July 21, 2010


By Paul McGuire © 2010

It's hard to say when Ike went crazy. Sure, I was there during the trigger point, or flash point, or whatever you call it. But something, deep, very deep into his past must have been the root cause of his bout with insanity. That abrupt shift in reality does not happen over night. It's a gradual decline as your brain slowly loses touch with reality. It was as though he had been hanging on by one last little thread for many weeks before it... snapped. Ike snapped.

Becky ran up to me. Normally she's one of those girls who makes a huge deal about greeting you. She's a hugger. But that time, I knew something was wrong when she stopped and didn't embrace me. Instead, she stood in silence for ten seconds as I said, "What? What? What? What's wrong?"

"Ike. The police called. We have to get back to the apartment."

Becky and Ike used to be... well, Becky and Ike. Those two had met in college and for as long as I knew them in Seattle, they were always attached at the hip. I never saw one without the other. That's why it came to a shocker when they had split up a few months earlier. Now, I know what you're saying... it's Becky's fault. But you have to understand that she wanted them to stay together. Ike was the one who broke it off when he decided to move back to Colorado at the end of the summer. If anyone was going to go psycho, it should have been Becky because she had every right to. One day, they were living together and the next, Ike had dumped Becky and showed up at my door asking if he could crash until he bailed for Boulder. Becky was crushed.

Ike? Didn't seem to act like someone who ended a seven year relationship. He began dating. Many different girls. I'd come home from work and they'd be another UW girl sitting on my couch, smoking my weed, while Ike strummed my guitar playing a bad cover of a Bob Marley song.

He refused to talk to me about Becky. It was as though he erased the name completely from his memory. One morning I woke up and realized that he had deleted Becky's name from my cell phone. When I jokingly confronted him, he instantly accused me of sleeping with her.

"Don't you have any respect? You're not supposed to do that. It's the Man Code."

I wasn't sleeping with Becky. I wasn't sleeping with anyone. I hadn't gotten laid in months, aside from a blow job that I got from a really really drunk cougar in Bell Town, I was stuck in the middle of the worst dry spell in years. But that's not the point. It was OK for him to nail four, five, ten chicks on my couch but it wasn't OK for Becky to sleep with me. I let it go. I hadn't thought about the incident until I saw Becky.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?"

Becky called twice but I didn't recognize the number. Ike has erased her entry, so the number came up as an unknown number with a 206 area code. She rode her bicycle over to Fremont hoping to catch me at work. I was standing outside smoking a cigarette when we had the peculiar encounter.

Becky handed me one of Ike's journals that she found hidden in drawer. She opened up the notebook to a random page. She quickly turned seven pages in succession.


Becky frantically riffled through the notebook and stopped.

"It's filled. Every page. With the same word."

I took the notebook out of her hand. "Free" was repeated and repeated. It appeared neatly in every space of the notebook.

I went inside the bar and told my boss that my roommate Ike was in an accident. He wasn't really, but what was I going to say?

"Yeah, I need to take a couple of hours off. My roommate just walked into Stumptown Coffee, beheaded two people with a Samurai sword, and took four people hostage. Can you watch the bar for me until I get back?"

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

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