art by Justine McGreevy
An Old Acquaintance
by K.G. Jewell
Tabbitha was out of town. I turned off the light and stretched out over the entire bed. Was this a guilty pleasure? Was my loneliness supposed to quench my enjoyment of such luxurious space? I closed my eyes and dreamt of the barren vastness of Wyoming.
A yank of my pinkie toe awoke me. I sat up and scanned the dark room. There, at the foot of the bed--two bloodshot yellow eyes.
"Geeze man, you scared me," I said.
The eyes blinked. "That is my job." The whispering voice triggered memories of the sleepless nights in my youth.
"Where you been? I haven't seen you since, what? Sophomore year of college?" It had been a couple of years, at least.
"What about Montreal?"
"That was you? I thought it was some French-Canadian voodoo or something."
We'd never exchanged names, but I'd always thought of him as an Oscar.
"I was trying to be culturally appropriate."
"You did a good job. I was seriously afraid for my life." Oscar appreciated compliments.
"So what brings you out tonight? The usual? Seems like I've grown past a pinkie pull." I had actually assumed I'd grown past Oscar all together.
"I have a favor to ask."
"A favor?" What kind of favor does a boogeyman need?
"Yeah. Business isn't good right now. My regular clients are all getting too old for me, and none of you slackers are having kids."
"Who are you, my mother?" I considered turning on the light and banishing him, but I kinda owed Oscar one. He had gotten Tabbitha into my tent on a geology field trip freshman year, and that had turned out pretty well for me. "What can I do for you?"
"Can you introduce me to some of your friends with kids? Maybe put in a kind word? I'm getting killed by night lights and video monitors. Parents just don't appreciate lonely darkness anymore."
"And what? Brag about how you made me pee the bed until third grade?"
"I'm thinking more how I helped you build character."
I had mixed feelings at this point. Sure, Oscar and I had grown into an uneasy relationship, become friendly acquaintances even, but the early years had been rough.
Then I remembered Thomas.