We used to play together as children. Everybody has a best friend – you were mine. All those Stand by me adventures were ours; the first kisses we stole we did almost side by side. Every youthful folly, every childish twist or turn, we beheld together. When I think of you I think of the smell of summer… I think of that sprinkler we used to run through as it fired of its machine gun bursts of water. I remember like it was yesterday whole days spent in the park, dreaming up what we would one day become… Things we would one day achieve. Did we get there do you think?
Yes, we had some amazing times together.
Despite this, even as a young kid I think I saw something in you that I didn’t like. You had a way of making me feel small, inferior… I did, and still do, a good enough job of that on my own thanks. Even in those days, lacking the insight that adulthood brings, I could still see that you would grow to be a very self-serving man. Despite that ever so faint shadow in the back of my mind, that dark specter of doubt nagging me, not a loud voice but a constant one nevertheless, despite that, we stayed friends for many years…
The hourglass flows quick and we find our early twenties in those sands – contemplation leads me to marvel that we made it so far. Don’t think for a second that I am not grateful, we saw some hard times together. I can recall their angry faces, blurred and leering, as fist and shoe found their mark. Burned in my mind is the picture of your worried face as you cradled my bloody head. “Don’t do that to me again” you said.
Blurred… That final night is blurred. When I try to conjure a clear memory its as though I’m lying on the bottom of a swimming pool looking through the water and trying to make out a face through the surface above… Everything about that night is all shimmers and wobbly edges. We all drank a lot including her: “Can you roll a joint for me?” she said, “Yeah sure, no worries” was what I probably replied.
The rest happened very quickly – we smoked and exchanged small talk. Up to that point we hadn't really hit it off that well. I wasn't sure she was the right girl for you but I kept my opinions to myself. The night was really cold, that is one thing I do remember. Peaceful. That peace was soon broken when you lurched around the corner and said to her “what the fuck are you smoking dope for, huh?” She didn’t get a chance to reply, you punched her before her mouth could form words.
A long time has passed since that night; I hear you are living in Japan now. I have no doubt that you are doing well and making money. That was always a focus of yours. How long would it be since we last spoke? Four years? I often think about you and whether that night taught you something about yourself. I took something away with me even if you didn’t; something about the nature of friendship, trust and especially about you and me.
That one punch cost you a lot old friend.