Value, Worth, Cost

by Michael Midwood

It hurt. It hurt like a motherfucker. As the crimson stream spilled slowly from Jimmy’s mouth onto the diner’s tile floor, his low, horizontal perspective began to fog. It had been one hell of a punch, but certainly not one of fatal proportions. He had known how to take a hit for quite some time. Had he not, it’s unlikely he ever would have known his attacker in the first place. Recollection was not something that came easy after a blow like this one, but in his self-questioning, he forced himself to do so.

Clay had been Jimmy’s best friend for six years. The boys first met in their sophomore year of high school, when J-Bird (as Clay often referred to him) had assisted his newly discovered companion in fighting off a violent trio of cue balls adorned in black, leather jackets. A wonderful friendship was created outside the 1956 premier of Invasion of the Body Snatchers that night, and to say that they were fond of one another would be one of the biggest understatements imaginable. They were virtually inseparable, and absolutely entrenched in even the most important aspects of each other’s lives, quite literally in fact.

Clay’s girlfriend of two years, Stacy, happened to also be the apple so precariously placed in front of Jimmy’s eyes. Jimmy had longed for Stacy’s affection even before he had established a rapport with Clay, and after the romantic relationship had begun, jealousy consumed him. At least, that is, until she had appeared on his doorstep just a few days ago. Stacy regaled him with stories of her dissatisfaction towards her relationship with Clay. Tales of inadequacy, neglect, and abuse, which carried a stench of dishonesty even Jimmy could perceive, were vomited upon him from Stacy’s beautiful mouth. He knew that he didn’t trust Stacy’s reasons for encroachment, but he also knew that, in this moment, all that he wanted was to have her.

While Stacy planned to revel in the delight of pleasuring her boyfriend’s closest chum, Jimmy felt this exhilaration for but a single day. Immediately thereafter, he sank somberly into the wallows of guilt. It was a disgrace that gnawed at him every second of every day, and so he arranged a meeting with Clay the following night. They’d sit, get some ice cream, and he’d reveal the burden on his conscience. Perhaps this friendship would endure.

And as Jimmy watched the 86 on the back of Clay’s football jacket walk out the diner door, he pondered his decision of betrayal. He thought he knew what he had wanted. He thought he knew why he did it. He thought he knew what would happen. And now he thought that none of that mattered. He knew one thing. He knew it hurt. It hurt like a motherfucker.