Jake Albright and I were friends as much as two using heroin addicts could be. I went to the New Year’s party he threw at his parent’s house. He got me a job that summer I came home from college. He loved that Nelly Furtado song ‘say it right’ and always made me turn it up. I let him drive my car, and I’m pretty sure I still have one of his jackets.
Jake looked exactly like Josh Hartnett and had all the same mannerisms. I never told him, but I use to stare at him in the cafeteria when I was a Sophomore and he was a Senior. He looked like a goddamn movie star and always seemed to be lost in thought. I always wanted to ask him what he was thinking about.
I wasn’t invited to his funeral – why would I be? I’d never met the kid’s parents, although I knew all about them from Jake. I wouldn’t have gone anyways. After watching Scott’s parents kiss his coffin and Mitra’s parents lower her into the ground, I’d had enough. I didn’t know if I could even cry anymore, not for real.
His mom found him hanging in the garage at their house in Hampton. He was about to go back to ACJ for a probation violation. I use to think he was selfish for doing what he did, but now I get it. No one should have to go to ACJ, especially if their only crime is getting addicted.
Andrea sees Jake’s older brother at the bar on Route 8 almost every night. Blake introduced his little brother to heroin. He had to go to the funeral I wasn’t invited to and still has to look his parents in their eyes. I’m sure they tell him it wasn’t his fault, and I’m sure he doesn’t believe them.
I’ve watched my little brother become a man over the past three years, a man I would be proud to call my friend. He will never understand how it feels to hold him at arm’s length, especially in the same city when there was no longer a good excuse. He will probably never understand why I never came to the things that mattered, even when I could. Why I needed Denny and Andrea to come to his college graduation with me.
I died in his arms, twice, on my Mom’s living room floor. In the same spot he opened his Christmas gift this year. I didn’t really have any money, but I found a white noise machine on Amazon. The same one my therapist uses, and I put it on a credit card.
I hope it helps him study in law school, that he actually uses it, and we both stay in the background.
Always in the background.