I’ve always known that Jude was an idiot. Today just further proves it. To be honest, I thought he was getting less idiotic. I was wrong. Thinking back to the first time I met him, I think he may have actually gotten more idiotic.
I met Jude and Hazel when I went to a job interview at Riverside Asylum; the mental hospital that they basically grew up in. I had just turned 18 and my parents were nagging me to get a job in the medical field. I actually never wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, or anything to do with medicine. I just wanted to have an easy job where I could be lazy. A nurse at a mental hospital sounded pretty easy. They basically said that I’d be handing out medication and keeping an eye on the patients. It also sounded entertaining.
I was waiting for the boss man to call me back for my interview, just minding my own business. I was flipping through a magazine that was sitting at one of the counters, when I heard someone clear their throat behind me. I turned around, slightly annoyed that anyone would use that method to gain my attention.
This random guy was standing behind me, grinning stupidly. “Hey.” He continued to grin.
I glanced around, hoping maybe he was talking to someone else. He was obviously a patient, and obviously crazy. There was no one else around. “Uh… hey?”
Random guy stuck out his hand. “Name’s Jude.” I stared down at his hand, not sure if I should shake it or not. What if he had a disease that causes crazy? Did that exist? “You’re uh, supposed to shake my hand. I understand if that’s a bit difficult for you, though.”
I decided he wasn’t as crazy as he looked. “Tobias,” I said, shaking his hand. His face lit up and the grin got even bigger. And slightly evil.
“Now that is interesting!” he exclaimed. “Do you always see like that or is that just something that happens randomly?”
I knew there was no possible way that he could know about my ability to see auras, so I pretended like he didn’t say anything. I figured he must actually be crazy. Instead, I changed the subject. “Where’d you get that scar?” I asked, pointing to his wrist.
“Whoa, slow down, you haven’t even bought me dinner yet! Tell you what, you tell me about your weird vision thing you got going on and I might tell you where I got my scar. Deal?” He looked at me expectantly.
“I have no idea what vision thing you’re talking about,” I said, and started to turn away.
“Sure you do. You know, the colors? They kinda, like, float around people?”
I was starting to get freaked out now. How did he know? I had never told anyone about my ability, and this guy just showed up out of nowhere and started asking about it? “I think you need some meds, dude,” I said, pretending to be nonchalant.
Jude just laughed. “Trust me, I am on plenty of meds.” He glanced around then leaned closer to whisper, “Don’t tell the nurses. I have my own stash!” The “whisper” came out much louder than he probably had meant it to.
That’s when I understood. “You are as high as a kite, aren’t you?” When I looked closer, I could see how glazed his eyes look.
He looked confused. “I’m on the ground, actually. Are you a patient here? I thought you were someone here for a job interview, but you seem kind of crazy…”
I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “I’m the one that seems crazy? Are you kidding me?” I stopped laughing abruptly and turned serious. “Look, can you just go ride out your high somewhere else? I’m busy.” I turned back to me magazine and continued to flip through it. I tried to ignore the fact that Jude hadn’t left yet, but after a few minutes, I got annoyed and whipped around. “Seriously, fuck off!”
“My mom tried to kill me when I was five years old.” I stared at Jude in horror, not sure how to respond to something like that. He didn’t even seem to have any emotion behind it. His face was blank. It probably had something to do with the drugs. “There, I told you where I got the scar, now tell me about the… color thing.”
I stood there gaping at him, until finally I was able to talk. “Shit. You can’t just… drop truth bombs on people like that, dude.” I rubbed my face and made the decision to tell him. He trusted me with something as heavy as that, so I could trust him with something as simple as seeing auras. “I don’t always see auras. Sometimes it randomly happens, other times I can make myself see them.”
“I see ghosts,” he said calmly.
I stared at him, trying to figure out if he was serious or not. “You are seriously freaking me out.”
“Jude?” I heard a girl’s voice calling from down the hall. A teenaged girl with long red hair came walking briskly around the corner, her nervous face turning relieved when she saw Jude. “There you are! You just disappeared!”
“Did I? Here I thought I just walked away, but I guess I was wrong,” Jude said. Such an asshole.
The girl looked at me with such a sweet smile on her face that I had to smile back. “I’m Hazel, by the way. Are you here for an interview?”
I felt myself blush and stumbled over my words. “Er, yes. I’m Tobias. Are you a nurse here?”
Hazel laughed a beautiful, musical laugh. “Of course not! I’m a patient!” I laughed along with her, even though I had no idea why. “Feeling less nervous?”
“I am, actually. How did you know I was nervous?” I was curious, but I didn’t actually really care. I felt happy.
“He can see something called auras,” Jude told Hazel.
“Oh! I’ve read about that before! Is it limited to humans? Or can you see animals that way as well?” Hazel asked. The pleasant feeling slowly dissipated.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered.
“Sorry,” Hazel said. “It was a little strong, wasn’t it? I’m still learning to control it.”
I was on the verge of panic, when Jude suddenly passed out. The entire situation was just so bizarre. I just stared at him, not sure what to do. Hazel tried to shake him awake, but whatever he had taken had knocked him out completely. In a daze, I found a nurse and she, along with a few other nurses, took him away on a gurney.
I didn’t get the job. I had freaked out and left before my interview. I did go back a few weeks later to make sure he hadn’t died. After that, I started visiting them regularly, and somehow, we became friends. Sort of. All I could think about whenever I saw Jude was how much of an idiot he was. Hazel, however, was the most gorgeous girl I had ever met. Smart, too. I had no idea why she would hang out with a weirdo like Jude, other than the fact that they were close in age.
Despite my loathing for Jude, I eventually figured out why Hazel liked him. He may be an idiot, and he can be selfish sometimes. A lot, actually. He didn’t learn to read until almost a year after I met him, and only because I taught him. He didn’t stop stealing pills until Hazel threatened to never talk to him again. He has his shortcomings, but he cares about people. I can’t even count how many times he’s put himself in danger to protect someone he knows. Or even those he doesn’t know.
That’s why I am so incredibly pissed off at him right now. He makes sure everyone else is safe, but he is reckless when it comes to his own safety. He should have made sure he had back up before trying to get rid of the spirit.
After a not so quick trip to the hospital, we are all back in the van, ready to go find this mystery woman. Jude and Maria in the back, Hazel in the passenger seat. I get in the driver’s side and put the key in the ignition. I don’t turn the key. Instead, I pull the key back out and throw open my door. I jump out, everyone watching me, curious while I walk around to the other side of the van. I throw open the sliding door and pull Jude out by his shirt.
“What the fu..” he starts. I slam him against the van, knocking the wind out of him, along with the words.
“You could’ve died back there! Do you understand that?!” I say, shaking him.
“But I didn’t! I’m here, alive!” he says. It almost looks like he’s about to add to that, but he closes his mouth.
“What. You were gonna say something like, ’I’m here, alive, unfortunately’? Is that what you were gonna say?” He starts to retort, but I shove him against the van again. “You need to shut up and get your shit together! Start worrying about yourself! Next time you get into a situation like today, there might not be anyone there to save you!” He glares at me defiantly, but doesn’t say anything. Satisfied that I’ve gotten my point across, I let go of his shirt and storm away.
I don’t get back into the van, and instead I go back into the hospital. I need to calm down before getting back into the car with him, or I might just kill him myself.
I find a bench to sit down on try to breathe deeply. It may seem silly to be angry at him for getting hurt. It’s not like it was technically his fault. He just shows now regard for his own life. He even refused any treatment at the hospital. It just pisses me off.
I finally calm down and sit there in the silence. I jump when my phone suddenly starts ringing. I look at the caller id. Mary. I never confirmed it, but I swear, she must be clairvoyant or something. She always knows when something is wrong. I hit the answer button.
“Tobias! How are you, hon?” Mary’s jubilant voice shouts so loudly that I have to pull the phone away from my ear.
I wince and put the phone back to my ear. “I’m doing fine, how are you?”
“Just fine? What’s wrong?” The worry sounds false, like she already knew something was wrong.
“Nothing, really. Just a tough case that we have.”
“Really? Everyone is alive and unhurt?”
“Well, Jude pounded my face in, Maria hurt her hands, and Jude had a close call with a crazy, murderous ghost, but we are all fine.”
“Jude did what to your face?”
“It’s not… it wasn’t exactly his fault. We both got kind of… weird after going into this one room, and we technically beat up each other. He’s just stronger.”
“Maybe I should come see you all…”
“No! It’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re just really busy. Really. I promise.” The other line is silent for a few seconds.
“Okay. If y’all ever need anything, call me, ya hear?”
“Of course, Mary. But I do have to go now. We have somewhere to be and I have to drive.” It’s not technically a lie.
“Okay, sweetie, talk to you later.”
“Bye.” I quickly hang up. I feel bad for not telling her the truth, but if Jude found out that she was coming to meet us, he would disappear until she left. We always lie to her when she comes to visit. We just tell her Jude is busy at work or something. In reality, he usually goes to a bar or club or something. Or finds some random chick to spend the night with. I have no clue why he avoids the woman who basically raised him, but I’m sure he has his reasons.
I take a few more minutes to collect myself, and then head back to the van. Jude is leaning against the back of the van, smoking a cigarette.
“Since when did you start smoking?” I ask him.
“Since when did you start being a dick?” he retorts, throwing the cigarette at me.
I stomp it out and get in the van. Hazel and Maria stop talking as soon as I get in.
“Feeling better?” Hazel asks. I shrug. “It wasn’t his fault, but I get that it scared you,” she whispers.
I feel much better knowing that she doesn’t think I’m a horrible person. “What were you two talking about?”
“Excuse me? That is none of your business, sir!” Maria says. “We are two grown women, talking about grown women things!”
Jude gets in the van. “You realize I could figure out what you were talking about just by touching you, right?” He teasingly brushes Maria’s cheek with his fingers, making her turn a deep crimson.
She slaps his hand away. “Don’t… stop… how dare you?!” Jude just laughs.
“Don’t make me turn this van around,” I say in my fake dad voice.
“We’re not even moving yet,” Maria says.
“Don’t sass me.”
We are all tense, but joking around helps everything seem more normal. I glance at Hazel, and my smile fades. She’s glaring out the window, arms crossed across her chest. Her aura is gloomy. Jealous. Because of an asshole like Jude?
“Hey,” I whisper to Hazel. I start the van. “You’re in charge of the music.” I wink. She grins as she realizes what that means. She turns it up full blast, Taylor Swift singing something about staying out too late and shaking something.
My plan to piss off Jude backfires, because instead of being angry, he actually starts singing along. So does Maria. And now I’m the only one being tortured. But Hazel’s aura is full of life now, so I’m happy.
If she’s happy, I’m happy.