The original story “A beer for Joe” was written as a stand-alone piece, this week I decided to write this follow-on, anyone wishing to refresh their memory, or to read Part 1 for the first time can find it here:- A beer for Joe.
Thank you for reading.
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A beer for Joe (Part 2)
That was eight days ago, I've spent each one of those evenin's since then sittin' on Joe's porch, enjoyin' the late sunshine, enjoyin' the catchin' up. We took it in turns to supply the beer.
He told me about how his family was doin' really good, an' I felt the pride swell in me when I told him about my own, how I became a great-grandaddy four years ago, about my grandson's promotions in the Police Department, and anythin' else I could bring to mind.
Not all of the catchin' up was good. I fought back the tears when Joe told me about his heart attack, and the time he spent in hospital. I should have been there for him, but because of that stupid argument I didn't even know it had happened.
“Don't make no never mind.” He said. “What's gone an' done, is gone an' done. You're here now, an' that matters to me, yup, it sure does.”
I drained my bottle and placed it on the porch planking at the side of my rocker. I wasn't feelin' too strong today, in fact I was feelin' kinda strange, like I was hollow inside, and my head was kinda woozy, dreamy sort of. I shook my head a few times to clear my thoughts and vision, it helped a little.
We'd been chewin' the fat a-while, and were now both sittin' quiet, thinkin' own own thoughts, soakin' up the last of the day's warmth as we watched the sun settin'.
Joe's voice broke the easy silence.
“Sure is another beautifu.......... Oh my... Oh.”
Joe's leg straightened suddenly, and his boot heel made a kinda scrapin' noise on the boards. I heard the clunk as his beer bottle hit the wooden floor on the other side of his chair.
I turned to face him, his body was arched backwards, left hand clutching at his chest.
As he slumped back in his rocker, his face, twisted into an agonised grimace suddenly relaxed, slackened, and paled, his hands fell loosely to his sides.
I grabbed a-hold of his hand, already knowin' the truth of it. I kneaded his fingers between my own, as though I could squeeze some life back into him from myself.
The woozy feelin' flooded through me again, stronger this time. I sat back down in my own chair, still gripping Joe's hand tightly.
I needed to get up, get to the phone, call for help, but my body just didn't want to move.
My tablets were in my pocket, and I didn't have the strength to reach for them.
As Joe's fingers began to cool in my grip, I could feel my own body begin to cool too. The hollow feelin' returned, I could feel the life slidin' away from me like water drainin' from a bath tub. I laid my head back as the strange, dreamy feelin' washed through me again.
“Goodbye my old friend.” I managed to whisper.
I took a last, long look at the setting sun as it went down behind the hill.
A feeling of calm and peacefulness filled my whole being as I began to fade away, I wasn't alone, and I wasn't afraid.
I swear I could hear beautiful singing as the darkness took us both to our final sleep.
©2012 Stephen. J. Green.