On a dreary October evening, the rain pounded so heavily on the roof that Mitch heard it while he showered.
It was about two weeks out from Graveyard Smash, and Jodie reached the point where she lived part-time at the school, going so far as to keep an air mattress in her office. While Mitch enjoyed having the bed to himself on some nights, he worried about her heath and swung by in the evenings to do a welfare check and to get her to eat dinner.
Not tonight, however.
After he freshened up, dressing in his cleanest band t-shirt and least frayed pair of jeans, Mitch grabbed his car keys and quadruple checked to see if the house still remained vacant. Not a single noise was made as he skulked about; there’d been no shower karaoke, and he cradled the keys to prevent them from jingling.
In particular, he needed proof that Avi was still away. Though Avi said he’d be at the school, maybe he snuck in while Mitch was preparing to do something that he wasn’t proud of.
Mitch almost wished that he was present. Almost. And now the last line of defense fell upon his papier-mâché morals, which wouldn’t save him now. Not with gratification on the line.
To keep his hair from getting wet, he pulled on the knit cap and ignored how the shame burned him up. Days ago, Avi paid a compliment and said that the dusky purple color was good on him, and Mitch tried not to dwell on that. Especially not now. He also refused to consider that he wore Jodie’s gift when he was about to get up to some bullshit. Forgiveness may be easier to ask for than permission, but this pushed the limits of said maxim. This was outright wrong.
His car started without any weird sounds, which was both unusual and frustrating. The universe beckoned him to fuck himself over. Begged for it. Opened the door and invited him inside. The dashboard’s clock faintly displayed the time: quarter past 7. He needed to make a choice and send a message to someone, preferably before he left the driveway.
Putting the car into reverse, he checked the rearview mirror then backed up. Maybe if he didn’t commit to anything at all, he’d do the right thing.
As he drove past Monument Wrestling Academy without so much as slowing down, he knew that no, he wasn’t capable of that. Should have sent that message, should have committed earlier. At least then no one would be waiting for him. Sitting at a red light, he considered what he ought to use for an excuse. He had a migraine? His stomach ached and he needed rest? Neither were valid. He wasn’t home, and he probably wouldn’t be back that night.
Overwhelmed by guilt, he slammed on the hazard lights and pulled over. He sent a text to Avi, a simple ‘Hey man, something came up. Not gonna be in tonight, sorry.’, and left it at that.
There was no relief once it’d been delivered, only more numbness. Throwing his phone onto the passenger seat, he scrubbed a hand down his face, then merged back into traffic.