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.
“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.