||[Nov. 17th, 2007|06:09 pm]
hungryandhollow, on the kind of friendship we should all be lucky enough to have.|
It's Friday, 11:30 PM. It's been a long, long day. Blake and I watched a movie, and now I'm going to bed, when I see my cell phone - 1 missed call, area code I've never heard of, and a voicemail.
"Clay, it's Zach. I'm back." Hotel name, room number.
I'm there in 15 minutes, and he comes running out into the parking lot. We wrap each other in the manly hug of male friends who haven't seen each other in three years, and then, this being Zach, he grabs my face and kisses me. It's not a real kiss, it's a performance for our friends outside his hotel room, and I kiss him back while our friends either catcall or shout disgusted remarks. This isn't the first time we've done this and it probably won't be the last.
I come into the hotel room, and Fever to Tell is playing. Of course it is. "They've been my favorite band for almost two years now," I tell him, and he nods. His iTunes reads like my list of favorite bands. Parallel evolution, or some similar bullshit.
Zach is different now, mostly physically. The Marines will do that to you. "No one thought I could make it," he boasts. "Some bullshit about my rampant issues with authority. And now I'm stationed In Iraq, motherfuckers, so suck my cock." "Yea, but every time you get promoted you get demoted a week later," I tell him. "Don't try and cold-read me, you cocksucker," he laughs, "but you're right. I subconsciously make myself fuck up because I'm afraid of my own success." There you go, the lessons we learned together eight, nine years ago. Wear your flaws like armor. The 8 Mile defense, we called it eventually. Throw it all at people, everything they could insult you with, and you take away their weapons.
"I know how you did it," I tell him. "It took me a while, but I figured it out, when I heard they were sending you to Iraq. You conned them, didn't you? It's a game. A challenge. You're spending your service conning the Marines into thinking you're a perfect Marine. And that's how you can get yourself to take orders instead of swinging at someone and winding up in the brig." He just smiles and lights a cigarette. For all his flaws - and he has many - Zach has more raw power in his charm than anyone I've ever met, and while it may be much rougher, much less polished than it should be, he's got the dedication and the commitment to make it work.
I'm late to the party, so we don't stay long, but I come by the next night. Too many people for Zach's hotel room, maybe 10 of us, so we decide to go back to my house and play Guitar Hero and drink more. "The only thing is, me and Juliette gotta wait for her little brother to come by," he says. No problem, we can all wait. "No, no, you guys go ahead, we'll catch up." Zach, if I leave without you, you're not coming. "No, I am, I promise, just go ahead." Zach, just tell me you don't want to come. "I AM coming, just in like, 30 minutes. I promise." I shrug. He's not coming. As we start to leave, he says "Hey wait, we don't know how to get there. Jesse, why don't you stay, and you can drive us over, since you've been there before?" Sure, no problem.
We get back to my house and I tell them all, Zach's not coming. "What? He said he was." Yes, but he way lying. "Then why did he have Jesse stay with him? He wouldn't do that if he wasn't coming." I taught him that trick, dammit. He's not coming. "He's coming," they insist. Fifteen minutes later, Jesse shows up, alone. "Zach's not coming," she announces. Of course he's not. It's easy to tell when Zach's lying - he's always lying. I used to think he was a compulsive liar, but now I know it goes beyond that. Zach tells the truth by lying. The truth is the negative space surrounded by his lies.
I don't mind that he lied to me, I really don't. It's been so long, and it's been so twisted, from best friends to each other's nemesis to a little bit of both. There's something a little nostalgic about it all. Something warm and familiar about him lying to my face, knowing that I know he's lying, and knowing I love him too much to expose him. Because that's our game. It was always our game. Ever since we first met, the cons, the performances. And for all his flaws - and again, there are many - I've never met anyone who works with me half so well. Who intuitively knows where I'm going with this line or that act, and knows exactly what to do to set me up, and vice-versa. Even at the worst moments of animosity, when we weren't speaking and we hated each other to the bottoms of our heart, we'd never expose each other. Some things are sacred like that. I'm not a Marine and I never will be, but Zach and I had our own brotherhood long before he joined up.
Today I talk to Blake about the party we're having. I invited Jenn and her boyfriend, I tell him. "Wasn't he getting into coke? We don't want that shit around here." No worries, I say, Zach will be here. This gets a snort in return. "What, so you mean he'll be in the bathroom doing coke too?" Not at all. Zach would have no problem violating my no-drugs rule, but he'd happily beat the shit out of anyone else who brought so much as a blunt into my house. "Zach was always fucking crazy," Blake grumbles, and he's right. Zach is crazy, and Zach has a tendency towards addiction, and Zach is nihilistic and hates the world and doesn't care about almost anyone besides himself. But we had a brotherhood, even when we were enemies, and Zach wouldn't let anyone hurt me but himself. And the funny thing is, I think I'm not crazy, but I feel the same way towards him.