"So what do you think?" Lucy asked.
Jonathan scanned the empty room. It was part of a basement suite with a laundry center attached to the garage. Perfect for just him.
"So how much am I looking at here?" He asked.
"1.2K?" She offered tentatively with a shrug. "I'd like to go lower for you Jonathan, but with Tom's Hawaii trip coming up in June and things being as they are..."
With a sigh, the you man nodded his head.
"Yeah, it's fine. I'll take it."
* * *
A rapping came from the door of the garage...
"It's open!" Jon yelled.
A now familiar creak sounded down the hall before a skip the dishes driver carrying his lunch waved at him and dropped off his Chinese take out.
Jonathan continued to flip through the channels.
"The second wave of covid immunization doses arrive today. Cases in the lower mainland continue to steadily drop in..."
"Celebrations downtown kick off as the Habs win their finals against the Leafs tonight the score..."
"In Kamloops the graves of 215 Native American children were found yesterday..."
Jon flipped off the tele. And then he walked over to the take out and began unwrapping the bag. The savory aroma reminded him of family nights during his youth. It was like a weighted blanket of nostalgia fell over him.
Fried rice, spicy squid and curry beef. His favorite dishes. Snapping the chopsticks into a pair, he quickly began to dig in.
* * *
He could feel the soft press of her lips touch his cheek. Unconsciously, he reached out to caress her face.
But she wasn't there. A pang of guilt and sadness washed over him. He rose groggily in his bed resting against the wall of the guest room. The only light coming from a small rectangular window overlooking the pathway beside the house.
He could swear he could hear her breathing. Her arms wrapped across his belly, affectionally drawing him close.
"You can open your eyes now, Jon."
He tried to turn to face her and instead woke up again. He was on his side alone in the room. Beside him was a bedside table with a clock. Its shining red light showing him the time.
* * *
Jonathan let out a hefty belch...
A crowded cluster of beer cans sit on a coffee table in front of his TV. A flickering light brightens up Jon's face in the dark as he lights a joint. Resting back, Jonathan lets the feeling of his high wash over him.
The dishes were stacked high in the sink. There was trash everywhere and his laundry reeked of sweat and weed.
"Lucky Lucy and Tom are on vacation, eh?"
He rhetorically asked the shadows of his room. The whole place seemed to be moving slightly. Closing his eyes, he was suddenly on his motorbike again. Zooming down the highway and weaving through traffic.
It felt so real.
He leaned into a bend when, coming the other way, was a van. He collided into it and an array of spinning shapes danced before his eyes.
Groggily, he opened his eyes again. Picking himself off the floor and drunkenly, he dragged himself into bed.
* * *
On his calendar, today was Tom and Lucy's last day of their layaway...
"Shit, shit, shit."
This was Jon's first time shooting up. And he tore his own skin as he tried to pull out the needle. Allowing the rubber band to loosen across his arm and fall down, he lied down onto his bed.
"Fuck.." He exclaimed as his sense of reality started to slip away from him. He didn't know how much heroin he poured into himself.
But the whole room was tipping. It felt like he was in a laundry machine during it's spin cycle. As the turning got more violent. He lurched to one side and puked. Afterward, he felt a bit better. Unsteadily, he rose to his feet.
"Jeezus, what the hell are you doing here?" Jon asked as he looked upon his best friend Zach. Before he realized he was back home again, no longer in Lucy's guest room. Confused he tried to make sense of what was going on before Zach came in for a bear hug.
"Boy, you've seen better days. Putting on a bit of weight are we."
Deja vu hits Jon as he tries to respond, but his lips are numb and his words can't seem to form.
"He's my pudgy boy, Zach. Wouldn't have him any other way."
She kisses him and Jon could feel tears falling down his face, but he can't remember why. Joyfully, Natalie hops in front of them then turns around with a big smile on her lips.
"Boy do we have a birthday gift for you, Jon."
Zach puts an arm around his shoulder and presents a blindfold loosely held in front of him.
"But first, you're going to have to put on one of these."
* * *
They led him out to Zach's jeep and clambered on...
He could feel the jostling of the jeep as they made their way to his birthday destination. Finally after about half an hour. The jeep comes to a halting stop.
"You can open your eyes now Jon!" Natalie proclaimed as she removed his blindfold.
Before him was an airfield. The sound of plane engines roaring overhead was deafening.
He turned around and embraced Nat. He could smell her chestnut hair. Her favorite perfume lingering in his mind as everything around him seem to melt away. He didn't want to let her go.
* * *
His concept of time starts to blur and all of a sudden...
He was hundreds of feet in the air on a jet plane, waiting for his turn to skydive. In front of him is Natalie and Zach.
They gave him a thumbs up and a wink. Everything in him wants to grab them. To stop the plane. But nothing can be done, they both jump out in turns. He was last. As he jumps, he vividly remembers the feeling of the air whipping across his face and pressing him a loft as he fell.
The excitement and joy of this moment bubble up from within him as he looked down upon the patchwork of farmland beneath. The horizon in the distance like a lantern shining down upon the quaint countryside.
Below him were the two closest people in his life. They knew this was Jon's dream. Always the adrenaline junkie. But in the back of his mind, fear lingers.
Zach was the first to notice something was wrong. Natalie was flailing about. Her back up chute halfway out of her pack. Tangled strings dancing about her.
Zach dived down and grabbed her. He tried to untangle the hitch, but the ground was fast approaching.
In desperation, Zach released his own chute and tried to carry her down with both of their weight.
Jonathan dived down like a torpedo, but he was too fucking far. He was always too fucking far. Tears welled up his eyes and as he tries to wipe away the horrible memory.
He turns to the remainder of heroin he has stashed in his bed stand. Reaching for it, he notices his arm is deathly thin. He can't remember the last time he ate. His body abnormally weak.
A familiar creak draws his attention away from darker thoughts.
He tries to speak but his mouth and throat are desert dry and he barely croaks out a whisper.
The feeling of hunger and weakness come down on him hard. A feeling so draining that he could barely raise his arm or head. With all his strength, he tips over a glass filled halfway with stale beer that had been sitting on the bedside stand. It crashes and shatters against the wooden floor.
A woman carrying some fast food he ordered half an hour ago comes into his room.
"God, are you alright?" She quickly drops the bag of A & W burger and fries. In the dark it was hard to make her out. She wore a mask and navigated the room's mountain of debris cautiously. It was like she was trying to cross a marsh.
Jonathan lay gaunt and pale as a ghost on his mattress. His eye lids begin to grow heavy as relief wash over him. She pats his face gently.
"Hey, hey stay with me here." She beckons. Pulling out her cell, she begins to call the emergency line.
Licking his lips, Jonathan tries to speak once more.
"What's your name?"
She turns to him with a concerned look in her eyes...