Nietzsche and Jesus are the two best friends I've never had.
   Palling around, laughing, just the three of us.
   Gone is their thousand-yard stare;
   Hand in hand, all of us, skipping around and talking about old times, whose daddy is sticking up for who, who is more at fault for discrediting the character of the other;
   Now it's more of a thousand-yard smirk, across years and colored seas.
   But I wish I would've had friends like Nietzsche and Jesus, chumming around my old Glendale slums and ducking into the odd Irish sports pub, so I could watch as N sprouts seedless gin blossoms and he starts smiling as his bloodstream starts sponging up the good stuff and he laughs and tells J that his pop couldn't've been all that great, dammit, because after all, the old man's buried in an unmarked grave, and he didn't even die in a war --
   And J, well, he smiles too, and he drinks, too--nothing quite as hard and dry as the nails of gin N and I are choking down--and he takes our shit in stride and hangs out with us anyway, and maybe that's why we love him, although to be honest he sometimes bugs the unpardoning hell out of us what with his preaching and reprimanding and his veiled threats, but Christ, that's all standard friendship filler, we're cool with that, and we do it to him, too --
   And sometime, at some point during all this, probably as I'm wading back to our table, chin-deep in a ceiling-clinging sea of unfiltered cigarette smoke, back to our table from a bathroom that smells like disinfected piss, sometime during that walk I figure out that maybe I don't really belong here, and that my friends really don't care about each other that much at all, or for me, for that matter, except insofar as I'm a point in their game, a weak mind to be taken in with words by turn sticky, then seductive, and I cough because the smoke will not part, not even for me --
   And what the fuck is with J billing his drinks to N's tab? He's getting drinks for everybody and they love him for it -- he cheats! He's immortal, omnicient, his consciousness projects into and through the 20th century and he's borne witness to the birth and rise of modern public relations and how exactly can N compete with that? Christ, now he's a martyr and a spin doctor? That's hardly fair, is it? --
   And they both know it, and N fights dirty, too, even if it is a respectable kind of dirty with his philosophy and his elitisms, and that's when I leave, having learned my lesson and needing to be free of the two of them: that not all cowboys are friends, that not all hombres are muchachos --
   And it's all I can do as I walk home to imagine that one final look, that one striking accusation, the way I just never got to see N and J do it, the way I wish they would do it --
   Not like John Wayne
   (fuck him, wrong generation, cowboys aren't cool and I never wanted to be one) --
   More like,
   A cold stare -- ten paces -- and turn

Tyler Patterson


At the start of this, all this,
before I was even born,
I was my father's favorite.
His attention was mine,
His dreams, his hopes, his wishes;
My mother carried his property--
and so did I.

I made him a construction paper santa;
he eventually forgot about that, too.

Twelve years I have not seen him now--
an orchestratic swell of distance
for absense to replace fatherhood,
for comfort found in solitude;

perhaps his passing will bring us closer,
eliminate the threat of visitation--
the catastrophic promise of company;
I love you better, gone.

Tyler Patterson
TYLER PATTERSON is a reproductive services clerk at Arizona State University. This is his first publication.
The Adirondack Review