Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crisis Central ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I met D back in high school and we've been friends ever since. I still keep in contact with a friend from elementary school so, with that one exception, I've known D longer than anyone I'm not related to. And lucky me because D is a terrific human being and a great guy. Of course, the same as everybody (especially me), he's got his faults. Like, he's a little (not too bad) high maintenance when he goes out to eat, although he's in no way an A-hole about it and tips pretty well. He never waited tables but has several relatives and friends who are or have been in the business. He's got a few other flaws and failings and I've called him out on all of them to his face at one time or another over the years. He could easily call me out on at least as many but he's too nice to do much of that. As a matter of fact, I'm a little upset with D right now about something, which is that about a month ago, D wrapped his car around a tree and died.
     D was always overweight. So was his father, who dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 40, several years before D and I ever met. D's dad had inheirited the family business and they had money. D's father had some good life insurance and considerable assets he left his family. Still, after a couple of years of the breadwinner being gone, for financial reasons D left private education and started attending the neighborhood public school located in his affluent part of town. Our city had some crazy-ass busing programs in those days (and maybe still does) so I wound up going to that school too.
     After and during high school, we each had several various jobs. I started waiting tables and D became a successful insurance agent. As the years went by, I lost touch with more and more of my high school buddies, except for D. If he didn't hear from me for awhile, he'd call my phone until he did. If that didn't work, he go to my job or show up at my door, probably with a fat bottle of good bourbon. I'm not a recluse or particularlly anti-social—after all, I go to work every day and  that kind of thing—but sometimes I'll sort of go into keeping-to-myself mode and sort of let some friendships drift away. D wouldn't let that shit happen. I'm not sure if I ever told him how much I appreciate it.
     D and I helped each other out a lot over the years. Often, when one of us was hurting, the other was doing well. One time I was having some transportation issues and D let me borrow an extra car he had for almost a month. Sometimes we'd both be doing shitty and at least it was good to have a friend to whine about it to. Plus, no matter how rough life got for him, D always had the best cable television service money could buy and I didn't. D loved to watch TV and I got to go to his house and check out a lot of cool stuff.
     D was married for several years. His wife Cindy was always real nice to me and I never felt less than very welcome in their home. I'm kind of a reticent guy but D would share the shit out of all kinds of his personal information with the one exception of why he and Cindy eventually divorced. Actually, I strongly suspect that D himself never really knew. When his marriage ended, D's life kind of took a downward turn.
     D always smoked a lot of cigarettes and drank a shitload of carbonated beverages, vices he and I had in common. After Cindy left, he stepped up both habits considerably. He also got very into prescription drugs. He had some emotional problems and anxiety issues that he'd always managed to keep at bay but now they started to get the best of him. Everything was a big major fucking deal to D. I once referred to his existance as "Crisis Central." He laughed his ass off at that one and forever after called it that too. I could go on—a lot of shit happened to D for awhile there, most of it not good—but just suffice to say that he wound up on Social Security disability and the methadone program.
     I moved away a few years ago and would usually find the time to visit D whenever I'd get back into town. As the years went by, D became less and less fond of leaving the house and while we often talked about it, he never managed to come up here to visit me. We'd have a nice long phone conversation at least two or three times a month though. He'd usually call me but it wasn't unusual for me to call him either. So after not getting a call or text from D for a couple of weeks or so, I dialed his number. I got his voicemail and left a message.
      He didn't call back. I tried again the next night, same result. I couldn't think of anything I'd done to piss him off, at least nothing in the last decade or so. Another week or two with my unresponded-to phone calls went by. I was hoping maybe D had gotten himself a girlfriend—and please God let it be someone he met at church and not the methadone clinic—but mostly I was a little worried. Was D sick? He was always a little bit of a hypochondriac. Was he in trouble? Of course, he was still alive. He had to be. If he wasn't, surely somehow word would have gotten to me.
     I finally had the bright idea of contacting D's mom. She'd remember me and and could let me know what was up. I got on the internet. She has the same very unusual last name as her son. I found her address and phone. It was late at night, I'd call her the next day. Then I saw another pertinent link. My heart would have sunk even more than it did except that I couldn't believe my eyes. Right there on my computer was D's obituary. He'd been dead almost a month and I was just finding out.