I like to think of myself as totally independent. I have an apartment that I can’t afford, I work 3 jobs and stay up all night partying with my friends. I take one course at a time at the community college because I have to pay for it out of pocket. My car is almost paid off. You know, I’m starting off.
Today I am going to treat myself to a little window shopping on Greenwich Avenue. It’s my first day off in like 3 months and I really want some new jeans. Plus I am invited to a wedding next month and I have nothing to wear.
Greenwich avenue is kind of crazy. Back in the day when I was young there were stores that I could at least somewhat afford.. Like Woolworth with a photo booth in the back, and a paper store that sold cool pens. We especially liked the fat permanent Sharpies so we could tag up the benches at the park. They also had a Gap and Banana Republic that had some pretty nice things on the sales racks.
That’s where I was heading today. After shopping I decided to swing by the Starbucks for a treat. Iced venti skim latte with caramel drizzle. I place my order and stand by the straws waiting for my drink.
“Jess, is that you?”
I look up and there is Carmine from high school. We were acquaintances. We knew the same people but never really talked much, except if there was no one besides us out at the smoking spot, then we would make small talk. We haven’t seen each other since graduation.
“Hey, Carmine! How are you? How’ve you been?”
“Good, you know, working. I’m about to take a break want to hang at the park for a bit and have a smoke”
“Sure, I’ll meet you over there.”
He hands me my coffee and I leave. for some reason my stomach has a little flutter in it. I head past the post office and the board of ed building and sit on the steps. After about 5 minutes I start to wonder if I walked to far and he won’t find me. Maybe I’m being stupid. Whatever, time to call some people and see what’s up for tonight. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey Jess! How’ve you been? what have you been up to?”
“Good, just work, a class or two at NCC and hanging out. I moved up to Norwalk. How about you?”
“Just working and I’m trying to write this book.”
“Really? That’s cool! I’ve been submitting poetry but I have nothing published yet. I’d love to read your book!”
“Sure! I have to get back to work but what’s your number and I’ll give you a call when I get out.”
So we exchange numbers and say the good byes, nice to see you, talk to you later.
Later that night I am hanging out with my friends and my phone rings. It’s Carmine and he wants to meet up. I tell him what parking lot we are currently hanging out at and he says he’s on his way.
We spoke for the whole night and somehow he ends up back at my place where I have decided that I am not going to smoke anywhere else but the bathroom even though I have no furniture. So we sit in the bathroom for hours laughing at each other and chain smoking. We are the perfect amount of mean to each other. Mean and flirty. He leaves at 4AM which gives me about 3 hours of sleep before my double the next day.
I wake up exhausted but happy and I wonder if I will hear from Carmine later. My day is long and exhausting. A double shift at pizza hut. Half waiting and half shift managing but on my feet the entire day. Just about close time Carmine shows up. So I close the restaurant and we help our selves to a couple beers and make some pizza. We sit and talk and decide to head back to my place. This time he sleeps over, we end up making out till early and I finally pass out from sheer exhaustion.
I wake up to Carmine getting his things together and leaving for work. Then I roll over and tell him to lock the bottom lock on the way out and go back to sleep for a few more hours till my shift at the radio station.
A couple weeks go by and Carmine and I start spending a lot of time together. Someone asks if we are boyfriend and girlfriend and I say no and he says yes.
He brings me his manuscript and I read it. I am impressed. He has an entire book written. He’s just in the process of sending it out. One night our making out turns into something else. We start to get into it but something is wrong. Like we can’t feel each other. It’s just off. the next morning he gets his things but something has changed for both of us.
He meets me at Pizza hut later that night and I take a break to go smoke with him. He says “Why are you so loose?” I am honestly so offended I tell him to Fuck off and goodbye.. So he leaves.
A week passes and he comes back and asks me if I am still mad at him. I say, yeah! that was really rude. He says ok, I’ll be back next week.
Two days later on the front page of the newspaper there is a picture of Carmine. Apparently he mixed some medication and his mother found him dead in his bed. They explain it as a reaction between medications.
I don’t go to his funeral. I mean we really only hung out for about a month, I never met any of his family, we didn’t share any mutual friends. And I was still so offended by his comment. It really made me feel awful about myself and I just still wasn’t over it. A couple months pass and I have a dream that he is in a cemetery in the Bronx. I feel like I should go say I am sorry for not going to the funeral. I have no idea where he is buried, or if he was even buried but I go to the cemetery in the Bronx from my dream and walk around for a few hours. Of course I don’t find him. I end up driving home and talking to him to try to make some kind of peace. I’m sorry you were such and asshole I say. And then we laugh in my mind and forgive each other.
A few Years later I bump into his twin brother Joe at NCC and I just walk faster. Years go by after that and I hear that Joe has killed himself. He did leave a self published book behind. I buy it and gobble up the contents hoping to learn something. The only thing I learn is that they couldn’t stand each other and that Carmine had in fact killed himself and they both had tried before. They both had been depressed for as long as Joe could remember.
There is no closure to this story really.
Please buy my book Moving Forward for more stories:
The paperback is huge. I will have to reformat it to make it smaller.