an old friend

This story was originally published at Pastors In Exile.

He starts little by little, crawling up my toes like an overgrown vine. Before I know it, he’s torn down my walls, leaving me suffocated, grasping for air, trying hard to make it another day.

He is a cruel master, demanding that every cynical eye be applied wherever possible. He is not interested in half-jobs. Instead he wants all of it, and now.

He coaxes me to talk; “Beers are on me!” he says, but I know how this ends, with both hands in my pockets digging around for the last change that should have gone to the rent. Guard down, I let him in, telling him story after story, about all the parts of me that I try to keep locked up so that no one can see. You know, the usual human shit that we hide from each other on a regular basis. The ‘“I’m a dirty rotten liar” about many small things, never one big thing’ kind of shit. He opens a rusty heart, against all my deepest protests, and looks at me with the kind and gentle eyes of a friend, offering me another beer. He insists that he means no harm and no foul, he just wants to talk about a few things before I get on with my day.

We keep talking.

I’m starting to feel less black. Just dull.

I start to think about all of the people that have wronged me over the years, and the feelings of contempt grow. Nine times out of ten, they’re accusations, and almost all of them are leveled at some supreme being named ‘God’.

As the stranger dances with me, I feel the light start to slip away, day fading into night.

That’s when you first feel the talons.

They’re like Wolverine on steroids.

I look at him and then look around at my room. It’s clear he’s been here before. The room is a mess and his selection of tunes leaves me feeling drained. They’re sorrowful and tired, singing the songs of ragged men who have lost hope and are just waiting for the end. My books, too, are lying all over the floor — it looks like he couldn’t keep his talons from ripping that apart. Or was it me who threw them off the bed and onto the floor with a ‘fuck it’, I quit’? I can’t remember exactly.

His talons drag me towards the bed. With a swift kick and a karate hurl, I’m launched onto my back, subdued, and completely at his mercy.

Bitterness, my old friend.

It’s so kind of you to drop by.

Won’t you stay a while?