Fiction, by Logan Lo
An old friend rang me the other day to accuse me of trying to ruin his business and life. Found it so strange because that requires a level of hatred that I don’t feel for anyone. It’s hard to feel anything these days. For anything and anyone.
Me: To be clear, if I wanted to ruin you, I’d want you to know it was me. You wouldn’t have to call to ask. You’d know.
Hatred is actually the farthest thing I feel for him. You see, he and his wife raised more than anyone for Alison when she was sick. I owe a debt to him and his family.
But he’s also extremely difficult.
Don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation in the 18 years I’ve known him. He talks to you rather than with you.
Him: Wait, I’m not done.
Me: You do realize you’ve said 10 words for every one of mine, yes?
In many ways, he’s a classic bully: He uses his position in life to demean and belittle others.
He’s never been unkind to me – far from it – but like Trump, you kinda want someone to say to him, Dude, you know these are people, right? What you’re doing is wrong.
Like Johnny, what I actually feel for him is a mixture of affection, gratitude, and disappointment.
Mutual friend: You mean pity. You pity him. That’s not what you’re supposed to feel for a friend.
Me: I feel obligated to try to help him. For everything he’s done for me and my family.
Him: (gently) You’ve done that. He’ll only change if he wants to and he said, straight up, he’d rather lose everything and end up homeless than change. You’ve done your part.
Also like Johnny, the punishment for his cruelty is that he doesn’t get to hang out with me.
I’m running outta time. Don’t have time or energy to waste on anything or anyone that doesn’t make me better. And, by extension, my son.
The fact that someone wants to destroy him makes me more comfortable in my decision to cut him out.
Think about the level of hatred it would take to have someone spend weeks – if not months – of their time plotting how to unravel everything you’ve worked for.
And if someone has that level of animosity for you, think about how many people simply dislike you.
I’ve always lived my life – including the womanizing – with the credo, “Leave people better off having met you than not.”
In any case, it’s puzzling how someone can be so compassionate to some and yet so cruel to others. But many of my close friends are complicated.
Me: A relative of mine said that he thought I was a sociopath.
The Half Man: I disagree with that. A sociopath lacks empathy. You’re one of the most empathetic people I know.
Me: Perhaps it’s something else then? Or maybe he’s just wrong.
I wonder what others – Johnny, The Devil, him – see in me, both good and ill.
Me: What does that say about me?
Gymgirl: I don’t know. Maybe it was Alison that kept you from turning into them?
Me: Maybe. Then what am I without her?
Still, I’m not able to cut off all the deeply flawed friends I have. Because I see my reflection in them. I need them for some reason.
And they each have their own twisted humanity, in their own strange ways.
The funny thing is, that I did spend weeks – months – plotting to destroy someone that I did hate. But it wasn’t him.
The Devil: Are you sure you want to do this?
Me: (ignoring him) The three coins are worth about $20,000. (placing a USB stick on the coins) This has almost a whole bitcoin that I used to buy black market meds for Alison. It’s worth about $17,000. Both are untraceable and cash equivalent. The rest of the money is in trust for the kid and he’ll get that once I’m gone.
Him: I’m a thief and womanizer, not this thing you ask me to do.
Me: We both know what you’re capable of.
Him: That was in war and when it was my job. Neither is true here.
Me: I’ll find just someone else.
Him: You don’t have anyone else, that’s why you came to me. (laughs) But suppose we do this? I just wanna ask one thing: (leans in) Without you here, without Alison, who’ll protect your boy from someone like me? People, like us.
Me: (startled, angry) You’ll never meet him. Just like you never met her.
Him: Ah, there you are. (stands up) Pull yourself together, Logan. Raise your son. When you’re ready, we’ll talk again. (takes a gold coin, pockets it, turns to leave) I earned this. See you soon, brother.
I’m better now.
Don’t hate myself quite that much any more.
Location: home, sick
Music: son, if you can hold on, if you can hold on, hold on