The Cure

The Cure

The Cure 1920 1080 Vicki Addesso

The last time I saw him, it was two years ago, late on a Saturday night. A bunch of us were home from college for Thanksgiving weekend. I was standing out behind the Redrum Bar with my girlfriend Carol Ann and our buddy Stitch. Larry came around the building, through the alley, with his giant mutt, Serena. We hadn’t seen him since July. That was the fourth, when Carol Ann’s family had their big annual barbecue. We were all there, and Larry’s family was there, but he showed up late, high, a real mess. His parents played like he was drunk. We all knew it was more than that.

He was looking better though that night in November, but also like he was on the edge of slipping back under. Like, he was walking a bit off-kilter, unsure of his next step. I’d heard he was out of rehab, and I was hoping I’d run into him. It was his third stint. His first time away was after he got busted his freshman year of college. His only year of college actually. The rest of us were seniors by now. That didn’t mean Larry couldn’t go back, study civil engineering like he’d planned. His parents had money, always sent him to the same rehab place in Connecticut. They listened to the doctors and the therapists and the counselors who said relapsing was part of recovery. They were told that when Larry was ready, the cure would kick in.

“Baby!” Stitch said as he wrapped his long arms around Larry. Serena wagged her tail and started sniffing at Stitch’s dirty jeans.

Larry almost crumbled under the weight of Stitch’s hug. He ducked out of the embrace, backing away.

“Hey Larry, how are you doing?” Carol Ann asked.

“Fucking hey. Fucking good,” Larry said.

I was finishing off the last shreds of meat on a turkey leg and my hands were slimy with grease. I took another bite and just nodded at Larry as I chewed.

“Where’d you get that?” he asked

“Grabbed it as I was leaving my house. My mom was getting the leftovers ready for soup.”

“Mike’s such a pig,” said Carol Ann.

Serena caught a whiff and jumped up onto my chest and started licking my face. She was a big girl, that dog; some kind of pitbull-poodle-hound mix. Scary, smart, and sweet, all at the same time.

“Can I give your dog the bone?” I asked Larry.

“Sure.”

Serena grabbed it, fell down on the blacktop, set that bone between her front paws, and began gnawing.

“Do you think she’ll choke on the pieces?” Carol Ann asked.

We watched Serena chomping away; we could hear her strong jaw and sharp teeth crushing the bone into slivers.

Larry reached down to take it away from her. She growled and snapped and Larry yelled, “Bitch!” He struggled to pull his hand away.

We could see that she’d bitten down hard, had drawn blood.

“She really fucked up your hand,” Stitch said.

“Yeah. I gotta go.”

And that was it. Larry, dragging Serena behind him with what was left of the turkey leg still in her mouth, headed back through the alley.

Then, in April, I heard Serena had jumped the backyard fence, got hit and been killed by a Fed Ex truck. A few weeks later, Larry OD’ed. His parents didn’t have a wake or anything.

Header photograph © Marybeth Cohowicz DeYoung.

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