When Marcus called me I didn't realize that I'd be driving a thousand miles to the middle of middle america to help him clear out his mother's house. to put it on the market. I almost said no. but even now I remember all the times he stood by me.
The sun is setting to to the left. So big flitting through the trees. It'll disappear in a few minutes but it's light filtering through the dust and pollen makes me think of the first time I knew I was in love with this guy. Like now the trees flashed pass to the beat of the son on the radio. Visually keeping the beat. Marcus was driving and I was being taken in by the light always one step ahead of us, playing the trees. I don't really know why but I started to cry. I tried to hide it and found out latter when he asked me why did I even know that he'd seen.
"I was thinking of angels." I'd said
"Yeah, the light looked like it was coming from heaven and I wanted to see angels." By this time I was starting to tear up again from the embarrassment."
"Sounds nice." was all he said and lead me in to the restaurant. We both had smothered supremes. I didn't like Guacamole back then.
I think I'm almost to the gas station slash restaurant where we were snowed in at for three days one screwed up spring break when we were supposed to be going to his mothers house. He'd been distracted the whole trip. and when we realized we weren't going to have time to get there and back he began to be himself again.
I pull in to the weed covered parking lot. The lights, those old incandescent ones that they had in the 50s, still glowed even though the building was dark. Probably not the smartest thing for me to get out and snoop but I've been driving for nearly eight hours and I needed to streach my legs and pee.
I grab a flashlight and begin to walk around the building. The windows were broken, so much of the diner inside was in ruins but the stool that nearly broke my heart was still there.
We were having trouble seeing and the windows were not giving up their frost no matter what we tried. Bully, and Tray, were in the back spraying a torrent of gay panic in the form of inappropriate jokes and touching of one another. I didn't care much for them but they were on two of Marcus' teams. All three were in college on scholarship and most days Marcus seemed to accept that that was enough to be close to them. Me, I just accepted the vulgarity as immaturity and let them be.
We saw the Diner and were in need of fuel anyway so we decided to stop. While eating a trucker who was heading out as we were going in returned with the news that the road was closed ahead. We waited. The waitress was snowed in as well and Bully surprised us with his culinary skill. He did things with Spam that would make the gods swear of ambrosia for eternity. Bacon be damned.
Toward the end of the third day Marcus and Tray got into an argument that came to blows. I didn't know what it was about but when every one calmed down Marcus' mood was more foreboding than the weather. Dinner came —made by mel the cook — and I finally got Marcus to talk. He told me he was dropping out of school. He couldn't take it anymore. I didn't understand and I didn't want to pry. Like him I just wanted to accept.
We left early on the fourth day. No one talked. I couldn't if I'd tried. I thought I knew what was going on but then he told me he was going to join the service. He was tired of not feeling like a man and wanted to "Be all he could be". I tried to lighten the situation by telling him that he actually wanted to "Aim High". It was the wrong thing to do.
I do my business and get in my car. I back out and the headlights pass over the stool…
I know I shouldn't drive straight through but adrenalin and excitement have me more awake than expected. My wife won't like that I took our daughter's car seat or that I have a relic with who knows what encrusted on it rolling in the back with said seat. I can wash it up.
I get a burger, fries and a very uncoffee-like coffe at a Wendy's drive through, the strange beefiness taste doing more than the caffeine to keep me awake. The pulsing yellow lines doing their best to counter the food.
"I'm sorry man." He said inturrupting the silence. We'd dropped the other two off and were walking back to our dorm.
"All of this. Bully was pissed that I hadn't told Steff."
Stephanie was Trey's sister, Marcus was leaving in a week. Before finals, and hadn't even told her that he was thinking about leaving. Inside I was dying. I'd never been away from this my best friend. Since we met in third grade. He'd alway been there for me and I confided everything in him. I didn't know what hurt me more, his leaving or not telling me. Trey was right to be mad. I loved the guy. Probably even in a way that Steff did, maybe not, but I hurt. She was going to be devastated. I didn't expect anything from him.
I finally arrive at his mother's house. It's four in the morning and I hear the yelling. She's relentless. I roll up the window to block the noise and went to sleep.
The door opened and i jumped.
"Shit dude," he said not caring that I'd just hit my head on the roof, "That bitch is going to be the death of me."
He looked like shit. Well he looked great. Where I, and most men at our age were settling from the youthful V shape to a more settled B shape he was still holding up in all the ways a man wishes he could. His face however looked like death.
"Hello to you too." I said. He smiled and dug in the Wendy's bag to see if there were any unnoticed fries. "Still hates you huh?"
"Yeah." His eyes lost a little shine, the sides of his mouth fell a bit. "She hit Chris." 'No fucking sin spawn is going to desecrate my home," He said in a high nasally voice.
"I took him to Your mom's, I hope that was okay."
"She thinks I'm after her money to pay for AIDS medicine or drugs."
"How'd you get her to stop yelling."
"someone gave me valium for her coffee. I put it in her sweet tea. I think she only drank it so she could keep yelling at me."
"Damn, Sorry man."
Marcus turned to me. His eyes Watering. And he started crying. I held him. When he left the Air Force, he'd done so with Walter. They were a wonderful couple. And the dick still didn't tell me until I asked in front of my mother one christmas. They'd taken to spending time with my family since Walter was an orphan and Marcus' mother had disowned him for "some reason". He didn't talk to me for four years, then two passed with him being sketchy and I finally just got tired.
"What's this, he said holding the gift I'd given to him and Walter.
"A frame, I want a picture of you two. Take it and then give it back to me." Walter was never a good actor, Marcus however almost had me fooled with his denial.
"Who's the bottom?" my mother asked. Such tact.
The next year they decided to have a child. They talked Walter's best friend to be a surrogate for them. She and I connected. She had the baby and we got married. Chris is special to me. He's like my wife's son. A donated egg. Marcus had to fight to keep him. His mother didn't want an innocent child to be raised by servant's of satan. DNA showed that he was Walter's and so she'd not have anything to do with him after that.
He'd spent so much money trying to keep Chris that when Walter fell ill they sold everything they had to help him. He died and then Marcus had to fight to keep Chris because he wasn't his biological Father.
His mom, the aforementioned bitch, testified against him. Things started getting back to normal and then he got a call, his mom was going to loose her house. She'd begun showing signs of dementia and had stopped paying bills. She fought him every step of the way.
I sat in the car, Marcus' head in my lap. I'm sure it looked like I'd peed my pants. I was about to if he didn't wake soon. It was my stomach growling that woke him. Right at the wrong time. A police officer had just pulled up and saw his head raise.
We explained everything. The cop shook his head and said he and his partner were having similar issues with her parents. He wasn't jewish. Finally we were able to get her out of the house, with some help.
When he saw the stool I'd taken from the diner in the back of my car he laughed and said simply, "Angels"