An Old Friend by Mike Blake

Yes, it is friendship.

Yes, I feel the pull of it when you moan and babble on the phone, when you try to reach across states with your whisky sadness. I have no answers, but I can listen, telling myself there is time enough, though I have heard this mumbled and slurred soundtrack before.

Sometimes, just beneath the forced politeness, there is a savage scream stemming from the ultimate absurdity of it all, a bilious laugh bubbling up from the old corroded insides, shitty rottenness in abundance. You get choked up on the past, while we are suffocating here and now.

Quiet except for the occasional acknowledgement, I think about how it started, how we came together in one place at the same time years before, and then let it go because I can't measure time in this way. What do years, months and days mean when it all comes back in random images, like the picture I have then coming through over the lousy connection. A face, a room, a dog, a dirty and cluttered kitchen, cockroaches scattering when the light goes on. A small place, almost like a jail cell, confining, without the bars, of course, but with mental barriers preventing escape. Almost swallowed by the daily clutter, unhealthy, railing at the unfairness of it all when drunk.

And then your big old gray sprawled form on the rumpled and stained bed, dead to the horror, for the moment, dog whimpering and wondering when he's going to get out next.

Yes, I'm still his buddy, I give him a greeting over the line: your one steady sad-eyed companion there with you through it all (for you have been sick of people for years, except in limited doses). You always end up driving me away; I've accepted that as inevitable in our friendship. There will always be these long, long distance calls, in which there seems to be just as much said in what is unsaid. We sense the all enveloping void in these silences on the line, two small pieces of moving warmth and energy, connected in some way, yet never without forgetting, at bottom, the futility of it all.


2008 - Blake

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