I Now Stand Alone: Chapter I

by Tony Bennett


Friends for Life: Or at least until college

Five years later, and now I’m laying here on this fucking couch, wondering what could have possibly happened? What could have gone wrong? How could I’ve lost them all? What caused our relationship to end? Through what cruel twist of fate had our lives changed and become so horrible. We’d been friends for over twenty years. Looking back on it now, it was sort of strange the way we all met. How did it all begin? Now, let me see, oh yeah; we met at the bus stop on the first day of High School 1971. We’d swear that we’d be friends for life.

Looking back on it now, we’d done everything together in the beginning. But as time went on, and as each of us would change, we’d all go on our separate ways; mostly due to one person. He’d caused such dissention throughout the our little group that by the time we began college the relationships that we’d nurtured over the years had begun to fade. Although for a brief moment some of us would find a way to rekindle past spirits and again begin to associate, but it wouldn’t last. Those ties that had bound us years earlier would never be as they were before; and we knew this. He would fuck (literally fuck) each one to us at one time or another.

Thinking about it now, maybe that’s where it all went wrong. It was 1971, the first day of high school and I’d had a good summer; full of the three F’s, fun, fucking and food. It seemed like everyday there was a cookout at someone’s house, the park, somewhere and we partied all day and night. On Saturdays and Sunday’s we’d go to one of the three parks in D.C., usually there was a neighborhood band playing (Ten Feet Under, Chuck Brown and The Soul Searcher) or one of the big headliner like Roy Ayers or The Crusaders. I’d had a ball. Yeah, one hell of a summer it was, but now it was time to get back to school.

School was about to begin, it was my first year of high school, freshmen; and I knew that if I wanted to get into a good college I’d have the bust my ass and to make the grades. That first morning, hell, I can still remember getting up early, before sunrise and getting dressed for my first day. That morning, it had to be about thirty of us standing around the bus stop waiting for Ms. Rose. She was the high school bus driver, a little short white lady, but everyone thought she was so cool. She knew my brother and sister and as I walked on the bus she looked at me and said "hey, Bobby’s and Angie’s little brother." To this day I still don’t know how that woman knew who I was. There were four people standing in front of me that day and I thought that by the time I got on there wouldn’t be any more seats.

As I waited for everyone to board, I noticed that there was a few seats left at the rear of the bus. The four people in front of me would take them and I thought, "shit I’m going to have to stand all the way to school." But to my surprise there was one seat left, and this beautiful young girl told me "come on, sit here, here’s a seat!" I’d never seen her before; she couldn’t have been from around here? I did however recognize three of the people that she was sitting next to. They were from the neighborhood, but lived at the bottom of the hill, about four blocks from my house. Although we live only a few blocks away, the distance between the people who lived there and those of us who lived at the top of the hill was like living in different countries, in another world. But in high school, unlike junior high, we all had to ride the same three buses, so the coming together of these countries, these separate worlds was going to happen weather we wanted them to or not.

Her name, I’d find out later was Sheila, she was gorgeous, and I’d never seen anyone like her before. She was what we called back then a "Red Bone" with long beautiful, wavy hair, with these big beautiful brown eyes, thick lips and a body, my god, a body to die for. I’d heard some of the guys at the bus stop admiring her saying, "she must got some Indian in her?" That was an expression that people used back then and even now when someone was of her complexion with what they called good hair. As I turned to thank her, I couldn’t help but noticed that she had the most beautiful breasts I think I’d ever seen. They were so full and smooth that it was hard to keep from looking at them. Most of the girls in my neighborhood were of averaged shape and looks; and it seemed because of that, they weren’t dated by most of the guys. But this girl was so beautiful, so womanly it was hard to keep my eyes off her and I do believe she’d noticed my constant looks. She never said anything; she’d just smiled.

As the bus moved along its’ route, every time it hit a bump they (her breast) would gently bounce up and down, giggling from side to side and then stop and hover in, what seemed like mid-air? During the whole ride I would look out the corner of my eye at them and as I’d looked, wonder what it would feel like to touch them, to lay my head next to them. I’d never seen anything like them, I mean, anyone like her before. As she exited the bus and began to walk up the stairs towards the school’s entrance, I noticed her shape. The way her dress flow along the curves of her body painted a permanent picture in my mind. As she reached the top steps she turned, she smiled in my direction, I felt like the luckiest person alive. That she’d noticed me, out of all the guys that day and it was me that she gave a smile to left me gleaming the rest of the day.

When looking at her beauty, I began to wonder if she was always this gorgeous. And I immediately began thinking of the girls in my neighborhood, how they’d sometimes changed over the summer. There was something I heard my brother and his friends said some time ago came to mind, "the summer had been good to her," and I wondered were Sheila had spent her summer vacation. They’d say that about some of the girls after summer vacation. You see girls that looked like shit, you know flat chest, no butt, and legs; the ones that had nothing going for them during school year, over the summer blew up. They’d go to visit their grandparents (usually in North Carolina), and "boo yaw," they’d come home looking like a million bucks. I’d often wondered what they were putting in the water or food down there. But they would! Man, they’d come back with bodies, that’s right, to die for; and all the guys that wouldn’t have touched them just two months earlier, would be all over them like flies on shit. That’s why they’d say, "the summer was good to her"?

Sheila was the cousin of John Johnson from Elmo Street, down the hill. She’d just moved here from out of town, but had spent many summers here. John was an attractive guy and I’d heard many of the girls from up the hill speak of him fondly and with curiosity. Many of the girls who lived in our neighborhood called him the "down the hill lover." And many of the guys would say, "he’d probably go down the hill on you too, that nasty bastard." Yeah, that’s right; that’s where I’d met them, on the first day of school. I thought that they were going to be ass holes, but they weren’t; at least not in the beginning. We were all in the same homeroom. I had at least one class with each of them. Joyce and Rinky had all their classes together. Oh yeah, they were the lovers, the couple in the group. They couldn’t take their hands off each other.

I often wondered who in the administrative office (unknowingly) assigned these two, every class together. But they were brilliant students, just horny as hell. Sheila told me one day that they’d gotten so horny at one of the varsity basketball games, Rinky pulled his dick out and Joyce, knowing it, pushed her panties to one side and sat down on his lap and began fucking him right there in front of about hundred kids. They thought that no one knew, but John saw what was going on went under the bleachers and took in the whole act. He’d gotten so excited over seeing them fucking in front of everybody, that he started whacking his dick right there, right there under the bleachers. John never said anything to either of them, but would use it later us it to bed Joyce.

This was the kind of thing that John would do to all of us at some point to get what he wanted; and would be one of the things that changed the course of his friendship at some point with all of us, forever. Sheila and I were always tight; we didn’t have a relationship or anything, but would spend a lot of time together before, during and after school and would talk for hours on the phone. She had the body of a college girl, very womanly and always smelled great. Did I tell you that she was beautiful? Many times at night I’d just lay there thinking about her and how wonderful it would be to make love to her.

But instead we would become the best of friends. I never let on that what I felt for her was more than just friendship and although many people at school thought that we were dating, we weren’t, just really good friends. The next year was kind of weird for me. Something would happen that would make me wonder, if not, damn well question, my sexuality and that of one of my closest friends at the time. In our 11th grade year John and I tried out for football. We’d buffed up over the summer working out on weights and swimming to prepare for the team. I was receiving so many offers for nighttime rendezvous and weekend get aways, but I kept my whit and decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to get involved with anyone from school or the neighborhood. I found out later that Sheila knew about all the come-ons and I could tell that her attitude was changing, but I never let on. But I’d heard through Rinky that she’d ask Joyce who I was sleeping with?

You see, I never let my friends know who I was fucking and as I said, didn’t fuck anyone from the neighborhood or school. There was many times Sheila and the crew would invite me to do something over the weekend; I’d make up some lie about having to go to one of my relative’s house for the weekend with my mother. Many times I did, but lots of times I’d be sneaking off uptown to some woman’s house. It always worked, except one time when Sheila had forgotten that I told her that I was going away with my mom and stopped pass and only remembered after my mom answered the door that I was suppose to be away with her. She’d question my whereabouts that next Monday, but John put a stop to that saying, "damn woman, you act like you married to him and shit."

But the second week after practice shocked the hell out of me. It would leave me with an uneasiness that I’ve suffered through until to this very day. It would leave my sexual thoughts about men and me changed forever. But there would be one person that would make me understand and I’d at least be able to live with what had happened to me. She’d make me understand my rage and how to control it, not letting it’s ill affect control and ruin me. Usually after practice all the guys would always take a shower, get dressed and go to the McDonald’s for food. Well, on this one particular day, John and I worked out about an hour longing than the other guys.

There had been many times after practice, when I was taking a shower and the guys would start pointing and looking at me strange. I just thought they were having fun with one of the younger guys trying out to make the team. Well, little did I know at the time, that there was a rumor going around the team, warning the guys not to take a shower at the same time I did? I didn’t know at the time, so of course, I paid little, if any attention to their antics. I did notice that I was always left in the shower alone after practice, but thought no more about it. But on this day, John would do something that would stretch the boundaries of our friendship to its very limits. That day was one that I’ve constantly tried to forget.

As I was taking a shower, John walked in and stood beside me. Although, we’d worked out many times we’d never been in the shower at the same time, so we’d never seen each other naked before. As I turned around to ask him if he had any shampoo, I heard him say, "damn, got damn, damn they were right, shit they were right". So I asked him what in the hell was wrong with him. As I look at him, I noticed that his eyes were not focusing on mine, but was looking directly at my grouch. He then said, "man all the guys said that you were big, but I didn’t know that they meant you were as big as that."

I turn around and said, "shit if you’re that scarred you but not drop the soap, huh buddy." We laughed and then I said, "come on man give me the fucking shampoo." As I turned, with my back now facing the shower head, so that the water could run down my back over my shoulder and not my face; all the sudden, I felt this warm wet feeling around me. As I looked down it was John, on his knees giving me head. I didn’t know what to do. I can admit it now, that it felt good, so good that I didn’t know if I wanted him to stop or not. As I got the nerve up to tell him to get the hell off me, my body began to tense and I could feel him jerking and sucking me harder and faster.

I was about to cum and couldn’t or wouldn’t pull back now. I didn’t and exploded, and when I finally got the nerve up to look him in the face all I could see was a big devilish smile on his face with the remnants of what had just transpired. At about that exact moment, I heard someone coming into the shower area. It was Mr. Rayford, the assistant coach. John jumped back over to the shower he’d been using and began trying to shampoo the remains out of his hair and off his face. Mr. Rayford yelled, "come on you little girls it’s time to get out of the water, what are you doing giving each others head or what?" When he said that I looked over at John and again there was that damn smile.

But, I was, well, I felt as guilty as he. I’d allowed him to continue, so what now had I become? How guilty were he then I. As Mr. Rayford entered the shower area he turned to John and with a stream of cum running down his face he reached out and wiped some of it off then flicked it over on the wall and said "boy your putting that shit on a little heavy aren’t ‘cha?"

He never knew that what he’d just flicked from John’s face had just been release from me. I looked at John and he at me and we both burst into laughter. After we finished showering, got dress and left the locker room and went to eat. We never spoke about it again, but that incident had shaken me profoundly. I’d later think the act so perverted that it would make me insensitive, secretive and cruel for years. I would realize later, that’s the way John worked. He’d do something totally out of character, or what you’d think was out of character, only to use it against later for his benefit. But what would amazed me, was that he wouldn’t say shit after doing it, just look at you and let you lament in the juices of his act. And when it happened we’d do nothing; nothing except stand there, allowing the cruelty of his acts to hovering over us like a bird, about to shit on you. But, when I look at it now, it didn’t mean anything to him. He didn’t care. It didn’t bother him; it seemed that nothing bother him or eve r touched John, nothing.

He’d do these things, and like everything he did, to get off, to see how far he could take someone, how far he could take us. And he did, he took us as far as he wanted us to go and often we were left there waiting like some zombies of his creation, until he said it was Ok to move. He’d never say anything directly to any of us about what he’d done, not until a couple of days ago, when he sent for the four of us. I’d often wondered why we allowed him to get away with the things he did and still remained friends. But, there was this thing about John. He always knew someone or knew just what to say or do to make everything fun for us, to make things Ok again. And it would seem for the moment; ok, until his need for control would again surface and we’d be left to whatever his idealistic, egotistically driven mind could conjure up. He had captivating personality and we all seemed to flock to him like he was some kink of guru or something.

In a since, to some degree, I think we looked at him as some sort of God and that if we hung around him long enough, what we thought as his immortality, would rub off on us. But, his time would come and the deepening of his solitude would cause him to lose more and more as time and his life moved forward. But until then we would let him get away with almost anything and everything. He’d always been able to make things fun, we always have some great times, even when something bad happened the excitement would sometimes out weigh the event; no matter how terrible and we’d keep on going and going and going, like that damn bunny rabbit, in those damn commercials.

Whether it was getting us into the movies or concerts free, or getting us liquor, beer or drugs. He was always able to get us whatever we needed, and we always stood by him even in times were we thought there was no getting out of the mess he’d gotten us into. But somehow he’d find a way and we move on like nothing ever happened. The summer was coming up and I was excited about all the possibilities. This summer we all had jobs. I was able to get my old job at the gas station and this time for the guys as well. The girls worked at a one of the neighborhood chicken restaurants not far from us and we’d usually eat there for lunch. Over the last school year I’d more than noticed that Sheila attitude towards me were changing from just school chums to that of a woman, a woman with needs.

And her attitude proved to me that she wanted me to be the one to fulfill them. But again, I didn’t want our friendship tarnished by a night of passion. We’d become to close for that, at least that’s what I’d thought. At one point, I thought that I should act on what she was presenting or make it clear to her that I thought that we should only be friends and nothing more. The day I decided to tell her what I was feeling, John had come up with some tickets to an upcoming Lonnie Liston-Smith and Gil Scott-Heron concert at the Carter Baron. He told us that he was off that weekend, but he couldn’t attend because he was going to New York for the weekend to visit a friend who was sick. When he told us this we were all so excited about going that we never stopped to think what consequences we might have to endure for this one night of pleasure.

And after seeing the look in Sheila’s face, I didn’t have the guts to bring up anything that would spoil the happiness that she was now feeling. The tickets, we’d find out later, were being given away free by the park service that very same day. The tickets being sold and given away were identical, although we didn’t know it at the time. He’d lead us to believe that he’d paid for them as some gesture of his good nature or love for us. And like the dummies we were, we fell for it, again. Yes, he gave them to us, and we not knowing, not caring or just stupidly not questioning John’s motive, took them and thought nothing more of it. Just as I bet he’d figured. He wanted something, and he’d used this so-called gift as a means to get it.

Well, Rinky had to work until about 7:00pm that night. The concert started at 8:30, which gave him just enough time to go home get cleaned up and meet us there before the concert started. Rinky told us that he’d meet us at the front gates, so we waited for him there. We didn’t have to wait long. Around 8:15pm he came strolling up with this big smile on his face and I began wondering what he was so happy about. We proceeded to have a great night; the only problem was that we had to ride in separate cars. Rinky of course drove his car, but we (Sheila and I) had rode to the concert with Joyce.

Earlier, after Sheila and I arrived at Joyce’s house, her father, the asshole that he was; made it perfectly clear that no one was to drive Joyce’s car except her; for no reason whatsoever. Joyce wasn’t about to take any chances with her car and neither were we. So after the concert we decided to go for food, so Sheila piled into Joyce’s car and I into Rinky’s and off we went. They followed us to the Pizza Uno’s and ate until we were stuffed. We had a wonderful time and I felt for the first time, that this is what it would feel like being Sheila’s boyfriend. It felt great and my want for it, at that moment, that night, was more alive than ever before. But, I began thinking as we walked out the door of the restaurant, I knew that I had to tell Sheila how I felt and a decision would have to be made that night on our fate. We’d either move toward a relationship or just continue being friends.

At that moment, Sheila walked pass me and gave me this wonderfully, seductive smile and I melted, and all the things that I’d wanted to tell her disappeared from mind. After regaining my thoughts, I knew that I had to go through with letting her know my feelings and as we walked and got closer to the car, something came over me and I knew that I had to tell her. As I opened the door to Joyce’s car and prepared to let Sheila in, I stopped her short and said that there was something that I really needed to speak to her about. She told me that there was something that she needed to discuss with me also and that if we went to the park that we could talk about it there.

To my amazement, but not surprising, the park was our next stop. It seemed that Sheila had planned this with Joyce and Joyce had let Rinky know; and promised him to secrecy. But little did the girls or I know that Rinky had closed the station about 45 minutes early and taken John to the bus station and that John told him what the plan was that night. This surely must have been the reason he had that smile on his face coming up to the park’s gate. When we got to the park Joyce and Rinky pulled out these huge blankets. Rinky had stopped off on the Hill and got someone to buy him a couple six packs and some jug wine.

So as we sat there talking, drinking beer and wine I turn to Rinky and Joyce, and noticed that they had begun to walk towards the opposite end of the park and as they walked further into it they appeared to become lost in its darkness. Sheila sat there just looking at me. She had this look on her face. It’s hard to explain, but it was a look that, well for me was so passionate that the only thing I could do, the only thing I could think of, was to take her in my arms and kiss her. During our kiss, I noticed that she was trembling, so I asked her if she was cold and would she like to have my jacket. She said "not really," but that she thought it would be cozier if we lay down on the blanket and wrap it around us for warmth.

I would soon find out that this kiss and the warmth that she wanted was not just that of my embrace. As we sat there listening to the waves as they rushed against the shoreline and watching the moonlight as it stretched it’s milky smile across the waters of the Potomac, Sheila suddenly turned to me and began softly kissing me. An as each kiss gently moved down to my neck and chest, I could feel my body awaken to her touches. I then, looked her in the eyes and asked her if she was sure that this is what she wanted. She looked up at me with this hypnotic stare and said "make love to me. She was so tender, so sweet, her body so welcoming that after entering her I could only think, because this was her first time, to be gentle with her.

Within minutes of entering her, I thought that she was cumming because of the wetness that eluded from her body. At that point I realized that she couldn’t have been a virgin. There was no hymen, she was tight, but much likes a woman that hadn’t made love in sometime. In the heat of the moment she stopped and said to me that it would be better if she was on top, because we were in the park and it would look funny if I were lying on top of her if the police drove past. So with that, she gently rolled me over, and as her legs slid over me, I could feel the moisture, which ran from between her thighs, as they brushed across my stomach and waist. She then began slowly and gently stroking me. Although, I couldn’t see her breast fully, I could however see their movement as her movement became more animated and she came closer and closer to climax.

She was so wet; my God, I’d never, nor can I, to this day, remember a woman so wet, so tender, and so passionate; it was intoxicating to say the least. She was so worked up with excitement that when she did cum it was like a wellspring had begun gushing from between her thighs. About an hour later Rinky and Joyce returned and as they walked closer I could see the smiles over both their faces. Now, at this point, I was utterly embarrassed, realizing that they both knew, and had helped to set this up, but I tried to hold back my understanding and play dumb. I don’t believe that anyone there could look anyone directly in the face. As we were about to depart, Rinky called me over and said as he began with kid-dish motions, punching at my stomach, he said, "alright boy, you hit the ass didn’t you; you’re not a virgin any more and neither is she.

Rinky then said, "John said this would be a good night. At that moment I thought, John what was he gaining from all this? What had he done now? What? And that I would surely have to pay for whatever it was later. As I looked back at Sheila and Joyce, out of corner of my eye I could see Sheila smiling and giving me these seductive looks as she, I believe began telling of the time we’d just spent together. But, what now had me wondering and somewhat bothered, was why Rinky thought or for some reason that I was a virgin and moreover, why he thought that she was. Truthfully, after entering her I didn’t believe that she was, and if she was, why had she decided that she would allowed me to be her first. Because she thought or was lead to believe that I was a virgin also?

On the ride home, as we were driving down the highway, Sheila climbed in the back seat with me and proceeded to taking my clothes off, her desires were not totally satisfied and again I was a welcome and willing subject for any and all of her whims. As we road down the highway trying to get into a comfortable position, I kept hearing the pounding of this car’s horn. It seems that this older white woman began blowing her horn frantically trying to get Joyce’s attention. Joyce not able to understand her, rolled down the window and the woman then began telling her that her passenger (Sheila) was having some problems in the back sea, "is there something wrong." At that point I lifted my head and she then realized that the only thing that Sheila was having a problem with was getting in a good position to receive me, that she was making love to someone as Joyce drove.

Needless to say we continued and the old lady drove off (barely). With every bump Joyce drove over, I’d move deeper and deeper within her. As I looked up at Sheila, her dress now open down to her waist, her breast slightly noticeable and me now totally engulf in their wonders. I noticed her mouth parted slightly and with each up and down motion, she would begin vamping harder and harder at every downward thrust of her hips; as they gently clashed against mine. I looked up at her, sweat beginning to stream from her brow, down her lips, her neck and between her breast; she began to moan and stroke me harder and harder. She then bent over opened her bra and placed one of her breast in my mouth, and I now laying there suckling her like a baby at feeding time, could not get enough and resisted nothing.

A minute later she became quite and as I looked at her again, she began licking her lips and her movement became faster, then abruptly stopped and I could see by the smile on her face that she had again reached climax. Joyce would later say "you two were going at it so hard that that old woman almost ran into the guardrail after realizing what you two were doing." After we got to Sheila’s house my mind began to think of all kinds of things. But mostly, it was on the adventure we’d just shared and where it would possibly lead. She would answer my question in a way that I’d never expected. I would later describe it’s feeling as if having your chest ripped open and part of your heart torn from it; and with what little she’d left, she’d then remember, come back and finish the job.

As I walked her to the door she stopped me short of the stairs that lead to her house and proceeded to tell me that she’d truly enjoyed herself, that it was something that she’d wanted for a long time and that she was glad that I was her first. But in what I’d later think was the most wicked thing that anyone had ever said or done to me, said that she "wanted me to know is that this could never happen again and that she hoped that this would not cause a problem in our friendship." During the time of this deranged tirade, I noticed that she never looked me in the eye. By this time, I was left totally flabbergasted, bewildered; hell, I didn’t know what I was, I only knew that I was hurt. She then bent over kissed me on the forehead, of all places.

She gave me a fucking forehead kiss and after the night we’d just spent together, turned and went in the house. But, as I looked at her, as she opened the door and turned to say goodnight, I could tell by the look in her eyes that something was wrong and that what she’d just expressed to me was not how she really felt. It was not the look that the girl only a year earlier give me as she walk into high school on that first day. And as she entered and closed the door, I could only think that something truly horrible was happening behind those doors. I thought that if nothing more, that our friendship garnered a better explanation than that. Was this what she considered an act of kindness, because she believed that I was a virgin? I understood that we’d never truly discussed what happened between us, and now, we never would.

Although I wanted to, but didn’t; I could have told her how much I loved her that I’d loved her from the very moment I first laid eyes on her. But I thought, what would it have mattered. Just then, at that very moment, I knew that I never would be able to. During the ride home I was totally, and Joyce now asking, what seemed like hundreds of question all at once; and now looking at me for answers, I was left speechless. I didn’t quite know how to handle what had happened or my feelings. I felt betrayed. I thought, because of what she’d just physically expressed to me, what we shared, that this would grow into something full bodied and whole. But now, I was left to wonder through dreams of disillusionment. The only thing that kept me going was something my father once told me, "that if a person, when talking to you, began telling you something that you believed was a lie, the best way to tell, was to watch that person’s eyes.

If they blinked or didn’t look you in the face then they were more than likely lying." And because Sheila never looked me in the face during the time she expressed her now feelings towards me, I was left believing that she was lying, but why? But would learn years later that Rinky and John had discussed that night, prior to Sheila and I making love. Not only that, but that this was all apart of some foul plan of John’s? I knew that this too was something that he would hold over our heads and that this was why Sheila acted the way she did that night. But what could it have been to make her do and act in such a way. I’d find out this and much more about that night and many other things that John had done over the next few years. And my contempt for him would grow with each experience.

We’d only become his puppets, someone that he could dangle and make do what he wanted. It would resurface; only it would be at a time unexpected and for reasons that I would have never expected. The years would pass and we were all off to college, of course we all applied to the same college and were excepted. But by this time our friendships were now so tarnished, that they were only being held onto by strings, we’d go through the next 6 years not being able to trust each other, all due to brushing of one man’s ego. But the experience awaiting us in the next few years would be something that none of us would ever forget; John would see to this.

After about 1-½ years, Rinky who was ROTC decided that he was going to go into the service (the Air Force). I was told that this was a chance for him to get into electrical engineering and have them pay for the remainder of his degree. I told him that this was a chance for him, for them to travel the world. That it would take some of the financial burden off his mother would also be wonderful. And now that he and Joyce desperately wanted to get married, I thought and told him that I thought it would be a great idea. That it was a chance that we (black people) never got. A chance to see the world and get an education that the government pays for. But only to remember that he was a black man and the history of blacks in the service is not a pretty one. To watch his ass while he was there.

Supposedly, it was getting harder for his family financially. His father had passed a year before and although the money that his father left the family was substantial it wasn’t enough. But I thought that because he and his brother were in school that they both would get Social Security, along with his mother; his father also owned a business. It just seemed strange. Something wasn’t quiet right. Joyce was going to finish her last year and a half and join him, wherever he got settled, it probably would be Germany; that’s where most of blacks and people from the east coast went after boot camp.

I told him that I thought he’d looked over all his options and that this was probably the right decision that he/they were making. The night before he was to leave we gave him a Bon Voyage Party. As we laughed, partied and reminisced on our past, John went over to the bar to freshen our drinks and Rinky began telling me the real reason that he’d join the Army. It seemed that Joyce was pregnant. He hated the thought of leaving school, leaving his women, his friends and family, was something that he’d never thought would happen. He worked a full time job, was receiving Social Security and his father had left over $75,000.00 in the bank and an insurance policy worth over a ¼ million dollars.

And his mother still had the family business. She wasn’t directly involved in years, but it was doing so well that it was basically running itself. So there wasn’t really a problem with money. It was just an excuse he used at the time, to keep people out of his business. But only a few of us knew Rinky from high school and knew his family. He was more than halfway through his studies and was damn near guaranteed getting his degree. He also told me that he didn’t think that the baby was his. He said that although he and Joyce never used any protection, and that Joyce was on the pill; that he’d always pulled out before cumming.

He said to me with this painful look on his face, "I never slip man, never." And I believed him. At that moment, I looked over to Joyce. She was standing at the bar talking to John. Strangely enough, she didn’t look happy. She actually looked rather upset about something John’s was saying to her. I could only wonder what they could have been talking about. And at that exact moment I realized that John must have had something to due with their troubles.

But within a few minutes I noticed that whatever John was now saying to Joyce brought a gushing smile to her face and it appeared that everything was Ok. Maybe it was just that she was upset that Rinky was leaving in the morning, that her time with him was only, for now, momentary. But knowing John it was something much more. Before John got back with the drinks Rinky made me promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone about this, that I and only I knew that true story. I told him, "sure bro you know I got your back, I’m only glade that you felt that you could talk to me about this." His reply would for a moment shock me but again, that would only be for just that, a moment. I’d realized that John had cause so much pain that anything was possible.

He said, "who else could I talk to about this but you;" and as I thought John. They seemed to get along so well and he’d known John much longer than any of us, but that in itself said nothing. Then he immediately turned and looked at me and said, "surely you don’t think that I’d talk to John about this, hell no. I could never put my trust in him and don’t your." I was shocked, I realized that he too knew John’s character and that no one could truly trust him. Although John would pull out all the stops for us, inevitably we’d find out that it was always for something that he’d later be able to use, for something he wanted.

He use it to get the things he truly wanted and that we’d be the ones to pay the price and for some that price would be greater than they could afford.

I never knew when John’s ideas of friendship changed or if he’d ever looked at anyone truly as a friend, but only a puppet for his games. But his time would come and we’d all be there to see it, and still he would captivate and hold us all.

To Be continued…

I Now Stand Alone: Chapter I by Tony Bennett

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