“Why are you leaving? You just got home.”
He gave me a scathing look, the one he reserved for those times he thought I was being exceptionally dense. Except he’d reach for something simpler. “Stupid” would be more likely. Ritchie had a lot of things—good looks, narcissism, and an ego bigger than the whole of Europe—but an extensive vocabulary wasn’t one of them.
“I mean, Isadore, I’ve had enough. This…” He jerked his hand, index finger pointing, back and forth between us. “Isn’t working for me.”
I winced at the sound of my given name. No one but Ritchie used it. He thought it sounded sophisticated. I thought it sounded pretentious, especially when he said it.
When I didn’t reply, he returned to his clothes, the suitcase, his exit plan.
This wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation. Since I started work on Poe, our occasional arguments occurred with far more frequency, and I knew he waited for me to stop him. To beg him to stay. To degrade myself in order to prove I was worthy. To assume the bit part to his poorly-played leading actor.
And I might have. If this were the first time. Or even the second or third. The fourth time around was just dull, and after the day I’d had…
“Oh. Can I help you pack?”
His head whipped around, eyes wide in momentary surprise. He hadn’t even remotely mastered his improvisation skills, and I’d just gone off script. His eyes squinted slightly as his brain caught up.
“Do you want me to leave?”
I paused to consider the question.
“I’m not sure what brought this on.” I shrugged. “If you want to talk then let’s talk, but, no, I’m not going to stop you from leaving.” Ever the diplomat.
He slammed the suitcase shut, pieces of his meticulously-folded clothing still hanging out of its sides. I stepped into the bedroom just as he yanked the case from the bed. What the hell. I didn’t need that shin anyway. My eyes watered from the pain.
Ritchie saw the streaming tears and assumed we’d gotten back on track.
“I don’t want to talk. My mind is made up. We’re two different people from two different worlds. I need to be with my own kind.”
Translation. You’ve served your purpose. There is nothing else you can do for me. You’re not good enough for me or my (wannabe) actor lifestyle.
And you recently watched some corny romantic comedy not even bad enough to be good, I thought and stifled a laugh.
I didn’t have trouble understanding Ritchie if for no other reason than he had become far too fond of pointing out how much higher on the social scale he was. It was bullshit, of course. Ritchie had barely stepped one foot on the bottom rung. His insults, though, were always under the guise of advice. How I could be thinner, prettier, more socially pleasing. How I could be more acceptable to him. For him. Who could argue with that?
Ritchie dragged the wheel-less suitcase across the room, leaving gouges along the hardwood floor. As if on cue, he stopped when he reached the door. Turned on his mark. Looked at me in what I supposed he thought was pity.
“Goodbye, Isadore. Don’t cry.”
I might have taken his statement for solace if he hadn’t continued. “It makes you look like hell.”
With that parting shot, he resumed his trek out of the bedroom, suitcase in tow. I cringed at the continued scraping of the case along the floor. Silence, then the sound of the front door opening. Scuffling when he dragged the suitcase over the threshold. A resounding bam! when the door slammed shut.
Life sucks enough when your insecurities override your common sense and you fall hard for a guy who thinks only of himself, of what you can do for him, and of what you can give him, all for the admission price of a little attention.
It’s even worse when you realize your castrated, housebound cat is a better judge of character than you are.