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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 12, 2011

The Nitty Griity, Part 7: Fragile (as a Spiderweb)

"I've passed the point of no return. Do you know what that is, Beth? That's the point in a journey where it's longer to go back to the beginning. It's like when those astronauts got in trouble. I don't know, somebody messed up, and they had to get them back to Earth. But they had passed the point of no return. They were on the other side of the moon and were out of contact for like hours. Everybody waited to see if a bunch of dead guys in a can would pop out the other side. Well, that's me. I'm on the other side of the moon now and everybody is going to have to wait until I pop out".
- Falling Down


            Somehow, I got back to my apartment building without killing anyone or getting arrested. When I entered the parking garage, I sat on the curb in front of my car, put my head between my legs and started playing The Crying Game once again. A few neighbors walked by, but I didn't care. I figured that it was obvious that I had just lost a parent so they wouldn't think it was weird to see a grown ass man openly weeping in front of his car. I decided to take this public spectacle inside. Not wanting to cause a scene, I took the stairs to avoid any awkward encounters on the elevator. When I got upstairs, I was still a mess. I was crying in a way you may picture a bad actor crying in a bad movie who thinks they can rise above the shitty script and production value to snag an Oscar Nomination, but instead will never be taken serious as an actor, forever blacklisted after the infamous "crying scene" as it would come to be known. I figured it was time to get out of public view. My door was locked. I could hear some people inside. I started pounding on the door to be let in. I saw someone's eye looking through the peep hole. "Open the door", I tell whoever it is peeking out at me. I heard my friend, Mark, through the door. He told me that they weren't going to let me in until I got a hold of myself. Not understanding why they are being so unreasonable, I started slamming my fist as hard as I could, demanding to be let in to my own apartment. He said not until I calmed down. I kept violently turning my door handle trying to pull it open. "OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!", I yelled. Mark said,"Your mom said not to let you in until you CALM DOWN". I just got more upset. I think it was the emphasis he put on the last 2 words that set me off. I broke into a monologue that I looked like I had not even come close to mastering at the Eric Roberts School of Acting. I sobbed, yelled, and battered the door,"Dude, Mark, you're being an ASSHOLE!  I'M OUT HERE CRYING AND YOU WON'T LET ME IN MY APARTMENT? Come on, man, my fucking neighbors. I don't want anyone to see me like this. Mark?" No response. "Mark?", I ask softly. That approach didn't work. "MARK! YOU'RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE, MAN! I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MY FRIEND? MARK! I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND!" I hoped that this might guilt him into letting me in so I shut up for a second. "Not until you calm down", he says. Beyond frustrated, I walked down to the end of the hall to try to relax long enough to be allowed into my own apartment...then I spun around and ran back to the door and started pounding on it with my fists and feet. "LET ME THE FUCK IN!", I demand in a fashion I thought would make them too scared to not let me in. That didn't work either. I continued to pound on the door with no response. "FUCK YOU GUYS!", I yelled, then kicked the door as hard as I could before walking away. I would realize later that the door I was so violently trying to get into was not even my apartment door. I was trying to get into my old apartment on the same floor that I had moved out of more than a year earlier. Hope nobody was home.

            I walked past the elevator towards the other hallway. I walked down that hall and turned back. As I got to the end of the hallway, I heard someone step off the elevator. I had nowhere to go. I could have turned and ran down the hall, but I didn't want to bring any attention to myself or seem suspicious. I came around the corner and saw my neighbor get off the elevator. It was a lady in her late 40's. I always saw her around but didn't know her name. She said, "Hello." I said,"My dad died." After showing me some sympathy and seeing what a complete mess I was, she asked me if I needed some xanax and valium. I said,"Yes please", like a shy little kid...a shy little kid with a severe pill addiction...who probably would have broke into her apartment had he known she was holding what his body and mind had been starving for. I remember thinking ,"I've been detoxing and literally punching my bed because I can't sleep and there's benzos right down the hall? You gotta be kidding me!" I guess I thought it was stupid of me to not go door to door like some strung out Jehovah's Witness, explaining my situation and requesting some kind of sedative. "Hi, I'm Jim. I'm your neighbor from 507. I have had a serious pill problem since 2005. Recently, I ran out of money to feed my addiction so I can't sleep, or eat, or run, or function. It feels weird asking you this since we've only just met, but do you have any kind of sedatives or painkillers that you could spare BEFORE I TAKE MY FUCKING NINJA KNIFE I'VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10 AND END UP GETTING MY GODDAMN HEAD BLOWN OFF TRYING TO ROB THE  CLOSEST WALGREENS PHARMACY ? Oh, I'm sorry. Can you just tell your mom that Jim from 507 stopped by? 507, don't forget."

            I followed the one LakeView resident that I knew had something I needed down the hall to her apartment. She took the prescription bottles out of her kitchen cabinet and put some xanax and valium in a ziplock. She had no idea that I was the prescription pill equivalent of a crackhead, so she tried to explain to me what the pills did. " These yellow rectangle ones are xanax. You don't want to take the whole thing, you can break it into 4. If after an hour you don't feel any better take another quarter. These blue ones are valium. Take one before you go to bed. And don't drink or drive your car when you take them".  All I could think was,"Oh, really? Thanks for the lesson, but I'm practically a pharmacist. You're explaining the concept of 2+2=4 to Good Will Hunting."  She also asked me not to say anything to anyone. That wouldn't be a problem. I hadn't spoken to a real person in days. I thanked her and she gave me a hug. She closed the door and wisely locked it after I left. I should have taken them the minute her door closed if not before. I probably would have been able to sleep and then wake up from this nightmare. But shockingly, I didn't. I figured with my dad dying and my friends coming over, it was going to be a heavy drinking day, so I decided against immediately downing the pills as I would have normally done. Taking those pills would have been the best decision I had made since, I don't know, maybe since I decided not to blow money on a limo for Prom.

            I went back to my apartment, hoping to be allowed to enter since I pulled myself together enough for my neighbor to allow me in her apartment without being afraid that she might end up being grilled on her George Foreman. It was probably the promise of precious pharmaceuticals that got me to feign sanity. When I got to my apartment door, as in my current apartment door, I calmly knocked this time and stood there with both palms on the door and my head down. I could tell someone was looking through the peephole when I looked up. "Come on, man, let me in", I pleaded in a voice full of frustration and melancholy. I heard Mark ask, "Are you calm now?"  I said,"Yes just please let me in".  This was getting exhausting. " Are you sure?", Mark asked. "OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!",  I shouted as I began slamming my fist on the door again. This time, the door started opening and I pushed my way past. Some of my family from Philadelphia were already there. My friends and cousins tried to greet me but I just walked past everybody like someone walking into their own surprise party who despises surprises, loathes parties, and is full of psychotic rage. My mom and my Aunt Jeannie were making some food for the memorial. She said," What's going on with you?" I reminded her that dad had just died less than an hour ago. I asked," Aren't you even upset?" She said that she was but not like I was, saying that I was being over the top. "OVER THE TOP?" I yelled, and walked past my imaginary friends into my bedroom. I could hear an argument starting in the kitchen. My aunt was angry that my friends brought beer over since my dad was killed by a drunk driver. As they were going back and forth, I walked out to the living room of my apartment, realizing for the first time that it had an upstairs and a downstairs. I yelled over the rail with my most authoritative voice. "If my friends wanna drink, they can drink!" My friends were happy. My aunt was not. I went back in my room and collapsed on my bed. Jeff came in and  said,"Jimmy, what are you doing man? You gotta take a shower". I didn't respond. Jeff and another one of my friends tried to help me to my bathroom, but all they could do was drag my lifeless body from the bed. After undressing me down to my boxers, they put me on the shower floor, turned on the water, and left me there. After some time passed, I found the energy to get on my hands and knees. Even though I could not remember the last time I had a prayer answered, I started to pray. I prayed that this was all just a bad dream that I would soon wake up from, a prayer that had become quite common in the last couple years. I promised that if God answered this prayer, I would never ask for anything again. I figured I would be able to handle any other situation in the future on my own. I said that I would give everything I had, what little that was, to have my father back. I really did not care who answered me. I would have struck this bargain with anyone who may be listening: God, the Devil, Wes Craven's Wish Master, a genie in a bottle, I Dream of Jeannie, a fucking leprechaun. It didn't matter. I would have thrown a monkey's paw in a wishing well if I knew where to find either one. I doubt that The Monkey Jungle in Miami would allow me anywhere near it's simian residents, not to mention that the only wishing well I was aware of was an Irish pub in downtown Boca. Basically, I would have sold my soul. It was about all I had left with any value. I had already sold my PlayStation 3 and baseball cards. I figured that if there was a God, our lives were his reality television so he had no need for a big screen with a blown bulb. I figured that if the pawn shop didn't want to buy my Tag with it's busted  clasp, then Satan wouldn't have any interest in it either. Plus I was pretty sure that, like revenge, Satan does not wear a wristwatch.

            After I could not make my intentions any more clear, I stood up and washed myself off. I got dressed and left my room feeling considerably better. Everyone that I had imagined was there had left. I figured they were down at the area outside the community pool. As I waited for the elevator, I looked out the window. I saw my friends were all sitting on top of the palm trees across the street, in some kind of elaborate display of their support. I didn't wonder to myself how my friends, who had all suddenly became whatever you call those guys who climb for coconuts,  had got themselves up there, I just thought, "Man, you guys are the best".

          I walked  out front of my building. Either someone in my building was getting cable installed or just worked  for the company because there was a Comcast van out front. Somehow I thought that the van belonged to my neighbor, Bill, who had moved out a year earlier. Since I had no money, Bill was thoughtful enough to offer to transport my dad's body in the back of this Comcast van. Unlike my friends at the top of the trees, the work van was really there...and it was not locked.  I decided that I wanted  to spend a few minutes in the presence of the corpse of my father, who wasn't dead. He was most likely at Panera Bread enjoying coffee and a cinnamon crunch bagel  with my mom (who was just making potato salad in my apartment), since it was around the time they would be leaving Sunday service. I got into the passenger seat and just sat there. I saw a couple of my neighbors walking in front of the van with some groceries. I figured they were bringing me comfort food, so when they noticed me just sitting in the passenger seat of this Comcast work van, I waved at them and mouthed the words "thank you" as obviously as I could. I continued to sit there until Jeff walked up to the van. He and my other friends with their super climbing skills must have made their way down from the trees while I was on the elevator. Jeff said," All the guys really want to be here to support you, but it's Sunday so..", indicating that as sympathetic as they may be, they still didn't want to miss football. I knew how much more important Fantasy Football was to them than friendship, so I said that I understood. Jeff said they did feel bad, but the guys didn't want to miss the games either, so they were going to run some cables and hook up a big screen by the pool.  I thought that was a great idea since I didn't want to be alone, even though I was a Comcast van...talking to nobody...while I thought my dad's corpse was in the back next to the DVR's. Then Bill, my old neighbor who was going to transport the body, got into the driver's seat. He immediately lit up a joint. Another one of my friends, no doubt after smelling the joint, came and stood in the open passenger door next to Jeff. He asked about smoking it with us. Jeff told him, " No, Jimmy needs to smoke, let him smoke. Just go to the pool and he'll be over in a minute." Nobody thought it tacky that we were going to puff while pops is turning blue just behind us. Jeff, obviously not concerned that it was Bill's joint, instructed him, " The kid needs to smoke. Give him the joint, just let him smoke it by himself."  Bill agreed so he inhaled one last hit...then one more last hit...followed by his last hit. Bill continued to take one last hit until he could no longer hold the joint without the use of a pair of tweezers. He opened the driver door and flicked the roach out. He turned to me and shrugged his shoulders with a smile that indicated that he knew what he had just done was a dick move, and said, "Sorry", as if he did it by accident. Then he got out and walked away. I couldn't be mad though, since he was saving me money on the body transportation. Still, Jeff and I looked at each other in disbelief, while Jeff made the same face he makes in reality when he takes a second to determine if it's ok to laugh or not. I was in no laughing mood, so Jeff held it in. He said to take as much time as I needed with my dad, and then to come over to the pool. He said, "You're ok?" I told him that I was. So he closed my door, and walked over to the pool. I imagined that he was laughing his ass off all the way.

            Bill was a jack ass in reality so it was no surprise he was a jack ass in what had become my reality. Jeff was my best friend in reality and in my version of reality. I am pretty sure that if something like this had really happened, I would need him there, and with his wife's permission, he would undoubtedly be there as quickly as 300+ horsepower could take him, pausing only to drop his convertible top before hauling ass out of his driveway. Knowing this is probably why my mind, where soon to pass rationality was struggling to speak it's dying words, sent Dreamed Up Jeff an invite to this party. Why it invited Bill, I will never know. What was important was that my best friend was there, and even though I was deranged and he wasn't really there, he brought me some much needed comfort. Dreamed Up Jeff was not unlike the real Jeff, though I imagine that the real Jeff would have said something about me attempting to smoke a joint in a Comcast van that I thought my dad's dead body was in. But, then again, I could never imagine that my best friend would soon betray me.
" It's always a friend who hates you most"
  - Clear and Present Danger
Before the Betrayal

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