Finding a place that would admit my sister, was a complicated affair. I found myself writing e-mails and placing phone calls, until late in the evening. Soon after, my exercise routine began, and went well into the early morning. By then, I was too exhausted to rest comfortably. My efforts would pay off, when I got a call from the residential manager at a sobriety house. The woman on the other end of the line was willing to accept my sister, so long as we arrived the following day.
By act of miracle, I have made it to Portland safely. Throwing pennies into fountains has finally produced positive results. I drove through a blizzard in a mental fog, created by sleeping no more than a few hours in just as many days. I do not need a church choir to sing about my idiocy. I know it well.
Sitting here, in an ordinary hotel room, looking out a window that is framed by snow, I wonder where Portland hides her charm. It is a dreadful city with a faint heartbeat. Women hide their gaze, disguised in black clothes, fearing they will be exposed as frauds who stole their air of mystery from books they half-read, and movies they fucked through. Men are loyal to IPA beer, social ineptitude, and lumberjack fashion.
My writing is interrupted by texts Avery keeps sending. I left his company only moments ago. Once inside the city proper, I picked him up, and drove to a coffee shop. For once I was glad to have sister there, since I wasn’t looking forward to spending time with him, but I had a long-promised coat to hand over, which was originally purchased for my father. It did not suit his taste, and I was unwilling to throw out something that had cost a generous amount.
Until tonight, our interactions were solely through modern technology. That is to say, we had never before met. Quickly, he proved himself to be a man who complained of everything, especially romantic matters. It was entertaining to listen as he painted himself as a perpetual victim of manipulative women. I don’t buy it, no matter the effort he puts into trying to sell it. His Moroccan market has nothing I want.
Avery is a man who isn’t easy to figure out, not because there is a myriad of interesting things to piece together, but because he is exceptionally good at playing the role of an innocent fool, while spewing venom behind a plastic smile. There is a possibility that his behavior is due to a mental deficiency. His most objectionable shortcoming, is that he happens to be Cody’s best friend.
As he sat across from me, I realized that he had substantially more in common with my sister, than he would ever have with me. He spoke with rapidity, held his enthusiasm despite a different emotion being more appropriate, and slightly slurred his speech. His life and interests would become the only subjects covered. He was discharged from something having to do with the military, due to cocaine use. Given his short stature and the way his body resembles a wooden marionette’s, I would like to believe he was an afternoon tap dancer, exclusively for the entertainment of high-ranking officers. He has a total of two children, each with a different mother. It is difficult for him to navigate through the dating scene, because he claims women have a tendency to reject a single father. I bit my tongue, as a means to silence the more probable reasons behind their brush-offs. He went on to portray his own father as a strict machine, who has never expressed love, preferring a generous distribution of seething remarks to friends and family alike. He thoroughly described the lives of those he knew, which included a comprehensive analysis on their flaws and indiscretions. On and on, he went. The only thing that stopped him, was my sister remarking on how everyone looked at her, with obvious critical judgment. She claimed that it was motivated by racism, and that those looks were the same she gave black people. At this, she used a racial epithet. I could not conceal the shock I felt, which Avery commented on. From him, I received a request to be at ease. He added that he understood my sister perfectly, because there was a marked difference between a black person and a nigger.
Afraid Juliet would attack an unsuspecting victim, I said that I was too cold to remain seated outdoors. We made our way inside, but not before he mentioned Cody, and that he is a reasonable man, and a handsome man, and a talented man. But it wasn’t always so. Had it not been for Avery‘s guidance, he would still be a bitter and aggressive parasite, offending even the blind with his poor fashion choices. Why, when they met, he found that extending the hand of friendship to such a sad case could only be looked upon as charity. And do I know that his father committed suicide? I grew uncomfortable at having someone tell me the life of another, when it was not their right. Also, I could no longer take his obsession with fathers.
Since sister had communicated with Cody on a number of occasions, she suggested we get together for dinner the following night. I protested, due to the antipathy I feel for a man I have never met. Ours had been a meaningless acquaintanceship, in which there was nothing beyond an even exchange of hateful words.
Not a moment too soon, Avery said he had to return home to care for his son. I dropped him off, with a head full of reasons to back out of plans that were formalized without my input or consent.
While writing down the evening’s events, somehow I began to communicate with Cody. Typical of a demon to appear when least expected. He asked that we meet tomorrow, and made sure to let me know that I am welcome to stay in his home. I found this offer to be kind and considerate. Two things I thought him incapable of. Already overwhelmed by an abundance of emotions, his hospitable proposal nearly brought me to tears. I wanted so much to show him that I have never been the person he thinks me to be. That I felt so alone, and I had gathered all the screaming that was trapped in my lungs, so that he could throw it out for me. That I was so tired from being pulled apart. That if he had thread to stitch me back together, I would stay still, the way he had always wanted. That I know every devil holds a jar of honey, and I would never tell anyone he gave me a spoonful. Before I could say any of that, he reproached me for seeing Avery, and demanded that I cancel group plans, as he would only see me alone. Suddenly I remembered why I hated him. I find this type of jealousy, not flattering, but an aggravating inconvenience. And because I did not give into him, he has decided to punish me by abruptly ceasing communication.
I have a bitter taste in my mouth, and arms that ache with the desire to push him into a bottomless pit, where even misery would never venture. Let him be invaded by nothingness.