The end of my shift was rapidly approaching, and anxious to get away from the bar, I finished up the sidework I had to do before I left for the day. I was lost in my own thoughts, filling the salt and pepper shakers, and planning my evening. The cool air of September made it perfect to open the windows and let the breeze blow through. The idea of solitude soothed me. I’d decided to pour myself a cocktail and settle down with the new book I’d picked up from the library. Though I didn’t hang with the vampire crowd anymore, my interest had been piqued by a vampire with a shoe fetish named Betsy. It seemed like lighthearted fun.
I saw Andrea Norr, the server we’d hired back in late June when Holly cut back her hours in preparation for her wedding, bopping through the door. Tonight she had on a flowing black Stevie Nicks skirt and short-sleeved Merlotte’s t-shirt. The feisty, short-haired chatty Cathy was real thin and bony, but the men just about fell over themselves trying to catch her attention.
“Hey Sooks! How’d it go today?” She asked as I heard her open her locker and assumed she was tying on her apron.
“Good. Not too busy, not to slow. Everything’s good to go, whenever you’re ready,” I said as I headed towards the room where our lockers were. It was one of the first things I did when Sam made me part-owner of the bar. It was nice not to have to carry my apron and shoes home with me every night, not to mention having somewhere to store my purse while I was working.
“Be right there.” Andrea said, and I could hear her locker close. My mind was already halfway home, which explains why I didn’t notice that the door to the bar had opened and someone had walked in.
“Sookie Stackhouse!” I heard the irate voice of a woman coming from behind me. I knew that voice. I swiveled around to see Amelia Broadway, my one-time roommate and friend, standing arms folded over her chest, obviously angry about something. I was just about to focus on the thoughts in her mind, trying to get a heads up on what the problem was, when she stopped me.
“Don’t you dare. You and I are going to have a conversation and I won’t have you cheating so you can worm your way out of it.” She stomped over to me, blocking me from her mind and seething venom. “Who the hell do you think you are? I know I made some mistakes along the way, but I never thought you’d do something like this.”
“Amelia, hon, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. If you want to come back into the office, we can discuss whatever it is.” I backed up slowly, trying to draw her away from the few customers who sat nursing their beers.
“Why am I not surprised? The last time I saw you I knew you’d changed, but I thought it was just the influence of Eric. Evidently I was wrong. You really are just a selfish twat who couldn’t possibly be concerned with anyone besides herself. God. I can’t believe I thought we were friends.” She drew closer until we were standing about a foot apart. I tried to put some distance between us, but she wasn’t having any of it. For every step I took backwards, she took one forward until I was back up against the bar.
“Ame, listen. Whatever it is, we can work this out. Come sit down. Do you want a beer or soda or something?” I was about to lose my temper. I was not selfish, and had she really called me a twat? But I needed to calm her down before the happy hour crowd started trickling in. Luckily it was a Monday, so we wouldn’t be too busy, but still.
Terry Bellefleur, who was on duty in the kitchen, popped his head through the half window to ask, “You alright out there Sookie?” He was a sweet guy, though he didn’t take confrontation very well.
“I’m okay Terry, thanks though,” I called over my shoulder, not wanting to take my eyes off of Amelia for even a fraction of a second. I didn’t want him to get upset. He had a wife and family now, and I didn’t want to have to worry about what would happen if he was pushed too far.
“You need to calm down Amelia, you’re making a scene.” I held my hands up in an attempt to ward off any further unpleasantness.
“Oh and I’m sure that’s all that you’re worried about, huh? There’s no way that the great Sookie Stackhouse could do any wrong. But I’m here to tell you, it’s over. You are going to come clean to me, or I’m going to go to the police and tell them everything I know.” She was still angry, but her voice had dropped down to a whisper that was threaded with hostility.
What was she talking about? She was the one who betrayed our friendship, not the other way around. I was about to tell her so when her fist came flying towards my face and connected with my jaw. Because she was blocking my telepathy, I hadn’t even had a chance to pick it up from her brain, so I was taken completely unaware and thrown back into a bar stool that clattered to the floor noisily. What the heck is going on?
“Fine. Now we can go into the office,” she said, stalking towards the back and shaking her fist in pain. I followed behind her after grabbing a bar towel, filling it with ice, and holding it to my face. Terry had started coming out from behind the grill and I waved him off. Whatever was going on I needed to deal with this and I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to be nice about it. I made it back into the office and slammed the door behind me, childish I know, but I was upset and not thinking clearly.
“Alright Amelia, are you going to tell me what this is about or are you just going to hit me again?” I walked around behind the desk to put some space between us. She sagged into the chair in front with an air of defeat and started crying.
“Sookie, we been friends a while now, right?” I nodded and hoped that her anger was starting to dissipate. She continued, “What did you do with my dad? Just tell me, I need to know because I can’t take this anymore. There are cops coming and going all the time, blaming me for his disappearance. They think I killed him. I did some investigating of my own, but finally had to go to Fangtasia to get information from Pam. She told me to talk to you.”
Oh crap, that. What could I say? I’d sent her father with Pam and Karin for their own special brand of punishment, but at the time I hadn’t even thought of how she might feel. Had I really forgotten to tell her about it? What kind of friend was I?
“Amelia, I’m real sorry. I am. He was part of the plot to kill me. I found him in the hidey hole in my house and I didn’t think I just gave him to Pam and Karin to take care of.” It really sounded bad when I said it out loud, but, in my defense, I’d had a lot going on at the time.
“And you didn’t think to talk to me? He was my dad Sookie, whether good or bad. I would think that you of all people would understand that. You have to know that they would kill him. We could have taken him to the police. At the very least I should have been in on the decision. You should have talked to me.” She seemed so very sad and hurt, not that I could blame her.
“You’re right Ame. I know I’ve been a really bad friend and there’s nothing I can do to make it up to you.” The words were so inadequate and worse than that, I really hadn’t even thought about what I’d done. I was too busy living my normal, boring life. Too busy to help ease my friend’s pain, and she was my friend, despite everything that had gone on between the two of us.
“Sookie there isn’t anything you can do, except stay the hell away from me.” She stood and shook her shoulders out until she held her head up and looked me square in the eye. “We’re done. I felt like there was something that had changed in you the last time I was here, but now…well now there’s nothing I think that can salvage our friendship. I got Bob and the baby coming now. I don’t need friends who would betray me like this. I appreciate you coming clean to me, and I won’t say anything to the police, but I can’t be around someone like you. Goodbye Sookie. Have a nice life.”
She turned and started to walk out the door, but not before she took one last parting shot. “You know, I think you need to think long and hard about the person you’ve become. You can blame it on the things that happen to you, but you control your reaction. I hope someday you figure that out.” And with that, my friend walked out of my life.
She was right: I had no excuse. I’d been so wrapped up in being poor, put-upon Sookie that I hadn’t been thinking about anyone but myself. I sat in Sam’s swivel chair and it felt like the weight of the world had come crashing down around me. I had worked so hard to have a normal life and hadn’t even considered the consequences. The tears started and I let my head fall onto my arms, my back shaking with the guilt I hadn’t realized I’d been carrying. It started a chain reaction and all of sudden I realized something else. If I had been so wrong in my treatment of Amelia and her dad, what else might I have been wrong about?
I let the sobs overtake me and I must have sat there for an hour before I heard a knock on the door. It opened without a word from me, and as I was wiping the tears from my eyes, I looked up to see Sam standing in the doorway. He watched in silence as I stood up and gathered my things.
“Sam, I can’t deal right now. I need to go home and be alone.” I wasn’t ready to admit anything to him. I didn’t even really understand the extent of my mistakes yet, but I realized I couldn’t just lay it all on my boyfriend like I had in the past. Though he would try to help as best he could, he would forgive me and tell me I’d only done what I thought was best. But I knew it wasn’t true and once I admitted that I knew there was more to come.
“Just call me when you get home then so I know you’re safe.” Sam said as I passed by him without allowing myself even the smallest comfort.
“Yeah, of course. G’night Sam.” I left and got into my car finally understanding that I needed to take a good hard look at myself. I knew I probably wouldn’t like what I saw. I couldn’t blame it on anyone else anymore. There was no one left to blame. As my Gram would say, I made this bed, and I would have to deal with the consequences.