“I don’t like to be jerked around like a big dog on a short leash. I’ve found from past experiences, that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable.” Angus MacGyver
We always tell Kirby he doesn’t have to do anything around the house. He does not have to earn his keep. But if he decides something is going to stimulate his brain, when he’s ready to put on his MacGyver hat, by all means go ahead, do whatever you want to do.
“It challenges my brain, thinking, working,” he said. You might win some, you might lose some, but when you challenge yourself you become a better person.
It’s joyful to have him around the house. He can be a big help. Except it wasn’t when I went looking for our Christmas ornaments.
We keep them in the garage. When I went to get them, though, I found out they weren’t there anymore. The garage was completely not our garage anymore. Nothing was where it used to be.
Kirby had decided to fix one wall of the garage. We bought him everything he needed, including cement. He moved everything, only he knew where. But then he got sick, got appendicitis, was out of commission, and then it got too cold to do any more work.
“We’re going to have to wait until summer for Kirby to finish,” I told Brian. In the meantime, everything was somewhere else. “I need my ornaments,” I said. We had to search all over. Kirby couldn’t remember where he had put anything.
Kirby is a jack-of-all-trades. He might not be brilliant at anything, but if you need him to do something, he can do it. He used to be an ironworker. Before he lost his house he took it all apart and put it back together.
Since he’s been living in our basement he’s painted the house, installed a dishwasher, and put our vanity in upstairs. He fixed our front porch, which used to bounce up and down walking across it. He got it done without even bracing anything underneath. No one’s fallen through the porch, so I’m OK with that.
He fixes light fixtures. Sometimes I come home and doorknobs will be mended. One day I came home and our living room was clean. I liked that.
He used to wear his hair in a Mohawk, but now it’s grown out and gone all wild. He looks like a chrysanthemum. He looks like Einstein, except taller, thinner, and with an earring and a necklace he loves, and tattoos. His back is all tattooed, stars, fire, wolves, moons, and a wrench.
A halfway decent haircut goes a long way, but he cuts his own hair. Whenever he gets tired of what it is he buzzes it down to nothing and starts all over again
He took apart my computer, put in new parts, and it works. A friend of ours brought over a heater. Kirby repaired it, put it back together, and it’s working better than ever. Our friend had to bring the heater to him because Kirby doesn’t like to leave the safety of our house.
He sleeps most of the day away since his heart is only working at half of what it used to. He gets tired. His brain only works at two-thirds speed. A third of it is kaput. He leaves the house only to go over to Pookie’s house a couple of blocks away and smoke pot.
When he comes home he likes to reminisce about when he and Brian were young, kids together, and all the crazy stuff they used to do. And that was before he grew up. It all went schizo for Kirby after his mother died. He got a house, but never paid the real estate taxes, and lost it. He inherited twenty thousand dollars, but threw it all away.
He bought a convertible to drive his girlfriend around in. He took her to Vegas. Las Vegas is a place where you make bad decisions. You can get married there in ten minutes and then it takes you ten years to get out of it after you get home. He spent everything on his girlfriend.
Right after Kirby got his twenty grand he came over to our house. “Can you open a safety deposit box for me?” he asked.
“Why do you want me to keep a safety deposit box for you? What do you want to put in it?”
“I have twenty grand in cash. I want you to keep it for me and don’t let me touch it.”
He looked serious, sounded serious, but that didn’t last long. He started coming over our house every week. He’d ring the bell and say, “I have to get to the bank.”
“Kirby! You told me not to let you touch that money.”
“I need it, Jewels, I need it.”
“If you want to be spending it all, throwing it away, it’s not my money, it’s your money. But you’re not going to have any left the way you’re taking it out,” I told him. I was serious. “You’re taking a thousand every other day.” Safety is what happens between your ears. It doesn’t happen in a metal box in a vault somewhere.
Inside of two months it was all gone.
He could have invested what he had, let money make money for him, but he wasn’t willing to listen to us, at all. Kirby is 50-years-old. He has nothing left. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, a convertible, or a house. Nothing
Kirby needs us. He doesn’t drive anymore. We run all his errands and buy all his food. He loves that I cook for him. One day I brought home turkey kielbasa.
“Jewels, how would I go about cooking this?” he asked.
“Why don’t you just ask me to cook it?” I said.
I cooked him a plate of kielbasa and he was happy for the night.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.