It’s only until he’s out the door that he realizes he's forgotten a jacket, the only thing protecting him now from the brisk cold that wisps around him wildly being a green sweater, barely thick enough to keep him any form of warm. With dusk setting in, orange light begins to bathe the sidewalks, and he can’t stop himself from glancing over his shoulder to insure he isn’t being followed. He can’t tell if he’s glad by the fact they didn’t stop him, or hurt that they let him leave.
No, he doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter what they think. They lied to him. They *lied* to him.
Hands trembling, a nasty concocted brew of cold, adrenaline and a whirlwind of emotions; he brings the phone up to his ear, stomach swirling while the line rings and vibrates against his ear drum lowly. Doubt seeps its’ way into his brain the longer the line rings. He doesn't know why he called him. He’s probably busy, he’s got a wife, they’re probably eating dinner, they still don’t even know each other that well, he shouldn’t be doing this.
He starts to retract the phone from his ear but a voice on the line pauses him. He’s still shaking.
“Hey PJ, everything okay?”
His mouth feels dry, he wants to hang up; he shouldn't have called, he shouldn’t be burdening somebody he barely knows with his problems but there’s nobody else. There’s nobody else, nothing but a dull ache in his legs from walking so much and he doesn’t even know where he’s going; he just couldn’t be there anymore. Not back to that house of lies.
“Hey, uhm hi, Rome.”
He stops at a crosswalk, squints away from the headlights that wash over him as a sedan turns the corner, eyes still on the lookout for Mitch’s truck just in case. How could they keep this from him? For seventeen and a half years, they sat on a secret and spoon fed him lies. Silence fills in for the static buzzing around in his brain and Rome’s concerned voice slips finds its’ way through the fog.
“PJ? Are you there? What happened, man?”
As his body floats itself across the street and pilots him into a corner convenience store; he can’t hide the uneven breathing in his exhale.
“My dadーI just found that my dad isn’t my real dad. My mom knew the whole time and they both justー they kept it from me. This whole time, my.. my whole life I grew up thinking this guy was my dad and it turned out to be nothing but a lie and they thought thatーthat for whatever reason, keeping it from me was better than telling the truth.”
Rustling ensues on the other line and guilt courses through PJ at the sound. A styrofoam cup filled up halfway with coffee is suddenly in his hand. He didn’t realize he’d filled it.
“....I-I’m sorry I called, Iー”
He can hear keys jingling on the other line, a door opening then closing.
“Hey, you don’t have to apologize for anything, PJ, it’s alright. I’m going to come get you so we can talk, if that’s okay. Where are you right now?”
He leaves the store with a bitter coffee but finds himself drinking it anyway; he’s not going back in there for sugar now. His head nods on the line.
“I’m uhm, at the 7/11 on the corner of Burkswood. Outside.”
The coffee warms his freezing hands as he hears an engine starting.
“Okay, just sit tight; I’ll be there in less than 10 minutes.”
He tries not to shiver with gust of wind, how it stings his eyes a little.
"Rome? Uhm..thank you."
"I'm here for you, PJ, you know that. You don't have to thank me for anything."