Monday, December 29, 2003

Jeff panted and gasped treasuring each sweet breath into his lungs for mere seconds before he exhaled every one violently into the air. His throat was dry from the rapid wind that flew through it as his lungs struggled to steal every kiss of oxygen within them. The street curb felt like the only solid thing in the world as he sat on it. He could feel a trickle of blood itching at his eyebrow as it began to mingle and submerse the hairs and he reached his arm up, ripe with fresh sweat and he nestled his forehead in the crook of his elbow and wiped it clear across to the underside of his wrist; he then held his palm against his head and looked upwards to the bleak night sky and everything stung like wild fire on his skin. He thought for a second and thought he tasted blood.

His mouth, wide open, smiled wide letting a laugh escape and maybe he even cried a little but his face was so beaded with sweat that even he couldn't know. Every salty drop on his body reflected in their tiny visages a young boy wrestling with all his might and for all his life against his brother. And his eyes held happiness deep within them as they cringed with infinite sadness and happiness all at once.

The arms that had served him so well lost all their strength and his palm fell from his face, the starlight highlighting the blood streaked blond hairs of his arm, and his other let him fall to the ground. His body quivered and maybe he was laughing and maybe he was crying but what David saw, as he knelt on the ground his strength gone, his will to fight fading, scared the hell out of him. It made him feel, it made him feel so strongly that he almost let himself fall. It went against everything he knew and it left him hollow inside, it left him alone because he couldn't see why everything he knew was upside down right now. Why Jeff wasn't angry... why he was laughing!

Jeff's head rolled toward David and his cheek rested on the grass as his sweat dripped onto the fragile green blades. He sprawled his legs out and let his heels rest out on the street. He caught his breath in gulps and David thought he saw some red on his teeth, and watching Jeff try to mouth some words froze him in place and he listened as they started to form and become audible as the noise of the world began to turn back up.

" I... I... " He took a deep breath in and tried again, " I haven't felt so alive in all my life. " and he started to try to force himself up again. David just stared at him, the fight flashing through his brain every second every punch, every single head but flashed at him with pure clarity. The fury that Jeff had fought with had been so pure and brutal; nothing had stopped him as he took blow after blow screaming with fury. David's crouching legs gave out beneath him and he fell on his ass catching himself and holding himself up with his hands behind him. All that fury was just gone.

" What? "

" I feel so good right now... so very, very good, " Jeff gasped his chest rising and falling violently.

" Maybe you just missed it but in case you don't remember you're bleeding pretty bad, maybe you broke your skull, " David spat at him bracing himself for another rush of fury.

" I just don't know, I feel free. "

David reached up and touched a sting on his own brow where his head had hit the curb and felt the cooling damp patch. A damp light red patch was clearly visible on his fingers as he pulled them away. It was barely a scrape apparently. It still stung like hell though. The red though... Yeah, he could see clearly now though, he knew what Jeff was feeling. And he knew what to say.

" Thank you, " Jeff whispered in a sad tone that sounded far, far away and if he hadn't spoken again David would have thought that it was a dream that he dreamed too loud. " Thank you, so very much for helping me. "

David felt something inside himself hurting. That scratched something very old and very strongly rooted in him and he heard himself saying what he needed to say to Jeff. He couldn't force himself to say it but he started scratching at the wall that wouldn't let him speak, he started breaking what he could through the wall. It sounded, though, like he said, " Look... don't thank me. What are you thanking me for? I didn't do anything. "

Jeff lolled. His head just sort of rolled back and forth and landed facing the other way looking at the bright light of the streetlamp. With his face turned away David could see the dark stream of black down Jeff’s cheek. It was smeared sickly, and thin from being diluted by saltwater, but a fresh drizzle was making its way along.

Each statement became weaker and harder to say than the last as he continued to fight the wall inside him and he felt the wall losing. He couldn’t even look at Jeff anymore. Jeff’s pain reminded him of his pain. That pain that he could remember feeling himself so vividly that he began to feel it again. The feel of such great, trapped pain rushing out of yourself like water burning and at the same time leaving you cleansed when it was exposed. “ Jeff, man, I’m… fuck… I’m sorry, I’m really, really sorry. I wasn’t thinking. “

Jeff rolled his head back to David. ” What? “

“ You heard me, “ David said indignantly. He felt insulted and the wall began to close up again. He had opened up to the fucker and apologized, for Christ’s sake, and now he was going to have to listen to some bullshit. David wasn’t going to repeat himself.

“ No. “ Jeff breathed in, heavily grunting the word as he began to push his body back into a sitting position on the curb. “ No, really, I was looking the other way; I didn’t hear what you said. I’m sorry. “
“ Hey, don’t worry about it, it wasn’t important. “ The combination of the pain of sitting up in Jeff’s voice and the honesty made David’s anger fade; but he still wasn’t repeating himself. He decided what to do next though and pulled out his pack of cigarettes and flipped open the box. The first he pulled out was bent and crumpled. David threw it without a second though. Then the next… it was even worse. When he pulled out his last cigarette eventually it was barely better than the first, but, sitting in the street with it in his hand, it occurred to him that it was indeed better than nothing at all and he put the beat up cig in his mouth. He threw the box randomly like all the broken cigarettes and he fished for his lighter, flashed it and then held it with his other hand hooded over it to keep the fire from going out and puffed the cigarette to life before putting it away.

“ Let’s go get something to drink. “ He said after a few drags. “ I’ll buy you a drink. “

“ I’m game for that. “ Jeff replied as he stumbled up onto his wobbly legs and almost fell right back down again. It occurred to David once again as he watched Jeff stumble that merely minutes ago, this man who could barely walk might have killed him. Then, only for a second, the thought that maybe he should have let him flashed through his mind and were gone without a second consideration.
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