ever have someone tell you to stand up straight? look you in the eye when they're talking?

conversation between cousins

“Four days before dontcha know she’d cut herself,” my cousin paused through the phone. I could hear the phone scratching on something, his face, shoulder, while he was knocking at something with his free hand. “You know. Slashed her wrist.”
“Oh yeah,” was all I could think to say.
“Yeah. I mean, that’s the only reason I married her.”
“I thought your son introduced you.”
“His girlfriend’s mom, right. It was love at first sight, but then I looked again.” The flick of a lighter. An inhale. An exhale. “I moved her in the next day.”
“Wasn’t she getting evicted? Or something?”
“Yeah, she was having to move up to Virginia Beach. But I moved her in the next day. Love at first sight. But she’s fucked. That’s the way it is. Can’t take any good without turning it to bad.”
“Afraid of success?”
“You’d think the ring would’ve told her something.”
“That you loved her?”
“No. Well, no. I guess. Sure, it was a nice ring.” Again the flick of a lighter. “She said, ‘I don’t want to wait ‘til February to get married, I’ll be dead by then.’ Shit.”
I didn’t say anything for a few minutes. I put some ice in a cup and poured whiskey over it. I swirled it around and around and the ice and liquor blurred together.
“I have to look out for myself.”
“Yep,” I say, glad to finally say something with conviction. “You do. I can’t believe she has a kid.”
“Who dates my kid.”
“They still date?”
“Off and on.”
“Jesus.” I take a short sip.
“Not that I didn’t love her.”
“It’s just one of those things. Sounds worse when it’s put into words.”
“Exactly. She used to take a lot of pills, though. Thorazine, Valium. I’d take them with her because that’s what she wanted. She said that her doctor said I had what she had.”
“Whose doctor?”
“That’s what I said. She ain’t never seen a doctor that I knew. And I’d know. I’d had paid for it. I have no clue where she got those from.”
“What did they feel like?” I asked.
“Like my head filled up the entire room. My eyes were inside the walls, no were the walls and shit, man. I felt good, otherwise. I didn’t want to do much. It was hard to get up and go to work. Now I know why she could never keep a job.”
A long silence. I looked out the window and watched a dreadlocked woman walk by my house.
“Yeah,” he finally continued. “Afraid of success. Is that something you know, clinical? Like is that a real disease?”
“I think so.”
“I’ll bet that’s what she had. Maybe she was just fucking lazy. She’d sleep the whole damn day if I’d let her.”
“Maybe she was depressed. She was married to you.”
“What a laugh. I kept hoping to come home and have her done it like she always promised she would. But she wouldn’t. I think she liked to see the disappointment on my face.”
“I guess it’s best that you two aren’t together any more.”
“Yeah. I saw her the other day though. She still owes me money for the phone bill. But she gave me a blow job instead.”

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