Jim was coolest guy I met when I arrived at the university. He was funny in an affected way, as if he were performing, complete with facial expressions of surprise, suspicion, and amusement that he might have practiced in front of his dorm room mirror--his room was next door to mine.
Jim claimed to have lots of American Indian blood, and he looked as if he did. He was nice, but there was a distance between him and the rest of the world--a subtle thing where now and then you realized that in every moment he was still acting, at least a little.
I broke with Jim a couple of years later over something stupid. It usually takes a long time for me to get enough of someone, but I had reached my limit and switched him off in my brain. Julia continued to be his friend--he continually proved to be a bad friend. Forgiveness is in her nature.
Jim finished his degree and four years of ROTC. He was commissioned and spent the minimum four years in the army, stationed in Germany. Apparently he hated it. I never got the story. We saw him once after he got out. He was distant, not really interested in seeing us. I don't blame him.
Julia said that he was never happy when we were in college because he did not measure up to his older brothers--special forces and secret service. That was what real men were.
After I began work as a professor, my cousin--ten years younger than me--began her first real job one hundred miles from the university. Her boss was Jim's wife, a professional psychologist. My cousin got to know them. They had a little girl.
Jim was dissatisfied with life. His degree was not marketable. He worked as an orderly in a mental hospital.
Jim had a stroke a few years ago. He had heart problems, lung problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. He kept on smoking and drinking. His wife had to be hospitalized two months ago for stress suffered due to the fact that he was killing himself. She kicked him out.
A week ago Jim's wife was over at his apartment for something or other. She checked his pills and found that instead of taking two-a-days for two weeks he had taken four pills, total.
Two days ago he was found in his easy chair.