Friday, June 20, 2008

FLASHBACK SPECIAL SERIES: June 2003

The Koyaanisqatsi Chronicles

Chapter 5 - Shattered Dreams

"There he is," I thought, "I wonder if he'll see me?"

Earlier this evening, I had flown into Orlando from New Orleans, took the 45-minute long Lynx bus ride to Casselberry and here I was. Sitting on my luggage under the stairs by the front door to Ric's apartment, sipping the last bottle of a six-pack of beer.

It was night and I was shrouded in the darkness of the stairwell. From my position, I watched as Ric parked his car in the nearby lot, walked up the path to his door, unlocked it and went in. He hadn't even for a second glanced in my direction. Though I was in darkness, if he had looked, he would have seen me. After he closed his apartment door, I got up, looked back towards the stairwell to be sure my luggage was hidden (I needed to first gauge his attitude before I sprung it on him I was back "for good"), and knocked on his door.

The second he opened the door and saw me standing there, I looked in his face and knew it was cool. I had a place to stay. For a while, anyway...

Weeks earlier, while still in New Orleans, I had hinted to Ric during our phone conversations that I might be looking to return to Florida. Though he never said so, he hinted that if I were to move back, I might be able to crash on his couch for a little while.

Why didn't he agree to this arrangement back in February? Well, back then Gary was effectively living with Ric in his little "Junior One Bedroom" (re: studio) apartment. And they were nearly constantly fighting all during that time. So they had (after I had already left for New Orleans) broken up for a while (again) and Gary moved back to the house his parents owned in Mineola.

The break-up was short-lived and they were "back together" within a few weeks. But Gary stayed out in Mineola.

Gary was with Ric at Ric's house every weekend though. Ric would make the long trek out to Mineola on Friday nights, pick up Gary, who, like me, didn't drive due to a revoked license, and brought him to Casselberry. They'd spend the weekend together, then on Sunday night, Ric made the trip back to Mineola to bring Gary home.

Meanwhile, living with Gary in Mineola, was Robert, Gary's "ex" boyfriend. Huh!!?? You are no doubt confused. Well, honey, so were we all. The whole arrangement was quite bizarre.

Anyway, what it boiled down to was there was a little more room in Ric's apartment now.

And, like the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, I think Ric missed me since I had left Orlando.

I assured him I would only stay for as short a time as possible.

Over the course of the next few days, I hit the pavement and searched for a job. I found again, that my options were quite limited. I submitted resume after resume. No return calls.

I was living off the roughly $900 I had left after airfare back to Orlando and it was dwindling fast. Ric took a nominal $300/month for me staying with him, but I was continuing to splurge on bar hopping.

One night, Ric, Gary and I had been out drinking at the Irish Pub, a neighborhood dive. We got very drunk and Ric and Gary started to fight. Not unusual. But after returning to the apartment, the verbal screaming between the two of them got physical. Gary started ripping up pictures of the two of them and Ric pushed Gary across the room. Gary fell into the living room window and the window burst out spraying glass everywhere. Amazingly unhurt, Gary came back throwing fists at Ric and suddenly I got into it with Ric, defending Gary. Things calmed down for a while as we each retreated to a separate area of the room and drank more beer. But since Gary kept up the verbal taunts and I was yelling at Ric too, Ric got fed up and in a rage, picked up the glass coffee table top and threw it at me. It missed me and smashed onto the living room floor, shards of glass flying everywhere.

Unbelievably, no one called the cops. We calmed down, went to sleep and the next day Gary and I cleaned up the place. When Ric woke up, we all just went on like nothing ever happened.

Later that same weekend, we all sobered up fast and embraced each other in support for Gary who found out that his father had keeled over dead from a heart attack.

I eventually found a low-paying "vacation room" job that seemed a little less depressing than many of the others available so I took that. But, being an obvious dead-end, and, something I hated, I abandoned the job after about a week.

I didn't tell Ric, I figured I'd eventually get something else, but I didn't want him to get pissed at me for quitting a job and having nothing to replace it.

Well, the job actually called Ric's phone (which I had put on my application) to find out if I was ok (since I hadn't shown up for a few days). I didn't expect that. Usually these boiler rooms have such a high rate of no-call, no-shows that they never call to find out why you left.

Ric was livid...not so much that I had quit the job, but that I tried to deceive him into thinking I was still working there. He gave me until the end of the month to find a new place to live.

As the end of the month approached, Ric made sure to communicate that he wasn't kidding, he wanted me out. I was fast running out of options so, having no other choice, I called my parents.

My father picked up the phone, and rather than being stand-offish because of the way I spoke to him last time I'd called in February, he seemed happy and relieved to hear from me.

"Your sister and I have been trying to reach you for weeks, but we didn't know where you were. Your phone number was disconnected...", he said.

"Yeah, well, I couldn't afford my phone so I cancelled the account." I explained.

He continued, "I was so worried I wouldn't hear from you before it was too late."

"What do you mean?"

"Michael, your mother is dying."

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