Jeanette wrapped her arms around the shoulder of her upset friend, Mary. The news that her good for nothing, borderline abusive, ex-boyfriend Jake had left town without so much as a “Goodbye” had not gone over well. “That asshole!” Mary uttered contemptuously. “I mean, I guess I shouldn’t expect anything from him, it isn’t like he was ever that thoughtful except when it came to himself, but still!”
“Perhaps it is for the best, you know?” Jeanette tried to offer. She had neglected to tell Mary that part of the reason Jake had been so keen to skip town is that Jeanette had informed him that if he did not do so, that not only would he be brought up on charges of grave-robbing, trafficking antiquities, and other assorted legal actions, but that there was also a very good chance that she’d arrange to have a few guys give him a solid beating just on the general principle of the matter. Mary didn’t need to really know that part. She casually rubbed a hand across Mary’s back. “He really was trouble, and it is only a matter of time before he either got that trouble brought down on himself, or worse yet, both of you.”
“That’s it!” Mary said suddenly, bolting upright. “It must have been something with one of his deals or his schemes. He must have needed to beat town in a hurry, and that is why he didn’t bother to look me up or give me a call. He really was just trying to keep me safe! He does care!”
Janette waved her arms fruitlessly as her friend gushed, trying to interject. “That isn’t really what I meant Mary. I meant that he is no good for you. You said it your…”
Janette was cut off as Mary wrapped her arms around the smaller woman in a bear hug, almost squeezing the breath from her body. Nothing could deflate her delusional enthusiasm as she let out a laugh. “No Jeanette, you are right, if I had gotten involved I could have gotten hurt and Jake knew that! He does care about me, and I just have to wait patiently. I’m sure I’ll hear from him once things have cooled off a bit and that he’ll make it up to me next time he’s in town. God, here I was about to write him off, but, you are right, he’s just a big protective teddy bear at heart! Thank you Jeanette!”
Before Janette could get a word off in reply the other woman spun away and practically danced out of the room, leaving Janette sitting alone on the cot. Staring at the empty doorway in amazement Janette let out a long sigh. She smirked as she cocked her head slightly to the side. “You know. Some people don’t really want to take good advice no matter how much you want them to just be safe and happy.” A smirk crept across her lips, “Yes, yes… I know you have it much worse, but unlike you I don’t get the long view of knowing how it all turns out.”
Lifting up her legs spinning on her butt to lay out on the couch with a plop Jeanette stared up at cracked and faded ceiling, fingers steepled behind her neck as her head rested on the threadbare pillowcase covering a well flattened pillow. “Yeah, I know, price of free will and all that… wait.. are you saying you DON’T have free will?” Her eyes narrow in an annoyed look, “Are you changing the subject on me? Really? Oh my god… is that a reference from ‘A Few Good Men’? Do you realize how old that movie is?” Barely containing a chuckle she rolls her eyes to no one. “Yes, 14 years isn’t that long to YOU, but in movie terms that’s ancient history, you really need to get some updated references.” The unspoken and unheard response causes Janette’s face to crack into a smile as radiant as the dawn after a long stormy night and her laughter echoes down into the hallway like the peel of distant church bells fading off into the starry and cloudless night.