I remember when I was a kid my grandfather let out a big fart in public. He didn’t apologize, didn’t shrug, didn’t even acknowledge that it had happened. He just didn’t care. I never understood that as a kid. I did now. Standing there in front of my exwifes friends, her boyfriend and some of his family, I just did not care.
“You’re a fucking dumbass Julie, you know that!”
It’d been a while since I’d gotten that mad. A couple years ago I beat up an exgirlfriend’s boyfriend. I barely remember the fight. I was madder than that now. His name had also been Ronnie.
“Don’t you use that kind of language around me.” I think she was shocked. She hadn’t seen me this incensed in over a decade at least. But what did she expect? I show up to a rainy park on the other side of town to attend my childrens birthday party and the first thing she tells me is she’s going to go pick up her deranged brother, Ronnie.
“I’ll say whatever the fuck I want! Are you seriously going to go get your brother who you swore you’d never speak to again and who just got out of a fucking insane asylum?”
At that point exwife lady paused. Her eyes quickly darted over the small crowd huddled beneath the wet pavilion.
“You didn’t have to bring up the asylum, Monte. That was private.”
There were so many things I could have said but didn’t. Anger clouded my brain to the point where I could not think.
“He’s nuts! I don’t want him around my kids!”
“Well he’s my brother and I’m going to go get him.”
“Fine! Then I’m leaving!”
I turned to leave. My pregnant girlfriend who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks was there. We were having problems and this was neutral ground. I’d really wanted to talk to her. I wanted an excuse to be around her. And my sister hadn’t gotten there yet. She had made the cake. Amy made the best confectionary treats in the whole world. I wasn’t leaving without some fucking cake.
“I’m not going anywhere!”
I sat down and seethed for the next fifteen minutes. No one spoke to me. They all went back to their conversations as if nothing had happened. I’m the ex-husband after all. Being an asshole is a given.
Later my girlfriend (who currently kind of hates me too) told me I should give Ronnie a chance. I almost laughed. She didn’t know Ronnie. None of them did. It had been that long since Julie had seen him. She’d gotten a whole new life with new friends since they’re last encounter.
Ronnies got a peculiar charisma. An odd kind of charm that’s difficult to define. It helps to disguise the fact that he’s mad. In fact, charm is probably the only thing that has gotten him through life. He hasn’t ever really worked…ever. His longest job was a few months as a reserve cop in a small town. And then they only paid him when they really really needed help. They eventually fired him for macing a woman in the face when she didn’t follow his traffic directions during a festival. That is the highlight of his work career. He’s failed the psychological examination at a few other police agencies across the state. And these were desperate hick towns who were willing to do just about anything to get more officers. From then on he bounced from job to job only lasting a few days generally. How did he survive? His wife worked. Other people tend to feel sorry for him and help him out. That kind of stuff. He’s got a degree in criminal justice and math. To my knowledge his wife doesn’t have any sort of degree.
Ronnie is now in his mid thirties. He’s got a child or two. I don’t know why it took Daniel so long to leave him, but she finally did. Maybe it’s because he alienated her from her family and forbade her from speaking to them. It’s hard to leave when you have no place to go. But just recently she did finally get fed up. We all knew it would happen eventually. Ronnie apparently wrote some letter declaring war on the United States (he’s half Iranian, but has never been to Iran). She had him committed and used the opportunity to pack up and leave.
He spent a few weeks in the nut house before they let him go. So now he and Julie have renewed their relationship. He’s not back in her life because he’s changed or anything. He’s back because he’s apparently crazier than ever and has no one else to turn to anymore! Julie always forgives him. She’s a woman, she can’t help it. It’s always the same story though. They’ve done this dance too many times to count. They get along for a time until he starts to go nuts. But my fear is that he gets more and more violent every time. For their last fight he physically attacked Julie and her father (they ended up locking him in the garage). When I last knew him he carried a gun everywhere he went, even to religious meetings. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t brought one to my kids party (or at least a knife or something). I’m afraid of this dude, he’s unstable. I don’t want him around my kids. The fact that Julie invited him to the party out of the blue was just fucking unbelievable. I think losing my shit was ok given those circumstances.
Ronnie was once my best friend. We hung out all the time. Roomed together once or twice. When we were young I thought it was cool that he was quirky. I figured he’d grow out of it. He never did. He only got worse. He suffers from paranoid delusions. People were always following him, watching him. Once he put some college kids in the hospital when he ran a red light. He was convinced someone was following him and he was trying to get away. He used to tail ‘suspicious’ people all over town. Once when we were living on the second floor of an apartment I helped him repel out of the back window with an extension cord because someone in another building was watching him. Like I said, it’s funny when you’re young. It starts to get old really quick though. In his early twenties he deflowered a 14 year old girl and then assaulted her father in the mans own house. There are lots and lots of stories like that. But they all end the same. He’s crazy.
Me and Julie had difficulties after our divorce, but we found a way to get along. We have a good relationship now. Ronnie hated me when we broke up. He was instrumental in making all of our mutual friends hate me as well. There were actually three sides to the divorce, mine, Julie’s and Ronnies. Every time he visited Julie he reassured my youngest daughter that yes, he was going to have me thrown in jail one day, at which point she would sob.
I didn’t throw a fit when he arrived at the party. I mostly ignored him. Ate my cake and then left. It was a homemade double layer cookie cake with toasted marshmallows on top. As I watched my diabetic ex-wife shovel it down I nodded to myself. Yes, she’s a fucking dumbass. All her new friends out there who’ve never met Ronnie be warned. One day he’s going to start shooting people. Thank god I have spare kids.