Cold Night With the Gentle Mad Jack

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Not having a day off in a few weeks coupled with waking at 5:00am every morning leaves me aching for bed at early hours. Nine is pushing it. I would rather not see the double digits. I pine the sky to give me darkness so I can justify closing my eyes. Waking up has turned from a grimace to an enjoyment of the quiet walk to the train (excpet for getting hit by a car three mornings ago). Around 5:00pm, I anxiously await the temporary death of my bed.

I was feeling this last night. 7:00pm. Phone rings. I miss the call. Looking at it, I realize I missed ten other calls. Message after message of Fridays across the city. Last message:

“Hey, it’s Jack. I’m in Charlotte. Just got back from Guatemala. Call me so I can crash at your place tonight. Plane arrives in Chicago at…I don’t know.”

Oh, shit. I thought he was coming on May 8th. Not May 5th. No bother.

I lived with Mad Jack in a cult in Chicago about eight years ago. I knew I found a friend when I showed him sketches of ficticious corporate logos that I had drawn and he seemed genuinely interested. Over the years he has:

-Photographed my sister’s wedding.
-Thrown patio furniture into my apartment complex’s pool, prompting security to rush to the scene. He cooly shooed them by saying, “Sorry”.
-Vomited in my kitchen sink shortly after that.
-Yelled from my living room at 5:00am, “Hey, you wanna drive to Chicago tonight?” I lived in Indiana at the time. Southern Indiana. “Yes.” We loaded up on ephedrine and stayed up for days with nothing but water, cigarettes, and a video camera.

I decide to nap from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. At 10:00pm, I wake up to my alarm…reset it to 11:00pm…go back to sleep. He calls. “Hey. I’ve landed. So how do I get there?”

“Find your way into the city. Go to Foster…about five major streets north of Wilson.” (The cult was on Wilson. Still is. 920 West Wilson Ave.)

“Got it.”

“Call me when you get here.”

I go back to sleep.

12:30am. “Hey, I’m parking.”

“I live on the corner of _______ and _______.”


He’s here. I haven’t seen him in a few years. Everytime is new and his smile and pessimism permeate the room with a fog not unlike a poker-playing father’s den; welcoming, relaxing, and innocently sinful. He smiles, chuckles, shows me pictures of Guatemala, describes the orphans (he was there to build an orphanage) and the sunrises and the way one little boy demanded to be carried on the shoulders of adults. All with a smile and an awe that I’ve never encountered with any one else. A picture of a sunrise. Twenty bug bites on the arms. The cigarette currently being shared. All is wonderful and somehow sad.

We slept three hours and he drove me to work. I walked him to Millennium Park and it was the same reaction.

In leaving, he grabbed me and said, “I don’t give a fuck if your employees see you hug another man.”

One Response to “Cold Night With the Gentle Mad Jack”
  1. sealegs says:

    “temporary death”

    so good. honey this is why i ask you to write more. for me, really.

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