If there had been any other option I would have taken it, but at the time I didn't see what else I could do. It was a last resort and that's the only reason I took the chance. So I mixed the sleeping pill with Greg's scotch and brought it to him without a word. I waited for him to ask why it tasted funny but he didn't say anything, just watched CSI in a moody silence. I was sitting next to him and he couldn't be bothered to put his arm around me, only our hips were touching. He set the empty glass on the table. I asked if he wanted another and he waved me off. I turned my attention back to the television. Snoring came his end of the sofa by the time the show's credits began to roll
He was at the low end of his depression cycle again, and that meant he was next to impossible to live with. He wasn't eating very much, he was sleeping even less, and the possibility that the idea of swallowing every Vicodin within reach might start sounding good to him again was at the forefront of my mind. I couldn't stand by and do nothing anymore. He was getting pretty low and the risk of him becoming any lower was too great. His thoughts might become actions this time around and I'll be damned if that was going to happen on my watch. But talking to him in that state was like talking to a wall, except the wall listened better. Maybe a decent night's sleep, chemically induced or not, would help him come out of it.
It was still pretty early and I knew he had slept only about three hours the night before. I left him where he was, only moving his feet from the table to the floor so his leg wouldn't cramp and wake him up. Then I took his glass into the kitchen and washed it twice.
The next three hours were uneventful, with only the television and Greg's low snoring invading the quiet space of the apartment. I was able to eat a sandwich without him stealing half of it off my plate. The only food he had been eating lately was potato chips from the vending machine and half of whatever I happened to be chowing down at the moment. Both of us had lost some weight. Around midnight I was ready to hit the hay myself. I cleaned up the rest of the dishes, then walked over to my sleeping friend.
"Greg?" I shook his shoulder. "Greg, it's time to go to bed."
He responded by grunting and pushing my hand away.
"Come on, you need to go to bed."
"Not now," he mumbled thickly.
"The firetruck is over theeerrreeee..."
My voice cut through the drug-induced haze; his eyes flew open and he gasped in shock. It wasn't my intention to scare him half to death, but I did.
"Sorry," I said, running my thumb down his rough, stubbly cheek. "You're tired. You need to lay down."
"Huh?" He blinked and looked at the television that was now turned off. "Was I asleep?"
"What the hell...what happened on my show?"
"They solved the mystery, as usual." I tugged on his arm. "Let's go to bed."
"What was the mystery?" he asked, pulling himself up with a groan. He snatched his Vicodin off the lamp table and popped open the lid, tipping a pill into his mouth with hardly a second thought.
"The daughter didn't want to wait for her inheritance so she offed her parents," I explained, helping him walk to the bedroom on his wobbly feet.
"Fucking kids these days," he muttered. "Good God, I'm tired. Did you slip me a mickey?"
"Not hardly." I don't like lying to him and try to do it as little as possible. But it was either tell a lie now and hope he got some rest or tell him the truth and watch him kick my ass into the next time zone. "This is what happens when you get twelve hours of sleep over seven days."
"It's never been a problem before."
"You're forty-eight years old now, Greg. Things change."
I switched on the light, then pulled back the covers as he collapsed on the bed. I lifted his legs up and began to unlace his sneakers, just like I had done on other countless nights when he was exhausted or hurting or both. A faint chuckle floated over as I tossed the first sneaker on the floor. I looked up to see Greg staring at me and smiling.
"What's so funny?" I asked, untying the second shoelace.
I could never get used to his moodswings. Sometimes they could be rather extreme. At least this time it was from bad to good. When it's the other way around it always means bad news.
"Nothing, huh? Then why are you laughing?"
"You're so fucking cute."
"I know," I replied, and giggled right along with him. It was like we were twelve years old again, sharing a delicious piece of gossip only pre-teen boys could find juicy and scandalous.
The sneakers were off. I edged closer to him. "Sit up."
"What for?" He narrowed his eyes.
"Sit up so I can take your shirt off."
"Make me." His voice was low, almost a growl.
"Greg," I said with a sigh. "The sooner we get you undressed, the sooner you can go to sleep."
"Why don't you tell me the truth, Jimmy?"
"Truth about what?" I asked as the bottom of my stomach fell open. He knew. Of course he knew and now I was going to pay for it for the rest of my life...
"Tell me why you really want me to take my shirt off," he replied salaciously, his eyes glinting with mischief.
"Fine...fine." I tried not to sound too relieved. "You're so damned sexy that I want you to take your clothes off so I can run my hands up and down every inch of your irresistible body. How does that sound?"
"Sounds perfect. Was that so hard, Jimmy?" He grinned and sat up, letting me pull the shirt over his head. "I couldn't have said it better myself."
"You would have thrown in a comment or two about how well-endowed you are," I said, helping him out of his jeans.
"You should know."
I rolled my eyes and he chuckled again. He relaxed back on the pillows and watched as I tossed the clothes into the laundry basket, then pulled the covers him. He closed his eyes, gave a contented sigh, and settled in for the night. I sat with him as he fell asleep.
I had gotten away with it. He didn't have a clue. If he didn't notice the sleeping pill in his drink, he probably wouldn't notice something else in it, either.