Joseph

I had always had this fantasy of moving to Austin as a teenager. I was in a lot of punk Livejournal groups and these older women in their 20s were the closest thing I had to role models. A group of them lived in Austin plus I went to Austin all the time as an early teen to go thrifting with my mom. It was a completely different world outside my own. When I dropped out of school at 16, I forged my transcripts using Windows Paint. Then I took the ACTs and did semi well. Well enough to get into this private university in Austin called Concordia University in downtown Austin. After I had arrived though, I realized how in over my head I was. I knew nothing of writing in MLA format, citing references, factual non opinion pieces... and I didn’t know how to do anything but party. I ran out of my small savings from working overnights at Waffle House then dropped out and moved back home defeated. I wasn’t giving up the dream of moving to Austin though. 

5 years later, after a rift with my current roommates, I decided to move back and try again. I was on a high of having lots of friends and doing well financially. I was working and partying every night and making around 700 a week. Which was a ton compared to everyone else I knew at the time. A lot of what I had though, work wise, was due to my friends and family giving me jobs. So I was a little inflated beyond my actual networking abilities. I was young and fearless though so I put it into motion and went on a job interview at a Regis salon and found an apartment. Last minute though, I had a friend reach out saying she really needed to get out of an abusive relationship and wanted to move to Austin with me. This seemed like a win win to me, I’d have a friend in Austin to hang out with and she really needed support to leave. Well call this friend Dee. She said she was going to stay with friends in Austin until I got there a week later. I changed the apartment from a one bedroom to a 2/2 and started tying up loose ends. I was the happiest I’d ever been. I felt like Austin was a magical place and I was finally in the next step of my master life plan.

Dee was an insanely beautiful woman with long thick dark brown hair, almond shaped dark brown eyes, and a Peruvian tan. She was a self described free spirit and a secured sense of self. Small and petite, men were immediately attracted to her anywhere we’d go. Of course though I had never lived with her and never really saw her with a boyfriend. It’d always be us going out and having fun.  

The day finally came for us to move into this 1980s built apartment off of Riverside. I had brought my mom and a truck full of furniture and my car full of clothes and small things. When we arrived on a regular Monday in October the apartments were closed for the day. On my move in day. I tried calling emergency maintenance to no avail. My mom started flipping out on me saying she was just going to dump my stuff and leave. Typical of my mom in the face of stress. So I knew which apartment was ours because we had already signed the paperwork a couple weeks prior putting us all on the lease. So I walked to the back of the apartment with Dee and wrapped my hand in a shirt. I punched out a back window and cleaned the glass away and had Diana crawl in and unlock the doors. We were in. 

After moving everything in, my mom left back to her home in Royse City and she called a guy friend of hers and we replaced the window. The next day, I went to the office and got our keys and no one was the wiser. It wasn’t the best start to our new lives but I considered it hilarious. I took a week off before I started my job just to go out and meet people and get a feel for the city. In that time, Dee had a guest come over one day. It was none other than her abusive boyfriend, Ray. She told me he had promised to be better and it really wasn’t that bad and a big misunderstanding. Dee wanted him to live with us and we’d spilt the rent 3 ways. See, I knew at this point that I could either say yes or I could say no and he’d still be there but we wouldn’t be splitting the rent. I had serious doubts about her claims that anything would be any different for them as well, but I was kind of cornered in not having any say about it realistically. In that first week, I had started hanging out with an old ex Dumplin, as he goes by. He had introduced me to a whole group of guys super similar to the guys I’d hang out with in Dallas... but worse. Much worse. Kind of like the loser party guys that have no respect for women and think being absolute assholes with no morals is the coolest. But they had killer parties. I had started hanging out more with this older guy Seth. I immediately felt protected by his demeanor and getting me into cool parties. Seth would tell me where to go what to do. Kind of fatherly, I guess. But it quickly turned to controlling and name calling and yelling. With the stress of moving and my roommate suddenly taking a turn in the direction in which I thought our time in Austin would be, I clinged to him as a friend. At the same time though, I was getting more scared of his behavior and that I’d quickly become more isolated by his controlling behavior. He’d be quick to tell me how I wasn’t cool enough or skinny enough or how I came across as absolutely desperate around new people.  

One day I came home to Ray, Dee, and a friend of theirs in the living room watching TV. It was like 11am and I asked if everyone wanted to play a drinking game that I loved. I put on an It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia dvd and explained the rules to the game. As it went along they started adding rules as well. The friend proclaimed how cool and chill I was. Which was a great contrast as how I was being treated by Seth and his friends. This friend was about 5’7-8ish with chiseled cheekbones, large pillowy lips, and sad deep eyes. He wasn’t beautiful and not just that, he had mannerisms that I found endearing. He was older but didn’t seem old in any of the telling ways. His head was shaved and he work a black zip up hoodie with a leather jacket over it. But Dee told me he had a girlfriend. I was bummed but wasn’t super invested or anything.  

So I continued to hang out with Dumplin and Seth most regularly. One night Seth and I went to jackalope to drink when I got a call from Dee.

”You need to come to Barflys right now! Jo B just got broken up with and he’s sad and you need to swoop in!” 

”Are you okay? Do you need me to come get you?” 

”What?” 

”Okay I’m at Jackalope right now with Seth but I’ll leave and get you. Just stay safe til I get there.” 

”Ohhhh I get it. Okay you sly bitch.” 

”okay keep your phone on and I’ll head that way.” 

So I hung up and explained to Seth that Dee and Ray had got in a fight and I needed to get her. He protested that he’d come with me and I said no no she’s really upset and it would just annoy you and I need to be there for her. So I left. I felt like a super good actress and like a complete shitbag at the same time. I get to Barfly’s and find Jo B sulking upstairs. So we sat and talked. He wasn’t talking much but I loved the way he looked at me, like I was the only person in the room. Jo B was mysterious and handsome. I melted with infactuation. I silenced my phone when Seth started blowing it up after I wasn’t responding.  I was decidedly all in to venturing into something with Jo B from that point on.