We Are Just Friends

I remember the day that she told him that they were just friends. It was the tail end of summer, about a 150 degrees in the shade. It was the sort of day that you wanted to spend at the beach or poolside drinking something cold. Unfortunately for Johnny when that call came he wasn’t in either place.

Actually, I am not sure that I quite know where Johnny was when June called. Can’t say if he was outside working on the house or inside working at the computer. Not sure that it really matters, but what I know for certain is that June’s words stung him deeply. The man was beyond livid when I found him.

We were supposed to get lunch that day but he never showed. I called him at home and on his cell but received no answer. Tried email, text and smoke signals too but there was still silence. It wasn’t like him to completely ignore me so I drove over to his place to check on him. Rang the doorbell and was greeted with more silence. When I peered inside the garage window and saw his car I got nervous. Started to pound on the door and then realized I could hear some sort of repetitive banging.

So I walked over to the side gate, flipped up the lock and walked down past his trashcans towards the yard. As I eased on down the road I recognized that repetitive noise as the sound of someone punching a heavy bag. When I walked around the corner I saw him beating that bag with the sort of fury that would normally be reserved for something truly terrible.

I made a point of making some noise so that he wouldn’t be surprised by my appearance. The last thing I wanted was for him to attack me. When he turned towards me the first thing that I noticed was the vein on his forehead was bulging. That is not good- ‘cuz when you have known Johnny as long as I have you know that vein is the precursor to a meeting with something ugly. That vein is one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between irritated and truly angry.

He took a moment to try to wipe the sweat out of his eyes, glanced at me and went back to punishing the bag for its transgressions. I let him keep swinging for a while and then told him that I feared the D.A. would press charges for murder one. He didn’t crack a smile or offer a retort.

And that my friends is the second sign that Johnny is seriously angry. When he goes silent on you it is time to make sure that you aren’t close enough to be crushed in those gorilla arms or struck by some flying object. To be fair, that famous temper of his hasn’t really been shown in quite some time. Some of the edge has been taken off by age and frankly by June. That woman has done more for Johnny than she realizes.

Anyway, since I wasn’t the one who was angry I walked inside the house, pulled a couple of cold beers from the fridge and headed back outside. Wasn’t gone for more than a minute, but it was long enough for him to have pulled the gloves off of his hands. Normally I would have tossed the beer to him, but it didn’t seem appropriate so I walked over and handed it to him.

For a moment he stood there on the patio staring off into space. It wasn’t a problem, the silence that is. We have known each other for so long that we don’t have to fill the time with small talk. Slowly he began to tell me about June. He began with some background, filled me in on where things were with the two of them.

They had been on sort of a hiatus of some sort. Not really sure how else to describe it, nor can I tell you how it happened. It was more than a bit of a surprise to me. I have never seen two people more in love than they were. But then again, they are both more than a little bit stubborn and pig headed. And for the time being, they had been living apart in different states. I suspect that the actual distance had played a role in creating distance between them.

Anyway, it seemed that June had decided that they were going to be just friends or something like that. It wasn’t the first time that she had said it, but for whatever reason this time it stuck with him, chapped his hide more than a little bit. Still, it wasn’t clear to me what had happened or why so I asked a bunch of questions and found that he really didn’t know the answers.

So I looked at him and asked why he didn’t know. He just sort of shrugged his shoulders and insisted that she wouldn’t speak. I can’t tell you if that is true or not. Not saying that Johnny is a liar, but sometimes people get so close to a situation they lose all perspective.

I said as much to him and waited for a response. He nodded his head and told me that it was possible. Reiterated how much he loved her and that he could imagine life without her. But he also said that he wasn’t convinced that she understood that he wouldn’t wait forever and that he wouldn’t be played. I nodded my head and suggested that he try to find a way to talk to her.

Told him that if he had invested this much in her that it wouldn’t hurt him and reminded him that it was entirely possible that the source of all this was a misunderstanding. The last thing he wanted to do was paint himself into a corner from which he couldn’t get out of.

In return I received a nod and a smile- ok I don’t really think he was smiling at me. I am sure that he was thinking of June and I couldn’t help but wonder if either one of them had a clue what they had in the other. It would be more than a damn shame if they let it all slip away.

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