My mother told me that writing on my hands would give me cancer.
Which was a Big Scare, because an aunt, uncle and grandfather were O and 3 against the disease.
Its 2a.m. and Jay, a self-proclaimed pen-snob tells me about the shapie tattoos across his knuckles.
That purple lightning struck 10 times.
I joke that he’s going to get cancer.
He laughs and says:
”If I live that long.” And somehow it’s not funny when he says that.
Somehow late nights chasing down Safe House addresses on google seems less ridiculous.
He tells me that he’s terrified of dying, but doesn’t know why he’s still alive.
He says he was psych-warded, and couldn’t even take a piss without the orderlies jumping on him, because, and I quote, “I was just that dangerous.”
I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic.
I wondered if he was bragging.
Until he called me up to keep him company late at night because he doesn’t dream.
He only has nightmares.
And when he told me he wants to be a better person because no one expects him to be.
And when I could hear him crying on the other side of the line.
He told me he wants to be a good kid for his dad, so he will try to quit smoking, and drinking, and stealing.
And then he called me later to say he couldn’t keep it.
That, “the stupid bitch”, his mother, raided the care package I sent him in the mail.
That his dog was dying of malignance attached to its liver,
And that she threatened to kick him out.
We started talking at midnight.
Me sitting next to the outlet to charge my cell phone and him curled around the phone he stole from the Mariott Hotel, smuggled out under his favorite shirt.
By 1:30 we’d both talked too much.
But he stayed on the line, just to let me hear him breath,
So we both knew someone was there.
I tell him ‘thanks’ before we hand up.
And I know he’s confused, because he was going to thank me for listening.
I don’t explain to him that me listening is partially to remind myself that I can still feel.
That I need the late night calls just as much as he does.
He doesn’t know that our bitten knuckles match,
With identical rows of purple bolts because we both need to know
That lightning strikes twice.
I have no idea if the ending is too convient. Or if it makes any sense to anyone.