“THE LAST FRIEND”

“THE LAST FRIEND”

….In light of his health and financial situation, Joe was faced with the unthinkable prospect that his soon-to-be widow might end up homeless. The thought of that was almost too much for him to bear. That was the reason—the only reason he was pondering the idea of calling on David.

So, torn between pride and need, Joe, while staring into the bayou below, decided to make the call. With a heavy heart, he turned and walked slowly back up the driveway toward the house. He was grateful for the darkness so Millie couldn’t see him wiping away the tears with the sleeve of his shirt.

The faint shadow of his six-foot frame glided slowly ahead of him as he approached the house. As he made his way up the steps, his thoughts were suddenly interrupted. Millie had stepped through the doorway and was about to call him to dinner when she saw the silhouette walking toward the house.

“I was just about to call you,” she said. “Supper is ready.” Then, in the faint light filtering through the living room window, she saw the grim look on her husband’s face. Millie knew the look. She had seen it many times over the years, but she knew the reasons behind the expression were far more ominous than anything they had ever faced together.

As they stood there in the quietness of the moment, the crackling sound of gravel under the wheels of an automobile driving along the ridge broke their thoughts. The car, a Mercedes sedan, turned off the road into the Carter’s driveway and stopped a few feet from the front of the house. A fat little man stepped out wearing light colored slacks, a long-sleeved white shirt, and a red bow tie. Joe Carter could see the shine of the patent leather loafers even in the dim light of the early evening.

Clyde Bayless always fancied himself a classy dresser, often traveling over a hundred miles to add to his wardrobe. He liked to brag that you could tell a lot about the importance of the man by the clothes he wears.

To Clyde, the respect he received from others was a vital part of his persona. He had few friends, mostly vain men of less prominence who hung around just so they could be seen mixing with the upper crust. This was their way of showing everyone else that they had standing in the community.

Clyde’s awareness that he wasn’t very well liked among the common folk was the underlying cause of why he had decided long ago that if he ever got in a position to wield power over his neighbors, he would have no sympathy for their plight. He had carried this bit of cynicism around with him since he was a young boy when his classmates made fun of him because of his short, physical stature.

On this night, he was feeling especially proud of himself, as he was one step closer to accomplishing a small goal that he had been pursuing for the past five years. He was about to inform an old schoolyard antagonist that he was moving to collect an unpaid debt by foreclosing on the collateral.

As Clyde made his way to the porch, Joe nodded for Millie to go inside. She gladly accepted the gesture as an opportunity to leave the scene. Without a word, she stepped into the living room and closed the door behind her.

“Good evening Clyde,” Joe said.

“Good evening,” Clyde said with an almost giddy smile in his voice.

“What brings you out here this time of night?” Joe asked, knowing the answer before he asked.

Stopping at the bottom of the steps, Clyde said, “There’s something I need to discuss with you, Joe. That’s a nice swing up there on the porch. Do you mind if I sit in it while we talk?” he asked.

“Yes I do mind,” Joe said with a matter-of-fact tone. “You can sit in my swing after it belongs to you, but not before.”

“Very well. If that’s the way you want it, I’ll make this short,” Clyde said, attempting to hold back his anger. “I spoke to my attorney today, and I’m here to inform you that we are foreclosing on the Carter farm. You have sixty days to vacate the premises. “Okay. Is there anything else?” Joe asked slowly.

“No, that about does it,” Clyde said with his usual flair of arrogance.

“Then get your short, little dumpy butt off my land,” Joe said bluntly.

Clyde hated being reminded that he was short, but he knew that he would end up on the unpleasant side of any physical confrontation with Joe, so he quickly retreated to his Mercedes and drove away.

 

THE LAST FRIEND

By: Darral Williams

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