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Your Life Is a Map With No Compass

Chapter Ten

I don’t know what to do. Zack’s on the bus with Rian, packing. He’s going home. Danny’s filling in for him for the remaining week of tour. He won’t talk to me. No one will. I don’t understand why. All I did was grab him a little too hard. Granted, hard enough to bruise his prefect skin, hard enough to make him cry, hard enough to make him even more scared of me than that drunk douche that took advantage of him back at the venue.
Me and Rian and Jaime took care of him, punched him hard enough to make him see stars, then made sure that he would never, ever, ever do that to Zack again. I’m never going back to that venue. Ever.
I’m sitting on the strip of grass that’s in the middle of the parking lot, a guitar in my lap and my phone open to the recorder. I hadn’t played just for the sake of playing for a long time, and as I play Dammit intro over and over, I realize that I really miss it. Nowadays, playing the same songs in front of a crowd every night kind of takes the fun out of just dicking around and making up random lyrics to go along with the crappy riffs I wrote.
“Jack!” Tony’s walking over to me with a beer in each hand. Now, I like Tony, but I’ve never really had a full conversation with just him. He’s kind of shy, kind of quiet, not the kind of person you’d expect to be in a band like Pierce the Veil.
Then again, Zack isn’t the kind of person you’d expect to be in a band at all.
Tony sits down next to me and hands me a beer, which I gratefully accept and take a long drink from. We sit in silence for a minute, him examining the letters on his knuckles, me fingering the chords to Good Riddance. “Kind of sucks, about Zack.” Tony looks at me for a second, then back down at his hands. “I really like him, even if he is a bit-”
“Different” I finish for him, taking another gulp of beer before putting it on the curb in front of me.
“Yeah. He’s a great skater. Fucking amazing. Better than me.” He pauses for a minute, and takes a good look at me. “You guys are really close, huh?”
I laugh a bit and shake my head. “You have no idea. He’s my best friend. And I’m his. I’d be so lost without him, you know?”
Tony nods. “I feel that way about Jaime. When my dad died, I kind of, I just felt like I didn’t have a real purpose in life. And then I met Jaime, and it was like I had someone to care about again.” Tony takes a sip of beer. “Not like my girlfriend or my mom or my other friends weren’t awesome, I just, Jaime made me feel…happier.”
That was the most I’ve ever heard Tony talk. Turns out he has some pretty good things to say. “You like him, don’t you?”
I nod, not even caring if anybody knows anymore. “Yeah I do. But it’s never going to happen. Not after this.” I put the guitar beside me on the grass and hold my beer with both hands. “I fucked it up, I fucked him up, and now he’s just leaving and-” I take a deep breath. I can feel Tony’s eyes on me. I don’t look up at him. If I do, he’ll see the tears threatening to spill over.
“Well, I know it isn’t really my place to tell you this, but dude, it’s not as bad as you think it is. Zack’s waiting for you to go and tell him not to leave. He’ll listen to you. I know he will.” Tony gently rests his hand on my knee.
“How do you know that? He hates me. He’s fucking terrified of me.”
Tony pats my knee. “Look at me.” I do. He doesn’t react when he sees the tears. It’s like he was expecting them. “When I was nineteen, I said some really bad things to Jaime. I wasn’t even drunk. I was just mad. The second they were out of my mouth, I regretted them. I was so ashamed that I was the one that ran away. I just left him there, on the loading dock of the venue we were playing at. I was so embarrassed, and mad at myself, and so sure that he was mad at me and that he would never want to talk to me again, that I didn’t call him to apologize. I didn’t talk to him for a month. But then we had a show to play. I thought he wasn’t going to show, but he did. And the first thing that I did was hug him, and tell him how sorry I was, and that I didn’t mean any of what I said.” Tony smiles a bit. “And the first thing he said to me was ‘I have been waiting for you to say that this entire time.’ He was never mad at me. He knew that I regretted those words. He would have accepted my apology the entire time. But I waited, like a fucking coward, and because of that I went a month without my best friend.” Tony smiles at me.
“Zack will accept your apology, I know he will. He loves you, maybe not in the way you love him, but he’s your best friend. Don’t wait like I did. You’ll just make yourself miserable.”
I wipe the tears from my eyes. “But you’re forgetting the key point to all of this. Zack’s autistic. His brain doesn’t work like Jaime’s does.”
Tony’s chuckles. “Nobody’s brain works like Jaime’s does.”
“You know what I mean. It doesn’t work that way for autistic people. When someone hurts him physically, he will always see that person as a threat, no matter if it’s accidental or not. One time his sister hit him by accident, and he was so scared of her that he did everything he could to avoid her for the next month. He’s not going to accept my apology.”
Tony grins. “Yeah, but you’re his best friend. Everybody knows that unless they kill your girlfriend or fuck your mom, you always forgive your best friend. It’s implanted in your brain. And even if Zack’s brain is different from yours or mine or Jaime’s, it has to know this. Especially with a best friend as great as you, that’s stuck with him all these years.” Tony drinks the rest of his beer, then stands up and holds out his hand for me to grab.
“So what do you say?”
I take his hand and let him pull me up. “I say that you should talk more.” I smile at him, and he grins back.
“Go get your bestie back.”
♠ ♠ ♠
After Zack Merrick, Tony Perry is my favorite band guy ever and I love him to death. I also feel like he's the kind of person who would have conversations like this :)
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