The quilt seemed to calm my restlessness but I still had a hard time trying to understand how people like Rhonda or Willis could live with themselves being so despicable and mean spirited, but I remembered what Dr. Claire A. Voyance said during the counseling session earlier, she said that people like them give the illusion that nothing troubles them, but if you were to peel back the layers like you do an onion, you’d find an assortment of insecurities and unresolved issues.
Now, even if that were the case, it still didn’t ease my frustrations, but I knew that in order for me to avoid befriending those same personality types in the future, I needed to correct the flaw within me that was drawn to or affected by their energies. I knew that Willis wouldn’t stop trying to reel me back in because his greed would never let him rest until he had all of my money and, on the flip side, Rhonda would continually give me the cold shoulder until I slid some cold cash into her hands, but I wasn’t biting on either of their lines.
Instead of being a fish in life, I wanted to be a mighty lion because a lion’s courage makes him king of his jungle and I knew that I needed to approach life with the same courageousness in order to survive and avoid becoming carnage for life’s vultures. At the suggestion of my doctor, I decided to make the trip to the bookstore after work the next day and purchase the novel, “Just as I Am” by E. Lynn Harris. I hoped that I would find some inspiration within its pages to help me through the desolate patch of forest I had been walking through for too long.
As soon as I entered my studio, I threw my keys onto the kitchen counter, hung my brown leather coat up on a hanger in the closet, and stripped out of my cloths and underclothes to take a nice, soothing, hot shower. After I was certain that I was clean enough, I dried myself off and checked the mirror to see if I needed to shave or if I was good to go for another day, thankfully I passed inspection because I didn’t feel like shaving. I slipped on some blue, jockey, boxer briefs and pulled a matching blue wife beater over my head, and rolled it down over my chest and torso, tucking the bottom of it into my briefs.
I turned the light off in the bathroom, and headed over to the freezer to retrieve a Klondike bar; I dimmed the lights in the room, and then plopped down onto the futon in front of the television. I grabbed the quilt and wrapped it around my bare shoulders before hitting the power button on the remote control. When the television screen popped on, I brought up the menu screen and located the number of the Discovery Channel. I switched from the menu to the show currently in progress; it was about rouge waves.
I polished off the ice cream bar within ten minutes, and I crumbled up the foil paper and sat it on the coffee table in front of me. After thirty minutes I felt myself getting drowsy, so I hit the off button on the remote control, and closed my eyes to go to sleep. Thirty minutes into my slumber, I was awakened by the doorbell and it took me a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness and once they did, I flung the quilt off of me and walked over to the door. Instead of asking who it was I looked out the peep hole to see first. When I saw his image standing there I was dumbfounded. How in the hell did he even know where I lived?
“Hey, boy, are you in there?” He asked, slurring, apparently intoxicated.
Against my better judgment I opened the door, and when I saw him I could tell that he was definitely sloshed. “Willis, what are you doing here at this hour? How in the hell did you even know where I lived, man?” I asked him, irritated that he didn’t get my refusal to take his phones calls as a hint. He had to know that I didn’t want to be bothered with him, but like the snake in the grass he was, he decided to get dirty in his efforts to reel me back in. I wasn’t having it.
I watched as he staggered backwards and swayed side to side, apparently trying to maintain his balance. When he managed to steady himself, he looked up at me with this crooked grin spread across his face. When his mouth shifted to a more relaxed position, his bottom lip was hanging down so far that you could see the entire row of his bottom teeth. “Man, what’s with all the questions? I thought you’d be happy to see your old friend, Willis Fontaine. I’ve been calling and calling and could never seem to reach you so I asked around until I got your new address information. My wife is friends with your cousin, Rhonda, and she gave her the address,” he confessed.
That bitch! I couldn’t believe that Rhonda gave this asshole’s wife my address. She knew that I was trying to stay clean. I couldn’t wait to tell August what his dearly beloved wife had done. I was so angry that I couldn’t see or think straight and I wanted to tell the motherfucker to take a hike but I didn’t know how that would come off. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I caught myself and remembered what the counselor told me; “Consider your feelings sometimes too, Carlton” she said.
Yes. Yes, it was time for me to start demanding to be respected. This drunken bastard that stood before me had a lot of nerve showing up unannounced and uninvited at my front door, and if he could be that inconsiderate, then I needed to be straight up with him. If I planned on staying sober I had to insist that my privacy be respected, and let him know that this type of move was absolutely out of line.
Before I let loose on him, I took a deep breath to center myself mentally. “Willis, man, this isn’t cool here…this…”
“What the fuck are you talkin’ ‘bout nigga…this ain’t cool…what the fuck is that…as many times as you have sat your narrow ass in my den, farting out my couch, and smoking up my god damn room…what? Is this how you’re going to treat your best friend, huh?” He asked, staggering back and forth, as slob dripped off of that heavy ass bottom lip.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Did this motherfucker just call me his best friend? You know that he had just opened up an artery in my heart with that one. I got up in his face and said, “Best friend? You’re kidding me right? How the fuck could you stand there and call me your best friend when you talk about me and August behind our backs like dogs? A friend doesn’t talk behind a friend’s back. A friend isn’t disrespectful to his friend. A friend treats his friend with respect and cherishes the fact that he has a friend.” I told him, taking a pause from my heated rant to catch my breath.
Then I continued, “He doesn’t make his friend purchase beer when he is visiting – especially when that friend bought the 12-pack of beer over to the house in the first place. You know something, Willis Fontaine; there was a reason why I wasn’t answering the phone. It’s called distance, I was trying to distance myself from you and all of your bullshit,” I told him, looking him in dead in his eyes. “Man, you don’t know the first thing about being a friend. I tried to be your friend, but all you knew how to do was try to tear me down because I was too skinny, or because I was too nice, or because you just felt like being an asshole for the evening,” I said, as tears welled up in my eyes.
He stood there looking at me like he was trying to grasp onto what I was telling him. I knew that he wasn’t prepared for the verbal annihilation I was slaying him with, and it looked as if he was fixing his posture up so that he could rip me a new one, but before he got the opportunity to ramp up, I kicked it into fifth gear.
I held two fingers up to his face. “Don’t!” I said. “Willis, how you think that anyone has to tolerate and put up with your shit is beyond me, and by the look on your face I believe that you got the nerve to be getting an attitude with me for checking you like I am, but brother, this here is long overdue. My cousin August and Felix, may he rest in peace, told me over and over that you weren’t any good for me, and after all the shit that I’ve gone through with you, I know now that they were trying to save me from falling on my face. I should’ve have listened to them when they told me about you, because if I had I wouldn’t have blown all that damn money buying dope,” I said as the tears streamed down both sides of my cheeks.
“Nigga don’t be trying to hang the fact that you’re a damn junkie on me, nobody tied your hands behind your damn back and made you buy cocaine. I told you to watch yourself, but you’re the one who always dives your fucking nose into the shit like you ain’t got no god damned sense, so don’t blame me because you can’t control yourself!” he said, slobbering profusely swaying back and forth.
I smirked. “Yea, if all that is true, then why in the fuck are you standing here at my door when you weren’t invited? You talk out both sides of your rotten ass mouth, but now that you’ve said it, let me make myself clear tonight. I can control myself as long as you keep your crooked ass away from me. Stop calling me and do not ever come over here to my studio again. I am trying to clean myself up. I am exercising control. I know what you’re about, so consider our friendship a done deal. Consider that last quarter I bought from you a symbol of what was and is no longer. Had you not interrupted me when I was in rehab I might not have relapsed,” I told me, trembling with anger.
“Whu..whu..what you say now?” He asked, finally standing still as if the last statement I made had slapped his ass sober.
“Oh, yea, don’t think you didn’t help me relapse. That night I spent with you caused me to get kicked out of outpatient care, but I don’t blame you, I blame me, so before you had the chance to go there I went there. Now, I’m telling you, loose my damn number, friend!” I told him, looking at him one final time before I stepped back and closed the door.
“FUCK YOU FAGGOT ASS MOTHEFUCKER! YOU’LL COME CRAWLING BACK TO ME AND I’LL BE WAITING!” I heard him yell from behind the closed door.
“TAKE YOUR DRUNK ASS HOME NIGGA!” I yelled back.
I was so angry until I was shaking all over. I went back over to the couch and grabbed the quilt and wrapped it around me and just like it had done since the first time I wrapped it around me, it calmed me and filled me with peace. That confrontation had taken a lot out of me, and all I wanted to do was sleep, rest, and try to put it behind me, along with my substance abuse. I knew the road ahead was going to brighter because I was going to be sober enough to see it.
“Felix, tell my parents that I’m trying…” were the last words I uttered before drifting off into a peaceful sleep.