I'd been waiting in a gray/blue waiting room for over three hours. I’d been sitting there reading boring brochures about topics such as “a women’s right to her body”, “Coping with your emotions”, and “Family counseling”. The guy next to me was reading some book, and kept going outside to smoke a cigarette. Everybody had a slight depressed look; the only people that go to this place are people that screwed up. The only cheery people were the nurses; they’ve seen it all before. It was a surprisingly long operation and stupid me did not even bring a book. I had all the time in the world to ponder how I got in that room.
Four months earlier, I was asked to baby-sit my uncle’s house in the Admiral district. My uncle’s house was huge. I had everything our house did not: Cable, a jet bath, and a very nice view of downtown Seattle. They also had this crazy Jack Russell Terrier, Murphy. This dog would watch TV, and jump at any animal on the screen. It was amazing, she would see some dog, and jump right at its nose! But the best part of the whole deal was the house was all to myself.
My friend Jill and I had been hanging out at the house for most of the day talking and watching TV. Eventually our discussion turned to James. He was coming up from Astoria Oregon the next day. We were both very nervous, and not quite sure what to do when he got up here. You see, he left on shaky terms with both of us. James was my best friend, and Jill’s ex-boyfriend. He went on a bender and ran away from both of us to his former “stomping grounds” – Astoria, and Clatskanie Oregon.
It was quite the emotional discussion. We both had a lot of un-resolved feelings about James. James was Jill’s first true love and my absolute best friend. James was a person I had hoped to be friends with for a lifetime, and it had hurt me deeply to watch himself sink into a bender and wreck his life.
I remember one particular moment during that discussion very distinctly. Jill was one of those people who never show their true feelings. I’d never seen her come even close to tears, until that night.
Jill broke down on the floor. I laid down beside her, and put my arms around her. I will never forget the feel of her hair; it was the coarsest hair I ever touched. She still smelled like the cigarette she had not to long before. Tears were beginning to form around her eyes, but she made not a sound. I had grown quite fond of her over the time James was away, and I had a suspicion she had the same thoughts about me. I swear, that moment there was something between us, some kind of spark. It was as if we were meant to be together. We laid like that for about a minute, me stroking her long jet-black hair. But nothing came of it, and we soon came to our senses. I asked rather awkwardly “Jill, what the hell are we doing on the floor?”. She replied with a nervous laugh, “I don’t know”. We got up, sat on the couch and pondered what the hell we were just doing.
The next day I was quite nervous. I left the house I was watching, and went back home. I took my three dogs for a walk. Thoughts raced through my head as I walked though the woods. I wondered what James would be like. Had he changed? Had he gone off his bender? Did he miss me? What would he say about my feelings toward Jill? Would be accepting? Would he even care?
On my way back up the street, in our driveway was parked a 25’ motor home. My heartbeat picked up, and I started to run up the street; James had arrived. A small crowd of people had formed around the door to this giant vehicle. My parents had come outside; James was there as well as his new girlfriend, and her friends.
He wore some over sized denim “Boss” jeans, and an ugly green bowling shirt that had something like “Astoria Tigers” in black type. The whole wardrobe reeked of “I’ve been in some small hick town to long.” There stood James, the person I’d hoped to be friends with for life, and the first words that about came of my mouth where “James, what the hell are you wearing?”
James looked at me and smiled. Regardless of what he was wearing, I’d missed him. I started to shake his hand, but he swooped me into a hug. We walked into my house, were he was greeted by my dogs. It appeared as if they had missed him as well, and immediately started to wag.
Being the computer nerds that we were, the first stop we made was into my bedroom. James looked over my Pentium 233 much the same way a friend looks over your new car. All the pertinent details were asked. How much memory? How big is the hard drive? What size monitor?
James used to spend a lot of time on my computer playing games. We’d come home from school, and he’d spend the rest of the day playing some game. James came from a military family, he dad and his uncle had both been in army. Because of this past, he took his games very seriously, sometimes even drawing out detailed maps and diagrams of the “perfect base” for some game. I will say he was a great player and made quite a challenge in Quake.
Our next stop was school our former school. It was very strange walking back into that school. I had sworn to my self the day I graduated, I’d never set foot inside that place again. Yet there I was, walking inside, and visiting old teachers. The building hadn’t changed, but the people had. The students that walked those halls seemed so young and so foreign. The only people I recognized were from the senior class, who where juniors when I graduated.
I don’t remember much else from that day, which is kind of sad. I do remember that we visited Jill, and I’m pretty sure we went out for coffee that night. But I remember what happened after all that. It was decided that the first night James stayed with me at the place I was house sitting, and the second night, he would stay over at Jill’s house.
James, my brother Nathan and I all stayed there that night and watched whatever was on TV. I remember us watching some garbage shows on public access, part of Blade, and who knows what else. Eventually they crashed out on the couches, and I went to bed.
That morning, I took James out to a “real” breakfast at Glo’s, a small restaurant off Broadway. He had lived in Astoria for so long, he’d forgot what it was like to have a descent meal from a restaurant. We sat around and talked about his time in Astoria, and how much he missed living up here in Seattle. We talked about his dad, who was building a log cabin somewhere in Oregon.
After breakfast, we met up with Jill, and walked around Broadway. We walked past a smoke shop, and for some reason I decided it would be a great idea to buy a pack of cloved cigarettes, or just cloves for short.
I don’t know who though it would be a great idea to take dried cloves and smoke them, but they were on to something. Clove’s just taste good, and they make your tongue all numb. James was responsible for introducing me to those things. The first semester in school that I met him, he had a pack of those. I said to me, “Cory, these are the best legal drugs you can take. You smoke a pack of these at once, and you’ll start to see shit”. I’ve never put this claim to the test, I’ve rarely been able to finish just one, much less a whole pack.
That night I went to my uncle’s house without James; it was Jill’s turn to have him. She too was watching her house. Her parents had gone way to some anniversary vacation or something, and she had her house all to herself. How lucky for her.
That night I made sure to get a good nights sleep. The next day was to be a long one; we were going to drive James back home to Astoria.
It was around four or five the next day when we arrived Astoria. It was a weird sensation. This was James’s home, where he was born and raised. All of the friends he used to talk about lived here. We said our goodbyes, and left. It was just Jill and I on the way home. It would be close to a year before I would see James again.
It was sometime in early June that I had gotten the page on my pager. For whatever reason, I left my pager on audible mode that night, and sure enough, at about 11:30, I got a page. “763-4565*254*911911911”, twice. It was Jill. I called her, and got a frantic voice on the other end of the line. “Cory, I can’t tell you why, but I need to borrow some money”. The adrenaline kicked into my system, and I became fully awake. I told her, “Jill, you are going to have to tell me, otherwise I’ll never get any sleep, and I’ll worry the whole night”. Finally it came out, “Cory, I’m pregnant.”. I calmed down a little bit, at least it was nothing I did. I told her I’d be over in five minutes.
I arrived at her house, and while not in tears, she was very upset. James was the father, and she was about four months pregnant. She was getting ready to drive down to Astoria that night and tell him. She did not have enough money for gas or food, so without even thinking, I took her to the bank, and withdrew $150.
Which brings me to the room. In case you have not figured it out, it’s the waiting room to an abortion clinic. Now, I’m not going to get into a debate about abortion rights, or whether a fetus has a “soul” or not, but on that day, Jill would walk into that clinic, and would destroy a five-month-old fetus. And on that day, I would drive her there and “be there for her”.
I sometimes wonder about that night Jill and I were on that floor. I wonder if that was one of those moments in ones life that could drastically change its course. If something more were to have happened, I often wonder if I would have been the father sitting in that chair, and not just merely a friend.
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