For two weeks, Matt Green was our new thing.
The last time we went to his house, Jonathan and I were out late with the girls. At the end of the night, Kim, was taking us home from a party and he began a sloppy drunken fight with her. The argument escalated and Jonathan demanded that she drop us off at Matt’s house. While Kim was a sober(ish) ride, I insisted that Jennifer and I get out with him.
Matt’s friend, Tom, was visiting in town and answered the door.
“It’s a bad scene,” Tom said.
“Matt’s wasted, I don’t think you guys want to be here.”
Jonathan laughed and knocked over a beer can pyramid trying to get his hands on the last drops of plastic bottle whiskey sitting on the kitchen table.
Matt stumbled into the room with a glazed blank look in his eyes. He was holding a 12″ Bowie knife and tried handing it to me handle forward. I declined and brushed it away.
“Matt, are you okay?”
He just stared and tried handing me the knife. I brushed it aside again.
“Uh, no thanks.”
He smiled and re-offered again.
On the third refusal he sat down in a beat-up easy chair with the blade still in hand and blankly stared into space. Jonathan sat next to him and began chattering, oblivious to the fact that Matt was holding a huge knife and hadn’t said a word.
This was some bad mojo. I called Kim and begged her to come back and get us. After ten more minutes of Matt’s eerie silence, she arrived. The second she pulled up, I grabbed Jennifer and we hopped in the back seat. Kim had decided to bring Jonathan’s huge Rot-Chow mixed-breed for the ride and it cheerfully panted at us as from the front seat as Jonathan and Kim screamed at each other in the street.
Finally the doors opened. Jonathan sat in the driver’s seat and Kim adjusted the dog on her lap on the passenger’s side.
“No fucking way you’re driving” I said, in a gimme a break tone.
“Hey, you make the choice” he slurred, “you can stay or you can go.”
From my curbside view I could still see Matt through his living room window, staring off into space with his knife in hand.
I sighed and said, “Fuck it. Drive.”
We screeched out onto the empty streets. Jonathan wasn’t weaving, he was careening. We bounced up one curb, then he pinballed into the opposite lane, then back to the first curb at 50 mph.
“You’re driving like a maniac” Jennifer screamed from the back seat.
“That’s nuthin’” Jonathan laughed.
He slammed on the brakes. We spun out of control and bounced off another curb and the car whirled around backwards twice. My head hit the side window leaving a bloody crack in the glass, and as the giant dog flew into the back seat from the impact. It’s paws raked across Jennifer’s bare legs, etching scratches deep enough to leave scars visible for years. We sat for a second after a smoking stop in the middle of the road and then everyone but the driver ejected from the car all at once to view the damage.
Jonathan put the car in gear and drove off with two flat tires and a bent axle. Kim chased after him on foot, waving and screaming as she click clanked down the road in her high heels and we watched their ridiculous slow speed chase fade into the distance.
Matt disappeared for three weeks, until one day I saw him on campus. He was sitting on a bench, sullen and defeated. His left arm was wrapped in bandages.
After we left, he had started hounding Tom to take the knife the way he had done to me. Finally, Tom accepted the knife. What Tom didn’t realize was that he was accepting a knife FIGHT. Matt had another Bowie knife sheathed behind his back and when Tom took the knife he pulled out the second one and stabbed. Tom put his hand up in defense and Matt thrust the blade straight through the palm of his hand.
Once he realized what he had done to his friend, Matt decided to punish himself by thrusting the other knife between the bones in his own forearm and ripped the blade up his arm. Matt was blacked out drunk and had no memory of any of it. He slowly sobered back into consciousness in a hospital bed to the news that both he and Tom had nerve damage and neither were going to be able to fully use their wounded appendages again.
I didn’t see Matt for three years after that. One day I bumped into him walking down the street. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was standing in front of me with a shaved head and orange robes. After the drama subsided from that night, Matt went sober, moved to Santa Fe, and became a Buddhist monk.
Jonathan however, never had that one brutal lesson learned. His was a slow, horrible decline.