Chapter Twenty-Eight: Gas Station Blues


     Anthony: I went to a shrink today. He told me that I need medication. He said my irrational behavior comes from something called bipolar disorder. But I am NOT crazy. He prescribed me the meds, and I never went and picked them up. I'm NOT crazy. I'm fine. I'm happy, actually. I just started my new job, and it's going pretty well. The therapist told me that I needed to take my new meds and stay out of work for a few days while I get used to them. That I should rest. Well, doctor's orders. I have to call my boss today and tell him the news. I don't know how he'll take it. He isn't the nicest guy, and he doesn't take any BS. I'm kind of nervous. I also have a girlfriend, Cherise, who is amazing, and we live together. I haven't told her about my diagnosis yet, either. I think she'll understand, and she'll definitely stick with me through this. I'll be fine. I'm not crazy.

     Cherise: Anthony just called me. He told me he went to the psychiatrist today and he told him that he has bipolar disorder. I knew he was acting weird, but I never really saw the signs of the bipolar until recently. He would stay in bed for days at a time when he was unemployed, and I tried everything. I brought him food, magazines, movies to watch together, but he would just tell me to leave him alone. I started sleeping in the guest room because he didn't want me in bed with him. I thought this was just a phase. He's depressed, because he got laid off from his last job, and can't find a new one. But he found a job finally, and when he got home from work, he would go straight to bed without eating the dinner I made him and stay there until it was time for work the next morning.
     Then, all of a sudden, he brought home flowers one day. He burst in the door with a huge grin on his face and said, "Just because!" Then he attacked my face with kisses and started pulling out ingredients from the fridge, whistling the entire time he was making dinner. I asked him if something happened at work, and he said, "Just a change of attitude, I guess." Whatever had happened, I blamed this new Anthony on that. He was eating a lot, working out, taking me shopping, and cleaning the house every single day. When I woke up in the morning he had already gotten back from his early morning run, showered, cooked breakfast, and brought it to me in bed with a kiss on my cheek. It was amazing. A few days later, though, he was back in bed, curtains drawn, at two o'clock on a Sunday. "Baby?" I asked him, "Are you okay?"
    "Leave me alone." He said, and turned to face the wall. I sat on the edge of the bed.
    "Sweetheart, please talk to me." I put my hand on his back and he jumped as if he'd been slapped, turning to look at me.
    "I said, LEAVE ME ALONE!" he shouted, and shoved me off the bed. I quickly jumped up, left the room, slamming the door behind me, and went to the kitchen. I leaned on the counter and started to cry. I didn't know what to do. So I called his therapist. I told him what was going on, and he said I needed to get him to go there as soon as possible. I made an appointment and told him I would make sure he went. Then Anthony opened the door to the bedroom and peeked out at me. "Cherise?" he whispered, and I looked at him. He had panic on his face.
     "I think you should see someone, Anthony." I folded my arms, and he opened the door a little wider.
     "What, like a shrink?" he made a disgusted face, scrunching up his nose. "I'm not crazy, I don't need a shrink."
     "Yes, you do, Anthony." I walked closer to him and put my hand on his arm. He didn't flinch this time, but he tensed up just a little bit. "Please, do it for me." So he agreed.
     I don't know what to think about this, and I'm so nervous to see him tonight. I'm not sure I can go through this with another man. My last boyfriend turned out to be a nut case, and I had to get out of that relationship as quick as possible. And Anthony and I only moved in together because my lease was up on my apartment and it seemed like a logical thing to do at the time. It was totally spur of the moment, his idea, and I was hesitant about it at first. But then I warmed up to it when he redecorated his apartment exactly the way I told him he should. All this bipolar talk and depression talk is really scaring me. I think I know what I have to do when I see him tonight.
     I have to break up with him.

     Anthony: I'm about to go pick up Cherise from her work for our date. I'm going to take her to a nice restaurant downtown, we'll have a few drinks and some dinner, and we'll hopefully have a good conversation about what happened at the therapist today, including, but not limited to, her saying that she will stick by me through whatever. I know she loves me, and she wouldn't leave me over something like this. We'll be okay.

     Cherise: I'm getting really nervous. Anthony is picking me up soon, and we're going to dinner. I think I'm going to wait until after dinner to tell him I'm breaking up with him, when he drops me back off at my work, so then I can just go inside and not have to see him again. Then I can wait until he goes to work tomorrow and go back and get all my stuff. After that, hopefully I can find a place to stay, until I can get my own apartment.
     Anthony: I picked up Cherise at work, and we went to the restaurant. We got some drinks, and dinner, and we talked about literally anything but the therapist. She seemed to be avoiding talking about it. Finally, after dessert, I confronted her about it. "Why won't you talk about my news, Cherise?" I asked her, and she looked uncomfortable. "Don't you have something you want to say?"
     "No, Anthony, I don't. I'm just not sure what to say. I'm confused." She picked up her napkin and started folding it, playing with it, avoiding eye contact.
    "Confused about what?" I asked her, narrowing my eyes. "Whether you want to be with me?"
    Her eyes went wide. "No, Anthony, just confused about everything in general." She waved down the waiter. "Can we get the check, please?"
    "Why are you in such a rush to get out of here, Cherise?"
    "I just have to get back to work soon." She started putting on her coat, still not looking at me.
    I slammed my hand on the table. People around us started looking, with worried faces. "You're totally ditching me, aren't you, Cherise?" I raised my voice.
    "Anthony, this is not the time or place for this. Lower your voice, pay the check and let's go home. You're acting silly." She took her phone from her purse, checked the time, and put it back, for about the six-hundredth time since we had gotten there. Then the waiter showed up out of nowhere and put the check on the table. I threw down a wad of cash, slamming it onto the table, and stood up quickly, scraping my chair on the floor. All of a sudden I was angry.
    We walked out to the car, not saying a word. I started driving, and realized I had to stop for gas. So we stopped at a gas station. I asked her if she wanted anything, and she said no, but she had to use the restroom. So we both went inside. There was a police officer inside, standing at the magazine rack, flipping through a magazine. I walked up to the counter and told the clerk I needed to put thirty dollars on pump two. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cherise come out of the bathroom. She walked over to the magazine rack, and started thumbing through an issue of Us Weekly. The cop looked up, and smiled at her. She smiled back, and I swore I heard them say something sexual to each other. All of a sudden, before I knew it I was lunging at the cop and tackling him, pulling his gun from the holster. We both flew onto the floor, and I quickly jumped up, pointing the gun at him. "Don't move!" I yelled, and I looked at Cherise. She looked terrified. She screamed at me to drop the gun, and went to help the police officer up off the floor. All of a sudden my finger was pulling the trigger, and I shot the cop right in the chest. Cherise screamed a blood-curdling scream. The clerk shouted at me to drop the weapon or he was calling the police, so I pointed the gun at him and told him to shut up and get on the ground. He did, and I went over to the door and locked it. "Nobody, and I mean nobody leaves this place until Cherise promises not to leave me!" I screamed, and that's how I ended up taking my girlfriend and a convenience store clerk hostage.

     Cherise: All my life, I've been told I'm too loving, too trusting, and now I know why. I have psycho boyfriend after psycho boyfriend, and none of them ever end up working out. I can't for the life of me remember what even first attracted me to Anthony. He was an unemployed college dropout who stayed up until six in the morning playing online poker, and slept in until three in the afternoon. I met him at a wedding of a mutual friend, and we hit it off immediately. He was handsome, charming, a good dancer, and really funny. Plus I really like a man in a suit. He didn't always act this way; he was fun, spontaneous and always knew how to make me laugh. He was never jealous, or crazy, or depressed. He didn't start acting like this until about eight months into the relationship, after I had already moved all of my stuff into his apartment. I don't know what triggered it. Maybe he was just hiding it the whole time, I don't know. But now I'm really thinking about it, trying to figure it out, as I sit on the floor of a gas station slash convenience store, leaning against a rack full of Ho-hos and Twinkies, looking at my soon to be ex-boyfriend who is pointing a gun at me. He has a wild look in his eyes, and he already killed a cop. I'm not sure I'm going to make it out alive. I start to hear sirens, and I say, "Anthony, please, let's just get out of here. Let's go home. Please. You're scaring me." I see his face soften a little, but he's still pointing the gun at me. From outside, I hear, "Sir, this is the police. Drop the weapon now, and come out with your hands up." Anthony whips his head towards the door, and then back at me, and then back at the door again.
     "Anthony, come on, please," I say, standing up, reaching out to him. He yells at me not to come any closer.
     "I don't want to have to shoot you, baby," he says. Then all of a sudden, the store clerk runs out from behind the counter and makes a beeline for the door. Anthony whirls around and all of a sudden he's pulling the trigger. I see the bullet whiz through the air across the store and hits the clerk right in the back, making him fall to his knees. Then he slumps to the ground, and I'm not sure if he's dead or not. I know the police officer is dead. He is laying there, blood all around him. My boyfriend has just killed two men, and now he wants to kill me if I don't tell him that I will stay with him forever and have his babies. I'm not sure what to do, and I'm afraid if I make the wrong move, I'm going to die.
     "Please, sweetheart," I say sweetly, "Put the gun down, it's been hours. We're both tired. Let's just go home, and we can watch a movie or something. It'll all be okay. I promise, baby, I'm not going to leave you. I'll be here for you, every step of the way." 
     Anthony looks at me, and lowers the gun to his side. "Really, Cherise? That's all I've wanted to hear."
    "Sir, this is the police! I'm not going to ask you again, if you don't drop the weapon and come out with your hands up, we WILL come in and get you!"
     "Ignore them, baby, but put the gun down and we can both go home, okay?" He puts the gun down on the floor and I go to hug him, but then the doors burst open and the police swarm the place. One of them grabs me, and starts to pull me out of the store, and I look over my shoulder to see Anthony being thrown to the floor, screaming and writhing around, his face being smashed into the tile. "Cherise! Help me!" he's screaming, and I start to cry. I'm whisked away to an ambulance, and I see them taking Anthony, kicking and screaming, and putting him in the back of a police cruiser. I tell the paramedics and the cops repeatedly that I'm fine, that I don't need to go to the hospital, I just want to go home. The cops tell me I can't go until I answer questions and make a statement. I tell them everything that happened, and finally they take me home. I walk in the door, seeing all of Anthony's stuff laying around, as usual, and I just take everything and throw it into a big pile on the floor. Then I pack it all into boxes, and put the boxes outside the door in the hallway. I lock all four locks on the door, and sit down on the couch. This is my life. I've fallen in love with a nutcase, once again. I was taken hostage. This is a new one to tell the folks at Christmas. Here's to the next one.



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