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Friday, April 11, 2008The Fates & Their Sidekick Destiny
My goal when I started college had been to be a lawyer but The Fates and their sidekick Destiny had other plans for me. Hands firmly planted on my ass they continuously tried to
He was the product of dysfunctional parents who cared more about themselves than their children. The walking wounded was a term that always came to mind when I looked at him. Life had been especially cruel to him, abandoned by his father as a child; his mom had recently died and now his sister had run off with a man abandoning him as well. In truth the brother was a hard person to get along with. He kept people at a distance. To the outside world he was defiant, angry, cold, obnoxious, and mistrustful of everyone, especially women. He expected the worse from people and was rarely disappointed. My family and I knew a side of him no one else did. We had long ago figured out that his public persona was just an act, that in reality he was just a scared kid. I chose to define him by the rare moments when he allowed me to see who he really was rather than the role of arrogant bastard he played in public.
One day I awoke panicked from a nightmare; he’d been shot and died. Which given the way he was living his life at the time was a prophecy waiting to come true. As the day progressed a feeling of dread intensified in the pit of my stomach. Unable to shake off the nightmare I decided to head out to his place earlier than usual. Even though I loved her dearly I mentally cursed his sister out for running out on him during the entire bus ride to the South Bronx.
As soon as I entered the apartment I got a vibe that something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I set my keys on the counter and pulled the Tupperware containers out of my back pack and put his dinner in the fridge. Glancing around I noticed a stack of dishes in the sink and the absence of his usual note for me on the table. Back then due to our conflicting schedules our main source of communication was a flurry of humorous notes left on the kitchen table and the occasional dinner at my house. The phone rang a few times as I cleaned the kitchen and the answering machine picked up; it was his girlfriend, she wanted to come over tomorrow and get laid. Then a mutual friend called inviting us to a Christian team’s softball game. Our balls are soft for Jesus we jokingly called them.
I left a note for him and got ready to leave. Still unable to shake the feeling that something was wrong I made a quick inspection of the apartment satisfied I attempted to leave but the front door wouldn’t open. I twisted and turned the door knob even jiggled the lock several times but still the door refused to budge. I noticed my sneaker laces were untied and as I bent down to tie them I caught a quick movement out of the corner of my eye and froze. Great I am trapped in this hot ass apartment with a mouse or a really big water bug Rodents I can handle water bugs however scare the crap out of me, go figure. Don’t laugh people Bronx water bugs have been known to carry weapons just so you know. I pulled at the door again, no luck. I leaned back on the wall and closed my eyes thinking about my next move. Okay Mia don’t panic ….. Give it a few minutes the lock is probably jammed. Call mom; have her send Tank and Brad over. They’ll get you out. If it’s a mouse stomp your feet. If it’s a water bug arm yourself with a meat cleaver and lock yourself in the bathroom.
My eyes still closed I was wiping the sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand when I suddenly felt a burst of cool air gently blowing over my face and a light caress on my cheek. It felt like gentle fingers… or the beating wings of a water bug. I felt a scream in my throat waiting to emerge. Don’t panic, do not fucking panic. Don’t scream or it’ll fly into your mouth. I opened my eyes slowly, there was nothing there. I was about to pull out my cell phone when it suddenly hit me that his bedroom door had been closed, which was unusual because the bedroom doors were always kept open to allow the air to circulate in the apartment. My chest tightened as I was hit by the over powering urge to check his room. As I ran towards his room I hoped the door was closed because one his play dates slept over and not because of what had just flashed through my mind.
I pushed the door open and ran in practically tripping over his pack back. The room was dark, the blinds were drawn, and the smell of mango-pina weed was over powering. He was alone sitting on his bed looking like crap, an empty sneaker box at his feet and a pillow on his lap. Besides him there was a half bottle of Hennessey, and an ashtray with the remains of several recently smoked blunts. He was not happy to see me. “What the hell are you doing here so early?!” he snapped as he pulled out one of his hands out from under the pillow. “Eww. Did I just walk in on a special guy moment?” Not waiting for an answer I asked, “What are you doing here anyway, shouldn’t you be at work?” He shrugged his shoulders,"Check out the dresser. I got an eviction notice. Since my sister bounced the landlord says I can’t stay in the apartment.” He’d been born in that apartment, his mom had died in that apartment, and it had been the only home he’d ever known. “Damn.”
I sat down next to him ignoring the pillow on his lap. We said nothing for a few minutes then I stood up in front of him and broke the silence. “I’m going to turn around and give you a minute to put whatever you got under that pillow away and then you and I are going to my house.” He started to protest and I interrupted him, “Please.” He looked angry and glared at me for several seconds, I glared back at him. “Go ahead give me dirty looks, we can do this all night and I can do it better my eyes are bigger.” He shook his head and motioned for me to turn around. My back to him I heard the heavy sound of whatever had been in his lap being put into the sneaker box and slid back under his bed. “Listen the front door is stuck. I couldn’t get out when I tried to leave.” “Most likely the heat is making the paint in the door jamb stick.” He replied. I nodded my head, “Sounds good to me. Oh and by the way I think there’s a water bug the size of your dome flying around the house.” He grabbed my hand pulling me out of the room behind him, “Pendeja.” “Pendeja my ass those things are nasty!” As he walked to the front door I grabbed my knapsack from the kitchen table and leaned against the wall expecting him to struggle with the door. The door opened easily for him. “What the hell!?” He grabbed my bag from my shoulder, “You’re weak son you have no upper body strength.” “Screw you puto that door was stuck. I must have loosened it for you.”
We spent the rest of the evening in silence watching horror movies. When I caught myself falling asleep on him around 1 am I took my pillow and headed a few feet away to the love seat. He looked so tired and worn out. “You’re staying out here with me tonight?” he asked. “Yup, you and I need to talk about some things.” “I don’t want to talk Mia.” He spat out angrily. I shrugged my shoulders at him and said, “Fine. Homo thug.” He gave me the finger. He turned off the television and the room became pitch black. After a few minutes I felt myself nodding off. “Yo wonder twin?” I chuckled at his use of my mom’s nickname for us. “What?” “I’m sorry.” “Don’t stress it count chinkula.” I replied using my nickname for him. “Respect your elders.” “Oh please you’re only a few days older than me.” Silence, complete and utter silence it was so quiet the humming of the air conditioner could be heard.
Finally he spoke,“Mia?” His tone was serious. “Hmm?” More silence followed by a sigh. “I was about to kill myself when you walked in. The gun was under the pillow.” “I know.” “Yeah I figured you did. ” We laid there in you guessed it more silence. I’d never realized until that moment how loud silence is. “How did you know to come for me?” “I had a feeling something was wrong. I guess it’s true what they say, for every soul there is a guardian watching over it." I replied. “Are you that guardian?” he asked. “No I’m just assisting in this operation.” “Smart ass.” We didn’t talk anymore instead I listened as he fell asleep. Ever since his mom had died he’d been plagued by nightmares, it was the main reason he hated sleeping alone. When I finally heard his soft snoring I allowed myself to give in to my exhaustion.
I'd been sleeping for awhile when he called me out of my dreams, “Mia?” “What?” “Can I go over there with you?” “You’re too tall for the love seat.”He must have had a nightmare. “Hold up I’ll come to you." I grabbed my pillow and stood over him as he scooted over on the sofa to make room for me. He took my pillow added it to his and rolled over onto his back. He then patted his chest above his heart; I turned on my side facing him and laid my head where he’d indicated and he wrapped his arms around me. After awhile he spoke, “You’re my best friend even though your boy friend hates me.” "Well we’re even then because your girl friend hates me.” “True that, but you beat her down. Gave her a black eye and shit.” He chuckled. “Oh please she hated me before the beat down. The behemoth shouldn’t have mouthed off to my mother on the phone. No one disrespects my mama.” “Word” “Thanks for beating up her brother for me.” “I wasn’t about to let him touch you.” “I could’ve handled him.” “No doubt ma, no shame in accepting help though.” “That’s what I’ve been telling your dumb ass all along. So why don’t you take your own advice? ” I sensed he was getting ready to shut down on me so I held back on the lecture I’d wanted to give him. It had taken me a year to get this far. This was going to take time.
He hugged me tighter and I could feel his protective wall crumbling. I patted his stomach,"That’ll do pig, that'll do.” He laughed at the Babe reference. “Ma do the singing mice for me." "No." "Come on I love when you do that shit." In a squeaky voice I sang, “If I had words to make a day for you… I’d sing you a morning golden and new… I would make this day last for all time… give you a night deep in moonshine!” he laughed and then asked “Would you really?” “In a heart beat pig.” He hugged me tighter, "Dude. I. Can't. Breathe." I managed to rasp out. He loosened his grip and tugged at my hair, “Man, who would have thought a girl as my best friend?” “Word son, what would the guys back on the block say?” He shoved me playfully, “Fuckin' smart ass. You just can’t help yourself can you?” “Nope.”
The following semester I switched my major to psychology and minor to counseling and when I entered my psych class for the first time I could've sworn I felt that The Fates and their sidekick Destiny give me an encouraging pat on my back.
If I Had Words
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