“Been a while. What’s happenin’?”
Long pause while I rummage through my thoughts and find the right answer.
“Errrm… Not real good.”
“Not real good. You mean not real bad?”
“Errrm…Nup.” Another safe answer.
“How’s Josie J?” Everyone asks after her. Not really safe now.
“She’s not.” One faltering step down the path.
“She left a couple of weeks ago.”
A long pause from the other side now.
“Oh…nah…not real good mate. Really bad is it?”
It’s the first time anyone has asked me. I want to talk. But I’m not sure what to say.
“I got home. She was gone. Cleared out. Her things. Gone. Everything. Gone.”
“That’s real bad. I’m sorry.”
“Yep. She just texted me. ‘I’m outta here.’, she said. And blocked me.”
“Facebook? Twitter? Phone? Email?”
“Yep, yep and yep. Front door. Back door.”
“What did you do?”
“Went to church. Hoped she was there. She wasn’t. But they all knew. They said,’I should’ve seen it coming. I should’ve treated her as a submissive wife. Been more of a man.’ You know. That sort of thing.”
“You’re not that kind of man.”
“Thanks. Which means I’ll never be your type.” I crack a small smile. At last I find out that I can laugh a little even in this.
“Yeah they said, ‘Josie’s just going through a change of season.’ Didn’t know what that meant. Summer? Winter? Autumn? Can’t tell!”
“Told me to pray.”
“What about your family? Do they know?”
“What did they say?”
“Yep. Plenty of good advice. The usual. I’ve been given an opportunity to grow. I just need to move on. You know that things change. I have to focus on the future.”
“Everyone’s full of advice mate. Same as it was for me. Worse were those afraid of it happening to them. Now or ever. Took me a little while to see that they’re shit scared of seeing someone go the same way as them.”
“Yep.” A pause. “You’re not going to do that to me.”
“What? Do you want me to tell you to get stuffed now or later? Just because I went through the same crap as you. FFS!”
“Well?”, I ask, “Got any advice you bastard, any wise words?”
“I could tell you to get…”
“Come on,” I interrupt, goading him,”Tell me WTF I’ve done wrong.”
An exasperated sigh from the other end of the phone.
“You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“What about telling me what worked for you?” I’m winding him up now, hoping for a response, more in anger than in hope. He’s refusing to even be a little provoked. Then he says.
“Nup. It’s World Series Crap for you now. Then it’s gonna be World Series Crap playoffs for a while. How long? Don’t know. Haven’t been told. Maybe you should ask for yourself.”
“Errmm…that’s not really helpful,” I reply.
Then he pauses. He then does the best he can do.
“Nup. Not at first. Right now you probably think you’ll break. You’re just being bent out of shape. Maybe more than before. Maybe enough to break you. But you’ll know what to do. Just call it for what it is. Then you’ll get what you need to learn.
Then little by little, it will get better. Maybe it’s started. I don’t know. But you’ll get back better than before.”
He pauses and finishes.
“I’ve said my bit. Call me if you need me. Next time I might even shut up and listen. I might even learn something from you.”
“Thanks,” I say. “Thanks for the non-advice, you bastard.”