I remember that summer so well, him and I were just the best of bud’s……..
“Hey Joe can’t wait until this day is over can ya? You look like you’re about to bounce right out of that seat.” “Well no man, we’re going to have the best time on this road trip. It just blows my mind that our parents are letting us do this.” “Blows mine too.” The teacher looked over at Joe and me and shushed us. We both looked at each other and laughed. I sat in class thinking about the places we were going to see; it was going to be fantastic. We were going to start from our home town and end up in California. We lived in a town with the population of about 400 people in Newksville, Alabama. I lived here my whole life; Joe moved here my freshmen year, here at Newk High. Ever since then we have been the best of buds. He’s always saying we were separated at birth, though we look nothing a like. He is always a hoot to be around.
The bell had rung and Joe had pushed me a little too hard to get my attention. I nearly fell out of my seat. “Dang Joe was that necessary, I mean really?” “Do you even have to ask that question man?” I just rolled my eyes and got up. “I swear one of these times Joe I’ma knock you on your butt man.” “You wanna go a round, ‘cause we can?” “Let’s not, wouldn’t want to hurt you.” “Chicken.” We both laughed as we walked out the classroom door. We had no other class to attend to, so we just left to go get ready for our trip. We would pack things we needed and we would meet at my house. Joe always had a car so when he moved here I never had to ride the bus again.
“This is your stop man; now get out of my car.” “Whatever.” I got out of the car and watched as he nearly drove off with my arm. “Dang it man!” All I could here was him laughing. He was always like this, a jokester. Thinking everything was just as funny as it could be which never was. I walked up to my front door and went inside. “Lewis you home?” My mom yelled from the kitchen. “Yes Ma’ I’m home.” “Come in here boy, and get your sandwich.” “K’ here I come.” I threw my stuff down by the door and hustled into the kitchen. I spotted my sandwich and grabbed it. “Thanks my Ma’“I said with a mouth full of food. “Boy don’t talk with your mouth full, I raised you better than that.” I swallowed down my bite off food before I talked again. “Sorry Ma’. Well I have to hurry ‘cause Joe will be back and I have to pack.” “Well go on then.” I held onto my sandwich and ran up the stairs to my bedroom. Before I reached my bedroom I had consumed the sandwich. I ran into my bedroom as I heard my mom yell “No running in the house.” She mumbled on about how she raised me better and blah, blah.
I reached under my bed, grabbed my suitcase and began packing up my clothing. I threw in a few shirts and pairs of pants along with some boxers. I closed up my suit case just as I heard Joe honking and yelling. “Come out here you stupid redneck.” “Comin’ you stupid city boy.” I heard him laughing all the way from the inside of my room. I ran back through my door and back down the stairs. I kissed my mom on the cheek and hugged her. “Wait, I want to give you some money.” “Ma’ you really don’t have to.” “I want to okay. Here take this; it’s at least two hundred dollars.” “Ma’.” I just sighed and took the money it was pointless to argue with her. She would just find some way for me to take it, guilt or sneaking it in my things, she would find a way. I ran out the door and up to the car.
“Slow down. You nearly hit my baby.” He rubbed the side of the car and laughed. I just stuffed my suit case in the trunk and walked around to the other side. I climbed into the passenger side and closed the door. Joe followed my actions and started up the car. Joe looked at me. “You ready man?” “Hell yes!” He drove off.
I rolled off my bed and landed on my feet as I stood up. I sighed shaking off that memory. We never made it past the Alabama boarder. Every time I think about him, I feel a twang of guilt. It was my fault he died. I pushed him to go on the trip, he wanted to just didn't have the gall to ask his parents. I pick up my shirt off the floor and pulled it over my head as I walked out my bedroom door. “Ma’! You awake?” “Yeah, I’m downstairs.” I walked downstairs as the events of last summer played in my head.
“Joe we have to stop for gas. It’s almost empty.” “Okay man. The gas station is just right there.” He pulled in front of a gas tank and got out. “Pump the gas. I’ll go pay.” Joe turned and went towards the gas stations’ little store. “Okay.” I got out and walked to his side of the car, pulled out the gas hose. I turned the lid and opened it up. I placed the gas nozzle into the tank opening and begin pumping it. The moment that I began pumping I heard a gun shot. I saw my friend fall to the ground. That moment I dropped the gas hose and ran inside as the robbers ran outside. They didn’t see me as they ran. They got into their car and drove off. The cashier was standing inside in horror.
I kneeled next to my friends’ body. He had been shot right below his rib cage, and he was bleeding out. “Call 9-1-1!” We were closer than me and my real brother. I didn’t want him to die, we were suppose to college together and party. We were suppose to open up a business together, a car shop. He was choking up blood. “Lewis, Man I don’t wanna die.” “You’ll be alright man, don’t worry the ambulance is coming. You’ll be alright.” I pulled him closer to me as I hugged him. ”I-I-I...” He didn’t finish his sentence. Joe had died right in my arms.
I had walked down my stairs and was in the kitchen. “Ma’, tell me why did Joe have to die? He was so young.” I was crying at this point. She pulled me into her arms and held me. “God just needed a new angel that’s all. Joe was perfect for the job.” “But we were suppose to be best bud’s forever.” “And you still are. He is just in heaven now.” I held tight onto her as more images of Joe’s body growing colder in my arms flashed through my mind.
“Joe wake up, you can’t die on me. Not like this.” I shook his body as the police tried prying me off of his now lifeless body. They had to use three men to pull me off. “Son he’s dead, there is nothing you can do now.” I got so angry I shoved them away. “Sir you have to come with us to down-“The head policeman shushed him. “Don’t worry we’ll get his statement later.” As I walked back towards my friends’ car the head policeman yelled. “Stay close son.” I waved him off as I got into Joe’s car and started it up.
I had stopped crying as my mom wiped away my tears. “He may not be here with in body, but he is here in spirit.” “I know.” I turned and walked to the door. “I’m going to sit outside for awhile.” “Okay.” I walked outside and sat down on the front porch stairs. I placed my face into my hands and let my mind wonder. It never wondered anywhere else but back to that gas station, back to my guilt. I rubbed my face because I had begun to cry again. “Lewis, Hey.” It was one of my long time friends, Lisa. “Hey Lisa.” “Just coming over to see how you doing, and by the looks of it not so good.” “Yeah I know I can’t seem to pull myself together. I just one big ole’ baby now.” “Nah just sensitive that’s all” “Joe would have kicked my butt if he’d seen me crying.” “Yeah he would.” We both laughed for a moment. “Well I’ma go and let you have your time alone.” “Okay Lisa see ya later.” “Bye Lewis.” She looked down kind of sadly; she was feeling way to sorry for me. It felt as if she blamed herself at times, but I know she didn’t she was just feeling my pain. I put my head back down in my hands.
“Son, this way.” I walked into the head officer office as he followed behind me. “Take a seat.” I sat down before he could tell me to take a seat. I wanted this over and done with. I wanted to go home and pretend all of this never happened. “Now tell me everything that happened.” He waited patiently as I gathered my thoughts. “Well Joe walked into the store. It was only a few seconds later I heard a gun shot.” I placed my hand on the side of my forehead, trying to stifle the tears. “Go on.” I sighed and continued talking. “And at that moment I saw Joe hit the floor and-and-.” I couldn’t finish my sentence. “Take a breather, and collect yourself then finish.” I nodded. I took in a deep breath and began to finish. “And I ran towards the doors, the robbers I didn’t get a good look I was too worried about my friend. They didn’t seem to notice me either. I ran inside and that’s when my friend died in my arms.” I gritted my teeth to prevent myself from yelling at the policeman. I didn’t want to be rude; he wasn’t the one who killed Joe. “Well is that all, if so you can go.” “Yes that’s all unless you want to know how it felt when my friend laid lifeless in my arms.” “You can go.” “Thanks.” I said with an attitude. I got up and walked out the door. I closed the door with a very audible slam.
I lifted my head up and stared at the street. I looked at Joe’s car. His parents couldn’t stand keeping the car, so they gave it to the one person they knew he would want to have it no matter what, me. I stood up and yelled at my front door. “Ma’ going for a drive.” I heard a muffle sound that sounded like her telling me to be safe or something of the sort. I just ignored it and walked to the car. I brushed my hand across the drive side door as it reached the handle. I opened it up and climbed in. I rubbed the steering wheel with one hand as I used the other to put the key into the ignition and started up the car. As the car roared to life I put my seat belt on. I put my foot to the gas pedal. “This one for you Joe.” I pressed down the gas pedal and the car sped off.