A note from the editor.
Allen Katherman is a guest writer to mantanium.com this summer. He is a Poker personality, fashion enthusiast, nuclear engineer and a great friend. Be sure to follow him on instagram and check back for more.
After All… He Was One Of My Best Friends, Right? Part 5
By Allen Katherman
We had fresh haircuts, fresh suits, fresh bottles of vodka and the crowd was amazing. But unbeknownst to us, this night was the beginning of the end the Tres Amigos.
The beautiful waitresses at Stingaree walked through the middle of the crowd with sparklers, a magnum of Grey Goose and a giant bottle of champagne toward our table. The DJ gave us a shout-out and thanked us for our service, as the majority of the club’s attendance were there to send us off on our deployment. It was a Monday, but the line was out the door and the place was as lively as a regular Saturday night. We were the center of attention as our industry friends came to the table and said their goodbyes. Even strangers made their way over to say thank you. It was our last night out in SD, so we didn’t make our usual effort to search for potential *7’s. Instead, we focused on enjoying the company of our close friends and eventually we brought a small group back to our apartment for an after event get-together. It was shaping up to be another memorable night.
However, as we made our way to the front door, the mood turned. The front office personnel had posted an eviction letter above the doorbell threatening to kick us out, even though Richie had claimed that he paid the rent a week prior. As I read the letter aloud, Richie admitted he had “forgotten” to pay the rent because he spent all his money at the club. I forked out the entire month’s sum and set my account to autopay the rent (including the half that I had already paid him) with the trust that he’d be able to make it up on deployment. After all, he was one of my best friends, right?
I set the rent drama aside and we stayed up drinking and talking with our friends. Before we knew it, morning arrived. We all left for the ship with our sea bags packed, ready for another six months of deployment. This deployment was drastically different from the first for all three of us. Richie and Xavi had relationships to maintain, while I was on a mission to keep as many “options” open, available and interested for when we got back.
Since we were still fresh from the last deployment, adjusting to a daily routine wasn’t as big of a deal to us. We quickly fell back into synch: working out, qualifying, maintenance and Facebooking. We made sure that every status was witty and entertaining, and we made sure to upload as many “good” pictures as possible during our port visits. Our inboxes and emails were flooded with news and information from everybody back at home, and a lot of that had to do with our tireless effort to keep ourselves “involved” while being halfway around the world.
Richie’s girlfriend occupied our apartment while we were deployed. We weren’t there and we still paid the rent on it – well *I* still paid the rent on it. I was still auto-paying the entire amount every month myself. Richie claimed to have gone to our ship’s clerk to set up his account to pay me his portion of the rent, but the clerk conveniently forgot to do it. This continued every month and before we knew it, he had a tab of over $7k with me. Of course, he promised to pay as soon as we got back and how could I NOT trust him? After all, he was one of my best friends right?
The last two weeks of deployment are always as relaxed as can be. WESTPACs (deployment route pertaining to battle groups on the west coast) usually stop in Hawaii for four or five days before heading back to home port. Nothing compares to the feeling of setting foot on American soil – especially that soil being Hawaii – after being cooped up on a ship for so long. This is where we activate our phones, fly out friends and family, and some start early vacation.
Richie and Xavi flew their girlfriends out and I fifth-wheeled the shit out of that week (FML). I spent the majority of that week talking to my kids about our annual Disneyland trip and with TK Productions about our stable of welcome back parties. Everything was falling into place and it was going to be an epic summer.
But one issue kept sticking me in the back of my mind. Was Richie ever going to pay me the money he owed me? Although I had money saved away, I planned on paying for our trip to Disneyland and paying for my vacation with the money that Richie owed. As much as I could, I tried to not think of it because after all, he was one of my best friends right?
We arrived back from deployment on a Wednesday. As I walked off the brow I was met by my parents and children. We spent the day catching up, but since my kids had school the next day, and my first day of duty was that Saturday, my parents took them back to LA. Our Disneyland plans were postponed until the following weekend.
If you paid attention to the details in the last blog, then you’d realize that we didn’t pull in on any normal Wednesday, we pulled in on Sidebar Wednesday! Sidebar was our favorite venue as we always reserved the best table and were given the best deals. That night started just like the night we left; bottle service with sparklers and the excitement of the crowd was amazing. Again, a lot of our industry friends came out to support our welcome back and the night was spent focusing on close friends. As the party at Sidebar began to wind down, we decided to head over our place for an after party.
One of the amazing side effects of alcohol is that it gives one an NFG (no fucks given) mindset. In my case, it tears down the already limited filter that I have. I get very blunt with people. Shortly after we got back to our apartment, I asked Richie how he planned on paying me back. After giving me a run around and not looking me in the eye, he finally broke down and told me that he didn’t have the money. He had been lying to me this whole time.
The rage that I felt was uncontrollable. Betrayal wasn’t a new feeling but that doesn’t mean it’s a welcome one. I maintained what little composure I had, and instead of stabbing him like I wanted to, I took his key and kicked him out. He didn’t argue and had little to say. He was so embarrassed and ashamed that he started crying, but those tears didn’t make up for the over $8k that he now owed me.
What was supposed to be another epic summer with the Tres Amigos was now falling apart. Later I found out that Richie sold his bike to a guy on deployment but never gave him the bike. It was clear that although he seemed like a trustworthy friend, Richie was nothing short of a scam artist.
Richie was no longer invited to the events I was attending, and since I already paid for the last month on my lease, Xavi moved in and took Richie’s room. We, because we thought we were really cool, called ourselves “Armani Xchange” and again set our sights on an epic summer. We tried partying and doing all the same things that we did as a trio, but it wasn’t the same.
Xavi started getting himself involved with the wrong people and began to prioritize the wrong things. He was getting in late to work in the mornings and getting drunk on duty nights and started getting into drugs. It wasn’t too long after Xavi moved in that he and Richie made the dumbest decision of their lives.
They went AWOL.
As always, to be continued…