Phantom Friend

Every now and again a name of someone I once knew will pop into my brain. People come in and out one’s life for a variety of reasons. A long string of “friends” from my past were co-workers and classmates and the relationship would dissolve as soon as we separated; or they were people that have simply run their course and left as swiftly as the entered. Sometimes, though, I’ll think of someone and wonder why our relationship ended. Was it something I said? Something I did? It always aggravates me to have so much in common with someone and yet, for one reason or another, we are not friends.
Driving through my parents neighborhood yesterday trying to flag a man down that had a flatbed with valuable junk I wanted, I remembered a name: Angelo Espinosa. By the way, I was already in my parents neighborhood to see them. The guy with the trailing tanker desk in his flatbed was just a plus. I really want a tanker desk.
Anyway, Angelo Espinosa, a guy I haven’t thought of since high school when I first met him. He had facial hair, which back then in the year 1997, I thought was a anomaly. Only adults had goatees and beards. He didn’t have either, but he had some really dark facial stubble. I always thought, in my smooth, baby-faced head, how strange it was to see a teenager with an adult marker like permanent 5 o’clock shadow.

We never talked, but I would constantly find myself in his presence, watching and listening. He was very grim with almost nothing nice to say. He was this gaunt, lanky fellow towering at maybe 6 feet that would cast a shadow over you with his height and negativity. After a while I couldn’t wait to hear what other mean or discouraging things he was going to say. It was a boring and predictable game that only had me as a player.
In a sloppy mix of Spanish and English, he’d prod and poke at classmates and teachers alike. At the very least, I was interested in his guts to simply say what he thought. It’s an admirable quality. Most people would work to blend in making no name for themselves. But not Angelo. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to him. I think even if he didn’t try he’d still stand out from the crowd. He had a presence, a personality. Even as pessimistic and unfavorable as it was, he seemed to satisfy a role. Maybe that role was to even things out or to keep people grounded. I don’t know. In the end, that’s what he did. He kept things from getting too big to be out of control. That’s comforting.
He didn’t have much in the way of friends. Mostly it was him and this one other loud-mouth. A girl who…GOD DAMN IT!!!! A girl named Jubilation fuckin’ Lee. A.K.A Jubilee. And Angelo Espinosa was a mutant who went by the codename, Skin. And the two of them would go on adventures to save the world and shit. Mother fucker! I can’t believe I had forgotten this guy, a guy I admired, a guy that I wished I had the courage to be friends with, was in fact totally and completely fictional. How in this warm and sentimental memory did I forget this major component? Where in my world did I start confusing comic books I read with real memories? I had been driving through Dallas, letting memories play out in my head, allowing myself to get all sappy and shit.
For fuck’s sake!! No tanker desk and fake memories.
…Oh well…