It had been awhile. Three years to be exact. Jim hadn’t seen Gregory is three whole years. I mean, he had seen him several times through various photos that he had been tagged in on Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t count. He had missed his friend.
At one point they were as a close as his index and middle finger. Unfortunately it seemed as if the the hand to which they were attached in this analogy had formed a peace sign. No, he thought, its like one of the fingers was cut off, put in a box and sent to North Carolina to live with a new hand and forgot to call or text the hand it had grown up with. Its not even like that finger had an excuse because it literally only takes one finger to text the other hand or even just one of the original fingers. Like, I get that it may have been challenging to send a text with one finger, but one text in three years is not much to ask for. What a stupid fucking finger, stupid fucking middle finger, Jim thought.
Anyhow, the two had managed to make contact a few weeks back because Gregory was returning to town to visit some family. They agreed to meet up at the local bar and grab a drink or two.
Jim sat alone at a high-top table a few feet from the bar. He was nervous. He held his beer in both hands and stared down into it watching the slow fizzle of carbonation reach the surface. What if everything had changed? What if the friend he knew long ago was gone. Jim had seen pictures of Gregory on Facebook and physically he resembled the same person, but there was something about his posts that gave him reason to worry. When they were younger, Gregory made posts consisting of the most idiotic content. He would joke about farts and share pictures of things he thought looked like a penis. He was essentially a child. But now he had grown up. He was different. He posted pictures of his dinner or videos of his children singing, captioning: “The next Drake!” Really, Greg? Your kid can’t sing for shit. Gregory was different now and Jim was nervous they’d have nothing to talk about.
Over the sound of R Kelly’s, “Bump and Grind,” Jim heard a man say, “No, I’m actually here to meet my friend, I think I’ll have a look around.” It was Gregory. His long Jim Morrison-esque hair was cut. He wore a black business suit and grey overcoat. He even shaved off that patchy beard that resembled the hair on a grown man’s genitals. It was Jim’s worst nightmare. Everything had changed.
Jim threw his hand in the air to get Gregory’s attention. It worked. Gregory made his way over to the table with haste. He had adopted the walk of every father Jim had ever seen walk, like a gigantic stick had been thrust up his ass. Poor guy. When he reached the table, Jim pushed his hand out to shake Gregory’s.
“Are you serious?” Gregory asked.
“What?” Jim challenged.
“What the fuck do I look like, a giant piece of fucking shit? Bring it in, before I choke you the fuck out,” Gregory commanded.
Before Jim could say anything his face was pushed so far into Gregory’s chest that he could feel his heartbeat. It was a rather uncomfortable spot, but from this distance Jim was reminded of a smell. The same smell from their youth. Gregory smelled of body odor and stale cigarette smoke! All of Jim’s fears washed away. His friend may have adopted the persona of an adult and responsible father, but beneath this charade was the same piece of shit that he had grown up with. The two talked for hours and drank more than originally planned, requiring the assistance of a taxi to get Gregory home.
When the taxi pulled up, Jim opened the door and Gregory hurled himself into the backseat. “Jim,” he drunkenly murmured. “Jim, I need you to know that I’ve always thought you was a piece of shit,” Gregory admitted with a smile on his face.
Jim closed the door behind his friend and with a smile on his face replied, “You can fuck yourself.” As the taxi pulled away, Gregory rolled the window down and stuck out what Jim thought was a waving hand. Instead, his friend put up only one finger: the middle. How fitting, Jim thought.