Just because Keiger and I don't date anymore doesn't mean I can't continue to go to The Local here in Atlanta and act like I own the place. I was there the other day, telling everyone everything was on the house. I really enjoy doing that. People are so grateful to me, and then put off by Keiger when he swoops in afterward to make them pay anyway. I always leave feeling like I've done a service to society.
"Everything's on the house," I was hollering, but the only person to hear me was Grant, who works there. The bar was empty but it was early yet. I'd called beforehand to warn Keiger I was coming in. "I'll be there in a few minutes, so if you're gonna leave, do it now, because I don't want you humiliating me by running out the back door the second I show up." Not that getting dumped isn't humiliating enough.
To Keiger's credit, though, I guess there is no good way to break up with a person, so you might as well pick the worst way possible, that way at least you ensure the act is complete. By the way, please feel free to take a copy of this column to The Local the next time you go, tell them it's redeemable for everything on the house. Tell them I said so.
Surprisingly, though, Keiger did not leave when I got there. Instead he stayed put and complained that in the two months since we talked I could have called him. "What kind of relationship is it if I have to call you all the time?" he asked. I was agog. "Keiger, you don't have to call me all the time," I informed him, "but you do have to call me more than never again." Jesus God, I really wonder how some people get through the day without someone else pounding a stake through their head.
I was there because Grant and I needed to continue our conversation regarding our concerns about Lary, whom we haven't seen in some time. Earlier, over breakfast at the Majestic, we'd concluded that Lary's behavior matched all the warning signs of meth addiction, as we figure we're super attuned to these signs ever since we staged that recent intervention for our other friend and all.
For one, Lary has totally withdrawn from us. Sure, he says he's working all the time, but addicts lie. Also, he's lost weight, which he claims is due to the fact that his girlfriend Brigid, who is half his age, humps it off him. (Ha! Come back from the planet Yeah, Right.) And lastly, the last time I saw him he looked like he'd been scraped off the bottom of a boat. Of course, that's par for Lary, but his teeth, I'm telling you, had the makings of total meth mouth if you ask me. He claimed it was just griddlies from the overtoasted bagel he recently ate, but I'm not so sure.
"Obviously we have to break into his house to see what we can find," I told Grant. He agreed, of course. If there's one thing I respect about Grant, it's his concern for his fellow friends.
The first thing I noticed about Lary's place was the life-sized, light-up lawn nativity scene, which was not on the lawn, but on the house, along with a lot of other crap, but minus the truck bed that used to be there. I tell you, the top of Lary's house is in permanent hurricane-aftermath mode. But that was not the most shocking thing. The most shocking thing was just how clean the inside of Lary's place was. There was not even any mosquito larvae breeding in the puddle in the middle of his living room that he calls an indoor pond. Right there is proof enough that his drug habit has gotten out of hand.
"Get the hell out of there," Lary bitched to us over the phone, because of course we couldn't break into his house without calling him to report on our progress. He was in Chicago, or said he was, working a job. "What's this crap in your freezer?" I asked. "I don't know, food?" he replied. Like hell it is, I thought. For one, it was green and pasty. OK, maybe it was food. "Is this food?" I called to Grant, but he was busy in Lary's bathroom stealing all his cotton swabs. Finally we decided to leave, concluding that Lary's drugs were too well hidden for us to find. Besides, I don't even know what crystal meth looks like. (Is it green and pasty?)
Afterward, over the car radio, I first heard about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Jesus Christ. New Orleans. Obliterated. All those people, I thought. All those people. To my surprise I started sobbing right then, right outside Lary's place with the plastic biblical characters on his house bowing against the horizon. I should be on my knees, too, I thought, if only out of gratitude it isn't me or my loved ones on their houses, driven to the crests of the wreckage that used to be their homes and lives, waving for rescue. Immediately I started calling all the people I hold dear in my life to let them know it, including Keiger. When I got to Lary he was silent for some time, then he said, simply, "You found my drugs, didn't you?"
Hollis Gillespie is now touring with her second book, Confessions of a Recovering Slut: And Other Love Stories. Her first book, Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales From a Bad Neighborhood is now available in paperback. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."