Talkin' To God?
It's late; I'm walking into a Catholic church. Why? Because the doors are always open to this place, I used to come here with my buddy Erek as kids and we'd sit and talk for hours. He'd do his whole prayer thing. I just sat and listened. Now I'm here, just staring up at that friggin cross. Then I start talking, to Him? I guess. "Why'd you do it, man? Why'd you take him?" You see, cars were once a very passionate thing for me. My first one was a black, 2002 corvette. Man, she was a beauty and the horsepower behind that thing gave me the best adrenaline rush. It was better than any drug I could've put into my system. You're probably thinking this is going to end up like all the rest, right? You know what I mean. Those stories about the spoiled kids with fancy sports cars. Speeding? Reckless? Drunk, maybe?
See, there was a point in my life where I felt so on top of the world, and it wasn't from the obvious things in life that teenagers get excited about. I had this friend, his name was Erek. Go figure, right? Met the kid when my family first moved here from Sweden. I was 7, my brother was 14. He was off in his own little world, ya know? And now that I think about it, that makes sense. He was struggling, too. We both were ripped from our schools, our friends. But here I was just a little kid and the person I looked up to most, my hero, my older brother, well, he was always no where to be found when I needed him. Sh*t went on like this for many years. But, I.m getting off topic now.
So, here's what I remember: It was like, BAM, and this huge flash of light, and I swear, or at least it seemed like time stood still forever. In reality the impact was instant and when I came to, I was laying fifty feet from where the car was after it landed on its top after its final roll. The irony? I was fine; nothing a f*** ton of stitches and some good, heavy pain meds wouldn't help. But, Erek? He wasn't. See, that night, for whatever reason. A drunk driver crossed our path just at that perfectly imperfect moment. "You let this happen, God! YOU DID THIS!" Now I'm standing here shouting at the top of my lungs to some supposed almighty being that has decided our lives for us... or whatever the hell the case.
My best friend died that night. We were seventeen, at the prime of our high school lives. Both popular in our own right since we played on the Varsity soccer team together. But Erek, he was known as the good guy. He had unfailing faith; he stuck his neck out there for anyone who needed it, he believed in people, he believed in me. That guy was one of those rare kinds you don't come across very often. You were hungry? He'd go out of his way to make sure you ate. He would take the shirt off his back and give it to another. He kept me on the straight and narrow. When my other friends would try to steer me wrong, this guy was always there turning me right. We were inseparable. That night; part of me died, too.
His funeral was where I last saw his face, physically of course. That was ten years ago and it was the last time I ever set foot in this place, until now. I've done my best to forget. In fact, I did for a long time. Or at least, I think I did. But now that I think about it, I've been punishing myself all this time. "Why'd you take one of the good ones, huh? Why not me?" My voice settled, but by now I was standing here in front of this altar near tears.
Lately, I've begun to see his face in my mind when I'm doing sh*t I know he would beg me not to do. He'd say, "Come on, Erik, you know this isn't you. You're letting the devil get in your mind. That's what he wants. He wants to break you, and you can't let him. You're stronger than this, smarter than this. Believe it or not, you're one of the good ones, too." This is the stuff this kid would spout at me and he'd make me feel on top of the world. He'd bring me back to reality. By now, I'm finally sobbing and down on my knees with my arms open wide and lifted as high as they could go. As if I am reaching for something, for someone, to reach out and touch me. To pull me back up. To the place where Erek used to. "God, man, dude, if you're here. Show me a f***ing sign." And now I was pleading to the Almighty that my friend swore his life by.