After story time, the gang all do some catching up of their own. They don’t get to see each other much these days, as Sam moved to a different town and Mack crossed the Pennsylvania border in search of legaler guns, but this only lasts fifteen minutes or so. They’re all good friends and they stay as close as they can, but it’s just not the same without George. When they enter into another moment of hard, rigid silence, Mack decides to fold.
“Well boys, I think that about does it. I need to get home, the woman will be furious if I’m not back before sunrise. You ready, Sam?”
“Yeah man. You gonna do the honors, Johnny?”
“Yeah, not yet though. I want to have a minute alone with him, if that’s cool with you guys.”
It is cool with the guys, and so Johnny walks the gang through the house and down to the driveway, then stays in the driveway until the red glow of the taillights no longer haunt the trees. Then he walks back up, pours himself a tall whiskey sour – the drink of choice when George would come by on the nights his folks were having their drinks of choice – and returns to the turquoise deck.
“Well shit, George,” Johnny says, sitting down and sipping his glass. “I guess it’s just you and me now, good buddy. Just like old times.”
George’s beer can, no longer coated in condensation, does not reply.
Johnny sighs. “Just like old times…”
He sips. Says some words. Sips again. Says more words. Goes to sip a third time but stops with the glass halfway to his lips so he can wipe away the tears.
“I really fucking miss you, man.”
When the whiskey glass is empty, Johnny goes in and rinses it out, leaves it in the rack to dry. He could just dry it tonight so he doesn’t have to be reminded of George again in the morning, but leaving dishes in the sink is an old habit from the days when his parents still lived here, a habit he’ll not be breaking tonight. If his parents saw him do it they’d shake their heads at him like they always did, but they’re all the way down in Boca these days. His younger brother, too. They haven’t seen Johnny for almost as long as Johnny hasn’t seen George, but that’s okay. Having them here would just remind him of old times. There’s enough of that as is.
Johnny goes back to the deck and prepares himself to pour out the beer, as he does every year. The pachysandras growing along the deck don’t love the taste of the beer, as is evidenced by the yellow patch in the leaves in the spot Johnny always pours his drinks out, but as George would say, fuck the pachysandras. The pachysandras can suck a whole frothy beer can, and not the kind you drink, either. After taking a few deep, woozy breaths, Johnny opens his eyes and grips the can… and it’s empty.
“What the…” he says under his breath. Holding the can under the dancing glow of the old tiki torches, Johnny realizes somebody opened the fucking can on him. “What the fuck?” He sniffs the hole – the scent of ale is strong. It was definitely full at one point, but now it’s not. “What the fuck?!”
Johnny crushes the can in his hand and throws it against the back of his house. It lands on the deck and doesn’t roll.
“I can’t even fucking say goodbye to my best fucking friend, what the fuck?!” he shouts angrily at the heavens. “This is fucking horseshit! This is Goddamned fucking horseshit, who the fuck did this?!”
Johnny throws a couple of the patio chairs into the back lawn and then almost flips the table, but he decides against it at the last second. He’s out of sorts, as anybody would be in this situation, but he has enough sense to know not to flip a glass-top table. Not enough sense to put thought into who may have actually opened and poured out the beer can on him, possibly leaving the empty out here as a distraction, but enough sense to not flip the table. And that’s enough.
For Johnny, for right now, that’s enough.
He collects up the coasters, the old Lake George, NY coasters with the Native American war chief heads on them that the gang would always use up at George’s old cabin, stacking the black one on top, and then heads inside. And that’s when the gears click.
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the fourth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~