Sometimes I forget when and where I met Mike. I donâ€™t know if it really matters because Mike is the best and truest friend I got. He is the only one who never leaves me and the only one who listens to all I got to say.
And believe me, I got a lot.
There used to be others. There used to be them that got my best interest in mind and those that claimed they did. I donâ€™t remember all of their names because when you live the hard scrabble life you start to unlearn that which you once knew.
You canâ€™t carry all them hopes and dreams you once had because they aren’t real. The streets are real, oh yeah, they are real. If you ain’t real you donâ€™t make it for very long on the streets.
That is part of why I like Mike and why I need him. He keeps me focused. He doesn’t let me feel bad about what happened because it wasn’t my fault.
We were walking down Michigan Avenue. It was bright and sunny. She was holding my hand and she never let go. Even after that car jumped the curb and pinned her against the building she never stopped holding my hand.
I tried to pull it off of her. Tried to push it. Did everything that I could do but it didn’t matter, cuz she died anyway.
I couldn’t save her. Couldn’t hold her and make her feel better or stop the pain. Donâ€™t know why it hit her and not me. I was so much bigger. Why didn’t it hit me. Why did they have to take her. Why not me. She was better than I was and so much better than I am now.
She told me to stop screaming. Said that I should calm down, even as the life was running out of her and heading somewhere else she was taking care of me.
I should have protected her better. I should have seen it coming. I should have heard it. Could have done something more, I know I could have.
Mike tells me that I should finish letting go and just forget. He says that there ain’t no point in thinking about her or remembering â€˜cuz it only hurts us.
Mike says that it is good that I hit the driver â€˜cuz he was drunk and it is his fault that we are what we are today. He says that I should be proud that it took so many people to pull me off of that guy. He says that it is good that I crippled that guy because I am crippled now.
But sometimes I donâ€™t like it when he says it because she wouldn’t have wanted it. She would have told me it was an accident and that I should let go. But that is the thing, I did let go. That accident forced me to let go.
I ain’t who I was and havenâ€™t been for years. Now I am just a shadow who walks the streets. Mostly I keep to myself, but sometimes people mess with me. usually I growl at them and they run away but sometimes the stupid and mean ones do more.
That is ok with me. I like stupid and mean because when I am angry I fight. And when I fight I forget about being so damn lonely.
They say that a fighter who learns to like the pain is one fight away from death or worse. I donâ€™t fear either because I am already dead and I know what hell looks like.
Mike says that this is why I should fight because when you just donâ€™t give a damn is when you are the deadliest. I tell Mike that it donâ€™t matter much because we ain’t fighting for money. He laughs at me and says that it donâ€™t matter whether we fight for money or for pride because all we has to do is win.
He says that man was born for this and that we are one step away from being animals so we might as well be who nature intended us to be.
Sometimes she visits me in my dreams. She ain’t broken then and neither am I. Weâ€™re at Charlie Trotters and I canâ€™t be happier because the prettiest girl in the world is mine. I donâ€™t know why she picked me but I know that when she smiles at me I can be anything she wants me to be.
In my dreams she holds my hand and tells me that I got to stop fighting. She tells me that she forgives me and that I should forgive myself. Sometimes I wake up crying, but I make sure to stop that right quick because out here that is the kind of thing you canâ€™t do.
Beside Mike wonâ€™t tolerate that. I already told you that he says that I should have done more to punish that guy. He thinks that we need to find him and finish what he started. I told Mike that donâ€™t make no sense to me because he didn’t start nothing, but Mike just tells me to shut up.
He says that if he hadn’t started it we wouldn’t be sleeping in this alley. I says to Mike that without that I wouldn’t have met my best and truest friend, but Mike tells me to shut up. He says that I canâ€™t forget and I canâ€™t forgive.
But she doesn’t believe that. When we dreamwalk she tells me that she still loves me and asks me to promise to take better care of myself. She says that if I stop drinking Iâ€™ll be able to think more clearly and that things will make more sense.
I always do my best to do whatever she asks because she is my girl and she deserves better than I can give. Most of the time I manage to clean up for a while. I go back to my place, shower and put on clean clothes.
It is hard though. We got a big settlement on account of that accident so I donâ€™t have to work. She tells me that I need to say goodbye to Mike, that he is bad news.
One time I told Mike what she said and he cursed her and told me to tell the â€œdead bitch to fuck off.â€ I donâ€™t think he expected me to get as angry as I did. No one is allowed to talk that way about her. I refused to talk to him for a week, probably would have gone longer but she didn’t dreamwalk with me and I started to get a little bit rougher around the edges.
I started to think that maybe she didn’t forgive me for not saving her. I started to think that maybe she finally realized that it was my fault for not pushing her out of the way of that car. I begged her to come back, swore that if she would forgive me I would do anything.
But she didn’t come.
So I finally gave in and told Mike I was sorry. And like every best and truest friend he forgave me. That is why I love Mike because he never left me and everyone else I loved did.
Sometimes she tells me that other people still love me and that if I let them, they would come back. She says it wasn’t my fault and it is ok to forgive myself for not doing something that no one could have done, but I havenâ€™t figured out how to do it yet.
She tells me that she remembers when I used to smile and have conversations with people. She says I was charming and that I had a way of making people feel comfortable but I tell her that she is confused because it was always her who did that.
It makes her angry when I say it and she tells me she has had it with my bad attitude and insists that I think about a party we had at out place.
I see her talking to the caterer, but when she hears me approach she turns to face me.
She is wearing a long black gown and I am wearing tails. She says it is a bit over the top and I laugh and tell her that if I am forced to dress up than I am going to do it my way.
Her lips cover mine and her hand caresses my cheek.
I hear a manâ€™s voice thank the caterer. It must be mine, but it sounds wrong. It is deep and resonant with a different tone and cadence than now, but why should I be surprised.
That man died with her.
She is yelling at me again, telling me I donâ€™t have to live this life, screaming at me that I am supposed to look at that guy and remember what it was like to be happy.
Her words are starting to have an impact and I am starting to think that maybe she is right. But just as I am about to ask her a question I wake up and remember she is not here, but Mike is.
Mike is pissed off with me. He says I donâ€™t listen good and that she donâ€™t love me. He says she just wants me to be dead like her and that I got to let that dead bitch lie in her dirt box.
I want to tell him that he canâ€™t talk about her that way. I want to say he didn’t know Â her and it ain’t fair to be like that, but I donâ€™t.
Mike is my best friend and the only one who didn’t leave me. Â He is the one who looks out for me now and makes sure that no one takes advantage of us. I got to be stand up with him and not let her get in the way.
But that donâ€™t mean I have to stop loving her or say goodbye. I just canâ€™t tell him.
Cuz if I tell him he’ll start slapping me around again, telling me I am pathetic and weak. It ain’t true, I am anything but weak. And Mike knows that I don’t let nobody but him slap me and even then there are limits.
He knows if he pushes me too far I’ll come after him too ‘cuz I am like a dog that has been made mean. It ain’t as hard to do as people might think. Once you slip over that edge and start wandering in the darkness you learn that mean is what protects you and so you take that hard edge and make it harder.
Sometimes I wonder if Mike is jealous of her and if maybe that is why he acts like such an asshole about her. Maybe he is afraid that she might come back and I’ll leave him.
Dumb bastard tells me he don’t believe in no god, heaven or hell so I don’t know why he would be worried but people don’t do things because they are right or wrong. They just do them because they want to.
Maybe that explains why I have been drinking like I have.
Been a couple of days since I ran out beer and longer since I ran out of Scotch. The fog has been lifting and I am thinking more clearly again.
Clearly is a mixed bag, because it makes it far more obvious to me how much it hurts and how badly I have slipped. I look at my notes and see that I keep mentioning that Mike doesn’t like her and that I won’t let him talk any shit about her.
It is true but I don’t know it bears repeating. Doesn’t take the edge off or make any of it easier to understand so why do I keep repeating myself.
I already know the answer. Already know that once again I am trying to make sense of the incomprehensible and that this is part of it. Don’t have to schedule time to see a therapist or go to any groups to know or understand this.
My head is pounding but I am not going to bother to look for any sort of pain killer. There is nothing here and even if there were I wouldn’t take it. This is part of my penance for not protecting her.
(Editor’s note: I started this story a while back and decided to continue it. Got a few ideas that I need to flesh out.)