Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

Life During Peacetime: Part Three

Read First: Life During Peacetime: Part Two

“What’s wrong?”

“Leave me alone!”

Audrey was sitting on the couch quietly sobbing. My inner paranoiac continued to gloat.

That’s what you get for sticking your dick in crazy. You couldn’t have just gone out to the bars and found a slut to fuck. You couldn’t just work for your pussy like everyone else. Noooo, you had to have a groupie fly out from Middle America to sate your ego. I hope breaking that hymen was worth it.

“I shouldn’t have come here. I shouldn’t have come here.” Audrey chanted like a Catholic doing Hail Marys.

“Audrey, please, honey. Tell me what’s wrong.” The landline phone was a couple of feet behind me. Just three short steps and the problem would be solved.

“Don’t ‘honey’ me, you bastard!” Audrey screeched. It was the first time I’d ever heard her swear.

What, you can call me “honey” but I can’t do the same to you?

“You’re staying at my house, sleeping in my bed. I’m not leaving.” I bit my lip in an attempt to stay calm.

I started walking towards Audrey. She backed away, grabbing an Eckhart Tolle book off the coffee table.

“Don’t you come near me, you son of a bitch!” This had to be a record for her.

“Put the book down.”

“GET AWAY FROM ME!” She brandished the book like it was a boomerang.

“If you throw that book at me, I’m calling the police.” I backed up and grabbed the phone off the cradle. “I’ll tell them you’re a crazy stalker and they’ll arrest you. Have fun explaining to your parents why you’re in some bumfuck county jail in upstate New York.”

It was a half-bluff. While I was on a first name basis with the Ogygia town police (all five of them), there was no guarantee that things would go my way at the moment; this late at night, I’d probably be dealing with county sheriffs or state troopers. But the risk of having her reputation destroyed in front of her family and friends was too much for Audrey to bear. She slowly placed the book down as I moved towards her, tears still streaming down her cheeks.

“That’s a girl.” I felt like I was in the middle of a hostage negotiation. “Now, tell me what’s the matter.”

“I shouldn’t have come here, I shouldn’t have come here,” she resumed chanting.

Tell me what’s the matter.” I sat down and tried to put my arm around her, but she flinched away.

“I’m sorry.”

“‘Sorry?’ For what? We went to Earthlife, had fun around Ithaca, saw the waterfalls… I was gonna take you up to Cooperstown tomorrow!”

That’s it?” She had daggers in her eyes. “I cooked you breakfast, cleaned your filthy house and slept with you and that’s all you can say?”

“And you’re one of the best girls I’ve ever slept with.”

“You liar. You’re embarrassed by me. You couldn’t even tell the truth to that cashier!”

That’s what you’re mad about? That I didn’t divulge my life story to a fucking Price Chopper cashier?”

“Why couldn’t you say I was your girlfriend?”

“Uh, because you weren’t. We had met less than four hours ago.”

“See what I mean? And you’re hiding me away in this dump instead of introducing me to your friends! You’re treating me like some… some… some whore you picked up off the freeway!”

Uh, YOU’RE the one who came after me. YOU’RE the one who sent ME a message on Facebook telling me you enjoyed a ridiculously offensive article I wrote. YOU’RE the one who suggested we meet up in Chicago, and YOU’RE the one who bought a plane ticket to Syracuse after I told you I couldn’t make it. How exactly AM I supposed to treat a groupie who was THIS desperate to meet me?

I was about to club her over the head with this when my conscience stopped me.

Yeah asshole, this girl wanted to meet you… after YOU led her on for months. She made a series of dumb decisions at YOUR behest. Clearly she’s the sole villain here.

“I don’t know what to say, Audrey,” I lowered my voice. “What, were you expecting to walk into a relationship the minute you got off the plane?”

“I was expecting a little respe, a little respe” The word choked in her throat like a bone and she started crying again.

“Jesus Audrey, calm down.”

“I shouldn’t—SNIFF—shouldn’t have come here.”

“Will you stop saying that?”

“I’m sorry, Matt. I lied to you.”

“About what?”

Audrey snorted back a wad of phlegm, then shoved something in my hand. “Look at this.”

It was her iPhone. The screen showed a bunch of texts from a “Mike,” a gawky but not unattractive kid who looked about Audrey’s age:

u get to chicago yet? check out the frank lloyd wright house 4 me. love u :)

how’s my snookums doing? big heat wave back home, got sunburned bad yesterday. wish i could b with u :(

guess youre too busy having fun. really miss u audrey, gotta big surprise planned 4 our anniversary! see u soon ;)

The last text was dated forty-five minutes ago.

“We’ve just kissed,” she confessed, as if anticipating my reaction. She looked like she was going to vomit. “We’ve been dating for nearly a year now. He’s from my church.”

Well, this just became infinitely more screwed up.

“I think he wants to marry me,” she gulped.

“And let me guess, you don’t want to marry him.” I felt a pang of rage rising up and bit my lip.

“No. I mean, I do love him… as a friend. He’s a really sweet guy, really smart—he’s going to M.I.T. in the fall—and he treats me like a queen, but… I don’t know…”

“And how exactly do fit into this?” My face was turning red. If I kept biting my lip like this, I’d start bleeding.

“You’re the first man I’ve ever met who makes me feel like a woman,” she blurted out. “You’re strong, you’re funny, you’re a great writer… you’re so completely unlike anyone I’ve ever known.”

“I bet you say to all the guys.”

“Please.” Her pale cheeks were stained red. “Even after all that’s happened, part of me doesn’t want to go home. I want to be with you, Matt. I can’t lose you.”

Every slut was born with a cherry.

“How stupid do you think I am?” I couldn’t hold back anymore. I stood up and pointed at her accusingly. “You’ve been using me to cuckold your boyfriend all this time and you think I’m gonna believe a single word that comes out of your mouth?”

“Please, Matt,” Audrey pleaded, trembling like a sinner in the confessional.

“When exactly were you planning on telling Mike about this?”

“I can’t tell him about this!”

“Some lady you turned out to be.” I was disgusted. “What am I, your little dalliance with the dark side before you go back to your little small-town life?”

“Stop it please, just stop it!”

“And if your stupid friend hadn’t sent you the link to my blog that day, you’d have run off and fucked some guy you met at college. A late blooming slut.”

At that last line, Audrey was shattered. She buried her face in her hands and started howling again, in that sputtering way women who’ve completely emptied their tear ducts do. I wanted to walk off and leave her there sniveling like a sprinkler run dry, but my legs wouldn’t react. My conscience swooped in to deprive me of what little satisfaction I could have wrung out of this.

Look at you big man, tearing down a girl who worshipped you. Fuck her for thinking you were a good guy and that she could be honest with you.

She’s a little nuts? What, you think ANY groupies are mentally stable to begin with?

“And today’s top story, a love affair gone horribly wrong. 18-year old Audrey Petersen was arrested by county sheriffs earlier today, charged with the murder of Syracuse native Matthew Forney. Petersen is believed to have stabbed Forney to death with a butcher knife while he was asleep. Police suspect she was angry over an argument they’d had the night before.”


It’s a trap!

“Go away…”

“I’m… I’m sor… I forgive you.”

The horrible sniveling stopped. Audrey put her hands down and stood up. As if possessed by some demon of reconciliation, I grabbed her in a tight hug.

“It’s okay, it’s going to be okay,” I whispered in her ear. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Cue sage wisdom from the older generation.

“I like being with you, but you can’t throw away your life for me. You can’t keep leading your boyfriend on like this. You have to tell him the truth.”

“I can’t tell him about you.”

“Not that. Tell him that you don’t want to marry him, that he needs to find another girl. That you’re not right for each other.”


“I’ll come visit you in Duluth. We’ll go hitchhiking on the West Coast. I’ll take you to New York City.”

“I’d like that.”

“But you have to go back to Minnesota. You can’t stay here, not now.”

I was half-sincere, half-telling her what she wanted to hear. On a certain level, she had to know this. It still worked.

“…Thank you, Matt.”

I pulled back to look at Audrey. Her eyes were welling up with tears again, but she was smiling. I kissed her.

“It’s late. We should get back to bed.”


I shut the lamp off and we went back upstairs together.

To be continued… (Part Four)