I know you are but what am I?
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
The fallout from Farebrother’s story was swift and sudden. Bulstrode and Susan made no statement, offered no rebuttals or defenses. Farebrother’s story was appropriately sourced, the information it contained incontrovertible. Gossip spread through L.G.E. like wildfire. Brooke’s abandonment of her rich old boyfriend made a new kind of sense now that his nephew was a rich young man. And Tré was obviously wrapped up in it somehow. He was the one who had waltzed in here and changed everything. He was Bully’s boy.
Bulstrode’s name was withdrawn for consideration as an elder at their church. He and Susan quit attending services. Susan began RSVP-ing regrets to social engagements. She found she didn’t really mind. She knew Bulstrode better than anyone and loved him anyhow. All things being equal, she was fine to retrench in their beautiful home, watching Oprah and eating peanut butter on crackers.
Bulstrode and Will came to an agreement quickly. Mary handled the legalities. There’d been a healthy settlement from Bulstrode and the Gold Coast flat had been signed over entirely to Teddy. Will emerged from the situation financially secure and free of Teddy’s influence. He should have been happy.
But he was maybe a little less unhappy than Tré.
Bulstrode told Tré that he was abandoning the rebrand and offered him a job as an assistant manager at one of the bars or restaurants. But Tré declined. Tré knew his reputation as Bully’s Boy. He’d be unwelcome at any of the bars.
Besides, he wanted to unhitch his wagon from Bulstrode’s falling star as quickly as possible. Just a week ago, it seemed hard to believe, he’d been the man at the forefront of exciting changes, bold new initiatives. And now he idled, indebted to a failed man. Worse than that, indebted to a man who’d built his whole reputation on a lie and his whole business on a theft. Tré wanted out of this onerous, gross relationship.
Bulstrode could have forgiven Tré’s debt. But he didn’t. So, Tré emptied out his bank account the day he left L.G.E. He walked out the door knowing that creditors would begin calling any day now again. He was back in the bad straights. And they got even more depressing when he got home to find a note from Rosie saying only,
I’m not coming back, Tré. You can still come with me when I leave. I love you but I can’t be here anymore. There’s nothing here.
She had a point. But he still didn’t want to go. He found $20 in a pair of jeans. He took it to The March, his last thread of optimism hinging on finding some solidarity on a barstool.
Will was drinking alone at The March when Tré got there. So he joined him. Why not? They were equally notorious. Will was the guy who had Bulstrode by the balls. And Tré was the guy Bulstrode had by the balls. The regulars in the corner had gossiped themselves silly since the story came out.
When word got out that the two were sitting at the bar together, staff from Scottie’s came by. Neither
Will nor Tré cared. They were too depressed to care.
“How you doing, man,” said Will, when Tré joined him at the bar.
“Fucked,” said Tré. “You?”
“I’m kind of drunk,” said Will. “Fucked too. And I like Brooke.”
“Everyone knows you like Brooke,” said Tré, accepting a Budweiser and an expression of reluctant pity from Caleb. “Well, everyone but Brooke.”
“I probably love her,” said Will.
“You probably do,” said Tré.
“Let’s do shots,” said Will.
“Only if you’re buying,” said Tré. “I’m busted.”
“I’m buying,” said Will. “I have money now.”
They did two shots of Jagermeister.
“Rosie broke up with me,” said Tré.
“Are you sure,” asked Will.
“What the fuck does that mean,” said Tré. “Of course I’m sure.”
“Sorry,” said Will. “You guys just seemed already broken up.”
“Oh,” said Tré. “Yeah, I guess I could see that.”
“Two more, Caleb,” said Will.
They did the shots.
“I could go with her to New York,” said Tré. “She’d like that. But I don’t want to. And I don’t have any money. I quit my job.”
“Rosie’s moving to New York?” asked Will.
“She’s doing this show at Lobo next weekend,” said Tré. “You should go. If she does well, she expects to get offered a job at Lobo New York. And then she expects to end up on MTV”
“Fuck. She'd be great on MTV” said Will.
"I know," said Tre.
"Why don't you go with her?" asked Will.
“I’m not running away with my tail between my legs,” said Tré. “I’m not. Goddammit! I did good fucking work here. It’s not fair that it all got shit on because Bulstrode is a son of a bitch. I’m not running away.”
“All right, all right,” said Will, signaling for more shots. “But, you know, it sounds like you’re the one breaking up with her.”
“It’s complicated,” said Tré. “She’s going and I’m not. I’m not. But, fuck it, man. I hear the way people talk about me. They think I’m just some charity case carrying Bulstrode’s shit. If I run away from that, then they win. That’s who I am.”
“Take it easy, Tré,” said Will. “I don’t think people think that.”
“Of course they fucking do,” said Tré. “Open your ears. They talk the same kind of shit about you. Well, about you and Brooke anyway.”
“What do you hear?” said Will.
“They’re say that Brooke left Teddy when you got money.”
“That’s bullshit, you know,” said Will, appalled. “Brooke isn’t like that at all. But if she gets with me, then people will keep on saying that shit about us.”
“I know,” said Tré. “Brooke is cool. I mean, it’s weird she was with your uncle or whatever. But I know her. She’s cool… Brooke is cool but people suck. Hard. If you want to be with her, you should just tell her and fuck what people think.”
“I can’t,” said Will. “It’s not fair to her.”
“You’re an idiot, Will,” said Tré.
“I know,” said Will.
The two sat at the bar drinking shots of Jagermeister until they were so drunk Caleb cut them off. Tré went back to Will’s apartment with him and passed out on the floor. Will passed out in the bathroom after violently throwing up.
They woke up the next morning miserable and hungover. But also a little better. It’s easier to be unhappy when you have someone to be unhappy with.
They went out for breakfast. On Will.