The Telephone Call

Life offers two types of pain, one physical and one mental. Man still hasn’t found a tougher prison than the one he encages his mind in. There is no greater pain than the mental anguish we inflict on ourselves and there is no tougher warden than the person we see in the mirror. For some there is no midnight reprieve, the governor doesn’t offer clemency. There is only one way out and no two people can share the path.

I didn’t see him approach. I didn’t notice anything about him including his presence until he was standing in front of us, waving a gun and shouting for our wallets. I have a bad habit of giggling when I am nervous. I don’t like being the center of attention and now was certainly a bad time to laugh, but laugh I did.

5’8 or so and about a buck twenty sopping wet with a bad haircut and a Judas Priest shirt, that is all he was, oh and he had a big gun and an even bigger attitude. He grabbed my collar and asked me what was so funny. Before I could answer he had grabbed you.

You screamed as he pulled you in front of him and asked me if I thought that this was funny. I choked back a snigger and told him that it wasn’t. He told me that if I so much as smiled he would kill you. I wiped the smile off of my face.

It was the wrong thing to do, but I didn’t know it. The jackass cuffed me in the side of the head and laughed. It infuriated me, brought back memories of years of being teased and tortured by someone who had been like an older brother to me. So I just reacted. I kicked him in the balls and smacked him in the head.

“What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt”
Hurt– Nine Inch Nails

It feels like a million years ago but I remember it vividly. You and I were so very in love but that night the love was buried beneath anger. Maybe if we would have had some more life experience we might have recognized that fear and uncertainty was what caused that fight between us.

Maybe if I hadn’t beaten a man to death in front of you I wouldn’t have felt the need to walk away. Maybe if I hadn’t been arrested and frog walked to a squad car I wouldn’t have been so ashamed. Maybe if I had accepted that it wasn’t entirely my fault I would have been able to look you in the eyes.

That is an awful lot of ‘maybes’ and there is no saying now what could have happened. Would have, could have should have aren’t things that I can let myself think about. It is too painful.

So I stopped taking your calls and started walking, maybe not literally but in this case figurative works. I got lost in myself and I couldn’t talk to you. I didn’t know how. I barely knew how to talk to myself.

Time passed and I started to think about calling you but I couldn’t figure out what to say so I stayed silent. Can’t remember how I heard that you were married but if there was a thought in my mind about calling you that killed it.

Couldn’t imagine you introducing me to your family, what would you say.

“I used to love this guy until he killed the guy who tried to mug us and went crazy.”

Actually I didn’t go crazy- it just took a while to process it.

And now more than twenty years later I am lying in the dark holding the phone in my hand listening to your voice- wondering how you found my number and why you called.

My heart is pounding and my mouth is dry. I feel like my tongue is stuck to the top of my roof.

“I am in trouble and I need your help. They’re back.”

And then the other memories hit me like a torrent of water and I remember why I had to walk away from the woman I planned to marry.

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