At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money.
Our first choice was a jet-ski which was silly in retrospect as neither of us knew how to swim. It was more of a personal status symbol between our two-person minimum wage club. It was the tattered banner for the never-hads but always wants, eyes always hungry for what we needed and starving for what we desired.
For those that say money can’t buy you happiness, they’ve obviously never witnessed the child-like glee of a grown-ass adult on a jet-ski. Or if they have, then maybe they’ve just seen it too many times for it to mean anything anymore.
Anyway, as for our third choice when it came to spending that Texas Tea money: swimming and riding lessons, obviously.
Yet, life has a funny way of transforming your precocious wishes you knew you wanted into a twisted necessity you didn’t know about before.
The black liquid that Jerry poked at with his teal titanium metal hiking stick wasn’t oil.
Oil doesn’t grab and pull when you poke and prod it.
Oil drips and wets and stains.
It doesn’t sway and undulate on your skin as if its creating its own sea upon your best friend.
And it doesn’t twist and snap bones.
It doesn’t cause your best friend whom you’ve known since 2nd Grade to scream enough for every critter hiding and surrounding to scatter in fear. Nor stare through you with iris-less eyes and stumble and move towards you with a rhymthm to haphazard to mimic.
This wasn’t oil.
This is was evil.
This was both unholy death and re-birth of my best friend.
And this was going to be either the end of him or me.
Survival is true but harsh.
Jerry beat me in a number of bike races around Eagle Point as a kid. He cheered me on when I made it on the College Wrestling Team. And he spent many bar trips with me as I replayed how my marriage crumbled into absolute failure.
Now, Jerry shuffled towards me, snarling and roaring at me like a violent mongrel. His arms clawed at me, gripping more air and murderous intent.
I stood frozen into a hitter’s stance with my “hiking stick” a worn down Louiville Slugger given to me by a brother who now only wanted me dead.
If I had the money to spend, I’d buy a way to fix Jerry.
I’d buy a way for me not to kill him, so he won’t kill me.