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My Friend Jim


    Jim was a guy I used to hang out with back when I was in junior high. He was a really good friend to me, and since I was new to the school, he made me feel like I wasn't alone. We would play basketball a lot and play his Nintendo whenever I went over to his house after school. He was kind of tall, so when we played basketball, he would usually beat the snot out of me because he was taller than I was, so I couldn't block any of his shots. Behind the basketball player though was a really shy guy who never would say anything to hurt my feelings. He would laugh all the time, but it was sort of fake, as if there was something underneath.


    Jim grew up in Colorado, back in the mountains, and his dad was a construction worker and his mom a certified dietician. He had an extreme love for the Chicago Cubs, and whenever they would play in Colorado, he would be the first one at the game. His uncle owned some apartments in Rock Falls and had become ill, so his father packed up everything from Colorado and moved to Rock Falls.


    Life in Rock Falls was great at first for Jim. We would be together a lot, doing all sorts of things. Both of us were enjoying our years of junior high, and preparing to be together for high school, but things started to change with him. His dad went out of town more and more, leaving just Jim and his mother in the house for months at a time. When Jim's dad was away, Jim would command his mother to do everything he said. One time when I was over, Jim was screaming at the top of his lungs for his mother to go to McDonald's and get him some food. He was very vindictive with her. She told him that she had no money and that she would just fix something for dinner. Jim always got his way though, and would not stop screaming at her until she agreed to go get him his food. I told his mom that I was sorry for what he had said to her, but she just asked me if I wanted something too, and I declined, but when she came back, she had gotten something for me, just so Jim wouldn't yell at her.


    While Jim's dad was away, he treated his mom like crap. There were days when he would sleep in and make his mom call him off school. He had turned into a slob. His hair was down past his ears, he had started to gain weight, and he had a sick look to him. He was no longer happy about anything and never wanted to play basketball anymore. All he wanted to do was to sit alone in his bedroom and watch television. Whenever I would call, his mom would say that he was sleeping and that there wasn't anything she could do to get him up. I had my license by then, so we could do more stuff together, but Jim never wanted to do anything besides sit at home in his basement and be lonely.


    Jim's dad came home maybe once a month, and stayed for about a week at a time. Jim would be so happy to see his dad, and he went to school all the time, cleaned himself up so he looked normal again, and would be nice to all of his friends. He wanted his dad to see that he was doing well back home. He wanted people to come over to play basketball and have fun. He even invited people to swim in the pool. Things would go great for Jim. He would be so happy, but as soon as his dad would go away, Jim changed his character again. He was no longer a nice blond-haired, blue-eyed nice guy, but an evil, harsh person that had turned for the worse.


    I stopped hanging out with Jim because I couldn't stand to be around him anymore. He had started hanging out with the wrong crowd. He was accepted by all the losers who did drugs. He was arrested at his house for having an underage drinking party while his father was away. He hardly spoke to his mother anymore, and when he did, it was sinful, dirty things that a person should never say. He would curse at her and tell her that he hated her, and that he wished that she would die. I was just finishing up high school by then and was beginning my quest to find the money to further my education at the college level.


    Jim's wish was granted earlier this year. Jim's mom died of breast cancer. She had tried for so many years to help Jim put his life in the right direction, but Jim would have no part in it. Jim's father was home when Julie died, and Jim was playing the good son card. Ron, his dad, never found out about Jim's anger towards his mother, and Jim was finally happy because his father was home for good, but he was too late. Jim failed his junior and senior years of high school by doing drugs and drinking all the time. All his friends left him, even the ones who did drugs with him. He found out too late what he had put himself and his mother through.


    I saw Jim at the mall a couple of weeks ago. He was wearing a Cubs shirt and looked like the guy that I used to hang out with in junior high. I asked him what he was going to do about school, and he said that he planned to get his GED and try to put his life back together. He was back to his tall and skinny figure, and it seemed like we could be friends again someday. I found it sad to know that he finally learned his lesson at the cost of his mother's life. She would have done anything for that boy to get ahead in the world, and perhaps dying the way she did taught Jim a lesson to make something of his life, because you never know when it will end.

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