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 am in trouble and I need your help. They’re back.”
Most nights I wouldn’t have heard the phone ring and if I did I would have ignored it but not this night because sometimes the past you walked away from visits you in the present.
“I don’t have much time. You promised you would drop everything and come running. I need you…now.”
The past doesn’t extend its reach into technology so when the line goes dead there is no busy signal or white noise to let me know the call is over.
It is just dead but the silence provides no answer or reasons why. The battery could have gone dead or the party on the other side could have disconnected it.
For a moment I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling not thinking about anything. Maybe this was a dream…
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.
Twenty-five years ago the boys and I graduated from college and decided to travel around the world.
We started in London and gradually made our way through Europe and hop scotched around a couple of continents flipping between Asia and Africa.
The plan was to follow our hearts and go wherever they took us, regardless of whether it made sense. Logic was for school and since we were out of school we ignored it. Took a freighter one direction and then hopped on a plane in the reverse two days later.
Time was meaningless and so was money.
That was because of my friend The Duke. His real name was Chadwick, but he preferred to be called Chad.
It is a tossup as to whether he hated being called The Duke more than he disliked being called Chadwick.
The Duke came from old money. He grew up on a monstrous estate and lived a life out of a movie. His graduation gift was control of a trust worth in excess of $100 million.
So money wasn’t a problem and neither was time. The only real problem we had was that we were young dumb and stupid,
Took a trip to city in Thailand called Phuket only because it looked to us like it was pronounced “Fuck It.”
Our time in “Fuck It” was punctuated with lots of moments that should have gotten us arrested. Somehow the members of the great fraternity of young, dumb and stupid managed to avoid those particular problems.
Things didn’t get crazy until we were in Paris. It had to be Paris. I didn’t like the city, didn’t want to be there and would have happily skipped it.
But Young, Dumb and Stupid was overruled by the power of the penis. Yep, young horny men met girls and got dumber, or maybe I should spell it dumberer because it was really bad.
I still have the letter that started it all. A handwritten note with flowing cursive letters and heart dotted ‘I’s sent by the girl who Chadwick swore would be his.
If the jerk hadn’t been thinking with his dick he might still be here to help me figure out what to do now.
This letter is a stain that I want to wash away, but I can’t. I had just begun to believe that maybe it was over but now I see I was wrong.
Old friends and old money combined with the invincibility of youth discovered there is no statute of limitations on the judgment that comes from those the gods despise.
I never believed in karma but I believe in memory and understand those who believe we have committed sins don’t forgive and forget but god only knows I wish it were otherwise.
Promises were made on both sides but none of us really believed they would be kept so we took measures to ensure they understood we were serious. Maybe we had read too many books and seen too many movies because we had no business being in the position we were in but then again we never should have had to worry about any of this.
Chad swore to me that if I followed his lead he’d get us out of there and that they would leave us alone. Until that moment I had never wondered about what kind of friend he was or worried that he would betray me.
Never thought twice about the guy because we had been through the wars together or at least we thought we had. Hindsight is a wonderful thing because you can visit the past but it is a bittersweet moment because right when you reach the best part you get to see what a fool you were.
Even though you know it won’t matter your body tenses up because you can see the blow coming but you can’t stop it.
We’re sitting in the car at the airport and you are telling me that you want me to write you once a week to fill you in about our adventures.
“I want to hear about everything. I am so jealous. You are so lucky that Chad is being so cool with you.”
There is sarcasm in your voice. You don’t like Chad much but I have known him my whole life and since he preceded you the friction lies just beneath the surface.
You aren’t going to tell me to lose him but I know something about him grinds on your nerves. I get it, he can be an acquired taste but so can I.
But I can’t say no to the trip. He is a trust fund baby whose parents have said we can use the family jet and pilot to take us around.
That is just ridiculous. I told Chad and his folks I couldn’t accept a dozen times but they insisted. His mother assured me that Chad would take the trip with or without me so the cost is essentially the same.
I smile back at you and promise to write and maybe even call. You punch me in the shoulder and when you tell me to kiss you like it is the last time I do never expecting your words to be like a prophesy.