Old Friends Coming Around Again

By John Clise

I was sitting quietly in an old chair, I now consider a dear friend, waiting to see you. It seemed like I was sitting in a funeral home parlor waiting to see you one last time. I thought about what I might say on this last day ever between us.

I gave up strong whiskey and took up strong coffee instead. I gave up smoking weed. I quit taking pain pills with whiskey.

Our laughter still echoes in my ears even after all of these years. I go to dinner from time to time. Young women still seem to enjoy my company for some reason I still don’t know.

I watch taillights out the window at night. They dance like fire flies in the night sky. I quit watching headlights because every set was a hope it would be you.

This farm has become my uninhabited island. I had cows for a while but they didn’t seem happy, so I sold them in hopes they’d find happier pastures. It nothing like our apartment in New York or the house in Alberta. We sure got around together. I go into town once a week… like olden times of horse and wagon.

I guess the damage was done in Los Angeles. It never was my kind of town. I went with you anyway. I forgave you. You just couldn’t forgive yourself. I accepted it was your life, and right not to forgive yourself. Later on it came to me like a cold, wet blanket that perhaps it was just an excuse to leave and hold me harmless.

I play the memories of our cruises up and down Lakeshore Drive like a movie in my head over and over still. We had the top down. The wind whipped your long blonde hair all around. Your smile was so bright, and your eyes were full of love. I never wanted it to end. Not then and not now.

Now like then… it’s out of my hands. I loved you then. I love you still.

I wonder if you’d actually shown those few years back. I wonder if you would’ve stayed a while, or if we would have talked the night away like we used to do. I wondered if you’d spend the night. I wondered if you might stay a while for an old love or nostalgia or flat out pity.

Sometimes if I lay quite still, I can still catch a breath of your scent from our mattress. I drift off on the scent of you. I dream you never left. I dream it was just a bad dream, and I wake and you are still here. But then I really wake up.

I wake up and you are gone again. And I cry again, allover, like it’s the first morning without you.

I remember our first fight, misunderstanding, break-up… even though we were never really romantically involved in the conventional sense beyond being kindred spirits who spent most of their life together in one form or another. I guess that’s how we sold it to ourselves. We were both always free to leave at any time. No one held hostage to the affairs of the heart. We were fooling ourselves. At least I was myself.

Remember that weekend we went to that lake in Montana? We were sitting on that Adirondack chair buck naked and half-drunk because we decided to go skinny dipping at 5 in the morning after a night of laughing and drinking whiskey and bourbon. We were crazy. I miss those days.

I know if pitching pennies in a fountain wishes came true it would have been you.

I’ll light a candle for you.

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