I had left my car with my mechanic and hadn’t seen it in almost a week so I was hoofing it, or riding public transportation, everywhere I went. Imagine my surprise when my old friend Jess stepped up on my bus from the stop at Silver Fir and Grand. Damn, he looked just the same as he had all those years ago. He recognized me right away too and came down my direction. I stood up and we shook hands before hugging one another.
“Jess, I didn’t expect to see you. I haven’t seen you in years! How long’s it been?”
“Like ya said little man, it‘s been years.”
I said, “Hey don’t call me little man. Call me by my name. Call me Will. You haven’t changed a bit. Don’t you age?”
“Nah, I’d only age if you wanted me to but you would have needed to do that, like, years ago. Like when you were still six. It won’t work now. It’s been too long. I’ve had too many other friends in the interim. You know Will, of all the friends I’ve had in my career you’re the only one who just disappeared. You never even said goodbye to me. It was just… one day you were there and we were playing; the next day you weren’t around.”
“Of course I didn’t say goodbye Jess. You were my friend, my best friend and, probably my only friend, at the time; but you were imaginary. You weren’t real. Anyway that was about the time that Mr. Lindsey sold his house and Ricky’s folks moved in from California. I became friends with Ricky and Audrey. Ricky was real man, we could play catch and ride bikes together. He wasn’t just made up.”
“Oh yeah Will; we used to play catch and ride bikes.”
We didn’t play catch Jess I was just throwing the ball up in the air and catching it. We were pretending to play catch, but it was only me. And, you never had a bike.”
“I did so. I had that shiny red and chrome Schwinn that you gave me for Christmas. Don’t you remember?”
“That never really happened Jess, I had to make that up so we could play like we were riding bikes. You weren’t really riding a new bike. It did have a nice bell on it though.”
“Come on Will. Let’s let bygones be bygones. I’m willing to pretend that you didn’t desert me. Waddya say? Where’s your friend Ricky now huh? How come he’s not around? I’m here cause I’m a much better friend that that Ricky guy ever was. Where is he? Huh?”
“Ricky’s been dead since 1968 Jess, Vietnam. You’d been gone for years when that happened.”
“Oh shit man, I’m sorry. What about his sister? What was her name? Where’s she?”
“Audrey? She grew up and we got married, but it didn’t last very long. She left me for Debbie Honneycutt. They’re still married and living in Santa Fe. Have two kids in college. We send each other cards on our birthdays and at Christmas.”
This visit from my old friend Jess was turning into a real bummer. I hadn’t thought about Ricky in a long time and I hadn’t heard from Audrey on my birthday this year. I needed to call her.
“Jess, I’m on my way home from work. You wanna stop and get a beer or something?”
“That sounds pretty good to me. Maybe we can have a catch after?”
There’ going to be new prompts at The New, Unofficial, On-line Writer’s Guild on Sunday. That’s tomorrow. It’ll be fun. We can write stuff and maybe play Parcheesi later!