There was always something odd about Jimmy. He was a walking, talking X-Files case book with a wild-eyed gaze. A Mister-Smartie-Pants who was always executing daring kitchen science experiments and flirting with obscure but entertaining topics that I could never quite grasp. But that was part of what made him interesting I guess. Part of what made him my friend. That along with his unflinching loyalty, willingness to go that extra mile, love of… well, everything, despite his suspiscion and endless conspiracy theories.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to eulogize him… at least not anymore. Not since I opened my mailbox and found the postcard, no stamp, no return address, from Jimmy. It said simply, “I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.” I broke out laughing. It’s Jimmy. It figures. And he knows I hate Guido’s.
It was Saturday. I went through my weekend routine as routinely as possible, all the while wondering what series of events could have led to this. All I got in exchange was a headache. There was no point in attempting to follow Jimmy’s circuitous thought patterns. At least not without the risk of brain damage. I would have to wait for the big reveal.
Evening found me in a drizzling October rain, stepping through puddles in the parking lot of Guido’s Pizzeria. Inside, I shook off my jacket and glanced around for the familiar mop of unruly hair. There, in the darkest corner, amid dim tiffany-style lamps and the overpowering smell of pepperoni, sat Jimmy. His wide searching eyes finally settled on me. He gave me a nod and a smile and, with a small conspiratorial motion of his hand, called me over.
“Selma,” he said quietly, gratefully, “you came.”
“What the hell, Jimmy,” I answered, “You’re supposed to be dead!”
He made an elaborate shushing motion with his hands, and I sat down, glancing self-consciously out into the restaurant. Thankfully nobody seemed to notice.
“Sorry, I mean, of course I’m happy you’re not… dead,” I said more quietly, whispering the last word. “But I was at your funeral. I even cried. And I don’t cry.”
“I know,” he said with a little half-smile. “Couldn’t resist going to my own funeral after all.”
“I should have known you’d pull something like this,” I sighed, rolling my eyes. “What is it this time? Were you the target of an alien kidnapping plot? Mistaken for an Albanian terrorist? Uncovered the elaborate conspiracy that is the French government?”
“If I didn’t know you better, I’d think that was sarcasm.”
I huffed, but didn’t say anything else.
“I witnessed a murder,” he said. His face turned completely serious, voice low and gravelly. He was scared, I realized.
“What? Whose murder?”
“Yours,” I said flatly, slowly, my face blank.
My hands went to my head, fingers massaging my temples. The headache was back. Hemorrhage was sure to follow.
“Ok,” I said after a considerable pause, then squinted my eyes in an attempt to suspend my obvious disbelief. “Um… How ’bout you explain to me exactly how that happened then.”
“That’s not important right now,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, “But I do need your help…”
I shook my head wearily.
“Can you do that for me?” he practically begged. His eyes were wider than usual and he held his breath for a few beats. “You’re the only one who can.”
How could I say no. He would have done it for me. I knew he would. And how could I have even guessed what was to follow. I abandoned all common sense and let my life be pulled into madness.