A journal of narrative writing.
Prince of Fools
by Julie Stielstra

He picked at an egg roll and I demolished most of the cashew chicken.

“Been quite a day,” I said. “I’m starting to feel human again.” He muttered something.


“You don’t know the half of it,” he said. I suddenly noticed how drawn he looked.

“Jake, are you okay?” He stared at the table, scratching at a napkin with his fingernail.

“There was this girl,” he began. “For a couple of months. It…turned out a little scary, I don’t know how but she brought me stuff and did things…and I was just hooked on it and her, and…” He blew out a bitter sounding noise and added, “Yeah, like a big fucking barbed triple fishhook.” He looked sideways at me and I just looked back. “I told her last night I thought maybe she shouldn’t come around next time, and it got just nasty. But she left when I said she had to. God, it feels like that was weeks ago.” He stared at the table some more.

“But she came back. I guess she came back this morning, while we were at the hospital. Will was at your place, cleaning up, and he saw her car pull out of our driveway, but didn’t think much about it. He didn’t know. I guess I forgot to lock the doors when the tree fell on you. When I got back today, she… she’d trashed my place.”

“Shit. How bad?” I asked.

“Not as bad as it could have been,” he said finally. “Mostly just mess. Poured everything from the fridge on my bed. Wrote ‘Loser asshole’ on the bathroom mirror with lipstick. Dumped my dresser drawers, threw my CDs and DVDs around. She didn’t really destroy anything, but made a hell of a mess. Well, the mattress is wrecked, I guess.”

“Did you call the police?”

“Will did. They looked around and took a report. I told them about… about what happened with her and me, and Will told them about the car. They said they’d go see her and asked if we wanted an order of protection…”

“I’d get one, if I were you,” I said. He nodded vaguely.

“Yeah, I guess we’ll do that.” We didn’t say anything for a minute.

“I really fucked up,” he said. “Diane, I have so fucked up.” He started to cry. What else could I do? I got up from the table and stood behind him with my arms around him, with him shaking. Poor Jake. He’s really a pretty sweet guy, just, like he said, kind of a fuck-up. “I’m sorry,” he said. He blew his nose with a napkin. “I guess I should go,” he said.

“Are you going home?” He shook his head.

“To Will’s.”

“Go sit down,” I said. “I need a glass of wine. The hell with the antibiotics. You?” He gazed up at me with still-running eyes and nodded.

Blackie Two-Eyes sat in his lap on the couch. We drank our wine. He said he and Will would help me get the shop cleared up tomorrow. We leaned our heads back and the next thing I knew, he was asleep. I sat there for a while, dozing, till my shoulder started to hurt. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, and he woke up.