Him (Paying Rent)

I filled my QuickTrip travel mug full of coffee, Heath flavored creamer and Sweet ‘N Low and went outside on the porch. Cigarette lit, I drew on it and sighed a deep sigh. I had seen that Mitch texted me when I checked my phone inside. Now it was time to read. But just knowing that he had texted me at all made me grin. A little.

“What the hell are you so happy about?”

“Jesus! Where the hell did you come from?” I said and reeled back in my chair.

“Lookin’ for the heart of Saturday night,” He said. “Turns out it was in the floorboards,” He said and pulled Himself from where He had been lying face down on the porch and into a sitting position. He surveyed around Him until He found what He was looking for. He drew on the last of the vodka in the Barton’s pint, draining it. “So. Your little friend’s comment certainly hit you where you lived, didn’t it?” He looked like a garbage truck had run over Him, but he still managed a toothless grin.

“Yes, I suppose it did,” I replied. He examined the bottle under the last of the street light, then chucked it out onto the front lawn. “I would appreciate it if you picked that up before you left,” I said.

“I would appreciate it if you did it for me, asshole,” He said, stood up and stretched. “You drove home none too happy that Mitch said what he said and you fumed about it all through the night and into the morning. Didn’t you?”

While he was talking, I looked at my phone again. There it was. “Mitch AA 1 new message”. I clicked on it. I read the one sentence message and grinned, but only a little. “Yeah, I guess I did,” I replied.

“What do you losers call it when somebody gets to you? Oh yeah. He’s livin’ in your head and not paying rent. He slept blissfully last night and had no idea that you spent the last 6 hours debating out everything in your head. Whether you should be happy being at the Humane Society, if you’re settling just because they were kind enough to take you back, whether you should do what Tim and your old man want you to do and find something that pays better, and on and on. I know you didn’t think about drinking, but you certainly wallowed in the place where drinking got you. Which is almost as good.”

I had to play this hand close to my chest. For once, I had Him and didn’t want to give that away too quickly. “I’ve just been thinking about what else I could do.”

“Which is nothing, but hey, if it makes you feel a little better to fantasize that what Mitch said isn’t the truth, go for it,” He said and sat down in the chair next to me. Even when He was wrong, somehow He managed to be right. At least a little. On a dark day. “You should just take Mitch at his word because he is right. All you can do is take care of some cats and you wake up early to meditate or yoga-size or whatever makes you feel better about being a burn-out today. But in the end, that’s all you do. Keep telling yourself its noble work. Seems to be working out well for you.”

Now, I let the snake loose.

“I have no illusions that what I do right now is easy,” I said. “And you know what, I will turn it into something more. And if it doesn’t and I jump ship and decide to do something different, that’ll be up to me. But that’s not the issue.” I shoved my phone in His face so He could clearly read what Mitch had written:

“Dude, I apologize for being insensitive with my comments.”

He stared at the phone, then shoved it away. I shoved it back in His face.

“It’s the 10th Step, in case you were wondering. ‘And when we were wrong promptly admitted it’,” I said. “I‘d say 6 hours is pretty prompt don’t you? Or, put it another way, he paid his rent and we’re moving on.”

He pushed my hand away again.

“Ya see, I may keep working with the cats and I may move into another position at the Humane Society. And I may jump ship and find something else altogether. I don’t know what I will do in the future, but what I will do in the present is be thankful that I have friends like the Mitches who know when they screwed up and apologize pretty damn soon after. Because a lot of people don’t have that. And what I’ve said before in meetings about its too bad that there’s a not a Life Anonymous meeting for people to take some of the guidelines we set out in the program? Yeah, this is one of those times. Because whether or not it’s true, Mitch knows he did hit me where I live and that it hurt. So he apologized and I forgave him and life goes on. No harm, no foul, no being butt hurt until I get over it or Mitch apologizes 3 weeks from now as though he had just made a wiseass remark and I shouldn’t take it too seriously. Over, done with, gone. And a couple of the other Mitches even checked in with me to make sure I was cool. And the storm clouds moved on and the sea remains calm. And me and the Mitches and Dan and Greg? We’re all in this together.”

I walked out on the grass, picked up the bottle, and walked back on the porch. I came up in front of Him, cinched up His belt extra tight until He yelped a little and I shoved the bottle at His chest.

“So run along,” I said and pushed Him down the stairs. “Go crawl back under your rock and sleep it off. I got cats to care for.”

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