He’s standing at the counter. He doesn’t know what to do.
We’re getting Chinese food, which strikes me as an odd thing to do in West Texas. I am carrying the tray to our table when I hear the woman say, “Who are you with?” He doesn’t know.
I have failed him. I’ve let him down, alone and defenseless. It was just a second, but a second is too long. I run over and walk with him to our table.
He eats in silence, clearly shaken. I only had one job, and I blew it.
His fortune cookie says: “You have a prosperous future ahead.”
I’m helping him pull on his sweatshirt in the morning. We go through the usual ritual everyone endures, trying to differentiate head holes from arm holes, up from down, till suddenly his head comes popping out in the right place.
He flashes that big Rick smile, arches his eyebrows, and in his best high-pitched cartoon voice, cries out, “HELLOOOOOO.” We both crack up laughing.
We go out for Sunday morning doughnuts and bring them home. We eat them and drink Dr Peppers while swapping the newspaper sections between us, the same way we did when we were 6 years old, and 16, and when we were journalists over the decades.
Guy Clark sings to us:
Old Friends, they shine like diamonds
Old Friends, you can always call
Old Friends, Lord you can’t buy ’em
You know it’s Old Friends after all
After a dark, rainy morning, the sun comes out. It’s going to be OK. It must.