That Scratchy Smelly Itch


Map of Ohio highlighting Portage County

Map of Ohio highlighting Portage County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s spring 1995 and me and Knight Chris are heading up to our
apartment on Thurber Drive when we’re accosted by Dave 14.  I
recognize the look in his eyes as he asks me for a couple of
dollars and say, “Come on up.  Nothing’s too good for you boys
on the front lines.”

Dave 14 follows Knight Chris and I up the stairs to our third
level flat and follows us into the apartment.  I can tell Knight
Chris is a little concerned as he leaves Dave 14 and I alone in
the small living area we share.

I invite Dave 14 to sit down in the high back chair opposite mine
in our little command center.  He sits and begins studying the
matrix board I’ve been working on. I say, “First, I’ll have to
sign you into my log book,” and I pull my log out and write his
name neatly on the first page.

“Would you like to smoke a joint?” I ask.

“Sure”

We share a stick of some good hydro that an ex-girlfriend’s new
love is selling.  Dave 14 takes the first drag and passes it to
me, holding it all in.

“Nice expansion…” he says as he blows out a cloud of smoke.
“I heard you were roadkill on the internet,” Dave 14 follows.
I’m somewhat taken aback by this new piece pf information and
think back for a moment.

Ah yes, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I had gotten caught in a
time warp and had wandered off in my car looking first for New
York, and then Eden.  In fact I had abandoned my car beside the
highway in Portage County and had a vague recollection of me
somehow having been run over in a car driving video game on the
newly established internet.  I feel none the worse for wear
knowing that I have been dead for almost six months.

Dave 14 takes another swig from his forty and I say, “You can
take my place here any time you like.  I look him in the eye,
almost pleading for him to trade places with me.  He seems to
be caught in a little time warp of his own as I think about
my father and Knight Chris in the other rooms and never seeing
either one again.

He mutters, “Wha—?”

I reply, “You can take my place here any time you want, you
don’t have to leave, I’ll leave.” The time warp seems to eclipse
Dave 14’s senses and it looks as if he is reeling.  He rises,
shaken, trembling and says:

“I have to go,” and staggers toward the apartment door.  I let
hi  out reluctantly wishing he would stay and take my place.

I would visit Dave 14 later that week in his little outpost he
shares with TC underneath the overpass across from my apartment.
He seems perfectly placed among the cardboard boxes, cans of
food and empty forties.  He introduces me to TC, another soldier
in the war, who, Knight Rodney tells me, is still living near the
underpass to this day.  I never saw Dave 14 again.

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