We drove to the mall in Century City for lunch. I played Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” the whole way, rewinding the tape each time the song ended.
“Why do you keep playing that?” Jody asked.
“I don’t know. I like it.”
“Well stop it. Are you sick? You don’t look too good.”
“I’m fine. Just a headache.”
“I think it’s called a hangover,” she said. “Why did you have to drink so much?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Bored I guess.”
I didn’t know what to do. In the last 12 hours my life had been completely upturned. Everything I thought I knew about myself was a lie. Everything I thought I knew about Jody was a lie. I’d followed her all the way across country, I’d given up art school for her. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for her, and it was all a lie.
Now I was a liar, too. I read her journal, page after page of information that I had no business knowing — intimate details that I didn’t want to know. How could I tell her that I knew everything without also confessing that I violated her trust? Rather than revealing myself as a snoop I lied by omission. I picked at my salad and quietly listened to her small talk, the forks and glasses clanging in my tequila-pickled brain.
“Are you even listening to me?” Jody said.
“Yeah, you were talking about how busy it was at the Whisky last night,” I said.
“We were slammed. I made a lot in tips, though.”
She was an amazing actress. Nothing in her conversation betrayed the truth that she wasn’t working the previous night. Did she even work at the Whisky? I didn’t know what to believe anymore.
“So what did you do?” she asked.
“Oh, hung around the apartment, wrote a little bit.”
“You’re such a good writer,” she said, and I knew that I wasn’t.
We’d been together since we were 19 years old. Maybe she just needed some space. Was there anything wrong with a young woman enjoying life? Maybe this was all a mistake. Maybe the best thing to do was to keep my mouth shut, eat my lunch, and let her make small talk.
I didn’t know anything anymore, except that my head hurt and I wasn’t hungry.