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Oct/Nov 2000 Fiction

My Best Friend

by Israel H. Soliz


Chris was my best friend in college. He was a drunk but I really liked him. He would drink Listerine when he didn't have any money for beer. Which was quite often even though his parents had a lot of money. He was a bit of a black sheep. I remember early mornings when we would meet in the parking lot before class and mix up a batch of gin and tonics. We'd walk into class with our plastic cups and sit in the back. No one ever messed with us.

Chris had big plans for us. We were going to start a band. We were going to move to Europe. We would be writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. We were inseparable until he dropped out of school and slowly dropped out of site. I graduated college, became a stockbroker and moved to the city. I had a nice apartment that I shared with my girlfriend, Corey.

I hadn't spoken to Chris in about two years when he called me out of the blue. His father was sick, emphysema, and it didn't look like he was going to make it. Chris was staying with him and helping out as much as he could.

"I've got to get out of here for a few days," he said. "This is too depressing. I can't take it."

"Why don't you stay at my place for the week end? Get your mind off things"

"You'd let me stay?"

"Sure."

"What about your girlfriend?"

"She'll be fine. I've told her all about you."

"Uh-oh. And she'll still let me stay?"

"Just come over tonight."

We were sitting in my apartment, drinking beer and regaling Corey with our college exploits when Chris said he wanted to go out.

"You boys don't get into too much trouble," Corey told us as we left.

"I'll take good care of your man," Chris said.

We went to a few bars and Chris had a truly heroic intake of alcohol, even for him.

We staggered back to my place and I put him to bed on the couch.

"Do you have any pot?" he asked.

"No."

"Let's go get some."

"You know we still got two more days to do all this stuff. Let's not blow it all in the beginning."

"You're a smart guy, always thinking ahead."

With that, I threw a cover over him and went to bed.

I was awakened by a slamming sound.

The front door kept opening and closing. It was driving me crazy. Chris was doing it. I could hear him walking back and forth. What the hell was he doing? In and out. Open and close.

"You've got to tell him to stop," Corey said. "I've got work in the morning."

I got out of bed, dressed and went into the living room. I could not believe my eyes. Most of the furniture from the downstairs lobby was now in my apartment. The son of a bitch had been bringing it up piece by piece.

I ran out to stop him and caught him coming out of the elevator with a chair.

"What the fuck are you doing?" He had no answer. "Take that back down stairs, get that shit out of my place and get the hell out of here."

He just shrugged and went back down. When I got back to the apartment, Corey was already up.

"What the hell is going on?"

"It's okay," I said.

"He's got to take all this stuff back."

"I know."

Chris came back and was actually pissed off. "You've changed, man."

"Just get this stuff out of here."

He slowly took everything back; each time he returned he seemed more and more angry. Finally everything was all gone.

"You're an asshole, man." Chris poked his finger in my chest. "I should kick your ass. My father's dying, you know."

"I know that but that doesn't give you that right to fuck up my apartment."

"I should kill you." He kept pushing me.

Corey was just standing there, frozen.

"I should kill you," he kept saying. Finally he pushed my one too many times.

I shot a right that caught him on the jaw. But he didn't go back, he came forward. We were in close quarters and I was trying to get off a few punches. Finally I grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head into the wall. Then I slammed it again. We fell on to the couch and I had him by the neck. His face was turning red. I punched away at his face for all I was worth. He got one shot in from out of nowhere and hit me square on the chin. He came up and we both fell on the coffee table, shattering it.

Why the hell wasn't Corey stopping this?

I got in one more shot and that was it. We were both standing around the remains of the coffee table. We had broken furniture and we were both in trouble. We stared at each other. Was round two coming up? He started to say something but I stopped him.

"Just get out."

He hung his head and walked out the front door. I was right behind him. I locked both locks after he was out.

Corey came out of the kitchen with some ice. Apparently, I had a huge welt on my forehead. We went into the living room and looked at the destruction. The coffee table was ruined. There was blood on the couch. And there was a hole in the wall where I pushed his head through.

I sat on the couch with the ice to my head and Corey sat next to me.

"Where do you think he'll go?" she asked.

"I have no idea."

I only saw him once after that night. We went to a concert together with some old friends. But it wasn't the same. We had this thing between us, keeping us apart. I left before the show was over and that was that.

A few months later I got a message from him saying that his father had died. I knew I should have been there for him. It was all over, though. I said a prayer for his father and then one for him. Then I went back to work.

 

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