The last time I saw Jason was in June. He came to New York. Friends asked if he was staying at my place and I looked at them like they were idiots. Where else would he stay? He’d been living with his grandmother in Little Rock, Arkansas, mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage and looking for a job where he would last longer than two weeks. He used to call me late at night and ask if I could hear her birds. They drove him crazy.
“You don’t hear that?” he’d say. “They’re screaming.”
“I don’t hear anything.”
The night before his funeral, I stayed in the guest bedroom of his grandmother’s house. Slept in a day bed. The house was huge, with vaulted ceilings and lofted bedrooms. The white carpeting was impeccable.
“Hello, sweetheart,” one of the birds said, whenever we walked by her cage.
The other bird just screamed. His name was Smoky. I don't remember the name of the one who could talk.
When we got lost in North Little Rock, it was because we'd crossed the river without meaning to, and had to keep turning around to go back.