Going to the game would be a bad idea. I didn’t have any doubt about it. I’d be surrounded by probably hundreds of people, and any of them might have seen something about me on social media. Other than the comments on my wall, I couldn’t even guess what Chastaine, Maryellen, and my former friends back home might have put online about me. For all I knew, they’d started a “Jim Frankel is a rapist” page and put my picture all over it.
But part of me wanted to be around other people. Being alone had never been my thing. I’d acted like a complete asshole to a lot of people from elementary school on up, but they’d still wanted to hang out with me. Maybe only so I wouldn’t fight with them. I didn’t know, but I’d had people who had at least pretended to be my friends.
I wanted to apologize to most of them. Sometimes they’d deserved a good hard smack, or whatever I’d done to them, but a lot of times they hadn’t. I’d gone over the edge because the wrong person said the wrong thing.
I’d been pretty bad even before I hurt Chastaine and Maryellen. No one had done anything about it, though. School detentions or getting smacked around by my dad or stepfather. That was about it. No one told me to knock it off or tried to find out what I was so pissed about all the time. Not that I would have been able to tell them if they’d asked.
Delia walked through the curtain. “Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Eggleston were in a hurry today,” she said. “So they only talked off half an ear.”
I faked a laugh, because I knew she’d meant it as a joke.
“Nice try,” she said. “Anyway, when Manny brought up the game, you looked like someone asked whether you wanted to be shot in the head or stabbed in the chest. What’s going on? I thought you wanted to make some friends around here.”
“I do. I guess.” I couldn’t explain why hiding was safer than being friends with anyone.
“You guess?” She raised her eyebrows. “Jim, I’m getting worried about you. You aren’t getting into any trouble here, but you never leave the house and barely leave the shop unless you’re with me. I’m surprised you even went for a walk the other day.”
“You said I had to,” I reminded her.
“Because I’m worried about you,” she snapped. “For crying out loud, kid, do you think I have fun seeing you moping around all the time? You’ve had a pile of crap dumped on you. Some of it was your own doing. Some wasn’t. I’ve said this before. Point is, if you stay buried under it for the rest of your life, you aren’t going to have a life. You’re just going to exist.”
I clenched my jaw and fists and stared down at the counter so I wouldn’t go off on her. Yeah, I had screwed up my own life. I didn’t need her throwing it in my face.
No one else would care if I had a life. Most people would probably say I should stay under the “pile of crap.” I was okay with that. I couldn’t take back what I’d done, and I couldn’t make things better for anyone. But I could make sure I got what I deserved. If that meant never having friends again, I would deal with it.