The story so far:
Things Not Made TO Open - 68 by scryier
I get to Maria's the next afternoon.
Maria answers the door. She invites me in, but I don't get through the front hall because Koa is approaching me. She steps in front of me, lifting herself up on the tips of her toes and kisses me.
She takes my hand in hers and says, "come on. Let's go."
Maria is grinning.
Koa starts for the front door, but doesn't get very far because she's holding my hand and I'm not moving.
"Wait a minute! I just got here. Would somebody tell me what's going on?"
"Nothing's going on," Maria says, but I can't help thinking otherwise. In the 20 years I've known Koa, she's been about as affectionate as a dead fish. Sleeping with the girl has done nothing to change that.
I turn my gaze on Koa.
"Where's your jacket?"
I realize it's spring outside and there's really no reason for Koa to have a jacket, but she had a jacket when I brought her here and she habitually forgets everything that isn't attached to her and I don't want to get all the way back to Brooklyn, only to be told by Koa that she forgot her jacket, in which case we have to turn around and go all the way back to Queens, to get it.
Maria's eyes are darting from Koa to me and back to Koa, again.
"Ah, Ben. I lost it."
I look at Maria and then I look back at Koa.
"What do you mean, you lost it?"
"Maria took me out Friday night and I set it down on a bar
stool and never brought it home."
I wonder how much I spent on the jacket. I wonder how much I'm going to have to spend on the next jacket and then I wonder why I even bother.
"That's not the worst of it," Maria says.
Koa let's go of my hand.
"We called the bar as soon as we got home," Maria adds. "Someone must have took it."
"And?" I'm looking at Koa, now. I know there's more.
There has to be more. I just haven't figured it out, yet.
"I lost the 175 dollars."
"It was in the jacket, Ben. I didn't mean to lose it."
"I don't believe this."
And yet, I do believe this.
Koa never knows where she puts anything. She loses everything.
"You called the bar?"
"I called the bar," Maria says. "I'm going to call them again on Monday. Somebody probably took it. You know, thought it was their's? Maybe they'll bring it back."
"Okay. Fine." I say.
What else am I going to say? What's done is done and there's no undoing it.
"The clothes," Maria says.
"Oh yeah, Ben. Maria gave me two shopping bags fulls of summer clothes to take to Florida. They're really nice. Let me go get them."
Koa runs down the hall.
"I'm so sorry," Maria says. "You know how she gets. I should have paid closer attention to her, last night."
I'm staring at Maria, as she tells me this and it occurs to me, she's the one sister I never took the time to get to know. A part of me wonder's if she isn't lying.
Koa returns with two big bags full of clothes. I take them from her and we go home. We stop at a video store in the neighborhood and we go home.
Monday afternoon, I go back to the bank. I take out another 200 dollars. I pick Koa up at the house and drive her back to her apartment. She pays the landlord, picks up her mail and I drop her at Lorraine's.
Later that night, at my house, Koa comes clean.
"Call Maria and see if she's called the bar."
"Aw, Ben. I can't do this. I've never lied to you about anything before. I can't start now."
"What do you mean?"
"I didn't lose the jacket."
"So what happened to the money?"
Koa casts her eyes over the floor. She looks crushed.
"I blew it."
"Crack. We bought a little and then a little more and then a little more and then we didn't have anymore money."
She looks up at me and grabs my hands. "I'm so sorry, Ben. I can't believe I did it. I don't deserve to have you as a friend."
"Maria smokes crack?"
I knew Koa had indulged in crack. I thought Koa was living proof that the instant addiction theory was a crock. She'd been living here for six months and I'd only seen her smoke it once, which goes to show you how stupid I can be. Eventually it occurs to me why she'd been spending so much of her time with Renee.
"Is there anything else you've ever lied to me about, Koa? If there is, this is the time to tell me. I'm about to sink a lot of money into a move and I'm doing it because I believe in our friendship. Whatever else has changed; whatever direction this has taken on, we were friends and I don't intend to forget that; do you?"
"All right. Your landlord is paid, the money is gone and there isn't anything that can undo it. I'll forget about it this time, but I don't ever want it to happen again."
Koa puts her arms around me.
"I'm so sorry, Ben. I'm so sorry."
I put my arms around her.
"Forget it, Koa."
Koa holds me tighter than I have ever been held before and I begin to wonder what it is about the girl, that possesses me to put up with this ****. She's a **** up. She's always only been a **** up. Am I in love with her? I don't think I'm in love with her. We're friends. It seems like we've been friends forever and yet, at times like these, I'm not sure she's ever really been my friend, at all. She's so weak; so insecure. Is there a bond between us? Or, am I making the biggest mistake of my life?
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