His journal had been in the foot well behind the driver’s seat of his car for the past year, a victim of a brief urge to write again. Simon reached under the seat and pulled it from a nest of crumpled fast food bags and debris, surprised to see the Cross pen still anchored to the cover like a pin on the uniform of a dead general. He flipped to the back page and, without much pre-thought, began to write to Jaimie.
They’d been best friends since their first year of middle school and had stuck together through acne, bad girlfriends, party fouls and lost jobs. Jaimie wasn’t always on top, but he ended up there when he finally finished school in his early thirties and landed a staff psych gig at a hospital downtown. Simon didn’t see him anymore, partially because the job kept Jaimie busy and partially because of Daneen. This letter couldn’t go to anyone else though, and as Simon wrote in tight, urgent print, he remembered Jaimie keeping Alec busy when the boy was less than a year old and Daneen and Simon were moving into the house. Simon had taken a break from directing box-carrying friends to scarf down a slice of pizza and noticed Jaimie laying on his side in the empty living room while playing gentle tug-of-war with the baby using a fluorescent green Slinky. They were alone in their moment together, giggling, and there would be similar times between “uncle” Jaimie and both children over the years, a fact that sent white-hot anger into Simon’s writing, clipping his sentences as if they were the orders of a drill sergeant. His friend owed him more than he could ever repay, but forgiveness had settled uneasily between them a few years after Daneen’s death. The grudge didn’t vanish however, and as debts rose and jobs became more tenuous, Jaimie’s role as Godfather became an essential backup plan. He made money, now lived in a home he owned and always told Simon that he’d do whatever he could to help. Simon signed the letter simply with a dash before his name, not even ending with a “thank you.” Good enough, he thought as he signed away custody of his children to the man his wife loved when she’d died. Simon tore the page from the book. (To be continued…)