The Long Way Home (#FFFC)

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The feud, or “cold war” of silence, had gone on 20 years between Frank and Joe.  There’d been some misremembered affront ages ago…their friendship, communications were as closed as locked bank vault.

How foolish was that, for 2 grown men?  Good heavens, they traveled the same railway line to work and back home each day; and walked literally parallel to each other to and from the depot, without acknowledgement, as if both were invisible.  It was juvenile, crazy, stupid, unkind…and on Joe’s part, un-Christian.

He would have liked reconciliation, but didn’t see how to accomplish it.  They were both proud, stiff-necked (not to mention older, set like cement in their ways)…and much water had passed under proverbial bridge.  But it bothered Joe.

Once upon a time, they and their wives and kids got together for social events sponsored by the company where they worked—as well as at spontaneous summer bar-b-q’s at each other’s homes, and Christmas parties.  The disconnect between Joe’s memories of those convivial years, and now—was a large stone in his chest.

He’d talked with his wife…she supported him, whatever the issue at hand, and wouldn’t influence him one way or another.  It was up to him, whether he had guts enough to offer the hand of peace to Frank.

Well, you know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways”.  Friday evening, teeming with the hardest coldest, dark drenching rain all year, he made a decision.  Aiming his umbrella above him protectively, he kept an eye out for Frank, certain he’d come into view any moment.

To his great puzzlement when he saw him, Frank was hurrying as fast as soaked shoes would allow, holding a soon to be useless newspaper over his head—but striding in the opposite direction from Joe!  Joe wondered if this was a new evasive tactic on Frank’s part, but if so it was an odd maneuver.  No, something was wrong with this picture—Frank was headed away from home, without an umbrella.

Joe knew this was his opportunity—if he pondered too long, he’d miss it.  He turned in Frank’s direction and shouted his name.  Rain pounding loudly, he had to holler several times as he jogged soggily toward his old friend. “Frank!!  Stop!!”

Finally hearing his name Frank turned slightly, saw Joe and paused for him to approach…(frowning into the rain, possibly at Joe).

Joe stood close so his umbrella would offer Frank belated shelter.  “What’s going on?  You’re not headed home?”  It was then he saw Frank was weeping copiously, unable to reply—tears mingling with the downpour.

“Come on, Buddy,” he said, his hand on Frank’s arm to turn him around.  “I’ll get us a taxi…there’s a payphone ahead.  Whatever’s got you all wrought up—you can tell me…we’ll figure it out…the way we used to.”

©Leyde Ryan, 2022 ~ All rights reserved.