I knew Jeremy from the beginning. Almost. I was born one day and he was born the next. We became somewhat cognizant of each other at about three years of age. Before that we just crapped our diapers and screamed a lot.
About the time I first remembered him we were shirtless, in diapers, in the yard in front of his trailer. We all lived in trailers in cheap trailer parks for years. Its where your mother went when she split from the guy that impregnated her. Anyways, Jeremy was screaming in front of his trailer. He wanted his mom. But mom was watching soap operas on the teevee lying on her lifeless ass on the sofa drinking lukewarm Falstaff beer. Jeremy, being no fool, crapped the hell out of his diaper and screamed to high heaven. That got things moving! Then my mom came along. Craving attention I crapped my diaper too! Learned that from Jeremy!
I met up with Jeremy three more times in my life. Ten years later, 15 years later and somewhere down the road. The first time was in a boy’s ranch where the county government sent waifs that looked all the world like they were going to make trouble. No argument here. The criminal life stood before me in all its glory. Until I got pulled by the collar by a policeman who knew me quite well, sadly during the actuality of a crime being committed.
Being in a boy’s home is tons better than living in a trailer park! Who cares if the place used to be a roadside prison with guys wearing ball and chains and supervised by loaded shotguns? Got my own bed in a room of 6. Got three squares and got to attend public school. That meant GIRLS!
The first thing I needed to attend to was repeating the 7th grade. The most humiliating thing for a very long time in my life. I made the honor roll consistently and the teachers were quite amazed. I’m the criminal kid. But I’m smart. I’m not smart. I did the same thing last year. Look at all the GIRLS!
After a few months Jeremy was sent to the institution also. Happy to say he quit crapping his nappies. We joined the sports teams at school, did well, and became very popular. One of our buddies, who had already failed two grades, had a car. In the 8th grade. He also knew where to get a quart of beer on Friday night school dances. Somehow we got more popular. At the dances at school on Friday nights we could ask a girl outside the gym and the chaperones would let that happen. Went off in the shadows somewhere and you learned how to make out! I sometimes think that the chaperones thought we needed that. Jeremy would take four or five trips outside during every dance. He had a way with people.
Jeremy and I were on the football and basketball teams just created for the jr. high that year. We were written up in the school paper as small superstars with our high scoring antics. The cheerleaders were always rah, rah Jack, rah, rah Jeremy! We never lost a game by less than 40 points. Forty points!
By some portent I’ll never understand I got adopted out of that boy’s home in the ninth grade. I moved up to Connecticut. Yes. it was fine by me. My life got exponentially better. Jeremy quit school and joined the navy. He went to Viet Nam for three tours. I started to pay attention at school. Then I found things other than beer. And I liked Connecticut girls just fine.
The peace and beauty you see on North Main Street in Suffield, Connecticut is something to be admired. Elms and century old oaks throw shadows across the sidewalks and the highway. As peaceful as peace can be. Then a mortar explodes offshore! This ain’t Suffield! No it ain’t!
By 1972 I was in the navy serving temporary duty as a coxswain serving anchored ships just off of Da Nang. Delivered the mail, took officers from ship to ship. Had my own little boat and I was my own captain. According to navy law I was God! Another liberty boat pulls up alongside. The captain asks if I want any dope. I know the voice but I don’t say anything. My two crewmen absolutely want to do business. And business they do.
I jump over to the other boat and shoot the breeze with a guy that had crapped his diaper all those years ago. Yeah, we smoked a fatty. So nice to see an old buddy. Then the mortars from the Viet Cong start falling again. Not close enough yet to scare us immediately but any numb skull can adjust a mortar. Jeremy has a BAR and loosens a few rounds towards shore. We part company.
Somehow I ended up in Key West. Pretty much a retired guy not looking for trouble. I go fishing everyday at a specific bridge out in the middle of nowhere. Its amazing how many things I have witnessed from this bridge. Murder, mayhem, the end of civilization.
I almost never fish late in the day but this one day I said what the hell. I cast off my line and stared off into the horizon towards Cuba as usual. I heard some kind of noise under the bridge and it led me to believe there were people down there in boats. Doing some kind of business. I yelled out a greeting/warning. I got curses in return. Familiar voice.
It didn’t take us long to recognize each other. It was getting dark and we talked into the nether. In ten minutes I was caught up in his life and he with mine. After a while i could tell by all his side conversations in Spanish that he was not alone. And I wanted no part of that. Jeremy suggested I drive away before he departed on his boat. I agreed.
Just before I left he yelled out, “remember that old blind lady that sold us quarts of beer in the ninth grade”?
Indeed I did.