Strong Armed Confusion

“See? That’s what the fuck I’m talking about,” Pumpkin yells as he throws his cell phone onto my dashboard. His phone bounces and hits the windshield. He tries to get out of the car before I’ve completely stopped in his Dad’s driveway.

“Will you wait till I stop? What’s wrong?” He doesn’t answer me. He exhales loudly while I stop and put the car in park. Once it’s stopped, he springs out of the car and heads to the halfway house next door.

I watch him as he walks and then I see what’s gotten him so pissed. Jim, his ex roommate, is standing in front of the halfway house talking to about four guys who are sitting on the porch smoking. I think he has on Trey’s leather jacket. I sit in the car and wait for him to handle it. I am not too worried. Pumpkin can take care of himself. The residents of the house won’t get involved, they have enough problems. If they do decide to play hero, I have my miniature yellow bat tucked under my car seat.

My son met Jim while he was a resident at the house. Jim ended up there after he got out of rehab. He lost everything he had to heroin. Anyway, Trey and Jim became friends. Jim would complain to Trey about living in the halfway house. He said they had too many rules. Unlike some of the men there, he wasn’t court ordered. If he could find somewhere to live he could move out.

My son, the other hater of all rules, talked his dad into letting Jim move into their house. Trey thought they could share his room and split the rent he pays his dad. Like most things, it looked like a good idea on paper.

Their friendship immediately went to hell once Jim moved in. Pumpkin said Jim stopped taking his meds and that he was for real crazy. He further clarified the crazy as “not the fun crazy kind either.” Pumpkin said Jim turned out to be a slob, he wore his clothes without asking, he ruined his computer battery trying to cook meth and he played bongos all night. I can understand how a crazy meth head playing bongos all night could be irritating.

Pumpkin told him to move out a couple of days ago. And yet, here he was. I recognize the coat Jim has on. Pumpkin had it on a few weeks ago. I know my son is doubly pissed; Jim still hasn’t moved out and he has his coat on? Yep, it’s all bad.

I watch them exchange words for a few minutes. Jim is nodding and Pumpkin is yelling. Then, my son turns and starts to walk back to my car—without his coat. What the hell? My momma bear instincts come out and I’m not about to let Jim’s crazy ass keep my son’s coat. So, I get out of the car and start walking over to him. As soon as Pumpkin sees me get out of the car he stops and says, “Mom, no.” He has seen my bear instincts before. I ignore him and walk over to crazy.

“Is that my son’s coat, man?”


“You heard me,” I say as I move closer. I repeat my question louder and slower. He looks at the coat and doesn’t say anything. Then he starts to remove it. Pumpkin is by my side.

“No mom, just come on. You don’t know what I got going on. I took care of it.”

“No, fuck that. Is that your coat?” I repeat, still looking at Jim who has suddenly frozen with the coat halfway down one arm. He is looking at us, waiting to see what he should do.

“Mom, just come on. Jim, get the fuck out of here and don’t come back,” Pumpkin says trying to turn me around toward the car. Jim takes his escape quickly and walks away.

“Your just gonna let him take your shit?” I ask as he propels me by my arm to the car. Pumpkin’s Dad must have heard the commotion and came outside. He is standing in the driveway watching us.

“What are you two doing?” he asks as we approach. He asks us that often.

“He let that goofy mother fucker take his coat,” I announce squirming out from Pumpkin’s grip on my arm.

“It’s not my coat, Ma!”

“I saw you in it last week.”

“I borrowed it from him. You always do that, get involved in shit when you don’t know what’s going on. I just wanted him to leave. I told him before; if he comes around here I will beat his ass. He almost blew up the fucking house trying to cook meth. I don’t want him here.”

“Wait, that’s not your coat? Jesus Christ. Then why did he start to take it off?” Pumpkin doesn’t answer me. We just stare at each other thinking what a moron the other one is.

“I told him to come over,” Pumpkin’s dad says breaking our staring contest. We both turn and look at him.

“Huh?” we ask in unison.

“Yes, I called him. I told him he still had a few things here he needed to move and if he ever gets hungry to stop by and I will feed him.”

“Fucking Buddhists,” Pumpkin says walking into the house and slamming the door.

“So, you told him to come over and when he does Pumpkin threatens to kick his ass. Then I demand he gives me his coat. He probably thinks we were setting him up in order to beat his ass and take his coat.”


“If you aren’t crazy when you get here, you are when you leave,” I say getting in my car.


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