Two weeks ago, Cillian Lynch opened his eyes for the first time in 12 years. Not literally, I mean, his eyes had opened at some point nearly every day, but the doctors could tell that nothing was registering. But for 12 years, he just lay there, unresponsive. First in the bed in his apartment in the modern residential tower behind Lincoln Center, where the superintendent granted the police entry. This, after someone at his law firm called his mother to ask why he had not shown up for work in three days nor answered his phone or text messages. Then, in St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, where a team of diagnosticians had examined him and just shrugged, having no idea what had happened to him or being able to provide prognosis or treatment. Finally, in the nursing home in Quincy near his mother, where he had been dumped when no one could figure out what to do with him, and where he was the youngest resident by several decades.
The people from the nursing home called me because Cillian’s mother had died about a year earlier, and I was still listed as a backup contact person. His father had died when we were sophomores in college. I didn’t even know if he had other relatives, like aunts or uncles or cousins. If he did, he never talked about them. His parents were his everything. And now it looked like I was his everything. Forty-two years old and I had to be the everything to someone who had not talked to me in 12 years.
Since the nursing home was on a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was not much else I could do with the information that Cillian had opened his eyes, spoken lucid sentences, and sucked down a milkshake for the first time in 12 years. “We’re not ready to start him on solid food yet,” the woman on the phone had told me. “We don’t want to create a shock to his digestive system.” I think she was from Africa, and she had to spell her name out for me. Chinonye Adebayo. “Just call me Chichi,” she said.
I had met Cillian when we were freshmen Colgate, playing on the lacrosse team. He was a tall, sinewy guy with big ears and freckles over all his body. You could tell that he was strong and could take care of himself. He never tired. He had the worst kind of Boston accent, and he loved to accentuate it just to witness people’s reactions. He was a competitive son of a bitch, but he was the rare athlete who loved to win more than he hated to lose. He did not dwell on the losses, at least not that I could tell. Confronted with who he is today, maybe I was wrong about that aspect of his personality.
The thing he loved more than anything else was the Patriots. He always called them the Boston Patriots, as his father insisted. He was born after the team had moved and rebranded itself as the New England Patriots. He would never acknowledge a conversation that referenced the team as “New England.” Loyalty was a thing with him. He and his father tailgated every home game. “We never walked through the gates of the Foxboro heaven, because who could afford the price of admission except the ruthlessly wealthy assholes from Back Bay and Connecticut?” he explained. “My dad and his friends tailgated like champs. And we beat up a shitload of Jets and Bills fans along the way. Good times.”
Cillian, he told me the day we met, is Gaelic for “strife.” That was about right. He was a very good lacrosse defender.
I asked him why he didn’t play football, seeing as how he was such a big fan. “Football is a sport for boys who get hooked on violence at a young age like they are drug addicts and don’t mind being beaten into middle-aged, brain-damaged cripples. Lax dudes play like they have plans. My plan is to live forever and fuck every day until I’m dead.”
Cillian was – is? – my best friend, but I’m not sure that I was his best friend. He had a lot of friends from all aspects of his life. Friends from Boston. Friends from Colgate. Friends from other college’s lacrosse teams. Friends from Columbia’s law school. Friends from his law firm (which must remain unnamed upon threat of lawsuit). Friends from his music career with the Golden Surfers. Friends he never discussed with me. Friends who maybe didn’t even know they were Cillian’s friends. He collected friends like people collect shells at the beach. But he always came to me for the things that required trust. I felt honored, rather than burdened. Until now.
After Cillian graduated from law school, he went to work in mergers and acquisitions with a Wall Street firm, because someone had convinced him that all the only romance left in the practice of law was marrying the assets of large corporations. Almost from his first day at the firm, his attention was turning away from the romance of M&A and toward the creative expression of himself. “Becoming a lawyer was a deceptively cruel, cruel mistake,” he told me. “I’m surrounded by boys and girls who flounce the law, not uphold its virtues. They care only for what they want. Power and position. Some hunger after manna, but most care only for power and position.” He formed a band with another disaffected lawyer from a midtown firm and a couple of teammates from Colgate. He taught himself to play bass and sang. He was pretty good. The band became the Golden Surfers. You may have heard of them. They had a hit in 2010, “Catch the Wave,” which was written, recorded, and released almost two years after Cillian had entered the nursing home. He had also been working on a novel about his father, which he did not have a chance to finish. And then there was Zoe, and I’ll get to her.
And the next thing you know, I was on a Zoom call with him. He was still trying to reorient himself. Chichi told me that the nursing home staff had not told Cillian much about what had happened in the past 12 years. They were focusing on his medical needs and protecting him and the other residents from COVID-19. They felt that information about his personal past and future would be best received coming from a trusted family member or friend, hence me. She also advised me to lead with good news and get him comfortable to at least some aspects of 2020 before sharing bad news with him.
“Throgswhistle!” he exclaimed when he saw me. I had no idea what that meant. He had an earnest grin on his face and was nodding his head with great enthusiasm. He looked well groomed. “Your hair. What cur has attached itself to your sartorial care?”
I just left him hanging. I think he was observing that I had not had a haircut in months and acquired some silver highlights since we last saw each other. More like a lot of silver highlights.
“Just kiddo,” he laughed. “My girl Chichi told me that everyone’s all bippity boppety boopity about their hair these days. So, where’s my stuffity stuffy stuff?”
His stuff. His possessions. I decide not to tell him (yet) that he had been kicked out of his apartment, that his mother had put his stuff into storage in Braintree, and that, after she died, the Norfolk County sheriff had sold off his stuff to satisfy past rent to the storage company. I managed to buy a few things – I’m not rich — but for all intents and purposes, he had no stuff.
“It’s all in Massachusetts or with me,” I said, not lying.
“Cool. So, what’s up, what’s up, what’s up?” he asked. “I am a tabula rasa and you are my inscrutable scribe and haughty Pharisee all in one.”
I was not sure how to answer this question. I was pretty sure he did not care about what was going on in my life. I panicked, so I just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. I am not proud of myself.
“So, we killed Osama bin Laden,” I told him. “He’s finally dead.”
“Really? Motherfucker got capped? Yeah?”
“Navy Seals shot him in Pakistan and dumped his body in the Indian Ocean.”
“Really?” He seemed disappointed. “You’re leading the news alert with Osama bin Laden.”
“I remember you were not really into him, so I thought that you might want to get that update.”
“You’re an imposter, idiot, jester, poseur, and fool.”
“I’m sorry. Chichi gave me a five-minute briefing on the phone. She didn’t give me the manual on how to deal with friends who’ve been in comas for 12 years and suddenly wake up yesterday. Your ignorance and my ignorance are roughly equivalent.”
He pursed his lips and didn’t say anything.
The nursing home is treating me as if I were his trustee or guardian until a lot of paperwork gets done, and that paperwork is not going to get done anytime soon. “There’s a pandemic going on outside,” Chichi had said. “We’re all focusing mostly on not dying.”
I talked to someone at his law firm. They seem pretty excited. Cillian knew they were going to fire him. Then this thing happened to him, and it’s not like they could fire one of their lawyers while he was in the hospital. They simply stopped paying him and contributing to his 401(k), but their health plan was on the hook for the hospitalization and the long-term care in the nursing home. Apparently, his case changed the whole benefits package the firm started offering to associates. It appears that, now that he is awake, they can fire him and get off the hook. But they are not sure how they are going to do this while the nursing home is on lockdown. Chichi told me that Cillian is free to walk out the door anytime he wants, not literally, though, because he cannot actually walk because of, you know, the muscles in his legs have experienced some atrophy. Cillian will need at least a few weeks of intense physical therapy before being discharged, and if he leaves before being discharged, the insurance company will make him reimburse them for the past 12 years of expenses. This has been explained to him.
“Yeah, bin Laden, he’s a distant memory now,” I said. “Also, I know you kind of liked that tennis pro Kim Clijsters.”
He loved talking about women.
“Hmmm. Yeah, I do remember her!” he said. “I liked the way her legs split when she reached wide for a forehand. That kind of athleticism and flexibility is a rare gift. Like watching the Venus de Milo doing the floor exercises in the Olympics.”
“Well, you might want to know that she got married, retired, had a kid, then decided to un-retire, and came back to win the U.S. Open.”
“Really? That’s great for her,” he deadpanned, “but is that your Number 2 piece of news? I’ve walked into Peter Luger and you have placed a salad in front of me. Without dressing.”
I am working here. I do not want to tell him about Zoe. Not yet. Or his mother. And then I remembered…
“Well, I got some news for you, then,” I said. “After you went away, the Patriots went to the Super Bowl five more times.”
“Boston Patriots won five Super Bowls?”
“They didn’t actually win all of them. They won three. Three Super Bowls wins. They were down 25 points in the game with the Falcons, and won it in overtime.”
“Three Super Bowls?” I could tell that Cillian was genuinely happy and excited. He loved the Pats. He slammed his fist down on the table, leapt up and started dancing.
“Oh, yeah, the Patriots won the Super Bowl last year.”
“Oh, Paul Revere, you wicked boy! I am John Adams and I want you to cross the Charles and ride to Lexington. To me. To tell me what you are hiding inside your brain. I want your brain to fuck me in the ass and shoot all your knowledge about the Pats into me.”
“It was a boring game. Sixteen total points. They beat the Rams 13-3. Oh, and the Rams moved back to Los Angeles.”
“I expected Paul Revere and got Travis Bickel.” Still, he still had a manic smile plastered on his face. “It’s good that the Rams moved back to LA. Land of Bob Waterfield and Roman Gabriel. Hollywood starlets hanging on the arms of gridiron gods. That’s the American way. That’s where the Rams belong.”
Our time was nearly up, and I knew that I would not have to talk about Zoe today. Zoe was Zoe Alabaster, who was his girlfriend 12 years ago. Cillian told me that he was considering asking her to marry him. A really good-looking woman, like Marion Cotillard. She was lots of fun to be around, and possessed a laugh that would expel every evil thought from your mind. She was a freelance writer who focused on science and medicine, and had been making a name for herself. She made the complex appear simple. She had written a series on human stem-cell research that got a lot of attention, and her obituary of Steve Irwin put her on a lot of editor’s lists. What a gift. She’s now on the staff of the New York Times. No one expected her to hang on to any hope of Cillian returning to us. After about six months, she wrote a letter, sealed it, and asked Cillian’s mother to give it to him if he ever woke up. On her friggin’ death bed, Cillian’s mother handed the letter to me to give to him. “I know it’s complicated,” she told me.
Complicated? Maybe it was going to be complicated to explain to my best friend that Zoe dumped him by letter and then married me. Me? Yes, Zoe and I got married. We even had two children together. We didn’t talk all that much about Cillian. Why would we do that? And then Zoe and I got divorced. I think she loved Cillian, and I was supposed to be the surrogate. I was a disappointing stand-in. Our kids love me, so there’s that. Zoe was dating Rick Money, the rock star, for a couple of years. I don’t know his real name, but it must be pretty awful or boring for him to choose to be known as Rick Money. Zoe has the kids. I get them on weekends. We talk only about the kids, and I am not looking forward to telling her that Cillian has woken up. I have to, and that conversation will be complicated. She broke my heart, and those feelings don’t go away easily.
Chichi advised me to keep the first few Zoom calls short because Cillian would need time to digest the news and incorporate it into his sense of the new reality. But because I am who I am, I decided to add one more twist to the first update.
“So, dudes can get married,” I announced. “To each other.”
“So, sodomy laws have become the Norma Desmond of American jurisprudence? Gay marriage is the law of the land,” he responded, with some glee. “What about lesbians?”
“Yeah, women can get married to each other, too. Like, legally married with marriage certificates. They get to call each other spouses and everything.”
“Hmmm,” he said. I could tell that he was taking in this news. “How is this great hell-fearing, pearl-clutching Christian nation taking it?”
“Mixed reaction, as you might expect,” I answered. “But it seems that most people are OK with it. Still, it’s weird hearing women refer to their wives and men to their husbands. I think they gotta come up with new words.”
By most people, I meant the health insurance companies, the real estate industry, and the wedding and honeymoon industries. And the cruise ship companies.
“Like ‘Oscar’ and ‘Gertrude’,” he said. “I would like to introduce you to my Gertrude, Vivian. Or, my Oscar Ted told me that I can’t go out tonight. Yeah, that’s pretty cool.”
“I thought you might want to know.”
“Yeah, that’s good to know,” Cillian said. I could tell that he was losing his patience. “So, let me forwarded, bluntish, unequivocally, and plain sailing: what else is new on the family and friends front?”
What was I supposed to tell him? Just dump all the news on him?
“Everything’s great!” I lied. “Look, Cillian, I am supposed to keep this conversation short. I will bring you up on family and friends next time.”
“Dude!” He was not happy.
“Them’s the rules, dude,” I answered. “Go back to your masticated meat and your physical therapy.”
And then I hit “Leave Meeting” before he could say another word. I did not even give myself the chance to ask him any questions. I had more questions than you could imagine.
Three days later, I got back on Zoom with Cillian. I had given a lot of thought to our discussion. I was the one controlling the direction and subject of the conversation. He could ask me a question and if I didn’t want to answer it, I could deflect or defer. And what was he going to do? Leave the meeting, argue, or deal with it. He couldn’t hit me with his lacrosse stick. I owned his lacrosse stick. I decided to take another direction with the next call.
“Obama won,” I started the call.
“Obama?” I could see Cillian searching his memory. “The boring black guy with the big ears who just dripped sincerity, intellectual superiority, and relentless empathy all wrapped into a Harvard Law degree?”
“That’s him. We elected a black guy President.”
“Wow.” Then, sarcastically, “Does that mean racism is over? Did they overcome? Did we give them their damn 40 acres and a mule?”
I was not expecting that take. Regression to the norm, white Boston homeboy style.
“No,” I whispered.
“I didn’t hear you.”
“No,” I said more clearly. “Actually, it’s like open season on young black men as far as the white cops are concerned. There’s a whole protest movement devoted to it called Black Lives Matter.”
“Black Lives Matter, you say?”
“It like black people’s lives matter as much as anyone else’s.”
“That would seem as obvious as Bull Connor with a cat o’ nine tails in one hand and a shotgun in the other,” he said, suddenly woke.
“I think the key word in your description is ‘seem.’” I answered. “When you use the word ‘seem,’ it marks the difference between the way things should be and the way we have managed to fuck it up. I think there are still a lot of racists running around.”
“Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle, how deeply into earth’s crust have we slithered?”
Where does one start? I next told him how the Great Recession of 2008 hollowed out the economy and handed a shit sandwich to an entire generation of young people, who are doomed to never catch up to our Generation X. I threw in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which coated the Gulf of Mexico and its beaches with crude oil, creating a made-for-TV environmental disaster. Topped off with the Boston Marathon bombing.
Cillian had run Boston the year after we graduated from college. He was always in great shape, and he kept himself lean. I think he ate only pizza, and he ran about 10 miles every day. He had an in with a guy who had an in, which is the way things work when you haven’t posted a qualifying time. In his first and only marathon, he finished in 2:45, about 35 minutes slower than the winner, Lee Bong-Ju, a runner from South Korea who broke a 10-year winning streak of Kenyan runners. But he was a Boston guy who had finished Boston, and I think he was really proud of this achievement. You know how people who graduated from Harvard manage to bring it up within two minutes of every conversation? Cillian was like that with Boston. People hated him for it. We all told him to stop, but he wouldn’t.
I could tell that the news about the bombing really hit him.
“They got bin Laden, but couldn’t stop two dimwitted beasts. Dullards. Simpletons. Meat sacks. The spawn of Rasputin and Catherine de Medici. These fuckers,” he said. “Fucking fuckwad fuckterino fuckers.”
This time, he asked that we end the call. Before we finished, I had one more piece of news for him.
“Donald Trump is President of the United States.”
“The fuck he is!”
I just let my statement hang there for him to consider.
“The fuck he is,” Cillian repeated.
I simply nodded.
“Does this mean that, suddenly, I have to pay attention to the excrement spewing forth from his cake hole? All those years frolicking, fornicating, bleeding, and whoremongering for a living in New York, I thought I could ignore this con artist and my life would be blessed.”
“How did this happen? Did the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton or something?”
“Well, yeah, they did,” I said. “She actually won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College.”
Cillian pondered this news. I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain.
“That cannot make sense to right-thinking men and virtuous women. Have heaven and earth changed places? Is Trump the reason you cannot drive to Quincy to visit me? Why the woman who birthed me is separated from her very own womb? Why the love of my life is absent from my side?”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
“Yeah, he kind of ignored the warnings about COVID-19,” I explained. “It started in China and then spread. So, now the economy has been shut down. Everyone is sheltering in place at home. I have not left my neighborhood in months. You don’t want to smell my apartment.”
Cillian pondered all this for a moment, then asked, “Is Zoe among the uninfected? And my mother?”
This is the moment I feared and had hoped to avoid for another few days. I pondered my answer for a moment. “Your mother has not been infected. Zoe is OK. I talked to her yesterday. Let’s talk about them next time, OK?”
Before he could answer, I left the meeting.
When Zoe and I had talked, which was the truth, and when I told her that Cillian woke up, she treated the news like the second coming of Jesus Christ. She had not seen the guy in more than a decade, had given him up for nearly dead, and displayed all the appearance of having moved on. More than moved on, if you were to ask the father of her children, which is me. Or Rick Money, if you could catch up to him. I think he’s hunkered down on some island in the Caribbean, which is where all the washed-up rockers land, right? And she lives about 20 blocks away from me. After she got over the shock of the news about Cillian, she moved on to more practical matters.
“Have you told him about us?”
“Negatory. All he knows is that you are alive and healthy. That’s it. He has asked about you.”
“He did?” she asked, sounding a bit too much like a smitten teenager.
“I haven’t told him anything other than that you are well,” I said. “I assume you’re well. I see your byline most days.”
I told her that I had the letter she had written to him, but I had not read it.
“How do you know about the letter?”
“We’re getting to that.”
“Can I talk to him?”
I had anticipated this question.
“Three conditions,” I stated.
“Spell them out.”
“One, you have to tell him everything about you since he…whatever it is that happened to him 12 years ago.”
“Yes. You and me. Our kids. The divorce. Rick Money. And whatever else that I don’t know. And you have to let me be present for this part of the conversation.”
“What’s the second condition?”
“You have to tell him that his mother died and his stuff’s all gone.”
“His mother died? I loved her! She was so smart and funny. When?”
“Last year. The cancer. She went quickly. She gave me the letter, which is how I know about it.”
“I have to tell him that his mother died?”
“Yes, if you want to talk to him.”
“What about his stuff?”
“All sold in a sheriff’s sale,” I said. “I have a few things, like his lacrosse stick, his bass, and a couple of amps. And some of his clothes.”
“How come you get to decide?”
“Because the paperwork is not getting done, and, as far as the nursing home is concerned, I’m the only living person who knows Cillian.”
“You’re a cock, you know,” she said. “What’s the third condition?”
“You also have to tell him about the Golden Surfers.”
“More precisely that the band replaced him and then recorded a hit song,” I said. “He would have been rich and famous. At least for a couple of years. And he wouldn’t have to be a lawyer anymore.”
“You aren’t half the man he was. Is. Not half the man.”
“I get that,” I said. “You told me that’s why you wanted the divorce, remember?”
“Okay, I’ll do it.”
When Zoe and I Zoomed into Cillian, the conversation was surprisingly one sided. Zoe talked and Cillian silently took it all it. The pain was etched all over his face, but I sense that he had prepared himself for the inevitability of everything Zoe told him. It was as if, in the past few days, he had developed a way to accept everything told him without fighting it. He had no control over any of it, so there was no reason to get upset. Mourn and celebrate perhaps bit, but mostly accept it all.
When Zoe finished talking, he asked, “Are you and your blessed children on the right side of the almighty?”
I don’t know how either of us was supposed to answer that question. We both nodded.
“Excellent. Praeclarus. Ar fheabhas. Eccellente,” he said. “And the warrior Golden Surfers?”
“The band broke up in 2015,” I told him. “Basically, they all got married, got regular jobs, families, homes in Westchester County. No one knows who they are anymore. At best, curiosities.”
“I suppose that I am a curiosity, too,” he said. “We’ll talk soon.”
Not a single tear. Not a single eruption of anger. Totally measured, almost at peace. Not the Cillian I had known. That younger Cillian was a force of nature. He was the prototypical Angry Young Man. He was pissed off at the world, and betrayed little patience for the fools who inhabited it. And here he was: robbed of more than a decade of his life, robbed of family, robbed of love. He just accepted it. I wondered if there was brain damage involved. I resolved to ask him questions the next time we talked.
A week later, it was just Cillian and me on Zoom.
“Zoe and I have reached an understanding, my friend,” he informed me.
“You talked to Zoe?”
“Affirmative. I simply informed my partner in crime Chichi that Zoe and I needed to commune,” he said. “Every single day. Using the Zoom that allowed unlimited sessions. We talked hours and hours and hours. She’s is at the pinnacle of her powers. She is a content provider in demand. She misses the smell of my body, the touch of my fingers, the resonance of my voice. She believes in my future and my dreams. I have reason to believe that she wants to return to my bed.”
“You don’t have a bed.”
“Formality. Sheer, incompetent formality,” he said. He was ignoring the fact that I had more history with Zoe than him. I mean, why the fuck didn’t she tell me that they were talking? Calm down, fool. You got this.
“Do you want her to return to you, uh, bed?” I asked. “She’s not who you remember, and I have no fucking idea who are you now.”
“Caution bows to passion when passion burns this bright,” he said. You see, this is why I am not his best friend. Maybe in the Top 10, but I don’t think he would be so casual, almost cavalier, about fucking his actual best friend’s ex-wife. I may seem petulant, but let me count to 30 and I will get over it.
“The prospect of striding past my Chichi and out of this pleasant confinement into the strange, unfamiliar world you’ve described to me is indeed a daunting prospect,” he said. “I have come to the understanding and belief that there is no such thing as time, at least not the way we were schooled to think about time. We exist, but only in the future. It’s the future, not that past, that defines us. History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake, saeth youthful Dedalus. And in my future, I will almost certainly be freed from my income-producing imprisonment. I will be an alien in my own land. No place to call home. Everything I once owned is either in your possession or that of strangers. You and maybe a few friends from olden days. A consort might help with the transition into my future.”
I nodded. Wait, had I been elevated in the roster of Cillian’s friends? Maybe I was wrong about him. Nice. See? I’m over his fucking Zoe. Why should I be jealous? I have a girlfriend. OK, back to Cillian.
“I have a question.” I said. I had a plan. “What happened to you?”
“Yeah, what do you remember about what happened on the day, you know, you went away?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “You were with me, remember? We were at an overcrowded bar on the Upper West Side. The fire marshal threatened the bartender. We watched the Super Bowl and drank mead and Sam Adams. Zoe did not join us. She hates football. She likes watching fencing and poetry slams.”
“That’s right. Patriots and Giants. Patriots were undefeated that year. Set all kinds of records. I remember that Randy Moss was unstoppable.”
“Fuck Randy Moss!” Cillian shouted. “My man Tom Brady was fucking unstoppable! The Tominator. Bradylicious is his name and world domination is his game.”
“Big upset, right?”
“Puke-inducing Giants. They had no right being on the same field as the Pats. I could not understand how such a fucking bad team with a shitty quarterback like Eli Manning could beat the Pats. Maybe Peyton Manning, but Eli? Come on!”
“That’s why they play the games, Cillian. If Vegas spreads determined everything, why bother with the game itself?”
“I was so sad,” he said. “It felt like Brady himself had died. It was the saddest day of my life. I remember it so vividly. Sadly saddish sadful. My whole body quaked as I slunk back to my apartment. I barely made it home. I think I was sadder than the day my father died.”
“Yes. Seriously. I cannot explain it. My whole body was filled with sadness. Overwhelmed with sorrow. I was the Master of Misery, the Duke of Dejection, the Regent of Regret. When I got home, I went right to my bedroom and lay down. It’s the last thing I remember.”
“You think you went into a coma because the Patriots lost the Super Bowl?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if I will ever know.”
“Well, if it still matters,” I said, without thinking, “Tom Brady is still very much alive.”
Cillian perked up. “What’s the Tominator up to these days? Coaching? Living the life? Gone back to northern California where the girls are warmer?”
“He ended up marrying that Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. They have a bunch of kids.”
“Family man, husbandly man, Giselle man. Good on him.”
“Tom Brady didn’t retire. He won all those Super Bowls. And Belichick is still the coach.”
“The Tominator is still playing?” Cillian asked in amazement. “He’s in his forties, amirite?”
“Yeah, he’s in his forties,” I replied. “But there’s something.”
“What is this mystery, this something concoction?” Cillian asked.
“Um, he signed to play next season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
“What?!?!? Brady’s not on the Pats?”
“He is going to play quarterback for the Bucs?”
Cillian was silent for about three minutes. It seemed much longer.
“Man, I don’t feel well. The lifeblood is draining from me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. This feels strange, like…”
“Brady’s playing for the Bucs?”
“At least it’s not the Jets.”
“It matters not. It just doesn’t feel right. Nothing about it seems right. Football is offended. The sports world is offended. The universe is offended. The gods are offended.”
“C’mon, Cillian. Sports is a business.”
“It’s not right. Fucking Tom Brady. It’s not right.”
Cillian sat still in front of the screen. I could see all the emotions of the world passing across his face. It was like watching a weird video editing treatment on a person. It didn’t seem right. I could not recognize him as my friend anymore. Finally, a look that can only be described as the sadness of all humanity settled on him. He started to cry. I started to cry.
“I’m so…sad,” Cillian said. “I think I want to go lie down for a while. It’s not Bradylicious. It’s not right.”
Chichi called me the next day. Cillian is unconscious in his bed. The specialists just shrugged when asked what happened to him. No one knows what happened to him.
I hate the Patriots, but I agree with Cillian that Brady playing for the Bucs is not right.