I think it’s a summer 89, it’s a hot warm beautiful day. I’m walking on the street I see one of my friends. He’s cruising an orange Dodge Charger. Just like the one of the Dukes of Hazards. The General Lee, his car doesn’t have a 01 on the doors or a Confederate flag on the roof. He has chrome wheels I think there were Cragar’s not like on the General Lee. Underneath the hood of his car all chrome engine. Look like a brand-new engine like you could eat of it. I jump in the car with him and we go cruising to the woods. We are at Thatcher Woods we cruising into the park. We notice a bunch of people we know and we cruise from one side to the other. He says let’s go get some beer we leave the woods and we go to the closest Jewel.
As the drive in the parking lot, we see some girls walking to the grocery store. There are two hot blondes and they notice us in the orange charger like from the TV show. We smile and wave and they smile and wave right back. We head inside we get the beer. Obviously, if you’re paying attention to the year. I’m not old enough to buy beer. We get the beer we go out to the car. And on the out of the grocery store we see the two girls walking to their car. We go up to them and start talking to them. We tell him were on our way to the woods to party and we know a bunch of people out there. They seem excited, and they tell us, yeah we will follow you to the woods.
So me and my friend we jump into his car. And he tells me, dude, I get the hot one. I tell him, dude, they’re both fucking hot. I take either one I don’t care. So at the woods were drinking. We find a great spot to park and some other people we know to stop by where we are at. He comes to the girls they follow us to the woods. like an hour later, it might be 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. So we’re all standing around, drinking beers, listening to the radio of the car and everybody’s having a great time.
I noticed my friend he’s got something in his hand. It looks like a needle than I see him for a bag out of his other pocket. He looks at me. He asked me if I wanted to do some heroin. I said no I’m not doing any heroin. He thinks I’m joking. He says you’re going to do some with us right? Are you going to shoot some heroin right? I said no. I said no fucking way. Hey, I’ll get a shot from the doctor, I get a tattoo and in the future, I’ll even donate some blood. But there is no fucking way. I am going to stick a needle in my arm. He tells me what are you a pussy. And there’s over a handful of people in our group here. And everybody starts laughing.
Everybody starts laughing at me. And he starts calling me a pussy again. And I look at the two hot girls that we just met and they seem all for it. They are 100% down to shoot some heroin. Now everybody’s laughing at me because he is calling me a pussy. Even the two hot girls that we just met. I said fuck this I’m outta here. And I start walking away from all the people I start walking onto the other side of the park. Then I start to realize I don’t know anybody else here they can give me a ride home. So I walk all the way home. I don’t how many miles it is. But it’s fucking far. And so pissed off and I’m thinking I would have stayed in my own neighborhood and I wouldn’t have come to the woods with him if I knew everybody was in a do this.
So I’m walking home for hours and I make it to Elmwood Park Illinois maybe seven or eight blocks away from Harlem Avenue. I got a friend that lives on the second floor of this apartment building. I remember walking up the stairs to his back door. I thought for sure he would be home and I could rest there and maybe crash out there. And get up in the morning to go back to Rutherford. But I make it up the flight of stairs. And I’m at the door and I wait for him to answer. But nobody’s home and I’m thinking gotta make it to Rutherford. So I make it home.
Days go by. I used to work downtown Chicago. Maybe 6 or 7 blocks away from the lake. I got to watch the NBC tower built from the ground all the way to the sky. Every time I went to the stairway to smoke a cigarette. I would open the window and look outside on my break. I worked the night shift and sometimes I got home at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning it wasn’t so easy to fall asleep right away. One day I have a hard time getting up. My mother’s call me on the intercom. She tells me to get up Tommy one of your friends are at the door. I get up and I grab my pack of smokes on the nightstand and I go on so warm sunny day. Is about three or four in the afternoon. And I usually leave to go to work at around 7 o’clock at night. I’ll take the bus on Grand Avenue all the way to St. Clair Street downtown it’s about an hour bus ride. So as I come outside my house. I tell my friend what’s up and we go and sit on the side of the house. We had a long picnic table bench that was always on the one side of the house and we would sit there. And with the 6-foot privacy fence, nobody could see us sitting there.
I let my first cigarette of the day. My Italian friend that lives a block away is talking to me about something I don’t remember. Then he says to me. Are you going to the funeral? I don’t think I fully was woken up yet. But I say. The funeral! what fucking funeral? who fucking die? He tells me the name of one of my friends. I said oh my God I was just with him a couple of days ago. Well after I thought about it. It turns out I was with him about a couple of weeks ago. But you know how it is. We go to work every day coming home going to sleep getting up and going back to work. You feel like just another gear on the assembly line. And the days blend together and it’s hard to tell one day to the next. I said to my friend I said how did he die? What happened? I friend tells me he O.D. on heroin. I am thinking Oh my God. my friend asked me again. Are you going to the funeral? I said no. I said I can’t go I have to work. I’ve been working at this place for maybe a year and a half or two years and I think I only missed one day of being sick. I usually never miss work. Hell, I can’t afford to. I don’t come from a rich family and I know it’s like to live in the streets and sleeping in cars and sleep in gangways. My friend tells me he’s going to the funeral. I was still pretty mad about what happened in the woods. And I tell my friend I have to get ready to go to work. I’ll talk to you later dude.
It’s about that time for me to leave out the door to go to work. And as I get my Sony Walkman ready for the long bus ride I start heading out my bedroom door. And next to the door is a telephone. As I open the door and get ready to leave. I hear the phone ringing and I’m right next to it. I answer the phone and I say hello. It’s my friend’s girlfriend on the phone. She tells me, Tommy, I don’t know if you know this or not. But my boyfriend is passed away. And the funerals tonight Tommy. Are you going to be there? I tell her no. I tell her that I have to work and find out the last minute I cannot get the time off. She tells me that’s okay. He always like that about you. He always said that you are a great guy and that you were a hard worker. And that you even reminded him of himself. I started the choke up after hearing that. I told her I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry to hear that he passed away.
Days go by. And I run into her somewhere. She is mad at me. She tells me, Tommy, you are the only one of his friends that weren’t at the funeral. She is pissed off. She tells me I am so disappointed in you Tommy. And I looked down and I don’t want to look her in the face. Because I know I’m lying right to her face when I tell her I couldn’t get the time off. I didn’t want to tell her what really happened. I didn’t want to tell her why I was so mad that I didn’t go to the funeral. After his funeral, I felt so bad. Because he was my friend. I should have gone to the funeral. I should have, to show them that I cared. And I should’ve forgotten all about being pissed off and walking all those miles home. Well, there a lesson to learn here. Lesson number one. Do not do heroin. And lesson number two. I should’ve been a better man and I should have gone to his funeral. The end
Thank You for reading my story. A Tommy Friend Story.