Friendships can be ... complex.
Best of Friends
I tried not to slam the door as I came in, but it took lots of self-control. That Jim Gerber made me so spitting mad sometimes I could plow him under instead of potatoes! But I knew that even the best of friends had spats sometimes. Still, he did cheat at poker tonight. And Ethel, his ratchet-jawed wife, wouldn't lay off the coffee and go to bed, so we had to put with her yammering until even Jim got tired of her. By then, I had overcome a few missing cards to clean Jim out and it was time to go home and go to bed.
Not that it was doing me any good. Another night, same frustration. The Gerber's mutt was howling its fool head off again, depriving me of another night's sleep. Part of the reason the game had gone so late tonight was Jim and I had been making plans to go catfishing just before first light, now only two hours away. If I didn't get some shut-eye, I was liable to fall out of Jim's boat as chum for that lunker we were trying to snag. Sleep wasn't coming, though. We had a good acre between our houses, but that infernal animal had him a voice! Reminded me of Ethel, he did!
I fumbled for the phone to call Jim and tell him to shut the stupid thing up when my nose woke up the rest of me. Smoke, heavy and hot, drifted in through the open window. The covers grabbed me as I tried to get up and almost fell on the floor. Madge never knew; she could sleep through the sinking of the Titanic, except at the movies. A yellow glow to the north told me it was the Gerber house.
"Jim!" I screamed out the window, as though he were sleeping through this. My fingers shifted to 911. My fishing partner was trapped in there! My neighbor, my friend. "Hang on!" I yelled, and frantically began stabbing at numbers in the dark.
And stopped. Jim was a backstabbing wretch who made mountains out of dog wallows and never apologized. Not to mention never returning my lawn mower. Ethel was constantly calling to complain to Madge that our chickens were making too much noise, even though the coop was on the back side of the house and they never shushed their dog.
I put the phone down and got my binoculars. The house was fully engulfed in flames, part of the roof already fallen through. By the time I rang Betsy at the fire station and she roused the volunteers, Jim's house would be pig-roasting coals. Likely it was too late for them anyway. Why wake up good friends over this?
The tree where the dog was tied dropped a flaming limb on the mutt. One loud cry and he was finally quiet. I put the binoculars back in the closet and rearranged the covers. Madge cracked an eye caked with sleep and mumbled, "Whas' a matta?"
"The Gerber's house is on fire," I said, yawning into my pillow.
"Tha's nice," she slurred, and I had to agree. Got to remember to get my mower tomorrow.