Friday, 4 November 2011

A beer for Joe

Me an' Joe've been neighbours for over fifty years now. We watched each others families grow an' leave home to start their own. Through the years we spent some good amount of time enjoyin' each other's company, yup, we sure did. We helped each other through the grievin' when our good ladies passed on. I can't remember a time when we weren't there for each other. I guess it would be right to say we loved each other in a way.

Up until the argument, that is.

We ain't spoke a word to each other in nigh on seven years now, I can't even remember what the argument was over no more.

And here we are, two stupid stubborn old fools ignorin' each other over the fence.

Today I was gonna change all that.

Joe was sittin' on his stoop rockin' in his chair when I called from the gate.

“Joe?... D'ya mind if I come in?”


Well, at least it was a start, I got an answer. I walked the length of the path and settled my old bones into the rocker next to his.

“How ya doin?” I asked him, hopin' to melt the ice a little further.

He just carried on rockin', starin' straight ahead, his mouth a straight line. Just lettin' me know he wasn't gonna be no pushover. I had made the first move, it was up to me to apologise.

“I brung some beers.” I said. “Would ya like one?”


I pulled a bottle from the pack, twisted the cap off and took a slug.

“Hmmm, that hit the spot.” I wiped the froth from my mouth in an exaggerated movement. “Good beer, are ya sure ya don't want one?”


“Beautiful day.” I ventured.

“Look Sam, if ya came roun' here to apologise, then say your piece.”

“Now look here....” I nearly rose like a baited trout, all fired up an' ready to shout my indignation, but managed to catch myself as I remembered what I came for.

“I didn't come to offer no apology, but ya can have one anyways... Joe, I truly am sorry for whatever it was that I done, or said. And I truly am sorry for all the years when we weren't friends no more.”

“Apology accepted. I guess I'll be havin' that beer now.”

I passed Joe a bottle over, he took it, his hand shakin' a little as he twisted the cap. Joe took a long slug then mopped the sweat from his brow with his shirt cuff.

“Yup, sure is a beautiful day.” He said. “If ya didn't come to apologise, an' don't get me wrong, I'm glad that ya did, what did bring ya roun' here?”

“I came to say goodbye.”

The words hung in the air, like dust after a shell-burst.

Joe rocked in his chair a while.

“Ya goin' somewhere?”

“I guess ya could say that, I have the C.”

Joe continued starin' straight ahead, still rockin'. When he finally spoke his voice didn't sound quite as strong.

“How long?”

“Hard to say exactly, maybe a few weeks, but more likely a few days.”

Joe took another long pull from his bottle, then wiped the sweat from his brow again. He tried, he really did try not to let me see as he caught the tear from the corner of his eye along the way.

Continued in:- A beer for Joe (Part 2)

©2011 Stephen. J. Green.


  1. I really did assume you'd have one of them kill the other, if not find out he'd turned into a zombie. Good show of heart, Steve.

  2. Oh man this is a heartbreaker Steve! I actually have tears in my eyes and that's near impossible to do. Outstanding story with excellent dialogue and even better dialect!

  3. @Tim - Aaaah, thanks. I do actually have a big lump of sentimentality in me, it just doesn't come out in my writing too much. :-)

    @John - Y'know.... that's not such a bad idea, now, if I could just remember where I left my zombie quill. (Chuckle) :-D

    @Deanna - Thank you, your comment is a real confidence boost. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a tear in my own eye when I wrote it.

  4. The sentimentality at the end (although really it's all the way through) really gave it a twist for me.

    Have you ever seen The Straight Story that David Lynch directed? It's based on true events, and would go with this for sure.

  5. *sadpout* I didn't expect it, well done:)

  6. Now that was a good story. I'm sure they both have their regrets for seven wasted years.

  7. @Katherine - Thank you, I'm happy that it worked for you.

    I haven't watched The straight way all the way through, but I have seen quite a lot of it, and can see where you draw the parallel from.

    @Anne - thank you, I like ending stories on an unexpected note if I can.

    @Far - Thank you, and to add to the sadness, there is no time left to make up for the loss.

  8. Bravo, my friend. That was a great read. I love the voice and the nice human touch at the end. It's sad that it takes something so drastic to see how far we fall short in loving those we truly care about, and how easily we let things that don't matter get in the way of saying what needs to be said. I hope these two enjoy what beers they have left with each other.

  9. Stephen, your comment says it all so very eloquently, thank you. And one can only hope that their beers would be cold, frothy, and numerous.

  10. Dad, that's lovely.

  11. Thank you darling, I had a feeling you would like this, it's a small step outside my usual genres isn't it?

  12. OMG you've got me crying! So sad and yet highlights how we waste time over stupid things, instead of just agreeing to disagree.

    Lovely story, sweet and sad.

  13. The voice is spot on. Such a departure from your usual stuff but you've nailed it.

  14. @Helen - Thank you so much for the kind words. It gives me a good feeling to know that I can write something like this, and convey the desired emotions.

    @Icy - Thank you, I think many people reading this were expecting something nasty to appear during the last few lines, as so often happens in my flashes.

  15. It's so silly how some relationships can just fall apart for no apparent reason, but it's good they mended fences in the end.

  16. Hi Craig - Yes it's certainly true, quite often when we repair a relationship we are left wondering why the hell it ever got broke in the first place.

  17. Ah, mate, that's wonderful.

    I'm really bad for not reading much outside of genre fiction, and if it hadn't been on one of the blogs I read regularly, or so well written, I might have never started reading, or stopped part way through.

    An excellent study of character and such a poignant scene. I take my hat off to you, sir.

  18. Hi John, I know this is different from most of my writing, and when I wrote this I liked it immediately, and I'm delighted with the responses it has received.

    I know this is not your usual fare, and I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on it, your words are heart-warming. Thank you.

  19. This is great, Steve. Such a touching story and the characters come through so well.

  20. Thanks Chuck, this weeek has felt like such a worthwhile step outside my comfort zone.

  21. Nice short piece. Was genuinely a little sad at the end.

  22. Hi Chris, and welcome. I'm glad that the story worked for you.

  23. Late to the party as usual,but time still to join in with the praise. I was completely transported to The South with your dialogue and felt the heat on that stoop. The story worked because of this. Great effort.

  24. Hi Justin, Late? Naah, it's fashionable to be late. Thank you so much for the kind words. :-)

  25. Like it - nothing like a good tug at the heartstrings. And, sadly, it's all too true - life's pettiness evaporates in the face of our own mortality. Well done.

  26. Hiya Li, and thank you. I think one very sad aspect of human nature is that some people will actually carry their petty grievances to the grave with them. Life is too short for that.