Fiction Friday: When Jackson Met Kate, Part I

(Author’s note: I was inspired to do this character study by the excellent collection called The Lineup edited by Otto Penzler, proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop. If you have a chance, I highly suggest you pick up a copy. Please note that this is a work in progress

“So, can you tell me how you two met?”

It’s an often repeated question whenever people see me and my best friend, Kate. I also feel the need to emphasize best friend, because we are not romantically involved. It’s a common assumption for most folks. I guess that’s what happens when a guy and a woman in their 30s spend a lot of time together. Or in our case, live together.

I looked at Kate. I was going to let her take the lead. A few times in the past, we’ve come up with outlandish and fanciful tales when asked this question. I just wondered what direction she was going to take.

“We met in college,” Kate said, brushing a loose strand of her red hair away from her right ear. “We had a couple of classes together the first semester of freshman year.”

“Were you in the same major?”

Kate fixed her ponytail while answering. “No. I was a double major in biology and chemistry, and Jack was criminal justice and psychology.”

“I was just in advanced science classes. Those are the ones we took together. Organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology and social psychology,” I added.

“And you’ve managed to stay friends all these years?”

“It hasn’t been easy,” I admitted. “When one of you is in medical school and residency, and one of you is playing professional sports for a living, it’s a challenge, no doubt. But technology helped. The prevalence of cell phones and email allowed us to communicate even when I was on the road, and as social media started to develop, it only helped us more.”

“I agree,” Kate said. “I also think that being from different professions helps us stay connected as well.

“How do you figure?”

“It allows us to talk about work with someone who won’t be quick to think that they know it all. It allows for venting, for bouncing ideas off of someone. It helps sometimes to have an outside perspective on things,” Kate said.

“Although, after all these years, we do know just enough about each other’s worlds to be dangerous,” I said.

“Do you care what people think about your relationship?”

“I’m not sure what you mean by that question,” I stated. “We’re friends. Have been for years now. We’re roommates. That’s it.”

“So there is nothing romantic going on here at all?”

“No,” we both said.

Originally published at on February 20, 2014.

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