The Pondering of Lydia
Lydia adjusted her dress after she sat down in the sun baked car seat of her 2000 Toyota Corolla. Her black leotards were a bit more difficult to accommodate against the heat penetrating from a car seat soaking in the sun on a ninety-degree day. Why I wore these black leotards on such a scorching day, she thought. She had just shaven her legs. Her legs were smooth enough, and all the women would be sporting them to make the men come to attention, but why did she choose to wear leotards?
I did it almost as an afterthought; she pondered, reflecting on how it came to be that she was wearing black leotards. It does go well with this dress – very summery feeling as the wind brushes the dress against my thighs. Hope it cools down tonight. I wonder if anyone after the AA meeting will be going to have coffee later. Nice night for the downtown cafes. Maybe a movie. I do wish for company tonight.
She placed the key into the ignition and started the car, but before putting the car in drive, she fixed and fluffed her auburn hair in the rear view mirror, and squeezed her lips together. Oh, Lydia sighed. You know you want to impress Maurice. What a long tall dark African American man. Something about him. Always courting me. Probably Christian, but I think he’s open to going out with this Jewish princess. Oh, what am I saying, we’re in the Bible belt and he’s African-American, of course he’s Christian. My word, could he actually be Baptist? Lydia, stop being so silly and just target this man. There is his friend Bernard. Not too shabby him either.
Lydia backed the car out of the small city apartment tar-paved parking lot and cruised down its one way driveway leading out to Virginia Avenue. People were strolling down the street, couples, families – oh, and the children. In her past stoned-drunk life she never paid heed to driving with safety in mind, for herself or others, but now she was as careful as guiding a razor blade to cut eyebrows. Her car sifted out into the city traffic.
The face of Jimmy popped into her head. “Oh shit,” she exclaimed. “I hope he’s not there tonight. Oh, shouldn’t say that. He’s suffering from the disease of addiction just as much as me.” Lydia suddenly jumped on the brakes. She managed to see at the last second a woman in a red spandex jogging suit cut off at the knees pushing two young children in a double outfitted three-wheel stroller. The woman was obviously still aware of being quite desirable, even as a married young woman sporting her love of jogging in the morning or evening.
Next to the woman was another woman in white running shorts and a blue tank top, her pale white legs not quite shapely, but youthful in appearance.
Hhmm. A close friend to her red spandexed jogging friend, Lydia thought to herself between short spurts of impatience sighs. I bet her friend even assists in choosing a proper nanny for her two imprisoned toddlers trapped in that death machine stroller. Lydia smiled a feigning smile at the two women seeking forgiveness for her faux pas. OK, Lydia thought. Don’t play it up, ladies. My bad, I know.
The women briefly acknowledged Lydia, and then stared straight ahead in the pursuit of exercise. Their chins pointed outward as if embracing the non-existent wind. The only thing on their mind was the pursuit of staying in shape, always mindful of the children, or how they would compose themselves at the next corporate party.
“Oh,” Lydia stated under her breath. “These professional women – or men – follow the protocol of corporate royalty, and for what?”
Lydia tried to erase the negative thoughts she had for these two young women. She repeated the AA mantra silently to herself: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Do not accept the things that I can’t change, change the things that I can’t accept.” Lydia paused, remembering that the last sentence was not part of the AA creed.
“Damn you, Jimmy! Why does he sing that? Now I can’t get it out of my head.” She drew a deep breath and relaxed herself. “Try this again,” she said with determination. “Do not accept the things that you can’t change, change the things that you can’t accept. Damn it! That’s not what I meant!”
Lydia paused and pondered, gazing at the people strolling and enjoying the evening’s hot sweaty sun sweltering above without care. “I have to get that asshole kicked out of the group. Jimmy goes to the AA meetings, and announces he’s an alcoholic, but he never mentions the drugs. He’s an addict. A manipulator. Son-of-bitch has it down to a science.”
Unlike her previous drug addled days, Lydia pursued the twenty-five mile per hour signs as she glided past the open taverns on Virginia Highland. People were sitting leisurely outside at the taverns and coffee shops. She mused upon the time she spent drinking alcohol in those same taverns until the sun had set and drifted into the early morning hours. Then she would take her one-night stand companions up to her apartment for a session of shooting cocaine into each other’s veins – sometimes mixed with heroin. Suddenly, she became alarmed by a potential trigger to set her off and pursue her addiction once again. She could visualize the tacit excitement from everyone in the room hoping to board the coke-train and make believe that life was one big rush. She could feel the warmth that pursued shortly after pushing the drug into her bloodstream. Her heart dropped. Well, she thought surrendering to the moment of weakness. Now I have something to share at the meeting.
Lydia came to the traffic light at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Ponce de Leon. People crossed in front of her. She saw Beatrice in her electric powered wheel chair zooming through the cross walk ahead of everyone. "Ah. You go girl. Beatrice gonna make the meeting on time."
The light turned green, and Lydia quickly turned unto Ponce de Leon and took a quick right into the Methodist Church’s parking lot. She past Beatrice and gave her a smiling wave of hello. Beatrice waved back, but then quickly buried herself back into the controls of her electric wheelchair. Beatrice attacked the pavement with fervor. Lydia thought with a spark of silent laughter. Beatrice is into the spirit of the meeting.
Finding a parking spot, Lydia saw Maurice standing near the door engaging a group of people awaiting the start of the AA meeting. Everyone seemed happy as Maurice conducted the conversation. Maurice wore a black nylon t-shirt and brown cargo pants with suede tanned hiking shoes. Lydia’s heart swooned at the appearance of his stature before her. She checked her black skirted dress and lifted herself from the hot sticky car seat to pull out the clinging leotards now sticking between the cracks of her ass. "Damn, Southern heat."
She then quickly got out of the driver’s seat and went around to the passenger side of the car pretending to look through the window for something inside. In actuality, she was adjusting herself and checking her hair before presenting herself to Maurice. Gathering herself, she walked toward the door of the church’s meeting room where Maurice was holding court.
“Oh my,” Maurice yelled out. “Looking fine, woman. Lydia the sweet thing.”
“Oh yeah,” Bernard echoed.
Lydia smirked a flirting smile suggesting a feline shyness to the compliment. Her gait was timid but sexually suggestive.
“Fine day for a meeting ain’t it girl,” Maurice continued.
“Every day is a fine day for a meeting, Mr. Maurice.” Lydia sighed to herself thinking that perhaps she might be trying too hard to present herself. It was a delicate balancing act she had to perform, for she wanted to zero in on Maurice, but still had to have the presence of mind to play coy.
“My man Maurice,” Bernard inserted. “Just wants to insure he’s the man of the hour.”
Lydia playfully placed both hands on her hips. “Feeling challenged, Bernard.”
Maurice bellowed out with laughter.
“Damn, Lydia,” Bernard retorted. “Challenged by his sorry ass? The other day watching a movie with this brother – I had to explain everything in five different ways to him just for his understanding.”
Lydia winked at the entire entourage gathered about Maurice. “Five different ways? Sounds like you were bullshitting your way through it, Bernard.” A choir of laughter erupted from the group gathered in the conversation.
Maurice stood back looking Bernard up and down. “This guy? He’s good, Lydia. He’ll convince anyone of the five different ways when he explains something.”
“Including you,” Bernard quickly added. Once again, there was a choir of laughter.
Lydia faltered before Bernard, knowing what would happen next. He hugged her, as she fell limp into his soft squeeze with a smile abounding across her face. The voice of her social worker suddenly popped into her head with the words from one of her first sessions she had had with the older female counselor.
“Lydia,” the counselor stated tenderly. “Why do you place your relationships in triangulations? Why do you triangulate with the men in your presence”
“It’s a game,” Lydia remembered stating as a response. “Men want to perceive women as prey, because it makes their hard-ons seem harder. Final release. They then feel they’ve conquered something, instead of admitting that they simply want contact and validation.”
“Would if they merely want release from the sexual tension that you enticed?”
“Please,” Lydia remembered casting off the observation. “First of all, these so-called men want to be enticed. Just like they will constantly cheer for their favorite sport’s team, no matter how badly their teams repeatedly lose. Secondly, once they nailed the doe, the buck seeks the next competition. If, otherwise, and they claim to have fallen in love, that’s a signal to the woman that the buck has lost the will to continue playing the game. She has him. The woman can either entrap the man into her services, or she can sadistically crush him knowing his pining will become obsessive.”
“Lydia,” the counselor began. Even it we both admit it is an illusion, men consider themselves ruling the household.”
Lydia remembered looking out the counselor’s office window, and barely stating a loud, “Only when they choose to become abusive.”
The smile on Lydia’s face dropped as the embrace from Bernard ended as well as the memory of the session with the social worker. She could not look upon Maurice, but it made it all the more obvious that her focus was directed upon him.
Embarrassment swelled up within her. She gazed at the ground pondering. She sensed Maurice smiling with unspoken amusement over the situation.
Lydia quickly redirected and chased the social worker out of her head. “Is anyone up to see a movie tonight?” Lydia’s question appeared out of nowhere and hastened the air with tension. “There are some new premiers that came out last weekend,” she quickly added, as if realizing the moment as awkward.
The choir contemplated the offer. Maurice nodded his head and said, “At the break, let’s layout the logistics. See who’s up for it.”
Lydia panned the faces of the choir. Who was her competition for Maurice tonight? There was Susan, but she was past her prime, although shapely and alluring. Would Maurice like her experiences in bed? Hhmm, she wondered with trepidation arising within her. There was Satie, but Lydia had her down as a lesbian, especially after hearing her stories about how she had been abused by asshole men during her coming to tenure. Then there was Jason. Definitely gay, but Maurice was always attentive to Jason. That’s weird, she mused, because Lydia had talked to other women at the coffee shops that stated Maurice really liked pussy. And he was very good in the performance part of the endeavors. He performed well, but would if he was just a performer? Did he take his sexual encounters seriously? Would if it sex was nothing more than a narcissistic gratification for him. Would then such an admirer as Jason be on his hit list?
What is Maurice disguising, she thought? Bernard, on the other hand, had a sensitive side. He was a father that really loved and cared for his children that he supported but hardly ever saw. At the coffee shop, she witnessed Bernard break down in tears because his ex-wife would not allow him to come to the high school and watch his son perform and sing opera. Evidently, his son had a superb baritone voice and was accepted into a highly prestigious music school.
But Maurice. Always elusive. An alpha male. Something evasive about him. Lydia would listen as he told countless tales from his alcoholic and drug addled days, but there was something beneath his veneers she could not quite pin point. She had to go to bed with him. Her mind was made up. Bernard was entertaining and sweet, but he was so wounded by his last love. His ex, still held all the cards. Lydia played too often the comforting ear listening to the reopening of love scars from males that lost the will to move on. No more, she thought. Bernard was off her list.
Lydia suddenly caught Jimmy out of the corner of her eye. He was standing over near the dumpster on the backside of the church and parking lot, talking with what Lydia deemed the derelicts of the AA/NA group.
Oh Jimmy, she pondered shrewdly. You try to make all your acts in public to be non-calculating and spontaneous. But there you are talking to Dave the blabber and the new guy that was so strung out a couple of weeks ago – red faced – contorted – telling the group he was here because he was dying to score heroin. Nice touch, Jimmy – having the discussion with them where the rats feed. I suppose you think you’re making a statement.
Other members pulled up into the church parking lot, either on bicycle, cars, or walking. As if on command from an unseen guidance, everyone began to trickle towards the door of the church’s meeting room, and began their somewhat languished entering. Each of the AA/NA members gave either warm or apprehensive smiles at each other before entering the room into a night of deliverance. Lydia saw Jimmy still entertaining his entourage of run-down disciples near a giant trash can. "You so much want to be the messiah, Lydia smirked to herself. Anyone can be chosen as your audience or followers. That’s too easy Jimmy. Too easy."
Inside the meeting room, the members searched out their seats. Maurice and Bernard sat down and began chatting about something sport’s related. Lydia played it cool and sought out Satie, and began a manufactured conversation with her on how positive thinking was beneficial and rewarding. Others engaged in small talk with one another, or simply gazed at the walls, contemplating their addiction or all the uncertain decisions one is forced to choose from during the waking hours of sobriety.
Finally, the late comer’s arrived. It was Dave the electrician, small, skinny, aging, especially in the hooked nose, and wearing the face of the bewildered, but also sporting an awe-inspired open gaze. Lydia then by chance saw Jimmy enter with his new found buddy, the heroin addict. Both Jimmy and his friend were laughing quite merrily about something. They sat down together, and still huffed with smiles over a personal joke they obviously just shared. Dave looked at them and said with his typical naiveté, “You guys. You do have your fun.”
Lydia glared just for a second at Jimmy and his heroin friend, but abruptly turned to signify a subtle disgust while ignoring the pageantry of Jimmy and his friend. She huffed with laughter to give further deflected insult. She then saw that Jimmy did not notice her refined rejection meant to be noticed but unnoticed. Instead, Jimmy was staring at the corner in the ceiling, appearing quite content, but searching for something that he did not really want to reveal itself.
He’s high, she gasped to herself, looking down at the tethered carpet of the church’s meeting room. He’s here to play us all for fools. This heroin guy is supplying him – and they’re both making a joke of us at our expense. There’s no way that junkie made such a spectacular recovery in two weeks. I bet Jimmy still hasn’t found a sponsor. If he dares states that, I swear I will call him out. He corrupts, but never does it openly. He plays the good guy, but it is a process of manipulation for him.
Satie excused herself from the conversation she was having with Lydia, and went to the table at the front of the room and picked up the AA readings to start the meetings. Satie handed the How it Works to Charles in his wheelchair, and the Twelve-Step chart to Jimmy. Lydia took her fingers from one hand and rubbed her forehead as if embracing an oncoming headache.
Satie., Lydia pondered quietly. You poor damn dyke. Can’t you see how Jimmy is posing as rehabilitated only to con you and the rest of us to believe he has earned his chips? Naïve Satie has fallen for Jimmy and his stand in the background approach – or non-approach. Just an observer, huh Jimmy. No foul, no harm done with you, bastard. Of course, Satie, he will pose as an intellect denying all passion, but at least a true man is honest in his desires. Jimmy won’t have sex with anyone until he claims their souls. And then it will be once or twice over a long period between him stumbling through life to proclaim himself a messiah or unrecognized talent.
Lydia then caught a glimpse as to when she had first met Jimmy. It was during a phase when they were both still in the first week of rehab and confused and bent out of shape from cold turkey. The cold turkey was especially intense for Jimmy, because she knew he was no mere dabbler in drugs. And by mere dabblers, Lydia meant those that professed to have indulged in drinks and drugs without the true manifestation when one realizes they’ve conditioned not just the brain, but the kidney and liver to depend on it.
Both were titillated with each other, although each realizing it was only the moment speaking for them. Lydia thought the night would end in another sexual escapade. Jimmy grew purple-red erect, and his breath shortened – waiting ejaculating release within her – but then he suddenly lost interest.
How strange, she thought. He wanted to conquer this moment, and she could tell by his performance he was not a novice – not the best – but not a novice. His eyes seemed distracted. Did he need a drug? No. There was something else calling him. She felt insulted, but she couldn’t conjure the anger to scold him for the sexual infraction. He was truly lost, possessed behind cold stares.
Why should she care? It was just a moment like any other she had shared with so many other men – sometimes women. Jimmy was decent enough looking, but not a knock-out heart throb. If anything, he was gangly in proportion, and beginning the aging of a plump male stomach softened by the years of a constant paycheck and falling asleep behind the television. What distracted him?
Lydia remembered Jimmy falling off her and unto his back and then staring up at the ceiling. He wasn’t breathing very intensely, but his eyes kept shifting back and forth without focusing on anything in particular.
“What wrong?” she remembered asking.
Jimmy drew breath very quickly and looked upon her intensely, but only for a moment. “It’s not you. You’re beautiful. Please believe that.” He then peered out the bedroom window with subdued panic. “I can’t stop thinking. I can’t. This is an impossible task to surmount.”
“What is impossible?”
There was a pause that spoke sereneness as if anticipating the honest revelation. “It’s as if I’m already dead and only pretending to interact with the living,” Jimmy finally said.
“Who was she?”
Jimmy grimaced in response to Lydia’s question. “Please,” he sighed. “Don’t make this about some generic female right of acquisition.”
“Then what is it about?”
Jimmy took one hand and began rubbing his forehead. “Lydia, you wouldn’t believe me – no matter how earnest I could convey the information.”
“Maybe you should call your sponsor.”
“He wouldn’t be interested, Lydia. This isn’t about my drinking or using. Anyways, the last time I called my sponsor, he told me to call back because he was in the middle of watching a movie.”
“Are you sure it’s not about your addictions?”
Jimmy was obviously growing more exasperated. He sat himself up on the end of the bed, and then swung around and stared at Lydia. “You want to know what it’s about? He’s here. He’s found me. And I don’t even know who he is. Or I shouldn’t. Or I should. Damn it.” Jimmy then turned to gaze out the window once more. “Perhaps,” he said with a calculated sigh, “You should gather your things and leave.”
“You’re at my place – my apartment.”
“Oh. Right. OK. I’ll be leaving.”
Lydia watched as Jimmy dressed himself and then entering her bathroom. He proceeded to take one long pee in her toilet. He washed his hands for what seemed a very long time, picked up his duffle bag and headed to leave. Turning towards her, he said, “Take care of yourself. I’ll see you at the meetings.” She said nothing in response, and heard the door close behind him as he left.
Now, in the presence of the meeting, she listened to Jimmy rattle off the twelve-steps, trying to impress everyone with his command of the English language, while adding emphasis so that he could hook the audience that he was indeed being sincere. He was not, and this she felt for certain. He was a pretender – nothing more.
Satie picked up the readings from the members that shared them. Jimmy crossed his legs, and his heroin addicted friend nodded at him. There were also the murmurs from various AA/NA members thanking Jimmy for sharing. Lydia grew disgusted.
After thanking the readers for tonight, Satie then introduced the topic for the session, as she went into details about how it affected her. The topic was: Letting go of my addiction as being my one and only friend.
“And so,” Satie continued telling her story. “Every day I would go to my apartment, and I knew my stash was always there. If it was a bad day, I used. If it was a good day, I used. My little helper was always parked next me. It was my best friend. My little friend was always there to remind me that it would not punish me to sit with my emotions.” Satie paused and reflected. “You see the one emergency I needed in my life was to learn to sit with my emotions without drugs or drinks. Something I could not do. Something I thought I wasn’t able to do.” She paused again and looked out at her fellow addicts. “Yesterday,” she continued. “I came home feeling somewhat empty. I cooked a little soup on the stove. Sat down and watched a movie. I did not use. Did not partake of drink or drugs. I went to bed. Woke up, and the Sun was shining like I never thought it could do in my drug taking days. It was a new day. I felt a bit sad, but I dealt with it. It was a good day, even though it was filled with frustration at work.”
Satie suddenly stopped. “That’s all I wanted to share.”
A choir of voices responded. “Thanks for sharing.” Then everyone went silent and appeared to contemplate. Lydia took quick glances at Jimmy, knowing his ego would want a sounding board.
There was nothing but soft contemplation in the room.
Dave the down-trodden soul spoke up. “Hey everybody,” Dave the derelict began. Other members then interceded to remind Dave he wasn’t following the script. “OK,” Dave simply responded. “My name’s Dave … and I’m alcoholic.” Dave’s always spoke slowly with a thick Tennessee accent.
Lydia thought, No. You’re not an alcoholic, but someone who needs a place to hang his hat.
Dave continued, “I’m just glad be here t’night. Use t’work on electrical lines, y’all know dat. Got up early each day, or called middle of night – fix things, ya know. Mama always there – make me a cup of coffee – any time - day or night. Miss mama and papa.” Dave paused, and stared out, as if trying to see his parents living in the afterlife. His eyes were green solid round, and protruded as if suffering from a thyroid problem.
As Dave panned the room appearing to make eye contact with a few people, Lydia sensed that although Dave seemed to focus his stare on a particular person, in reality, everyone was just a blank slate before him.
“Mama always said,” Dave continued looking out before him. “Treat people nice, and dat’s what ya ya get in return. These guys out here on these streets (pause) always making fun of someone like me. Go ahead and laugh. I know who I am. Gotta a lotta years behind me. Thank God, I’m still here t’day. I feel truly blessed.”
Those that were in the room wanting to really speak about their addictions to alcohol and drugs, began to twitch with the stream-of-conscious meanderings of Dave. Lydia did her best to maintain her composure, but she could tell she was beginning to seethe as to make it almost noticeable to everyone.
“Don’t care what people think,” Dave continued. “I’m my own man. I learn’d dat much.”
Lydia noticed Jimmy nodding his head in pseudo-agreement with the ramblings of Dave. She couldn’t decide if she was more irritated with the ramblings spewing from Dave, or Jimmy playing the condescending concerned messiah.
“Anyway,” Dave began. The room seemed to fill the air with unsolicited sighs and rolling eyes. “Mama and papa …”
Satie cut him short. “Thank you, Dave. We must allow others to speak and keep on topic.”
Lydia seethed short breaths of frustration. These are your disciples, Jimmy? The depths and delusions you’ll pursue to maintain your messiah complex.
The room collapsed into silence. There was only the bated pause begging for the offerings from other fellow members from the school of the addicted. Only an uneasy quietness greeted the members. Most of them stared at the ground before them and few looked at the ceiling as if seeing their thoughts from the distance.
Lydia stole glances at Jimmy. Go ahead, she thought. I know you’re dying to take the stage. And it’s all a stage to you, isn’t it? You’re not serious about sobriety. This recovery process is just another venue to validate your ego – your complex.
Jimmy said nothing.
Still, no one uttered a word. Contemplation of each member seemed to soak in the coming night overtaking the setting Sun. Purple twilight is the forgetting of the non-appointed royal forgotten.
Damn it, Lydia blustered inside. Say something. Why are all their ears awaiting for you to break the silence. When you came here, you were as broken as your friend sitting beside you. The jaundice cast about your eyes … the tremor in your voice and hands. You survived, Jimmy, and yet, you appear either on the path of sobriety or still testing the fates with using. Damn it, say something!
Finally, Jimmy spoke. “Hey, my name’s Jimmy. I’m an alcoholic.”
“Drug addict, also” Lydia whispered under her breath. “Why do you fail to mention that?”
“Yeah,” Jimmy continued, rubbing his chin with cool observance. “I used drugs,” answering as if telepathically the response Lydia was seeking. “But alcohol is my drug of choice. Why? Because cold turkey from demon whiskey is far more severe than my use of heroin. Drinking makes you pay a price.”
Yes, Lydia exclaimed non-verbally with a face of stone.
“Truth is,” Jimmy observed. “I’ll use anything. I’ll even pop five or six Advil’s at one time. But alcohol would send me into the madness … the insanity … not wanting to deal with reality of things ... I preferred it. Today, I did not drink, but had a cup of coffee with my friend here – and simply enjoyed the summer day. I’m grateful to be here.”
“Thanks for sharing,” murmured the small voices in the room, as some stared down at the floor in disquiet contemplation.
Lydia squinted with furtive brow, contemplating. But did you use, Jimmy? She silently pondered. She looked over at Jimmy’s friend sitting next to him. There’s no damn way that boy kicked heroin in two weeks.
Satie gauged the crowd, and inserted. “Let’s take a fifteen minute break. We’ll return at 7:20.”
Slowly, people began to disperse to the outdoors to grab a quick smoke. Some lingered stretching themselves to fill the blood flow to combat boredom. Other’s embraced each other in conversation. Jimmy sat still. Lydia sat still. Finally, Maurice came over to Lydia and drew her attention from Jimmy and his friend. Thank God, she thought. She flung her arms out with proper feminine etiquette. “Maurice,” she smiled playfully. “Let us embrace the setting Sun.”
Maurice bellowed with laughter. “Come girl. The conversations out here should be most enlightening.”
“I haven’t smoked in three days,” Lydia barked, while trying to straighten her stockings unnoticed. “I need one, now.”
Maurice led the way, secured in the fact he was performing the role of the Alpha male delighted by the company of the beautiful princess called Lydia. He opened the thick wood door for Lydia that lead out into the parking lot. Bernard softly came from behind and playfully stroked Lydia’s shoulder. Lydia smiled, and looked back at Jimmy to see if he could catch him in a moment of her being fawned after. Jimmy simply stared before him – on a small piece of worn-out carpet, while his friend spoke into his ear.
Cigarettes lit. Conversations ignited. The setting Sun still kindled with heat. Dave wandered around the parking lot with Thyroid infested-bulging eyes trying to share some kind of strange acquaintance with everyone – or anyone. He was lost in the scene, but still a player on the stage.
“So,” Maurice began, gazing at Lydia, who shimmered, beautiful nylon black and sweaty in the twilight hot breeze. He rubbed his chin. “Where shall we make our rendezvous for the night?”
Lydia seemed distracted, as if waiting for Jimmy and his friend to come out for a smoke. The door stood silent, and did not swing an arrival of anyone new to the parking lot scene. Lydia regained her composure.
“Perhaps,” she began. “Going to the movies would not be such a good idea. An evening drinking coffee outdoors would be best.” There was a pause. “Such a fine evening to gather our thoughts.” She sighed. “Tomorrow, more simmering shit to boil our asses. That’s what the weather lady said.”
Maurice dropped his composure and smiled at her. “A day fulfilled and enjoyed is worth remembering.”
Lydia blushed and nodded in agreement.
Then, Jimmy came out with his friend into the parking lot. Lydia scanned them quickly. They have to be sharing junk between them, she thought. Why? Why would Jimmy go back to that strange addiction that he never did prefer over his drug of choice, which is alcohol?
Then she remembered a conversation she had with Jimmy: She had asked Jimmy: “What do you do with the consuming hours delivering a reminder of your painful existence when completely sober, and no drink of drug to be had?” Jimmy inhaled and responded, “I stare upon a small fabric or crack in the road. I will stare into the very fibers or fractals of anything material. Then, I can forget myself, and seek something outside myself.”
“Why not simply experience yourself?”
“Because I do not know who I am.”
“That’s a cop-out, Jimmy.”
“Perhaps,” Jimmy stated a distracted and uninterested response. Then there was his stare that testified that there was nothing but dead space between him. Silence was the interlude, beyond the measure of a stop-watch, but still desiring a somewhere else to be, live, and breath.
Now, in the parking lot of an AA meeting, Jimmy looked about at his surroundings with that same deadpan expression, and his friend stood closely behind. Jimmy’s friend confided something to him, leaning close to Jimmy’s ear. In response, Jimmy smiled like a cat that ate the mouse. The two of them then went back over to the dumpster that smelled like shit at twenty-yards from baking beneath the Southern Sun all day. The two began to smoke cigarettes and engage in what appeared to be an intense conversation.
Lydia detected that Bernard knew that she was distracted. Maurice stood erect with the command of a true poser, ignoring the situation. He knew he was still in command when Lydia would finally decide to seek his refuge – such was the knowledge of the experienced Alpha-male. She would thus submit to his demands – sooner or later.
As the Sun was setting, an epiphany swelled over Lydia at the realization of what was going on around her, and, at the moment, she thought it gave an inside perspective of Jimmy. She smiled casually at Maurice and Bernard that were now engaged in conversation with each other, and she pretended to be a part of that conversation. Meanwhile, her thoughts became lucid: Jimmy detests his existence, because the world is so fucked up in his mind’s eye. Why? Because of the Alpha male. Who is the Alpha male? His father. Who else is fucked up? The female that courted the Alpha male. Who is that female? His mother, ignoring the true needs of her son but nevertheless constantly seeking his affections – due in part to her husband’s growing distance from her.
It was at that moment that Jimmy appeared to quietly beckon toward Lydia – as if he was seeking help for what was about to transpire and portend in the unfolding of a hot Atlanta night. She then was ready to give way and engage him sympathetically in conversation. She would grab his face as a caring mother, not a sexual partner, and ask him why he would choose the road to self-destruction – even during a period of his supposed rehab. But then his heroin induced friend whispered into his Jimmy’s ears. She saw Jimmy’s eyes grow dark and lost – and Lydia could see Jimmy seeing eternal sparks between the cracks in the pavements.
“Damn it,” she expressed out loud. Maurice took notice.
“Lydia,” Maurice quietly beckoned. “He’s lost now. Forget it. Move on toward your own sobriety. I think watching a movie might take your mind off these things.”
Lydia stammered for a moment. “Maurice,” she finally stated with exacerbation. “He is using and spitting in our faces.”
“Lydia,” Maurice spoke with utmost effort to being gentle. “He might never come back.”
Lydia placed a hand on her hip. “He’ll be back,” she said. “He’s like a damn cat. Let’s just grab some coffee after the meeting and figure out a way to get Jimmy and his friend’s ass exposed and kicked out of the meetings.”
“Lydia,” Maurice stated with controlled effort over his emotions. “Since when have we ever kicked anyone out from the meetings?”
Lydia eyed the pavement below her. She now took note that Maurice began to perceive Jimmy as competition, and thus, like any dick-swayed-thinking male would want to win the competition. She would play this game to garner her gratification. In reality, she knew Jimmy wasn’t in a competition, so Maurice was foolish to even play the game. Jimmy felt superior to everyone, and he detested simple sexual gratification. The great dilemma for Jimmy was that although he did not adhere to Christianity; nevertheless, he wanted to be a messiah. And this is what turned most women off to him, even if he did intrigue them from time to time, they would, being intuitive and higher nature, see through his simple smoke and mirrors.
She knew Jimmy, and how he only wanted self-gratification on an elite intellectual level. If he was to share a sexual experience, it would only remind him that he belonged to the human race – and that was a no-go for Jimmy. Then she recalled what the Jimmy misanthropic bastard told her on one of his inept dates with her. “I forgot why I came here. I’m really pissed off, but I forgot why I’m so pissed off.”
If Jimmy asked you out for coffee, it was never really a date. Lydia knew the mind of a true addict. Where most men would place importance on the details of the date-night that would have unfolded, Jimmy could have one-hundred episodes of what that date-night actually meant. Between the time that you arrived, or he drove to your apartment to pick you up, you’d have to catch him at the crucial five-minutes where he, at least, entertained the idea that he was going out on a date with a member of the opposite sex.
For Jimmy, everything was spontaneous, because as much as he thought he was about to entertain a beautiful woman, in the back of his mind he might actually score the mother-load. And the woman would be of secondary importance next to the score of drugs offering the illusion of the grandiose.
“My God,” she exclaimed, even as Maurice moved closer to her to make his presence known. “Jimmy is that poor Christian boy, with only his Christ serving metaphor as an example, and Christ has become a needle into his veins.”
As Maurice intensified her female sexual awareness, as he rubbed the back of her neck, the words of Jimmy from one of her poorly played out dates with him sublimely overtook her. Jimmy was quoting Crowley to her, explaining his unresolved situation regarding his rehab from drinks and drugs:
“I was in the death struggle with self: God and Satan fought for my soul those three long hours. God conquered — now I have only one doubt left — which of the twain was God?” (Reptilian Eyes by Ian Bar)