By Steven Acevedo

Hello. My name is Carl.

What I'm about to tell you is true. Although the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

This all took place on a Saturday Morning in August at Central Bay Park. The day was hot and sweltering so I and Jack went in for his lunch break.

"How do I explain it to him?" Jack said aloud.
My thoughts turned to the question he was asking.
"Explain what?"
"That I never hated him. I just wish he'd see me as I really am," Jack said to me.
"He has seen as you are. The worst part of it," i responded.
"I just wanted to do something different than the same old grind," he said to me.
"And for all that you wanted to do. Is it really making a difference?" I asked him.
"Sometimes the little things matter more than the big things," I told Jack.

"But he's so selfish and spiteful," he said.
"And he's mean to others."
"And he'll stab you in the back when you least expect it."
"Only if he believes the other person would do it to him first. It isn't the first time it's happened."
"You've known him for a long time haven't you?" he asked me.
"Yes I have," I answered.
"So how it is that you can find some good in him?"
"Quite easily. He started out as a wallflower not wanting to take chances. Then all of a sudden he did. But he's very cautious about the things he undertakes."

I explained to Jack how my friend knew another person who was a veteran of the war who was his friend for twenty years. Out of the blue he decides to come visit him. And he thought hanging out with him would be a blast.

"But instead his Ex-Soldier friend made his Christmas miserable by not being a better house guest. He complained a lot about his life almost non-stop. The guest wanted to make changes in his personality. To do that he had to sever the relationship with my buddy," I said to Jack.

"I thought friendships were suppose to be binding," Jack said confused.
"So did my pal," he said. "He still does. But there are two kinds of people in this world. Those that love unconditionally even with their faults and those who take advantage of others' emotions and make them feel guilty for who they are. He wasn't trying to save him. He only wanted to show him that life isn't always a constant battle of the mind."
"And this guy treated him like a pushover?" Jack questioned.
"Seems he's not the only person he did it to either," I told him.
"My friend takes everything to heart. He does what most people do when they are hurt verbally by words. He retreats into himself and sometimes decides that he wouldn't care for anyone else."
"But he has other friends too doesn't he?" he asked.
"Of course he does. But they rarely see him. They can't spare a few moments to see his world as he sees it. We've been talking to each other constantly but I haven't seen him in over eight years. He had an adopted sister once but she died. Although he recovered from the incident. It left him feeling hollow inside for some time. My adopted brother feels he's always underestimated by others. He doesn't like being treated as a scatterbrained individual."
"Does he have any idea what he wants out of his life at all?" Jack queried me..
"He says he knows what he wants yet again he's taking baby steps. It's in the back of his mind. He's waiting for something to push him in that direction. He doesn't want to force it. My friend doesn't want to dissapoint anyone - least of all himself." he mused.

Jack thought about this for a while.

"What would I have to do to make that come closer?" he asked his friend.
"Not much. Keep encouraging him. He wants to encourage you too." I told Jack.
"He wants you to be a better person than you are. You can't stray too far though otherwise
he'll lose you the way he lost his bitter war buddy."

Then I asked him if he ever experienced something like I described about my buddy.

A painful memory flashed across Jack's face. He almost didn't want to remember it.

"My former girlfriend. For the same reason as your friend's. She said she wanted to find herself. I stood in the way of that," he said in a low voice.

"Do you still talk to her?" I asked.
"No. But I'm concerned for her welfare just the same," he replied.
"Even though you broke up. You still see her as a friend, right?"
"Yes. "
"Don't you think my friend feels that way too?"
"I never thought about that. I have a brother and sister to lean on," Jack said smiling a little.
"He doesn't. He has a few in name only such as myself and the sister who passed away. He treats us the way he'd like to be treated. With compassion and understanding."
"Easy to say. Harder to do in practice," he countered.
"Exactly," I said in agreement. "He's sheltered with only his Mother to deal with. People tend to mistake his attitude for being selfish but he really isn't. I can attest to that because my friend has been there for me at some pretty rough times." I told Jack.

"Then I'll be there for him," Jack said smiling. "From a distance for now. Seems I haven't been a good friend for a long time," he told me.
"You will. Always leave the door open."
"I'm hopeful," Jack said.


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