Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame. Darling, you give love a bad name.
-Jon Bon Jovi
When Tré got home, he found Rosie on the couch experimenting with avant garde makeup. She’d painted yellow suns around her eyes and was teasing her hair out. She was wearing a neon tank top over leggings and was listening to Skinny Puppy, turned up to eleven.
“Can you turn it down?” Tré yelled over the music.
“It’s awesome, isn’t it?” said Rosie, turning it down. “Fred and I used to listen to it in high school when we wanted to make Daddy go bananas.”
“Yeah, awesome,” said Tré, who did not think it was awesome at all. “But I need to talk to you.”
Rosie walked over to Tré and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Let’s talk after a nap,” she said.
“We could sleep together and then you could sleep alone.”
“Not now, baby,” he said. “We have to talk. Come and sit with me.”
Rosie shrugged and followed Tré to the couch. He pulled out his checkbook and showed it to her.
“Look,” he said. “I’ve got a balance of $31.50 and I haven’t paid rent in two months. I can’t keep living like this. I can’t keep going out every night. I just can’t afford it anymore.”
“Oh my god, Tré,” said Rosie, shocked. “I had no idea! I thought Daddy was paying you a decent salary. I’ll talk to him.”
“No,” said Tré. “No no no no no no! I do make a fair salary. I couldn’t expect to make any more on a foot-in-the-door job. But the drinking and the clubbing is too expensive and too exhausting. I’m so tired, Rosie. I need to start staying home at night. We can hit the clubs maybe on Sunday and Monday, but I need to work and rest the other nights.”
“We can’t do that, Tré!” said Rosie. “People will forget who we are if we only go out on industry nights. Look, I’ll go back to work and make some money and help out. We’re a team, Tré. We’re practically celebrities. If we stay home five nights a week, people will forget who we are.”
“I don’t care,” said Tré. “I sick of all this partying. I'm too broke and I'm too tired.”
“But this doesn’t last,” said Rosie. “We only have now to be this. We need to enjoy it while we can.”
“But, baby,” said Tré. “I’m not.”
They argued for a while, but eventually Rosie realized Tré wasn’t going to change his mind. It was OK, she thought. He was just tired. Of course he was tired. She hadn’t thought about it. He was only getting a few hours of sleep every night and that must have been wearing on him. They’d take a couple of nights off from the clubs. They’d stay in tonight and tomorrow she had plans with her family. She would talk to Daddy about what he was paying Tré. She’d be able to convince him to loosen up the purse strings and pay Tré what he was worth. When Tré got the raise he’d be too happy about the money to be upset with her. And they could go back to being the fabulous couple they were.
Yes, this was a good plan.
(This was a TERRIBLE plan)
Rosie kissed Tré and said, “You’re right. Let’s stay in tonight. I’ll run out and get pizza and a movie from Blockbuster and we’ll just relax.”
By the time Rosie got back, Tré was sound asleep on the couch. Rosie put his head on her lap, had exactly one slice of pizza and watched Pretty Woman by herself. At the end of the movie, she kissed him gently awake and sent him off to bed.
When Tré woke up nine hours later, he felt better than he had in weeks. He went into the office early and finished all the tasks he’d laid out for himself. He wrote up a proposal making the case for incorporating a “green” philosophy into the rebrand. He designed three table tent promotional tools for Bulstrode to choose from. He drafted out some sample beer menus. And he was still able to be home by 6:30 with Chinese food and a copy of Dirty Dancing. But when he came home, there was a note instead of Rosie.
Having dinner with the family and then drinks with Fred. Don’t wait up! Love you!
Tré ate the Chinese food himself and watched the first half of the Bulls game before falling blissfully asleep on the couch.
Rosie had dressed carefully for night out with her father. She needed to look like Daddy’s little girl, but not so much that it was obvious. They were just going for pub grub at one of the Lightweight restaurants, so she didn’t need to look too fancy. She decided to just wear jeans and a pink sweater. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and wore just a little makeup. She’d eschewed her lovingly compiled assortment of fabulous footwear in favor of a pair of plain white keds. When she got to the restaurant, she gave her father a big hug.
“Rosie,” he said. “You look very nice tonight.”
Susan wasn’t at the family dinner. She’d been expected, but had been called to an emergency board meeting. Rosie decided that this could work to her advantage. She would slip into Susan’s role as family facilitator; steer conversation, be pleasant, make her father happy. She’d shine especially bright in filial attachment what with Fred so bummed out and quiet.
But Bulstrode seemed determined to be distracted and crabby. Rosie asked questions about the rebrand, discussed church politics, gently teased her brother for his layabout tendencies, but nothing seemed to improve his mood. So, over dessert, she decided just to go for broke.
“Daddy,” she said. “Don’t you think you could pay Tré a better salary? Things are so tight for him and he works so hard!”
Bulstrode, unsurprisingly, went apeshit.
He ranted and raved about “this generation,” who expected everything handed to them on a silver platter. He blustered and bloviated on his own self-made-ness. No one ever gave Bulstrode anything! He’d worked hard and socked his money away diligently. He hadn’t blown his earnings on bars and nightclubs.
“Actually, Dad,” said Rosie wryly. “That’s exactly what you did.”
This unwise, if technically true, statement sent Bulstrode off on a re-energized rant. He gestured angrily for the check, paid it, tipped poorly and stormed off.
“That went well,” said Fred, finishing his beer.
“Oh whatever,” she said. Rosie wasn’t particularly bothered by her father’s rants. She didn’t take them personally. “I’ll talk to Mom tomorrow. She’ll get him to come around. Whatever he’s paying Tré it’s not enough. And what’s the point of dating the boss’s daughter if she can’t grease the wheels for you a little.”
“Does Tré know you’re asking this,” said Fred.
“No,” said Rosie. “But he’ll be glad enough when the money starts rolling in.”
“Yeah,” said Fred, dubiously. “I don’t think you’ve thought this one through.”
“I have,” said Rosie. “Now, I got fifty bucks from Daddy before he went off the rails. Let’s go to The March and spend it.”
“I can’t go if Mary is there,” said Fred, miserably.
“It’s almost ten o’clock,” said Rosie. “She’s never there that late. It’s cool.”
When they got there, Gio was standing at the door, chatting with one of the regulars. Rosie asked him if Mary were still there.
“It’s all right, Fred,” said Gio. “She left right after her shift. You can go in. What happened anyway? Why is she so pissed at you?”
Fred just shook his head and said, “I need about 14 drinks before I get into that and, what’s worse, I need my sister to pay for them.”
As they walked in, Fred could hear the regular begin, “You mean you didn’t hear what happened…”
Fred just shook it off. He figured he had it coming.
Rosie bellied up to the bar and ordered a top shelf vodka and soda, with a splash of cranberry and a Bud for Fred. But before he accepted it, he shot an inquiring look at Caleb.
“It’s OK, Fred,” said Caleb, squeezing a lime into Rosie’s drink. “Sit down. I want to talk to you anyway.”
Caleb handed Rosie her drink and she wandered off to find someone more fun to talk to. Caleb put his hands down on the bar and looked Fred in the eye.
“I gave Mary the money she gave your bookie,” he said. “That means you’re into me now. I’m a little more flush than Mary so you can pay me back without feeling obliged to do anything stupid. When you get a job or, more likely, get back on your Dad’s good side, pony up. Understood?”
Fred nodded guiltily.
“Now, look,” said Caleb. “I was pretty hot that you brought that shit into my bar. But I don’t believe you did it on purpose. And I hope you’ve distanced yourself from that man now.” Fred nodded again.
“I’m not one to hold a grudge. It’s all right if you come in here when I’m working. I won’t be looking sideways at every $2 beer. But, you know, Mary isn’t cool with you. And I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that felicitous moment.”
Fred nodded, guiltily. And sipped his beer.
He sat alone at the bar while Rosie flitted and flirted around. Fred thought about how he was 24 years old and had been bailed out by a guy who worked for his father, how the girl he was in love with couldn’t stand him. How he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He settled deep into a morass of uselessness and depression, with no idea how to get out and no energy to look for one.