“Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other one is good. They fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins, I answer, the one I feed the most.” Sitting Bull
When I couldn’t find my favorite suitcase a few days before Brian and I were going down to Mexico for a week, I called Jimmy.
“Do you have my suitcase?” I asked.
“I’ve had it for three years,” he said.
“We take it to Mexico every year. You haven’t had it for three years.”
“Yes, I have, you’re wrong,” he said.
“No, you’re wrong,” I said.
“No, I’m not.”
“Are you ever wrong, Jimmy?”
“You sound like you’ve had a few drinks,” I said.
“Yeah, a few. I work hard. After this I’m off to see the wizard. I’m not telling you for jokiness. I’m telling you because you want me to be honest, be your friend. I’m being honest. I don’t need any judgement.”
“I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways, dickhead,” I said. “Either you have friends who care about you, or not, so I’m going to say you’re an asshole for going to smoke crack.”
“I worked hard all week. Lynn knows where I’m going, what I’m doing,” he said.
“Then she’s a bigger idiot than I thought she was, for letting you smoke crack all weekend while you’re taking care of her.”
“What are you doing this weekend?” he asked.
“It’s a blizzard outside, so I’m in the house cooking.”
I love to cook when it’s snow storming.
“What are you making?”
“I’m making spanakopita. It’s a Greek spinach pie, with onions, cheese, and herbs. It’s all folded up in a flaky crispy dough.”
“Oh, you mean spanakapita.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced with an O,” I said.
“You’re an idiot,” he said. “You never admit when you’re wrong, do you?”
“OK, you’re right, I’m an idiot. I’m making spanakapita. Happy now?”
Why do I even ever talk to Jimmy? Brian refuses to speak to him.
“Why do you even talk to that asshole?” he asks me.
“Why are we even friends?” I asked Jimmy.
“Are you going to tell me you’re not my friend anymore?”
“Unfortunately, James, you and I have been friends since the 5th grade. There’s just no getting rid of you.”
“I took Lynn to a French restaurant last week.”
“That’s nice,’ I said. “So you’re back in the big house?”.
“How’s your dad? Is he still alive?”
I didn’t ask if he hung out at Lynn’s house anymore. For a while Jimmy’s dad had tried to get Lynn for himself, before Jimmy finally won her over.
“I heard Lynn’s dad has showed up down there in Florida.”
Lynn’s father is a very rich and a very sick man. Last year, when Jimmy was dating Lynn, he had a fit. He hates Jimmy. He said he was going to shoot him, although he never did. He has an undying love for his daughter, but not the right kind of love.
“I’m not allowed to be there when he comes over,” said Jimmy. “I take off.”
He knows it’s sick and demented, but he hides when Lynn’s father comes over. She has a big spread, what with her polo ponies, so there’s a lot of landscape to hide in.
“I don’t understand your life,” I said. “It’s gross! It’s wrong.”
“I’m being honest,” he said. “Don’t judge me.”
Right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it.
“That doesn’t mean I have to like it. It doesn’t mean I don’t worry about you. You’re dating a woman 20-something years older than you, who has a father who’s like a hundred, who, we won’t even talk about that, and you are smoking crack every chance you get.”
“Everyone has a few drinks. Why can’t I have some crack?”
“They don’t serve that at bars, that’s why,” I said.
“I can control it,” he said.
“Right, says every crackhead and none ever did,” I said.
“I just do my work, hang out, be myself.” He works in construction all week, and he’s started working for Lynn, too, at her house, on her property.
“Why shouldn’t I do the work, instead of the Mexicans?” he said. “Why shouldn’t I earn the money?”
What Jimmy likes is she has got money and a big house. What Lynn likes is the sex. They are both getting what they think they need.
“Basically, you’re doing whatever the hell you want, and she’s doing whatever the hell she wants,” I said.
That didn’t go over well. Jimmy says he’s being honest whenever he says whatever he says, but he doesn’t want any honesty in return. He thinks you’re getting in his face. Every time we talk, he tells me why he’s the greatest and why Brian and I are idiots. He’s like a broken record.
“Why won’t your husband talk to me?” he asked.
“Because you ran out on us after we took care of you when you were down and out,” I said. “And because of how you treat me.”
“That’s not true,” he said.
“Pray tell, how do you see it in your world?”
The crack the past ten years hasn’t changed Jimmy, not at all. He’s still as selfish and self-righteous as he always was. Brian says that he will never grow up because he’s not wrong, never wrong, and always right.
He knows more than you. Right off the bat, that’s what he assumes about everybody. You’re an idiot. I’m an idiot because I married Brian.
When I told him Brian’s new business had turned the corner and is doing really well, he didn’t want to hear it. When I first told him about it, what Brian was planning, he told me the business would fail, for sure.
“It’s going well,” I said.
Nothing is all of what Jimmy said. He didn’t want to hear it and had nothing to say.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.