I’m back from Baghdad. Lovely town, to be sure.
Here’s a quick literary exercise I went through today. There was nothing else to go on about, so I tried out some narrative muscles.
* * *
“What ‘cha doin’, Jack?”
No response. The undulating gray light on wall and sofa signaled the television was on. Now that John listened, he could hear the sound trickle in.
“Hey Jack? Jack? Did you think about what you’re gonna do next, huh?’
A clink and slurp. Noticing the open cupboard, drawer and box, the crunch undoubtedly was Count Chocula. John liked the cartoony sugary stuff – he was a kid at heart. But that hadn’t helped him break through to the kid who showed up at his door three days ago.
“Hey man, I’ve got a meeting, I’ll see you later okay?”
The bathroom door latched. Jack would stay in there for hours. John went in to the living room, picked up the half-eaten bowl of cereal and turned the television off.
“You okay, Jack? You know what, bud? Don’t you worry about whatever. You’re cool here for as long as…”
Nothing. He had been like this since showing up, pushing by John’s door and standing in the middle of the kitchen, soaked from the rain – eyes wide like he had just been through a war.
Jack was John’s best friend’s little brother. He sort of knew the kid from all those years at Matt’s house growing up, but Jack was a lot younger and very shy. John probably had said ten words to the kid in ten years. Matt and Jack’s house wasn’t the best place to just hang around. They’d tear off in John’s car as soon as he showed up.
John waited a few more seconds before turning back toward the kitchen. Putting the bowl in the sink, he started to go through the departure routine…wallet, coat, keys. How had Jack found him? Matt had been dead for six months. John didn’t remember seeing Jack at the funeral. His place was hours away from Matt’s house. Did Jack walk the whole way here?
Tossing his scarf around his neck he noticed something in the corner of his eye. Turning back toward the living room, there was Jack in the doorway, wearing the same muddy black hoodie he had on when he showed up.
“Hey bud, whats – whoa!”
Jack ran forward and caught John off balance, throwing his arms around his legs. Looking up at John for a second, his eyes watered and he began to cry into Johns slacks.
“Wow, hey hey…easy man. It’s okay. It’s alright.”
John caught a glance at his watch as he patted Jack’s matted hair. Fifteen minutes – he’d be late for his meeting. His job was his whole life, but with this sobbing mess at his feet, he began to wonder just how much that might start to change.
“Hey Jack, how about some more cereal, huh?”