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Twisting all the bad things into good

Aug 31, 2013

LADY WITH THE FADING BUTTERFLY TATTOO



"Scott then asked me if I were afraid to die and I said more at some times than at others"
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast



8/28/13

The wait was almost over.
"71" called the lady sitting behind the counter.
He was next.
"72" she called.
His time had come.
He took his wrinkled up yellow number and his broken down green book and his necessary documents to her.
His height was still 6'1. His eyes still hazel. His vision still perfect.
Only his state had changed.
The lady had a fading butterfly tattoo on the inside of her wrist.
She noticed his book while he filled in the blanks.
"I didn't know Hemingway was able to write a short story" she said.
He began to raise his eyes but never got past her butterfly.
He just kept writing.
"Yeah," he said. "Some of them are actually pretty good."

On his way home, he stopped at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee. It was iced coffee and it was good, strong coffee. The lady who worked there knew how he liked it. Lots of cream, lots of sweetening stimulant, and not a lot of ice.
He sat in the same booth where he always sat and he looked at his new picture on his new license.
He looked younger and healthier and happier than he did on his old license picture taken 35 months earlier. But he was getting tired of waiting for his time to come. He wasn't getting any taller.
He thought about the story he'd been working on. It was the only thing he'd ever handwritten in pencil and he didn't know what possessed him to not just type it.
It was a sad story and he wondered if it was worth the toll it was taking on him to write it.
But he knew it was a good story and he hoped very much to finish it while his vision was still perfect, before her butterfly faded any further.
It was a true story. It was the best thing he'd ever written  and he considered never letting anyone ever read it.
He was not an organ donor.


Aug 15, 2013

CRISIS STABILIZED: Patron Saint Outro



"There is only one thing I dread:
not to be worthy of my sufferings."

This quotation is attributed to Fyodor Dostoyevsky.




MONDAY 9/13/10

Somehow, Jeff kept a straight face when he saw me in daisy dukes and ballet slippers.

"AY! There he goes. What's up, bro?" he asked.

Me? Not much, dude. Just got released from my involuntary stay in a mental health facility, how 'bout you, good weekend? Noles win? You didn't tell anyone about this, did you? Because this kind of shit, this goes to the grave.

Whatever he said, it wasn't what he was thinking.

He kept it to himself. He probably didn't feel comfortable admitting to me that he never knew I had such nice upper thighs until today.


With my personal belongings in one hand, my meds in the other, and a bus schedule in neither, we walked out the same doors I walked in wearing handcuffs 6 days earlier. On the way to the car, I examined my prescription bottles, hoping that someone misread my file and gave me Roxys and Xanax instead of Risperidone and Lexapro.



Jeff asked, "What'd they give you?"

"Some antidepressant and an anti-psychotic."

"Oh," he said, pretending that was normal. "Okay."

He didn't ask if I wanted to drive.



When we got in the Mustang, the top was already down. I reached over my right shoulder for the seat belt, as if anything could kill me, then I looked over my left shoulder towards the empty back seat and greeted an old friend of ours.

"Hey, what's up, Joe Wren?" I asked the ghost of Joe Wren, who as far as I knew, was still alive, probably living in Boynton, helping a friend look for the drugs he stole from him.

Jeff gave me his "should I be humored or horrified?" look that he always follows with,"Oh, no."

Once he was confident that I knew that Joe Wren was not really in his backseat, he laughed. "I thought I was gonna have to bring you back in there, and tell them 'Yeah, I don't think my friend's ready to go home'."

I laughed. "Nah, I'm all better now."

I winked in the passenger side mirror at Joe Wren, who just shook his head.


Jeff would later tell me that it probably wouldn't have been as funny if he did the same thing to me.

Very true.

Nothing's ever as funny as when I do it.


"So, your best friend's crazy" I news-flashed.

"You were always crazy."

"Yeah, but now I got the doctor's note."


Then we went into typical BFF conversation.

"Sorry I yelled "fuck you" when I was being put the cop car."

"I'm surprised you remembered that."

"I remember everything. Even the stuff that didn't happen."

"Dude you were crazy. What did you think was happening?"

So I told him.

About how it all started with the ants.

About a day when nobody came and kept knocking on my door.

About Angel's illusions.

About a dad who came back from the dead.

About the pimps, and the whores, and the dealers, the good cops and the bad cops

About self inflicted scars.

And how we can convince ourselves of anything.

About how an old friend showed up just before I drowned.

And how deep down below the surface, at the bottom of the ocean, beneath the place where the ship went down, we discovered our treasure. It was always there.

And if we start a conglomerate, or corporation, or whatever, don't ask me to be the CEO.

CEO.

I don't even know how to spell it, let alone what it stands for.

I'm not man enough to be the man for that job.

I vote for Jeff Johnson, and so should you.

Jeff Johnson.

A distinguished gentleman.

Jeff Johnson.

The name you can trust.

Jeff Johnson.

The Patron Saint of Best Friends.

He's the greater of the 2.

It's not a slight to me.

Not in my book.

Not if you know Jeff.

If you don't, know this.

He'll take you where you need to go.

He's the only one with character in this character study.

But I can't be Jeff.

Even if I tried, his wife would clean my cuckoo clock. If you're not familiar with the phrase, or you never met Kimmy, I assure you it's not the kind of beating that has a happy ending. Not for me at least.

Plus, I could never deal with having me for a best friend.

Fuck. That.

I got a family.

Fuck me.


Maybe this was life telling me something.

Maybe there's something or someone waiting for me up North.

If it's something, I hope it's worth it.

If it's someone, I hope she's hot.



In the rear view, the ghost of Joe Wren had his eyes closed, and his head back, soaking up the sun. When he saw me looking in the rear view, he gave me a wink and a nod.

He didn't say anything. He didn't have to.

I saw the look on his face. I read his mind.

He was thinking about what he told me so many years ago.

He wanted to tell me he was wrong, that it wasn't too late.

"You can still take the sword from the stone."

Thanks, Joe. I hope so. I'm sure as hell gonna try.

Until then, I can take the bus.

I'm the Patron Saint of Absolutely Nothing.

I can take anything.


And if that's true, if I'm not still delusional, I can take this mess, all these things I'm most ashamed of, and turn it into the thing I'm most proud of.


I think I just did.



THE END






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