38. tersely


The next day was like this one– hot and sweaty before noon. My brother slept in the truck that I parked in my front yard at dawn. “He is not coming in here,” my wife firmly expectorated. There are times when I will push back with my wife;  this was not one of those times. The previous day she had been correct in her assessment of the likely outcome– a hopeless entanglement that would end badly. She was right on schedule but too kind to say “I told you so”.  She was not blinded by family entanglements and unmet needs. She had been just as firm and prophetic with my insane mother years ago. (We’ll have to get back to that loose thread.)

I slept for a few hours. The truck had to be returned by noon, empty. We had work to do first. I got a phone book for John and opened it to rental units. He contacted one at the other side of town, where a year later he would be arrested for being a jerk who never connected the dots in his life that spell J…E…R…K. I drove over to the storage place on Radio Hill (where the radio station used to be, Silly Bloggit. Don’t tell Andrea because she might break our fragile truce and use local idiosyncracies against me, as I have done without mercy to her.) We slammed his furniture into the 12×12 unit in some semblance of reverse order, leaving the most likely needed items nearest the door. John paid two months rent and locked the door. I did not want to consider that my brother just attached to my town in some legal way. If I had, I would have kept driving another hour to ensure that he did not have to visit my town again. Things never end well with a delusional narcissist. I knew this from many previous encounters. I just kept hoping that somehow he could be a cat instead of a possum. Stupid me at the Coke machine for 40 years.

Of course the U-Haul guy could not make me happy. I told him not to try.
“Just call your district manager and tell him that I will not pay for this mugging.” I got upset again as I related the nightmare to this powerless pawn.  My credit card company took U-Haul’s side. “They did fulfill their rental duty.” But I hadn’t signed for a piece of crap that should not have been on any lot in such disrepair. Of course, I paid the $200 + bill that John had assured me he would take care of, which, of course, he never did. He asked me seriously if he could live in my basement for a week until some big checks came to him. “No, no, no. Not in the garage, not in a tent in the yard.”

He called a local hotel and I dropped him off. Again, it was like handling poison ivy. The bumps and insane itching were just about to pop out again. Unless you washed your hands quickly with soap and cold water, or if you thought ahead to wear gloves, the itching misery was going to get you. And, of course, he had no transportation. Having lived in Manhattan for many years, he had no license. No need for a license when you park your car for a couple of years in storage and then rush the attendant when you pretend to pay your storage fee.  He had no license because he could not get a D.C. license due to too many unpaid tickets. So he tried to finagle my brother Chris for his fixed address in Virginia, “You know, let me use your address for my mail for a while so that I can get a Virginia license.” Let’s add Antisocial Personality Disorder to the multiaxial diagnosis. “It’s all about me all the time.” Or as he shared with me once, “It’s not enough for you to succeed; your friends must fail.” I don’t know why he didn’t do motivational speaking tours with that kind of material.

After a few days in our town, John needed to get back to D.C. to finish something and to pick up checks or clothes or whatever. I didn’t care. I was not paying for anything or giving him my credit card number. I did agree to drive him to the Metro station in Shady Grove. I also agreed to pick him up in two days at the same spot at the same time. When I arrived at the Metro two days later, he was nowhere to be found, thus wasting three more hours of my life.  

Anger should not be carried for days, weeks, months, years, and decades. It wears you down. I was feeling an old, familiar gutwrench, a slow burn, a clenched jaw that comes with unresolveable issues that get dumped on you by an irresponsible other. This sort of anger becomes a slow leak in your mood. It turns joy stale and damps down your happiness. The question sits in the back of your mind: “What is he going to screw up next?”

Later that summer he got in a rental house with other singles outside D.C in suburban Maryland. No tickets there, so he acquired a driver’s license and a car.  I drove a dresser or a desk down to him. He came up with a smelly Serbian guy once to pick up a few odds and ends. I was terse and minimal in my dealings with him. In about a year we would have the incident that I described in other posts– Reluctantly and Consequently.

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