I drove down Aberdeen Avenue slowly, I hadn’t been here in a long time and was just looking at all the changes that took place in the 15 years I had left. An old house made to look new, a new house already destroyed by fire. I was randomly in town visiting from Florida when I got a call from an old friend, Jay, somehow he had heard that I was in town and would happy if we could get together. I was reluctant at first, we had had a falling out way back in the day, which was my fault all the way, but he put me at ease by saying “Tim, that was a long time ago, we were a lot drunker back then, it would be cool to just catch up.” He sounded friendly, upbeat, and genuinely excited to see me, so there I was.
It had started to rain, and as I pulled up too number 16, Jay was already waiting outside, wet, looking very agitated, maybe I had misread this situation. I pulled up next to him, the beads of water rolling off his bald head, rolling down the lenses of his glasses. At first I didn’t think he saw me. I stopped the car put it in park and waited. His head nodded in my direction as he held up his index finger. His head still facing me, he loudly stated: “Mandy, stay in the backyard.” I turned towards his driveway and noticed the Irish Setter with its front paw on the backyard gates handle. Guess he saw that one coming.
It was then that he got into the car. He looked nervous, like he wanted to talk. I took it as, it was time to get everything out in the open. “Hey, man! Good to see you!” I said.
“Oh yea, you too, its been awhile, I guess. Or has it? I don’t know.”
“Are you ok?”
“Yea, let’s just go for a drive.”
We took a right onto Spring Green Road and then out to a main intersection that led straight through town. “Where do you want to go?”
“You took a right this time?”
“Just now? Yea, I turned right.”
Jay suddenly looked up, as if he needed to be somewhere, right now! We went under a yellow traffic light doing about 35 mph. “Slow down.”
“Tim, just do it, I want to show you something. Slow down, take the next left. Drive slowly, and stop exactly when I say.” Jay said, very seriously.
I’ll admit I was getting nervous, a lot could change in 15 years, maybe this was a bad idea. “OK, just say the word.” I took the left, keeping my foot off the gas. “Listen, about what happened all those years ago…”
“Let me talk, for one second.”
I quickly applied the brakes. Just then a black cat darted out in front of the car, well before we came to it. “Good eyes. How the hell did you see that cat? In the dark, in the rain? Wow.”
“That’s at least the 10th time, that has happened. At least 10.”
“I’m sure a black cat has crossed my path at least 1000 times, my mom owned one, you remember Roxanne?” He was freaking me out. His eyes kept darting from the left to the right, up, down. At times, I could see what he was looking at, a rabbit running across the lawn, some bug trying to dodge the rain. The car still hadn’t moved. “What’s going on?”
Jay laughed to himself then. A quick nervous laugh. “Ok, why not, let’s try again.” He turned in his car seat to face me. “You want to tell me that you are a jerk, a bad friend. That you didn’t mean all the terrible things you said or did. And the day I ended our friendship it ruined your life. Am I right?”
“Yes. I guess you knew what I wanted to talk about.”
“Yes, and we did, countless times. At first I thought it was dream.”
“You lost me. If you don’t want to do this, we can forget it.”
“You’re the only one that ever believes me,” Jay suddenly burst into tears. “That cat! That cat right there has passed our path at least 10 times.”
“I haven’t been here in 15 years, I don’t think that particular cat is that old.” Trying to make some fun, but not working at all.
“Each day, is the same as the last.” He sobbed.
“I hear ya, life of the working man, right?”
“No, it’s always today. Always Friday. Always November 1, 2019.”
“Like Groundhog Day? You are telling me; you are in a time loop?”
“Yes. We’ve had this exact conversation countless times.”
“How does the night end?”
“When you were a kid, your cousin Jennifer wanted to see your penis. You showed her. It was erect.”
“Umm.” I could feel my face flush red. “I don’t think I ever told anyone that, but it’s possible, and embarrassing. I could’ve told you one night while drinking.”
“You had sex with my ex-girlfriend, but current girlfriend at the time, Adrienne, at a party while I was passed out drunk upstairs.”
That I had never spoken aloud to anyone. “How, I…”
“We’ve had thousands of heart to heart it seems, it got boring. Listen…”
In the distance a car crash could be heard. This was impossible, wasn’t it.
“You want to be forgiven. I can’t do that. I didn’t end our friendship, you did.” Jay hung his head for a moment. “After I realized what was happening, I thought I was dead or damned. It just so happened to be the day you decided to come visit. I thought that maybe you were the cause of it somehow or knew how to stop it. You always believed me when I told you. I continued to meet with you. Sometimes we’d go to eat, sometimes see a movie. But mostly you just want to talk about making things right.”
“I do. I feel so bad each…”
“…and every day, I know.” He looked at me now. “You contacted me a few years ago, I told you to let it go, it was a long time ago. Whenever I tell stories of ours, it always starts with ‘My friend, Tim and I’. I chose to leave it in the past, that’s why I agreed to meet up. To forget that crap and move on. And then this happened to me. Funny thing is, every couple of times we do this, we both manage to keep our mouths shut and have fun. But, mostly it’s this. And I’ve done this, and it isn’t one of those fun times. It’s the one where I say, I can’t forgive you. You had your chance to say sorry or to reach out but you didn’t.”
“I had my reasons, I thought…”
“I’ve heard your reasons, they’re not good enough.” Just as Jay finished saying this a car pulled behind us. We were still just parked in the middle of the street. “I’m gonna go. My ride is here.”
“Your ride? You’re leaving. How’d they know where to meet you? Do you know who that is?” I said, shocked that he was about to leave.
“I didn’t the first few times we had this conversation, but as it turns out, I do.” He opened up the car door, stepped out, before closing the door he leaned back in and said: “We were friends once, you and I. But it’s over now. I’d like to say we’ll never see each other again, but I know how I’ll see you tomorrow and live it all over again. You, you get to go home and let it go.” And with that, Jay slammed the door shut and walked to the rear where the other car was waiting, soon after the car was gone.
I started driving around the familiar streets I hadn’t seen in so long. Streets that we had walked when we were friends, places we hung out, some no longer there. I wasn’t sure if he was just pulling my leg or whatever, but he knew things that even I had pushed down so far they were forgotten.
I felt terrible, I had hoped I could’ve worked things out, but also knew that this was a possibility and would have to learn to get over it. I drove and drove not really thinking of a destination. What was I going to do now?
It had stopped raining. That was good, I wanted to see all the changes I missed, I drove slowly down Aberdeen Avenue, I could see Jay outside already waiting for me. I was so surprised to hear from him, we had had a falling out about 15 years ago, and I just needed to talk to him, try to get him to forgive me…