Fiction Section: Friendly Fiction
Seventeenth Century English Mathematician, Isaac Barrow, once said, “He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.” Many bookworms seek companionship between the pages of their favorite novels. We grow to love characters as if they were real people and come to count them amongst our closest friends. They are people whose weaknesses we’ve witnessed, whose strengths we’ve triumphed over, whose dreams we cherish as our own.
Sometimes, the books themselves can seem like friends. The stories will whisper to us, conjure up visions of exquisitely detailed worlds, teach us, endlessly entertain us. We might look at these books, comfortably nestled into our shelves, and fondly remember the times we spent together–time that bound us as tightly to the story as it might bind one to a friend. They are as patient and as loyal as one could want a friend to be: always silently present, asking nothing of us, waiting until the moment we need them to counsel, comfort, teach, or entertain.
In our August issue of Write from Wrong, we are pleased to share “Treasured Memories,” by Patrick Wilson, in which we meet two friends who discover that their bond of friendship is much stronger than they had imagined. We hope that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we did.
Treasured Memories from the Church Lawn
by Patrick Wilson
“Tommy, are you sure about this spot?” Pete asked.
“I don’t see why not!” He said, shrugging his shoulders while they stood on the church property.
Tommy always had this rebellious attitude about life since he and Pete were teenagers in their old neighborhood. Tommy was always pushing the limits as far as he could and he hadn’t cared what his attitude or actions would cause when he was sixteen, not in a bad way, of course – but in a good way. Now, at twenty-six, he still had the same pushy attitude, only worrying about the consequences after-the-fact.
However, Pete had a maverick-lite attitude when he was younger. He would push the limits of life with reason, slightly tiptoeing his way ever so closely towards that invisible line, which represented the prohibited area Tommy enjoyed, where one usually heeds the mind’s warning and stops before passing the point-of-no-return.
There was something about that humid July afternoon, which caused an uneasy sensation in Pete’s stomach as the two comrades lugged their golf clubs up the church lawn. Something told Pete they should be donning their khakis and clutching old smelling hymnbooks instead of wearing their discolored, sweat stained golf shorts and. If for nothing else, out of respect for the occasion and the day: It was Sunday after all.
“They’ve spotted us,” Pete said under his breath as sweat trickled from the end of his nose.
“So what, man! Why are you so worried about those church folks, huh?” Tommy wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“I’m not, I’m just saying. . . .”
“Pete – the worst those folks can do is ask us to leave, right? You should be worried about getting sunburn instead.”
Pete sensed Tommy was experiencing the same uneasy feeling, but he wouldn’t admit it even if he were.
The two young men could still read each other’s minds even after so many years apart from each other. Anxiously, Tommy shifted his eyes to the left. Pete shifted his eyes to the right. Then, slowly, they turned back toward each other, nodding to indicate the coast was clear as if these two friends were prisoners in orange jumpsuits who’d recently escaped the local jail and were eluding the guards.
“Well, we’re trespassing on their property,” Pete said, struggling to keep his golf bag on his right shoulder and waving the sand gnats away from his face.
“Yes, but it’s not like we’ve caused any mischief or murdered anything, except for the dozen deerflies while walking up their lawn.”
“Not yet anyways.” Pete said, rolling his eyes.
“Pete, you need to relax, man! I doubt those church folks care that we’re here.”
“I believe those folks see us as two men having a quiet afternoon at a tranquil place where we can hit a few golf balls. If they thought we were trouble, I’m sure the cops would’ve been here by now.”
“We’re here now! So let’s tee up, hit a few balls, and see what happens. In fact, Pete – you may need some divine guidance to fix your killer left slice.”
“Aren’t we full of laughs today?”
“Hey, fella, my golf game is a little rusty too.”
“Let’s hit a few instead of talking about it,” Pete retorted.
“That’s the spirit my friend, just watch out for those parked cars!” Tommy hollered.
What happened over the course of that evening was enchanting; at least, for the two long-term friends who hadn’t spent much time together over the last few years, mainly due to the daily callings of life.
For Pete, who mostly lived in Florida, his job and college courses kept him busy and tied to the state. He would visit Tommy when Tommy used to live in North Carolina – during a Spring Break here or there – but money got tight for him over the last year and a half, as it had for most people, so Pete didn’t get a chance to spend time with Tommy as much as he would’ve liked. For Tommy, who called the Florida seashore his genuine home, his career (or the lack thereof) in the entertainment field kept him moving from one state and gig to the next.
Nonetheless, after the economic meltdown and a few mishandled gigs, Tommy quickly found himself jobless and running out of money with each passing day. Thus worried that he might find himself living out of a cardboard box, Tommy decided to move back in with his parents in Florida.
Tommy’s living arrangement with his folks was to be a temporary situation, until he could find steady work in his field. Both Pete and Tommy knew their time together could be cut short, so their afternoon on the church lawn was a homecoming to their friendship in many ways.
They not only found their own, free, driving range, which they took full advantage of over the remaining weeks of summer, but also they found a friendship that was still strong and budding, unlike the so many other friendships they’ve had with the other kids in their old neighborhood. Those friends who are there with you as a teenager, yet become merely outsiders as you grow older.
Pete and Tommy didn’t have to worry about becoming strangers with age. In fact, each time they would tee up at the church they knew neither one of them would become the next Tiger Woods, but they did believe their golf swing was getting better just as they believed their friendship was getting stronger with each passing Sunday.
Perhaps, the fact that their golf game was getting better was the only thing surprising to them, that and the fact they were getting older and time was moving quicker with each day. They must’ve lost a few dozen white balls and broken a few hundred wooden tees since the end of July.
Besides, the church folks didn’t mind their company or the holes they were making on the lawn, as they would wave at them coming and going from each evening service. Nevertheless, they were sure the landscaper wasn’t thrilled with them; they were sure he was cussing up a storm each time his blade found one of their abandoned golf balls.
As the days of summer began to shorten, Tommy and Pete found themselves not having the time to tee up as much as they did weeks before, mainly since Pete started college again and had a full time working schedule, and Tommy finally found a gig in Kentucky and was busy packing for his move back north. Although the two friends made one final tee time at the church, it was the first Sunday of September, and the last Sunday they would spend knocking up dirt together for some time.
Pete was thrilled for Tommy; his new job, his new journey in life. Likewise, Tommy was happy for Pete – another semester closer to graduating. Still, their final day together was a miserable one. They knew they would soon be going their separate ways and so their hearts weren’t it.
“So, buddy – I guess this is it for a while, huh?” Pete asked as he kicked his shoes in the dirt.
“Yep! I guess it is man,” Tommy said, looking into the distance where they’d hit so many balls over the summer.
“You know it’s not gonna be the same hitting golf balls out here by myself.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
“I imagine after you leave tomorrow that I won’t come here as much. The thought of chasing after these little white balls by myself isn’t so appealing.”
“I hear ya there, bud! I’m gonna miss these summer evenings almost hitting those parked cars with ya.”
“I’m gonna miss them too, pal!”
The two friends spent more time talking about their plans and reliving some of their outstanding golfing moments that they’d over the last few weeks that they hardly hit a single golf ball. Before they knew it, nature’s light bulb was leisurely turning off for the evening. They said their departing words and wished each other all the luck in the world before heading their separate ways again.
Pete, nonetheless, returned to the church lawn a few weeks after Tommy left town. It felt different; he felt different. The grass was brown and hadn’t been cut in a few weeks; the parking lot was empty, and Pete felt the way it looked. At first, he thought it would be futile – hitting the golf balls from one side of the field to the other – without any company, no one to talk to. After awhile, Pete decided to hit a few balls, and he recalled that Tommy was right about one thing: he needed someone’s help. His game was off that afternoon.
Pete only had two balls – a new one he bought before Tommy left and one that Tommy found a few weeks earlier that no doubt made the landscaper mad at them. Of course, it didn’t take Pete long to lose the good ball since he sliced it far right, somewhere between the long snake grass and the wilderness growing around the church lawn.
Though sad and tired of playing his own caddie, Pete decided to pack it in for the evening. It was getting late, the sun was going to bed early behind the quiet pines, and he’d other plans for the evening. Yet before he left, Pete took one last look at that chopped up ball Tommy found. And for a moment, he laughed at the time that he and Tommy both came close to hitting the cars in the church parking lot.
Nonetheless, Pete’s laughter soon turned to despair after he realized his car was the only one there. He wondered who would become his golfing buddy now since his old one was a few states away. As Pete wondered this, he looked up the church lawn that Tommy and he walked several times over the summer, and he swore he saw an image of Tommy swinging a driver and connecting with a ball sticking out of the ground. The wind picked up briefly during that moment and Pete thought he heard his friend’s voice.
Pete left the church lawn that Friday evening in better spirits; he’d wonderful memories to cherish and a superb tan to show for it. But as he was pulling out of the church parking lot, he received a text message from his buddy, Tommy, and was a little shocked when he read it:
Hey, bud – thought I would see how things were going down south. I finally got a day off, so I decided to check out a local driving range. It’s weird hitting by myself, man. Though, I swear I thought I seen someone just like you a couple spaces down from me. His slice was similar to yours. I thought about yelling your name to see if it were you, but thought against it for fear that I would look silly since I knew you were still in Florida. Anyways, talk to you soon, pal!
Pete realized after reading Tommy’s message that he didn’t need a physical golfing partner while hitting golf balls at the church or anywhere else for that matter. Tommy might be hundreds of miles away, but as long as Pete’s personal memories of friendship never faded, the summers he and Tommy had shared would always linger on the church lawn.
Currently, Peter Wilson lives in Brunswick, Georgia where he works as a Supplemental Instructor/Tutor of English and Math at the Coastal of Coastal Georgia and a Substitute Instructor at the Brunswick Job Corps Center and a Substitute teacher for Glynn County Public Schools. He’s currently pursuing his M.A. in English from Georgia Southern University. He’s married to a magnificent woman, both inside and out, and they presently share three cats and one visiting dog.