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James LePore: Project 52/2015: The Breakup

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14814_1778956lImage: House of Cards, © James LePore

You can break up with me later, right now I need your help.

I looked at her and I immediately, and sickeningly, knew I was right. I was hoping I was wrong, but it was all over her face.

How did you…?

I know it’s been coming, I said. It’s killing me that you don’t want me anymore, but I can’t think about it now, now I have a big problem.

What is it?

A friend of mine asked me to hold something for him and I can’t find it. I think I left it in your apartment.

What is it?

A video.

What friend?

You don’t know him.

One of your new friends?

Yes.

What’s on the video?

It’s a sex tape. He’s been seeing someone and they made a tape. He’s married. He doesn’t want his wife to find it, or his secretary. He asked me to hold it.

Did you look at it?

No.

That’s pretty sleazy.

I didn’t look at it.

No, that he did something like that.

It is, I agree.

Where do you find these people?

I met him at the gym.

Another narcissist.

I nodded. What could I say? I’m messed up, no discipline, that’s why she got turned off, I realize that. I made her laugh at first, my zaniness. That guy in the blue suit is following me. He’s my old high school principal. But now it’s over. You can always tell when it’s over, no matter how much you try to avoid thinking about it.

Why did you bring it to my place? she said. Did you think we could watch it together?

No way. I was just paranoid about it, so I took it with me.

Are you taking your Haldol?

Yes.

Let’s go upstairs and look.

We had been sitting in the coffee shop on the ground floor of her building, where she had asked me to meet her to talk, which I right away knew was a problem, since we had just spent a whole weekend together. I’m a little neurotic, but I’m not stupid.

I found the CD in her bedroom under the chair I had put my overnight bag on.

Let’s watch it, she said.

I said nothing. This was new territory for me.

She smiled. I want you to see just how sleazy your friends are.

Are you breaking up with me?

Now she was silent for a moment. Then she said, yes, I have to be honest.

I looked at her. Fuck, I thought. My stomach was turning flips.

Please don’t ask me why, she said. Let’s not go through all those cliches.

I nodded.

Watching her put the CD in the CD player was painful. I would no longer be touching her, smelling her, that was all over.

The video played for less than a minute before she stopped it.

I took the clicker from her hand, put it on the coffee table and looked at her. Suddenly my heartache subsided. I felt lighter.

You and your new boyfriend? I said.

She nodded. Her face had turned white.

Then you might as well hold onto his CD for him.

I…

No, I said, let’s not go through all those cliches.

james

About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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