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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Friendship · #2025432
Practice in descriptive writing--trying to use all senses for characters in setting.

His handshake was strong and firm, and it bespoke his regular grip of a beer can.

He wore a straw cowboy hat, extremely baggy jeans falling down without a belt, and had graying hair that hung in natural curly waves over his collar. His countenance was leathered by his many years under the Texas sun.

Nothing shone about him. His eyes were dull and moved like a couple of checkers, creeping around his blue and white plaid shirt.

Frank claimed to be six feet tall, but his frame was hunched over, making him appear shorter than my 5' 11".

Frank had parked his little red truck next to the curb. Linda was watching him through the front window as he exited the truck and followed the curving concrete path to my front door.

My housekeeper had anticipated a slightly aged Superman to be visiting me.

I had just told her that he was a few years older than I am, and that our parents had been friends when they were alive.

I guess I hide my almost 60 years better than he shows his 62 years. Linda was not impressed.

"He's an old man," Linda exclaimed."

"Linda, this is my old family friend Frank. His dad and step-mom attended Methodist church where my mother and my step-father attended.

'"They sort of used to double date. They played cards, dominoes, and often met at the cafeteria for an early dinner."

Linda was a thin woman in her 70s, but a vivacious 70. I lived in the big Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and she came into town from a small rural community about an hour drive away every other week to help with my housework.

We got to be friends from talking while she was cleaning. I guess we both thought of her as my big sister. She wanted the best for me, but there was an invisible space between what she thought I needed, and what I wanted for myself.

Frank and I are friends. I guess she feels the need for me to be married, though she's told me enough of her family life for me to know that she and her husband aren't in love any more. The passion had faded, as it will after many years together. They fought about money and their grown daughter's life choices.

Linda had become my housekeeper, nosy busy-body, and well meaning friend, in the six months she had been clearing my clutter and corraling pet hair and dog dirt for the garbage bin.

By the time Frank rang the doorbell, the German Shepherd was barking as loud as thunder. That shut down our conversation.

I opened the door, and pulled the big watch dog back by hugging her chest. Frank stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He had a small brown paper sack he set down on the desk behind the sofa.

The dog would woff until she got a good sniff of anyone entering, then she would settle on the floor watching conversation and listening with her ears erect.
Frank passed the test with his familiar scent.

Linda had never seen "Shadow" welcome anyone into my house. She stepped back towards the kitchen.

"My name is Frank," he said, walking toward her and extending a hand to shake.

Linda set the broom aside, and walked over for an official greeting.

Frank moved his extended hand up to Linda's elbow and shook it.

Linda laughed, Frank laughed and I laughed too.

Linda excused herself to continue the cleaning in the bathroom at the back of the house, leaving Frank and I to private conversation.

He picked up the brown paper bag from the desk.

"You want a beer dear?" he asked.

"No thanks," I answered.

He always asked. I seldom drank beer. He had brought two Clamato, tomato flavored beers.

One was not really for me. He always brought two beers and Frank two beers. I rarely wanted one, and he expected to drink both of them himself anyhow but the beer would have been mine if I wanted it. I was content with my Pepsi.

He put the second beer in the refrigerator. He filled a large beer mug with crushed ice from the door and emptied his beer into it. The day was particularly hot.

He returned to the den, and planted himself on the sofa, plopping down like an almost elegant elephant.

I lit a cigarette. So did he. I pulled the pot tray out from under the sofa and manicured pot and rolled a joint after we finished our cigarettes.

"What are we doing this afternoon? " I asked.

"Do you need to go to the grocery store?" he asked.

There was a death bed promise between us. Mother told me to go to Frank for help if I ever needed anything. And she had asked Frank to take care of me.

As months passed, he referred to himself my valet.

Mom had told me to call on him if I needed help. He was a semi-retired mechanic, but Mom had insinuated he would take care of more than my truck if I needed help with anything.

"The cupboards were full enough for a Wednesday.

I handed him the joint.

" Let's just stay in and watch TV," I suggested. "I don't have any urgent business. We can just chill here."

Shadow had let herself out the doggie door. She didn't like the smell of pot.

I lit a candle, and we smoked the joint down to roach size, then both lit a cigarette to cover up the pot order. Linda probably recognized the smell, and I had smoked in the house when she was there, but had never smoked marijuana in front of her.

Linda probably knew about my pot habit, but the subject never came up between us. She probably wouldn't have thought less of me, but I preferred to keep that part of my life private.

Frank's clothes were covered in the morning's grease and grime. I suggested he change to my big blue terry cloth robe, and wash his clothes. I didn't ever volunteer to wash his clothes with mine. My clothes would have been more dirty if we shared the wash cycle. But he knew how to wash clothes, and his washer and drier didn't totally work--only cold water and no drier. So he proceeded with my suggestion.

It was my TV in my house, so I picked out the movie. I could never get enough of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns.

By the time the movie was over, his work clothes were washed and dried, and I rolled one more joint for the road.

Actually, it was before the road. His beers were gone, and I knew he was anxious to get another beer from the store, and the store nearest my house.

Shadow came back in when she heard the front door open, and she wagged goodbye to Frank. He acknowledged her with a pat on the back, and I closed the door behind him.

I was relieved he was going home to finish his beer drinking for the day, and night. Plus I would be the only one smoking up my stash.

If Mother had really known Frank, she wouldn't have left me in the care of a drunk and druggie.

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