The waiting room.

It was not where he would have liked to be on what was left of a warm and sunny Saturday. There weren't that many nice days in the year in New England. This would have been a good day for a drive in a convertible along the shore. It would have been the perfect afternoon for a backyard barbeque, or as his friend Simon liked to say, a "backdoor barebeque."

This memory game is born of waiting.

Simon was the one who started it all. Jason was absolutely certain of that. Everything was fun and games for Simon and everyone laughed along with his antics. At least they did until someone got hurt, and then they would pause, find a scapegoat and begin to laugh along with Simon again. It wasn't possible for Simon to do anyone wrong. Everyone loved Simon. He was like a cartoon character walking around in real life. No one could condemn him for that.

At least not until today.

Jason was Simon's best friend and had been since the day Simon transferred into Jason's elementary school in the third grade. Quiet and introverted Jason found himself sitting in front of the cocky Simon. As he waited for the teacher to reprimand this outspoken newcomer, Jason got angrier and angrier. The teacher just smiled at him and told the morbidly silent classroom "looks like we have ourselves a class clown." This from a teacher that once cracked her yardstick down on little Danny Richards' knuckles for burping and not excusing himself.

The waiting room's tinny radio was playing
Jewel's "Who Will Save Your Soul?"
and it seemed to be lasting at least fifteen to twenty minutes.

Time crawls under the microscope of regret.

Simon had been the one to convince Jason to go to the party down at the graveyard. It wasn't an actual graveyard like you see in stock footage on UHF stations. The graveyard was a part of town where most of the people wandered around aimlessly with blank stares and soiled clothes. It was the seedy underbelly of the city, rife with poverty, drugs, disease, and empty promises.

The golden cup is always half empty.

It was down in the graveyard where all the trouble started. Simon knew some people who had a lot of money in their wallets. The source of that kind of money down in the graveyard only came from one of two sources. Jason never figured out why they were so interested in Simon other than their enjoyment of his over the top behavior. They revelled in his stunts and his willingness to say anything to anyone. Clay and Tuborg, the two men who called Simon "chief," had introduced Jason and Simon to a group of young ladies. To say the young ladies were a bit on "the wild side" was an understatement. They were dressed in high heels, wearing tight short shorts and halter tops. Simon's eyes lit up when one of them passed him a blunt and stretched her legs across his lap. Jason was less enthused, but he went with the flow. Nothing could really turn out bad as long as you kept your wits about you.

If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still be mine?

When Jason looked into Darlene's eyes for the first time, her pupils were gigantic and black as night. She put her arm around him, pressed her oversized breasts against his back and began sucking on his earlobe. He remembered thinking that she was beautiful in a spent up kind of way. Then, he drank the shot of tequila she handed him and everything started spinning out of control.

Who are we and are we sure?

Jason and Allison had been together for nearly three years when she decided to break things off. He figured he would one day marry her and they would have a couple kids and live happily ever after. What he hadn't realized was that she was less than content with his half interested approach to their relationship. She told him she met a medical student in the cafe she worked in and that she needed a change of pace. Jason instantly regretted the years he spent taking her for granted and thinking she was fulfilled just because she never complained. The night Simon took Jason to the party in the graveyard had been the third anniversary of Jason and Allison's first date. It had also been three weeks since she left him for the med student.

The daisy chain of life isn't made up entirely of flowers.

Thoughts of revenge lingered like a rusty form of lust in the back of Jason's mind when he agreed to follow Darlene into one of the back bedrooms. She had a number of talents, but most of them weren't legally marketable. Jason hadn't been paying all that much attention, especially after his spiked tequila had hit the back end of his mind, but Darlene spent a lot of her time smoking various things and using her nose as a portal for powders. By the time she dragged Jason down on top of her, her eyes were blank sockets staring up into empty space. It wouldn't have mattered if Jason looked like Cary Grant or Don Rickles, she didn't care. As long as he managed to fill in the blank spaces and didn't ask any of those unwanted questions.

Nothing but flowers.

The waiting room at four-thirty in the morning is rarely a sunny place to be. When you are waiting to find out if someone you don't even know is going to be all right, then it becomes even more confining. The walls start to close in and the temperature always rises just ten degrees above uncomfortable. Minutes take hours to pass and everyone who walks by looks in much worse shape than you feel and they are thinking the same thing about you. Even the commercials on the television, which is muted so you can continue listening to Jewel, are making sense, but in a way you never considered before.

Air ball.

The waiting eventually ends, but not in the way you expected. Tired and coming down, you are practically lying across the waiting room sofa. Two men in sweaters with guns holstered at their sides rouse you from your not quite slumber and ask you to come with them. You wipe aside the white congealed foam from the corners of your mouth and struggle to stand up. They slip a pair of handcuffs around your wrists and hold them gently behind your back. There is a 1989 Ford Mustang parked outside and you are earmarked for the back seat.

You nod a quick farewell to Jason
and wonder if Darlene will be okay.

The waiting sometimes ends.

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