On Purpose

On my last day here, a Saturday, Lopez finally wants to go do something. And with the kid, no less. He’s like, let’s take Molly to the park, and I’m all, seriously? Seriously dude? He stops unfolding the stroller for a sec and takes a long drag on the smoke dangling from his lips. He gives me a look like he does this sort of thing every day, take Molly out, then snatches the kid from the playpen, snaps the belt across her waist, and tosses a couple teethers on her lap. He pushes Molly to the porch steps and I grab the front end and we lug the rig down the stoop. He says some shit like he’s gonna drop her and blame it on me and I tell him to fuck off. I look at Molly like I should watch my mouth, but she’s sleeping. Lope says Reggie would believe him and I’m like, damn dude, what’s your problem? And he says, seriously man, you know she would.

He flicks his cigarette into the grass and I tell him he’s a real classy mother fucker, a real piece of work. He looks down and Molly and says, you hear that sweetie? Marc says daddy’s a real piece of work. He pulls out another smoke and asks me for a light. But I’m already walking away. He hollers, yo, come on man, I’m just busting your balls. He shouts that the park’s the other way. I’m like, goddamn Lope, and tell him how the fuck am I supposed to know where the park is and he’s all, Jesus dude, what’s up your ass? I’m like, seriously? And for a second we’re just staring at each other like shit’s about to go down.

I say, you’re wrong, man. Ain’t no way Reggie would believe I’d hurt this baby. Not on purpose, no way. Lope stands there scratching himself. Looking at me like he wants me to say something. Something big. Like he’s egging me on. So you know what I do? I say it. And everything that got bottled up during my stay comes out all fucked up and I’m all, it don’t take a fucking genius to see you’ve turned into a complete loser, Lope. And you and Reg are totally broken. I tell him he’s a moron if he can’t see it. I say they should break up. Shit, they can’t stand each other. I say, you hate your kid and it makes me sick. It’s a fucking kid, dude! A baby, nearly. What did she do? I say even his dogs piss him off. Fucking dogs! It’s like a living hell. And now, I say to him, now you’re gonna go off on me because you hate your life and shit? Ain’t no way. Not me, man. I’ve known you for too long. This shit’s just wrong.

Telling me some crazy mess about me wanting to hurt Molly—you fucking kidding me? Well fuck you, I shout. Fuck you, Lopez. And I’m yelling loud as he and Reg did last night, keeping me up for hours. I tell him that, too. He just stands there.

I say look man, here’s what I got to say—I tell him I wish I never came. I wish I just stayed home to live my own boring ass life. Feed my fucking fish, watch the goddamned TV, eat frozen pizzas, yadda yadda. Day after mother fucking day. Because at least then I wouldn’t know how fucked up he is. I tell him I wish we didn’t know each other no more. Nope. Wish he was a stranger. Some dumb ass on the street. That he makes me hate things like I used to back when I was young and mad. I tell him he’s turning into his father. Into an asshole. And turning everyone around him into one too.

Lope just stares at his shoes. And go figure, Molly’s s just sleeping through the whole shitty bullshit. Fucking crazy. I mellow it out and lay this on him—I tell him whether I like it or not, he’s my oldest friend. We been through some serious shit together, like, for real. I say, you need help, man. Like real help, Lope. But I ain’t gonna be the guy to give it to you. What can I do? And Reg neither. This kid, Molly, deserves better, man. I put my hand on his shoulder and he looks up at me. He’s eyes are all teared up and he pulls the cig from his mouth. Says, here, and scoots the stroller towards me. Says the park’s like three blocks that way and points to it. He puts his hand on the side of my face and says nothing for forever. Then he tells me to get going, that he’ll be inside. Tells me to take my time. Says Molly’s never been to the park. Never. Says she’ll probably want to stay a while.

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