"All you gotta dew iz open yer eyez, Jack."
And there I am caught literally with my dick in my hand by my old buddy Clyde. Old buddy sounds light and carefree and not dangerous or in any way Clyde. But that's not him, and he doesn't care. Call me something that I'm not or don't want to be and watch me kick and scream making all kinds of effort to prove otherwise.
So, my old buddy. There he is. Lurking around me for weeks, probably months, maybe every day since we departed a life ago. But I'm not equipped to know for sure and if I ask him, god knows what the hell he'll say. That cryptic tongue he speaks. It takes intense concentration at first and then you get used to it as I recall, but I'm not there yet.
So for now, no questions, or only some simple ones. "How long you been sitting there watching me?"
"Whoooo elze iz watching. Wider, Jack, always look wider."
I don't see anyone else, but I have some guesses. But what do I know? What do I really know about any of this?
"Old Man, you scared the fuck out of me."
I used to call him Old Man Death, somewhat sarcastically, but he knows I know who he is. And as I said, no identity crisis here.
He offers me a smoke and I zip up and take one. Light up and about choke on the unfiltered whatever the hell this is. I'm a social smoker. Cigarettes lend themselves to conversation. But I don't really want to have one. Not here, not now.
"Bonnie told me you've been hanging around here."
"Yew wanna git down da bizness?"
I don't know what he means, what he wants, but I know I probably don't want it. "Ya know. I picked up a strange tongue of my own. It pops up from time to time. Well, really only when I'm on drugs. I can fake it but it's not the same thing."
"Take that az a yesssss." He stares me down hard and I look down. When I look back, his eyes are closed and he takes a couple of slow breaths and nods his head as if saying "yes" and starts to speak. Well, not speak really. His voice has dropped deeper and whatever he's saying is so so slow I can't make it out. I thought he said "seven" to start with, but after that I lost what he was saying if I ever had it to begin with and now it just sounds like long, deep, slow syllables.
I lean back in my chair and take a harsh hit from the cigarette and drop in into a nearly empty coffee mug and hear it sizzle out.
"Ssssssslyyyyy... sssssiizzzzzzzle... dooooooooooown... Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack"
He's speaking to me now and I'm starting to get my hackles up. Overly alert, senses peaked, fight or flight mode. My arms are flexed, fists clenched. I stand up and he remains motionless, eyes closed, but I know he knows exactly how I'm positioned, probably what I'm thinking. Which is what, exactly? A fucked up thought, that he might know what I'm afraid of before I consciously do.
Then, he grips me at the front of my belt. I didn't see him do it and he's got a hold tight. He pulls me toward him, but only so he's able to get me close enough to him to push me back with enough leverage. Then he releases me, and I land back in my chair. His hand remains still where it was when he let go, hand still open, dead still. I note to myself that completely and absolutely dead still is not something I've seen anyone do before with an outstretched hand. Not a twitch or shake. Old Man Death, my old buddy.
So what happens when your old buddy is literally death himself? And what happens when you owe this guy a shit ton of money and aren't willing to settle the debt for things of eternal consequence? You do whatever he wants, that's what.
And I know what he wants now.
But I'm thankful he is a friend, a brother. That he doesn't take advantage of me regularly. That he's powerful beyond power, but only pushes me so far in small steps.
So I unzip. And his eyes open back up. And I finish what I had started when he walked in.