would do such a thing, or why. She was mostly worried, though, about Roxanne hearing about it first and being hurt by it...especially right now with her big show about to start in a week or so. This was her first starring role in a big show in several years, and she was very nervous & totally consumed by it, working herself over 90 hours per week between both jobs. Laura didn't want her to have anything like this on her plate to deal with.

Shawna was getting more irritated by the second & finally told Laura that she was still deciding what she was going to do & that she needed time to think about it. She all but hung up on her again, with Doug looking on in disbelief.

Doug was convinced that they should call Roxanne right then & there, but Shawna was upset, overwhelmed, and wanted to calm down before they did anything. Besides, it was a beautiful day & they both had things they needed to do & their own lives to lead, so they left the house for a while to go run some errands & such.

They came back about 3 hours later...and found almost a dozen messages from Laura on their machine. All of them saying the same thing, begging Shawna not to call Roxanne, and assuring her that she was going to tell her herself. Protesting too much. When the phone rang a minute or two later, Shawna had had enough; she told Laura that she was not going to get dragged any further into whatever Laura had gotten herself into, and that she would let her tell Roxanne whatever she wanted first, but that she was going to make sure that Roxanne also knew what had happened that night...whatever it was.

This finally calmed Laura down & she thanked Shawna & got off the phone. Shawna was still torn as to what to do, though. She agreed with one thing Laura had said; that Roxanne didn't need anything like this to deal with at the moment with everything on her plate, but she needed to know...right? She asked Doug's advice, and being the sensible guy that he is, he laid it out rationally.

In his opinion, something was definitely rotten in Denmark. The way Laura & Mandy had acted at the bar, the storming out, the chasing after, the disappearing....all that was fishy enough. Then there's what Natasha said. Sure, Natasha is an alcoholic, and was (at the very least) drunk at the time, but she is also Laura's best friend. They've been close for years, they have no animosity between them, so why would she just make up a story like that about her best friend? Drunk or not, that just doesn't seem right.

Then, there's the way Laura reacted to Shawna. If someone accused you of an indiscretion that you were innocent of, would you break down in tears & panic about it, or would you - knowing you did nothing wrong - be dismissive of it & rest assured that the truth would come out? If she hadn't done anything wrong, why was she burning up Shawna's phone like about it, denying everything like Nixon. Like I said before, me thinkest she doth protest too much...

But, on the flipside...they hadn't actually seen anything happen between the two of least nothing that would hold up in court. And the accusation did come from a conversation with an inebriated alcoholic under the influence of who knows what. And while it's pretty clear that something was going on, Doug didn't feel that they really had enough to go to Roxanne least not right then, with everything she had going on. Shawna agreed with him...the opening of her show was next week & they would see her then, so they decided to just worry about their own problems for a while...

...and so that was the story up to that night, when we were standing outside on the patio of the theater after the show, talking. Shawna & Roxanne hadn't talked except for a text message confirming that they were coming to the show. So there we were, waiting for Roxanne to come out of her dressing room, and my brain is in maximum overdrive, complete with AC/DC soundtrack. And then the side door of the building opened & she walked out and swayed over to where were all stood.

I'll skip the usual paragraph where I'm in awe at seeing her & make up some lame metaphor, 'cus I hate to be predictable. Anyway, she looked beautiful, she had done an amazing job, and we were all incredibly proud of her. We hugged, we all talked for a minute or two, then she had to go back in to go over notes. Then, something crazy happened.

A short, bleached blond girl of about 24 in a striped green shirt walks past Shawna, notices her & says "Oh, hi!". Shawna waves back, speaks an almost inaudible 'hi', and turns to me, wide-eyed.

"That was her!", she says.

"Who was who?", I ask her.

"Mandy! THAT'S the girl Laura's supposedly doin' it with!"

"What? What the hell is she doing here?", I asked. (remember, Laura was not there that night)

"Well, she's apparently friends with Roxanne, too...she hangs out at their house a lot".

"I bet she does..."

So, I saw what she looks like. Suffice it to say, she's no Roxanne.

With me still in a daze, I said my goodbyes to Shawna & Doug & hopped in the car with Elaine to head home. My mind was racing so fast trying to process all this information that I didn't speak for several minutes until Elaine snapped me out of it.

" it is.", she said.

"Here's what?", I asked her.

"Here's your big chance. Watcha gonna do about it?. Hmm?

Good question...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Suspicious Minds

So, longish story short, somewhere around a year ago, Roxanne wrote me one day with some scary news. Apparently her brother Jerry (who is also like a brother to me), was in a bad way. He had just gotten out of a relationship with a woman so crazy that she made Veronica look stable. She had managed to get them both arrested for pot possession & drunk driving, had blown through what meager funds they had, threatened to kill him & herself, and finally had to be forcibly evicted from their house, clawing & screaming the whole time. Now, he was on the tail-end of a week-long drinking binge & was depressed, out of control, and possibly suicidal. Roxanne & her family were worried sick, as was our good friend Shawna. That night, Roxanne, Shawna & I all talked & tried to figure out what we could do.

Eventually, the girls got him over to Shawna's house where they could keep an eye on him. I explained the situation to Annette & told her that I might be gone for a while, which she was very understanding about (remember, she never knew the full extent of the Roxanne situation; things may have been different if she had). His mom drove in from 3 states away, and we planned an impromptu intervention, which we were not convinced would do any good, but we had to try something. So, we sat him down (myself, Roxanne, Shawna & her husband, and his mom....Roxanne's boy/girlfriend had to work. Priorities, I guess) and just tried to talk to him.

Fortunately, it did do some good. We convinced him that he finally needed to seek some help. Roxanne found a live-in treatment center nearby that would take him on a sliding payment scale, and he agreed to go for the month-long program. We were all thrilled, and very hopeful that he might finally be able to beat the demons he's been struggling with for years.

So, because of the situation, Roxanne & I found ourselves seeing or talking to each other on almost a daily basis for a while; with the intervention, taking care of Jerry's affairs while he was gone, the 'family meetings' which I was always a part of. Sometimes the boy/girlfriend was there, most of the time she wasn't. What was strange was that, all of a sudden, the boy/girlfriend started being extremely friendly with me, treating me like we were old buddies now all of a sudden. I'm still not sure what that was all about, but my best guess is that because Annette was in the picture & I was supposedly getting married, that it was finally 'ok' for me to be around, in her eyes. At least, I'm sure that's the way she wanted it to look...I didn't buy the act for a second & I still don't, nor do I give a shit. But anyway, the point is that this was the first time that, at least according to the rules of their relationship, Roxanne & I were 'allowed' to actually spend time with each other...if only because we were all pulling together to help her brother(and I should make it clear here that, everything with Roxanne & I aside, I love Jerry like a brother & was going to do everything I could to make sure he got the help he needed, especially after our strained relationship over the last few years).

So, needless to say, it was a pretty intense few weeks for everyone involved, as it would have been even without all the personal drama. But...we were getting along famously. Maybe a little too famously for some people's comfort. The first time I noticed it was one day about a week into Jerry's stay at the facility. it was his first visiting day, and the whole family & I were there. The place was set on several acres of beautiful countryside, with a large pond right in the middle. We were all sitting out next to the water, talking & laughing, when Jerry's father put me on the spot by asking me if I had set a date for my wedding yet. I hesitated for a long second, obviously trying to sputter out an answer while all eyes went to me. I can't remember exactly what I said, but it was described by Shawna's husband later as 'some serious backpedaling'. I told him that we hadn't set a date yet, and we were trying not to make a big deal of the engagement, and that it probably wouldn't be happening for a while, or something like that. The whole group was silent as I was struggling with my words, all of them shooting glances over at Roxanne, of course (who kept her head down the whole time, betraying nothing), except for the boy/girlfriend...who was staring a hole dead through me.

I don't know what I should have said...maybe I should have made up some bullshit about how we were going to have some grand wedding with the two of us in KISS makeup while parachuting from a plane...but I was totally caught unawares, and the truth just came out. I didn't know what the hell was going to happen or if we were going to get married or not; Annette & I were both already on the fence about it by that time. Plus, some internal mechanism that I honestly couldn't control made sure that I left that door open, and that everybody there knew it. And I'm sure everybody knew it...

Which is why I shouldn't have been surprised when, over the next few weeks, I started to hear from Roxanne less, and when we saw each other on the weekend Jerry was getting out of rehab (he did great, by the way), that things were very stiff & guarded between us....with the boy/girlfriend right underfoot the whole time. It took me a while to piece it together, but that's my theory, anyway: that Roxanne got the proverbial reins tightened around her after that day, and she, feeling guilty, went along with it (because that's how she is; for Roxanne, ever the fact that she & I talk via e-mail is almost cheating in her book, and I know that she felt like she was betraying the other one by opening up to me as much as she had), and began to try and toe the lesbian line again, so to speak.

And, with a few tiny exceptions, that's how it's been ever since, for the past year or so. I mean, we still email each other sometimes, and lately that has mostly transferred over to texting (which I fucking hate; you can't really express yourself that way...or I can't, anyway), but I could tell that she had started to patch that old wall back up again. And I guess I understood, for a while. After all, Annette was still around (even though she knew we were having problems; she gets Shawna to spy on me, not knowing that she also fills me in on it, as well), and there wasn't much that we could do about anything, anyway. Until recently...

She sent me a text a few weeks ago asking me if I knew that my favorite band was coming to town. In the course of our exchange, I told her that Annette & I had split up. I don't know how she reacted in real life, but she told me she was sorry & asked what happened & if I was ok, yadda yadda. We talked for a while that night until it was time for the other one to come home, but only about me, never about us.

In fact, we've talked several times now since then, but not about anything important, as it were, so I really have no idea what she thinks of the fact that I'm single again. But the thing is, she hasn't had a lot of time lately to think about much of anything: for the last six weeks, she's been starring in a play that runs 5 days a week, with 2 performances on the weekends. On top of this, she's working 40-45 hours per week at her regular job, and averaging about 5 hours of sleep per night. She's been doing this with no breaks & no time off, and she still has another week to everyone has been a little worried about her. Especially in light of...well, things that have recently come to light. Let me explain...

So she invites me to come see her play on opening night (which, I knew, meant that the boy/girlfriend would not be coming that night), which I do, of course. I drag Elaine along with me & I make plans to meet Shawna & her husband there, as I haven't seen them in a good while. We go, we see the show, she's brilliant, yadda yadda. We're outside talking afterwards, waiting for Roxanne to get out of the dressing room when, out of the blue, Shawna's husband gestures to me & says to his wife "Tell him."

Tell me what? Shawna squirms around a little bit & tries to protest, but it's far too late for that now...I know something's up. So I tell her to fucking well tell me. She takes a big breath, looks at me & says "You can't say anything!"

"Anything about what?", I ask.

"We don't know this for sure yet, and it cannot get out that we said anything, because we didn't actually see anything, and if..."

"Will you just tell me, before she gets out here!" I almost yelled.

Another big sigh. Shawna looked over at her husband, then back to me.

"Well...we think [the boy/girlfriend] is cheating on Roxanne.", she says. I start to speak. She interrupts me.

"You CANNOT say anything! We're not for sure yet...but it's from a very close source, and we definitely saw some shady shit going down! But you CANNOT say anything yet!"

It took me a minute. Anger, hope, elation, more anger...they all drew straws in my head. Hope won. I asked her what it was that she knew, exactly....which is a long story.