He said it. He really did. Why? He didn't know. Only thing he knew for sure was, that he'd done a terrible mistake. How could he be so stupid? Now, he roamed the streets desperately. If only there was a sign of him. Just one trace of him being okay. That'd be enough. He kept on saying this to himself. Again and again...and again. He prayed to someone up above that nothing bad had happened to him. He hoped. Hoped for what? For a miracle... Maybe he would walk around the next corner, being his normal self, attached to that stupid blanket of his and looking just lost.
He kept on running. He didn't notice his breath becoming heavier, nor his heart beating faster and faster. All he wanted was to find him. And he was scared. For the first time in his life.
If only... Around the next corner maybe...
"Well, all I'm saying is that maybe we should try something new. You know, take a risk; just this once," Leo said looking furious. Leo never looked furious. Max didn't even know he could get angry. He was this usual mousy shy little Nobody, but he was proven wrong. Leo was standing in front of him, fighting for his rights. Max could hardly believe it.
"So, you wanna tell me abandoning the usual direction our shows follow, is a good idea?" Max shouted back. There had never been a fight like this, as far as he could remember. Smaller conflicts from time to time, yes. But this? Never.
"People are getting bored," Leo replied. "It's the same always. I guess a little change won't hurt."
"Oh, you think so, hm?" Max couldn't believe his ears. "Let me tell you something, then. If a concept works, leave it that way. A change, no matter how tiny, can ruin everything. You can spoil a show that costs us more than two million Dollars just by changing a title. People know how we used to work. And love it. There's no guarantee for something different to work out. Believe me, I know!"
"Yeah, right," Leo snorted. "Just like you know everything; all the time."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You always must have it your way!" he gestured. Leo never gestured. That certainly was new.
"It's not as if I really had anything to say. Every decision is yours. Every single thing must happen the way YOU want it. It's like you're only using my name, because people are captured by the big double B..."
"I MADE YOU WHO YOU ARE NOW!"
Leo plunked both his hands on the leather couch in the middle of the office.
"That's not the point! Why can't you get it into that big head of yours?" he shouted. "Changing isn't always bad. I changed a lot since I've met you. And it wasn't the worst thing that could happen!"
"No you're god-damn right!" Who did this kid think he was? "You were a Nothing, until I showed you what you were capable of!"
"You what?" Leo looked at him rather shocked.
"And then this Swedish slut entered this office and it's the best evidence for what I just said. Change a tiny detail and you'll ruin everything!"
Leo stood there flabbergasted. "What?"
"You know, I'm right," Max continued. "She ruined everything. It went well, all of it, until she showed up. I tried to warn you, but no... You had to fall for her, and of course you had to run away with her..."
"And I came back...for you!"
"Bringing her along! Great deal," Max was enraged. "And, of course you had to marry her..."
"Stop it," Leo had his eyes closed. He knew exactly what this was going to become.
But Max didn't waste a thought about stopping.
"...And you had to let her lead your life. It didn't matter what I was saying. How many times I tried to warn you..."
"And when she cheated on you and left you," Max didn't even look at Leo anymore. "...Who was the first person you came crawling back to? ME!..."
"I SAID STOP IT!"
The slap in his face came so unexpected, that it took Max a moment to even realize it just happened. Leo stood there, in front of him, with hatred in his eyes. Max looked at him in shock. He touched his face. Slowly it began to burn and he felt it getting hotter. Leo slapped him? Obviously... What the hell... Was he out of his mind?
Max closed his eyes for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts.
Leo on the other hand now looked desperate. Tears were dwelling in his eyes, yet he remained motionless for another couple of seconds. Then he seemed to realize what he had just done.
He stepped back a few inches, looking as though he couldn't believe his own actions. He looked down at his hands for a second, than back to Max.
"Max... I'm sorry... I...", he started, but Max interrupted him immediately, without even looking up.
"Hear me out, please. I didn't mean...I am sorry... I just...," Leo now merely whispered.
"OUT!" Max shouted as loud as he could.
Leo stood there ossified, then shook his head more to himself. He turned around and hurried outside, leaving Max alone in the office.
Max opened his eyes again. He felt numb. And all of a sudden very small. His own words were echoing in his ears. He felt like drowning in the ocean of his most recent memories, yet felt an unbelievable emptiness creeping up his body. He heard his own breath. He felt his own heartbeat.
And he was alone. This was it. He managed to hound off the only friend he ever had. He would never forgive him. He simply knew it.
"What kind of idiot am I," Max thought, sinking to his knees. He used the only thing he knew would really hurt Leo against him. And he wanted it, oh so badly. He wanted to hurt his best friend. What kind of person did something like that? He gave Leo the promise to comfort him a long time ago. When Ulla left, he was there for him. He helped him up again. He promised him everything would be alright. When Leo was begging him to never mention her again, he agreed. And he kept that promise... until now.
Max knew it would shatter the younger man. He was completely aware of what he had been saying to him. He wanted him to suffer. Why? Out of selfishness. Because he, Max Bialystock, could never let Leopold Bloom – former accountant- become as cocky as he got.
And just because he wanted to prevail over him.
Max sank to the ground. He felt tears running down his own cheeks.
"What have I done?"
~to be continued~