I was leaning on her shoulder. She was my rock. My source of comfort. She looked over at me and said: “Why do you always gotta lean on me like that? It’s annoying.” There was a group of us there; they were her friends, not mine, and they only tolerated me because I was her boyfriend.
We went to a party. I drank probably too much. When I arrived at the party, I could barely stand. Someone gave me some pills; I took them without a moment’s thought. I was intent on escaping, what? … something or another. I couldn’t stand myself, my shadow, my reflection—it was all so repulsive.
When she found me in the next room, faced buried in a rag, as I sprayed Axe Body Spray up through the rag and into my mouth and took an epic huff that turned the floor into waves and my thoughts were skipping beats, she was pissed. She stormed out of the room and I stormed after her. She left the party in a rage, and I stopped her on the sidewalk.
“Where are you going?”
She stopped and turned and glared at me hard.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she spat. “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“It’s what I’m good at,” I told her. It’s all I’m good at.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m not good at anything,” I explained. “I can’t do anything right. My mind is a growing void.”
She said: “You’re not making any sense.”
“I’m too smart,” I went on. “I’m too fuckin smart for my own fuckin good. I need to dumb myself down. Maybe people will like me better. Maybe I will like myself better. Maybe I won’t care.”
She hurried off into the night. I followed.
“Go away!” she spat at me. “I mean it, I’m not interested in what you got to say.”
“I can’t even make you love me!” I said to her back as she kept walking, and then she was gone, and I was alone, holding in one hand a damp rag and in the other hand a can of Axe Body Spray.
A few weeks ago an old friend of mine—his name is Pat—sent me an old picture of a crew of us hanging out at maybe 18 years of age. Guess he was feeling very nostalgic because he kept talking about the band, the times, the friends, the places we went, the things we did, sending me the pictures we took. I don’t know what was happening in his life to have spawned such a series of old memories flashing through his mind like that. Then he mentioned Andrew. “Have you talked to Andrew in a while?” he said. “No. I haven’t spoken to him in about eight years, give or take.” “Me, neither. But if I hear from him I’ll let you know.” As if I’d been waiting all my life to hear from Andrew again, as if I had this unyielding desire to see what became of him—truth is, I kind of did, but even so, I played it cool. “You do that,” I told him. Andrew and I were best friends and I missed him….
The following day, I went up with Michelle and her daughter to stay the week at Michelle’s grandparents.
In the car Pat kept sending me pictures and I just kept responding with “Cool.” “Cool,” I kept saying. “Cool,” was all I could say. I didn’t know what else to say other than “Cool.”
The next night I received some unsettling news.
“I finally heard what happened to Andrew,” he said. “Andrew’s dead.”
“I don’t know. Curtis stopped responding and I messaged Rachel and I’m still waiting for a response.”
I was heartbroken.
I didn’t know what to do. Rachel is his wife—or was his wife, last I heard—so I went to message her myself.
A few minutes later my phone rang. I was sitting beside Michelle and we were watching a TV show on the computer, while my mind was racing about the endless horrors of what had become of Andrew.
Since I rarely get any phone calls except from Michelle and she was right next to me, I was shocked. So I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Rachel calling me, via Facebook Messenger.
I answered immediately and she was frantic. She told me Andrew is not dead, he’s out with his mom now. He’s been having a really rough time, what with the recent deaths of his dad and his grandfather, both of whom he was very close to. He was sober for a while, she told me, but now he’s using again. She’s really concerned about him. She heard I was married now. Every now and then she and Andrew would go and look me up on Facebook and reminisce about the “good ol’ days”; and she saw that I got married. And since I was sober, she had no problem giving me his number.
Immediately I texted Andrew:
Hey, Andrew. This is Jeremy St. Chaos. I miss you. Call me.
I expected an immediate response, but after no response came for the next half hour, all the usual self-doubts descended upon me. Maybe I should have elaborated more. Maybe I should have said something different. He’ll be so confused when he gets this text, I probly just screwed up any chances of reconnecting. What was I thinking? This was useless. He probly doesn’t miss me at all. There’s no way these feelings are mutual. He knew my Facebook, even though he didn’t have a Facebook himself; I’m friends with his wife on Facebook, so he could have contacted me there. Rachel thinks I’m doing well, which is the only reason she gave me his number. What if I’m not doing as well as she thinks? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I make matters worse? Fuck it anyway, it’s probly best he doesn’t write back. I’ve gone this long without contacting him, maybe it was best it remain this way; maybe it would be best he stay dead in my mind. Fuck it, I told myself.
A couple hours later, between 11:30 and 12, I received a text back:
Is this really Jeremy?
Yeah, it’s me.
I’ve probably already said the wrong thing.
I get off work in half an hour I’ll call you in about 45 minutes.
I checked the time.
I’m pretty tired. I might be asleep by then. You can call me tomorrow, I guess.
I’ll be on the road all day tomorrow.
This was a mistake, I knew.
So we texted each other. When I told him I was married, he said: “Man you really changed for the worse.” I assumed he already knew I was married; Rachel did, anyway. He asked me: “Do you still listen to rock & roll?” I told him: “No. I listen to classical. You know, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart.” “Seriously?” “I’m just fucking with you, dude. Of course I still listen to rock. I haven’t changed that much.” “Do you still use drugs?” “No.” “Then it’s probably not a good idea we hang out.” I thought he was sober—at least for a little while—as Rachel had told me. I was really disappointed. I mean, I was so thrilled to finally reconnect with him, that I was crushed to find out he was the same-old Andrew.
After a short while of text message silence, I wrote:
Well, it was good to hear from you. Glad you’re not dead. Haha.
Yeah same it was good to hear from you too.
I felt so crushed. I thought this would have been good. But I guess it was good—too good to be true, in fact.
The following day I received a text from him. It was a song by Hank Williams, Jr., called “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)”. Very funny, I thought. I sent him Patrik Fitzgerald’s song “All My Friends Are Dead”. Well, this was it; this was all we had in common now: our musical interests.
For the next three to four days we shared bands via text message; I shared him my writing, sent him my book The Gospel of Chaos, and he wired me 25 dollars on the Cash App in exchange. I was thrilled he showed an interest; I knew he would like the book.
He suggested a book to me called Death of Cool: From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood, a novel, and I immediately ordered it on Amazon. He said I would like it, and it seemed good to me. Right up my alley.
When The Gospel of Chaos came in the mail for him, he took a picture and sent it to me so that I knew he got it. Then he went to work.
While he was at work, I sent him a prose poem I had written a while ago called “A Rebel’s Paradise”, which I knew he would like—I knew he would be able to relate.
He didn’t write back till the following morning though, when we had a brief back and forth about reverse racism, political correctness, pandering to the masses, etc.—in response to me sending him that piece. We agreed with each other pretty much 100% of the time.
Then things got weird. He told me that he was glad to hear from me again but he would have been just as happy not hearing from me at all. It didn’t make a difference to him.
Where was this coming from?
He accused me of thinking that he was only saying what he was saying to impress me. He was not trying to impress me; this was who he was and these are the things he thought and felt. “I don’t think you’re trying to impress me,” I assured him. He said I reminded him of the depressed Jeremy who used to patronize everyone about this and that before practice.
Where the hell was this coming from????
I was so confused.
“What are you talking about?” I had no idea how things turned out this way. He was clearly paranoid. He told me he worked long hours and I figured he must have had a bad day at work. He wrote:
You do you and I’ll do me.
Have you been working all night?
Nothing. No response. I guess this moved too fast; I always move into things too fast. No. I take that back : : : I always dive into the freezing cold water headfirst. No holding back, I just leap and crash into the water with no regrets and I figure I’ll find out the temperature once I’m immersed in it. That’s what I did; that’s what I always do. And then I’m always surprised that lately none of my friendships seem to be sustainable.
But still, I hope he reads my book, anyway. I know he’ll like it.
But then again, I bet he just threw it in the trash and said fuck that asshole!
When the book Death of Cool came in the mail for me, I debated sending him a picture of it just so he knew I was taking him seriously, but then just decided to let it die. There really was nothing here; nothing good could have come from this—it would only drag me into a hole that would take years to climb out of. 50 miles down the hill, 50 miles back up///
When I hadn’t seen him in some time, and he was suddenly married, it made sense that something was up. He was fat, and even though he always bragged about his nine-inch pecker, a previous girlfriend of his told me he lied and his penis fell just short of average.
So when I found out Ben was married, at first I couldn’t believe it. I had to meet this new chick. My own girlfriend, Lacey from LA, was out with some friends that night, so I drove myself to Ben and Christy Boyd’s Section 8 apartment in Wellesley, MA.
His apartment was located behind a used car lot. I parked in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot. It was still daylight when I got there. As I’d never seen his new apartment, he agreed to meet me outside the Dunkin Donuts. I saw him there, and he waved me over.
“Long time no see,” he said.
“Wait till you meet her,” he said.
We cut through a line of thick, bushy trees and entered a patchy field. His building was three-stories. We walked through the field and came to the residents-only parking lot and he punched in the passcode and the door buzzed and I followed him in. Up on the second floor was where he lived.
On the way, we passed his neighbor just leaving and Ben said: “This is Frankie.”
“Sup,” said Frankie.
“Frankie’s a major pot head,” said Ben.
“Cool,” I said. “So you two must have a lot in common, then.” I chuckled.
We entered his apartment and that’s when I met Christy. Christy was kinda chubby, with short orange hair. As always, Ben was loaded with booze and we drank the booze and chatted and laughed.
Eventually Frankie came over and we smoked pot in his water bong.
Everything was real crazy and details went missing like slots of time had vanished and I sat on the beanbag chair and Ben and Frankie sat on the couch as Christy lay on the floor beside me. She kept smiling at me and we might have even been flirting and Ben had no idea.
Eventually I decided to leave. But of course, Christy wanted me to stay.
“Please stay,” she said, grasping my arm.
“I really gotta go.”
“I’ll see you again some other time.”
I went down the stairs, through the front door, around the building, through the trees, and I came out surrounded by cars. There were cars everywhere. I wandered left and right, back and forth, searching for my own car. It was almost impossible with all these other cars everywhere.
I sat down on the grass and stared off into the sky. The stars were like pixels and the sky was moving like TV static.
Fuck! I had no idea where I was.
I stared off into the sky for a moment longer, until I looked to my left and saw the Dunkin Donuts sign and I remembered that was where I had parked my car. I staggered between the rows of various used vehicles until I reached the end of the used car lot and I hopped into my own car and left.
When I got home, I called Lacey. I was shitfaced. I could have just told her the truth about what had happened, but for some reason—I don’t know why I did it—I lied to her.
I said: “I met Ben’s new wife tonight.”
“How is she?” Lacey asked me.
“We had sex,” I told her.
Lacey was furious.
I was hammered.
I went through the kitchen and started to head downstairs, when I tripped and slammed my face through the wall at the bottom. I lay there in a heap of discomfort.
My dad must have heard the noise, because I saw him at the top of the stairs, looking down at me. He shook his head in disapproval and then he was gone.
The next day, Lacey came over to drop off some stuff I had left at her dorm. She was going to break up with me.
But when she walked in the door, first thing she saw was my face. It was covered in bruises and cuts and dried-on blood.
“Jesus!” she said.
I told her the truth about what had happened—now that I was sober and much more rational. For some reason she forgave me for what I had done….