Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Center of it All X

I took a deep breath, the cold air comforting as it filled my lungs. It was November in Michigan, and cold air felt familiar, felt homelike. It had been two months since I returned from Phoenix. Two months since my life felt like it had been turned upside down.

Yoni’s letter had opened up old wounds, and the nightmares that had lay dormant for fifteen years had returned with a vengeance. Nights were restless, sleep difficult, and frequently interrupted by screams ringing out of the darkness.

The tips my therapist had given me years earlier were ineffectual against my reborn demons, and as a result, I was edgier, more nervous during my waking hours. My work was suffering, and my pocketbook suffered as well. Two clients had left to find another designer they could rely on, and I had the sense that some of my other clients were looking around to find a new designer.

I was failing Yoni. For two decades, I hadn’t thought of him much, now he was always on my mind. His mission. His daughter. The money.

I brought his computer back from Phoenix with me. I spent hours going through his financial records, calling banks, and confirming everything that he wrote. If it was true that the one who died with the most wins, Yoni was certainly high on the leaderboard. There were millions of dollars sitting in different investment funds, bank accounts, and stocks.

After I left Phoenix, I tried to reach Yoni’s parents, to let them know that their son was dead. I reached a younger sister, who told me that her father had died years earlier, and that her mother was living in a nursing home, her mind long gone, her body holding on.

I didn’t know his sister well. She was ten years younger than Yoni, and never really knew him before he disappeared. She had long since stopped wondering what happened to him. She didn’t know about the money, didn’t ask, and since she wasn’t discussed in the letter, I decided not to tell her about it. It was an easy decision to make. She was mean on the phone, and earned no pity points in my personal scorecard.

I hadn’t begun to transfer any of the money to myself. I didn’t want to touch it until I had completed Yoni’s wishes, found his daughter, and gave her what belonged to her. My recent client troubles notwithstanding, I still had a sizeable amount of savings, and could probably live off my savings for years without feeling squeezed.

I had wracked my brain trying to remember a girl named Gila, but all I got was blanks. No face to match, no recollection of that name. The letter was too vague, there was no city, or other place associated with her. Who else might know her, I wondered. Who were Yoni’s friends the summer after we went to Israel?

I thought back to those days. So much had happened that summer. We got back from Israel, and went home, before meeting in the mountains. We worked as counselors that summer. It was the summer when “it” happened, when the haunted house became nightmarish. Was he seeing her then? I couldn’t remember.

So many things about that summer had been blocked out, lost in memory to time, and conscious avoidance. Yoni was still seeing Fran back then, but they broke up. I remember running into her at a pizza shop on one of those days when Yoni and I couldn’t get our off day together.

I had ordered two slices, and was sitting at the table eating when Fran walked into the Pizza shop. There was no way we could avoid each other, pizza shops weren’t known for their spacious seating areas and besides, Fran and I had become friends over the years. She was alone, and I had no idea that she and Yoni were breaking up.

I walked up to the counter where she was ordering a slice, and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey Fran, what’s going on,” I asked her. “Yoni isn’t here today.”

“You don’t know,” she asked, her eyes getting wider and glassier with each word. “He dumped me.”

I ditched my friends that I was with, and went to sit down with her. She told me that they had been going out for a long time, but that it was all over. Last night he told her he wanted to start seeing other people.

I knew Yoni was seeing other people, I just hadn’t realized he was still going out with Fran. Hell, he had always been seeing other people. I just assumed Fran and Yoni weren’t a thing.

Fran kept talking, and eating, and talking, and eating. We went through a pie sitting there that afternoon. The worst thing, she said was the way she found out. She overheard a girl in her camp talking about Yoni Winters, her boyfriend. Fran thought it was funny that they both had boyfriends named Yoni, but when told Yoni how funny it was on the phone, Yoni told her he was going out with her.

Fran and I hung out together for the rest of the day, and before we went our separate ways, I asked her if she wanted to go out sometime. A week later, Fran and I were on out first date, bowling at some seedy, sleazy bowling alley.

I checked with Yoni to see if he was cool with us going out, and he didn’t care, he said he had someone else lined up and didn’t know he was going out with Fran anyway. He thought they were just fooling around. Anyway, he had another girl he started hanging out with.

Fran and I dated the rest of the summer, and into the following year. We tried a long distance relationship, which didn’t really work well, and then went to school close to one another so we could stay together.

Was the other girl Yoni dumped Fran for the mysterious Gila, I wondered. And if she was, would Fran even tell me.

I went inside the house, picked up the phone, and called my ex-wife.

The preceding work is fiction. You can find the beginning of this story on this blog

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  • 3 Comments:

    Blogger Krunk said...

    wow...this is REALLY turning into something awesome...Air,you're awesome at this.

    1:44 PM  
    Blogger Lish the Fish said...

    sooooo glad it's back. really nice work air.

    2:54 PM  
    Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

    cool

    4:46 PM  

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