I don’t think it was lost on any one of us that we had turned onto a street with no outlet.
We’re men and we’re musicians and writers and artists and associate professors and librarians and some or none of the above.
And there were deer and barely legal women, depending on who you ask, and there was an overwhelming sense of finality to the goings-on that kept us walking and talking and thankfully kept us out of the deep, dark recesses of his bruised brain.
And I’m not a chain smoker and I’m not a chain anything, but if you would have ever bet me that Jim Pauley would one day buy a gun I would have lost that bet because I’m not a very good gambler and my poker face is right off of a Bozo the Clown most wanted poster.
And Gallagher cracked Wise and Wise cracked Gallagher and I stood by the side of the road watching the deer and the white billowing clouds in the blue hibernating sky and I didn’t want to turn around and I didn’t want to get in the car and I didn’t want to head home because I knew then I would have to accept he was never going to be seen or heard from again. And Wise squeezed my shoulders and we talked about ping pong or Donkey Kong and it didn’t even matter as long as we had gotten this far on our own two legs with a little help from our friends and we’re all going to die, but why did it have to be now and why did it have to be him and I know even Confucius would be stumped by these questions and I know I won’t like the answers because they’re steeped in black water that will never properly boil and a tea bag that just sits there giving you the most dispassionate look of utter resolve and unyielding determination.
I’m standing in a sculpture garden with sculptures all around. Some appear to possess great wisdom while others seem to not have a clue what’s going on. I cannot move. My legs feel like molten lead. You came up behind me and scared me half to death. You chuckled like you always did when you caught me off guard. And I just drank you in because it seemed like eons since the last time we talked and walked side by side down the long Hemingway Highway. You asked if I needed to sit down and catch my breath but I didn’t hear you because I had since turned into a sculpture and a couple of cardinals had built some fine nests in my sculpted ears. I’ll never forget when you breathed the breath of life into my weary and untethered bones and I will never be able to quite forgive you for leaving without saying one last prosaic and protracted goodbye.