Sometimes togetherness goes too far

 

I hate the idea that we four do everything together.

Me, Garrick, Hank and Pauly all had the same Kindergarten teacher, all had the same dentist, even went to the same priest to hear our confessions,

(God knows what the priest thinking hearing each of us confess the same crimes, although Iím convinced Pauly put most of the blame on the rest of us and asked the priest for sainthood).

I guess maybe I am as slow as Paulyís father says I am.

He thinks Iím Winnie-the-Pooh and tells exaggerated stories about me while puffing on a cigar the doctors tell him will only make his cancer worse.

Cecil always winks at anyone heís talking to so as to say he really loves me, but canít resist rubbing my nose in how slow he thinks I am.

People are always fooled by me, claiming Iím a lot nicer than my cruel smile says I am when I think Iím pretty cruel inside, always angry about something even if I donít show it. The only time I laugh is when Iím drunk, and thatís an angry laugh.

Cecil says I only got one speed in me and that speed is slow.

I try to tell him and the others that thereís no place I need to get to that requires me to move much faster than I do.

Iím not a happy camper, even if I like my friends.

I was happy once. Before I broke up with Jean, back when I thought I still had a future and could get to it by going to college.

Now I mostly go home and lock myself in my apartment, planting flowers outside my window so I have something nice to look at and cooking meals on my rented stove so I have something good to eat.

I should have seen my breakup coming when the other three broke up with their girls before I did.

I thought I could resist the pattern, not get the same tooth ache they got when I always did, not catch their cold when I always knew I would.

I thought love was different, personal, indifferent to the usual crap we all suffered.

When Hank broke up with Peggy, I felt sorry, but not alarmed.

Even when Ken broke up with Louise, I said, that stuff happens.

But when Pauly split with Jane, I knew I was doomed, too, a moped around the house waiting for the roof to fall in, and then it did.

Jean didnít have to tell me she was leaving me for another man, I already knew Ė I just didnít know his name.

Since then, Iíve come to expect the worst, looking out for what happens to the others, and then bracing for it to happen to me.

When the recession hit, and the others lost their jobs, I started filling out the unemployment papers.

When Pauly wrecked his car on Third Street, I called my agent to add collision to my policy.

Sure, when Hank died last year, I cried for him, but a deeper terror gripped me as I waited to find out which of us would be next.

Sometimes togetherness goes too far.

 


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