And then – Sam fell asleep.
I knew how he felt. I knew how his heart and soul and spleen were being frappéd and deep fried and served up to him like a last meal. I knew because I knew how I felt when Zachariah sleazed with the memory of our Mom in heaven. Never mind the rage, or the promises-to-self of utter revenge, there would always be that crap-stain of disgust tacked onto the memory, any memory, of her.
Maybe Brady-used-to-be was lying. Demons lie after all, and desecrating Sam's memories of Jess was one rock solid way of amping up all that anger he carried inside. But even if he was lying, unless there was some way of indisputably proving that to Sam, all of his memories of Jess would feel dirty. The year and a half of nearly normal he had with her would be poisoned with the thought that even then yellow eyes had his putrid claws tangled into every moment they spent together. The first time they kissed, the last time they made love, every shining moment was forever tainted.
So I wasn't surprised at all when I found Sam sitting in the dark in the middle of the room in the middle of the night, tossing back shots of whiskey like there was a fire in his gut that he was trying to put out.
I turned on the lamp and pulled up a chair across the table from him.
"Is it helping?" I asked.
"Y'know what's helping?" He asked back between swallows. "Remembering everything I hated about her."
Right, he hated Jess.
His hands were steady, his words weren't slurred, he was perfectly sober - and still perfectly snockered.
"All right, I'll bite. What did you hate about Jess?"
"She was perfect. She was so friggin' perfect. Who the hell is that friggin' perfect? Hunh? Tell me that." He tossed back another shot. "Nobody's friggin' that friggin' perfect."
Our 'word of the day' was apparently 'friggin''
"What was the most perfect thing about her?"
He snorted in contempt, dispatched a shot and poured another. Then his hands shook and he scrubbed the heel of his hand under his nose.
"She loved me."
Good, I'm glad we got that cleared up.
"And what was the least perfect thing about her?"
"Oh GOD…" He said it so immediately and so emphatically I could only wonder if she had bad breath or sweaty feet or lizard scales. "The first time I stayed over at her place? And I left the toilet seat up? God, you'd think I'd spit in babies food or something. She got so friggin' mad at me and asked, 'how hard is it to put a toilet seat down?' and I said, 'you tell me, 'cause you're the one doesn't seem to friggin' know how to do it...'"
Sam was so serious, and so pissed, and so cold drunk, it was all I could do to keep a straight face at his indignation. And he wasn't done yet.
"I mean – geesh – really. How hard is it? I never got mad at her for leaving the toilet seat down, did I? Nooo." He poured another shot but didn't drink it. "Said she was sorry later for getting so mad at me. Said she had 'PMS'." He drank his shot. "You know what PMS stands for? Poke me in the eye with a stick', that's what it friggin' stands for. Gee friggin' whiz, I couldn't do anything right when she was like that. Leave the toilet seat up, leave a towel on the floor, forget to say 'thank you' when she made me dinner I didn't really like – and she'd act like – like -."
"Like you spit in babies food?"
"EXACTLY!" He said it like I'd come up with it all on my own and he hadn't just said it. "You don't know how many friggin' times I thought about dousing her with holy water just to be sure. Gee friggin' whiz."
When he poured another shot, I reached across the table and pulled the bottle and glass away from him. And he let me.
"And was the most perfect thing about her?" I asked again. Let's get back to that topic.
"She loved me." He answered again. "No matter what, she loved me. She made me think I could do anything…" I could see the tears building up in his eyes. "I hate knowing that's what got her killed. I'm sorry I ever met her, because that's what got her killed."
He reached for the whiskey and, since I had no good answer ready for him about why Jessica died, I let him take it. Hell, let him finish the whole bottle.
After he'd downed a couple more shots though, I had an answer for him.
"Hmmmmm?" His eyes were squinty now, his voice was slow and low. Drunk was finally catching up to him.
"Jess loved you."
"More than just being in love with you, she loved you."
"Yyyeah – sssaid that. Ssshhe love me."
"Then she wasn't sorry she met you. No matter what happens, how things turn out, no matter how bad things get, when you love somebody, you're never sorry you were part of their life or that they were part of yours. Never mind how you met – she loved you, and that wasn't a fabrication or a manipulation. That was real, 'cause nothing gets through love that strong."
He thought about it. He took another drink. Then he capped the bottle and pushed it away from himself. Then he nodded.
And then he smiled.
"All right, then. What d'you say we try getting some more sleep?"
He lopsided himself back to his bed, pretty much literally crashing onto the mattress and pillows. He was going to be sooooooooo wasted in the morning.
"I loved her, too…" He said.
And then - he fell asleep.