On My Way

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Nick Brennan races home to Ridgeview from vacation when he learns that his closest friend is in critical condition.

Submitted: January 23, 2018

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Submitted: January 23, 2018



On My Way 

There are not a lot of things that can make me leave a spot of comfort. If I am on vacation, I expect of people that they remain aware of the fact that I am not to be found or communicated with. I am going away from work and from people, the last thing I want to be around are the two things I have made a conscientious effort to avoid. My general rule is that you had better be in severe dire straits for me to cut my vacation short.

Such was the case when I received word that Lucas Coleman was in the hospital. Jenny Mintz had called me to let me know that Lucas was in a car accident. He was driving down Ocean Brook Drive when his Motorcycle had collided with another car. From what Jenny said, it didn't look good. Lucas was in a coma and had been for days. Immediately, I made arrangements to head back to Ridgeview and be with my best friend.

I was on vacation in Cheyenne, Wyoming. More appropriately, I was on a working vacation. A group based out of Cheyenne called the 'Western Writers of Wyoming' had invited me to speak on a topic that I loved dearly. The 1972 Steve McQueen movie 'Junior Bonner'. It was one of my favorite movies. Especially of Steve McQueen. I thought it was one of the few times he didn't rely on car chases, fist fights and gun play to play a character. Here was a man that was at one time a Champion, now he is over the hill trying to keep his career going before it is too late. I identified with that character. I was in my early 50's, traveling the world covering all kinds of stories and events. I knew that there was a time where I would have to step off to the side.

I flew back to Ridgeview on a late Sunday night. Casey Freeman and Jenny Mintz came to pick me up. Casey was a Stand Up Comic with his partner Jake Portman. Jenny Mintz was an English Teacher at Ridgeview High. She had joined our circle of friends after a 20 year absence. She was closer to Liz Howley than any of the guys. 

"How is he?" I asked.

"He looks like hell," Casey said. 

"It is good to see you, Nick." Jenny said.

"Cindy is a complete wreck. Liz is sobbing uncontrollably. Michelle is his nurse so we have an in as far as somebody playing it straight with us. Let's head to St Lucia's." Casey said.

We hurried through the airport and made it to Casey's car. The car ride to the hospital was the fastest that I had ever been in in my entire life. We hurried to where Lucas's room was. We saw Chris and Cindy with Jake. Their expressions were not ones of positive thought.

"What is happening?" Casey asked.

"He is in Surgery right now," Cindy said. 

"I'm so sorry, Cindy." I said.

Cindy walked over and gave me a hug. She and Lucas had dated on and off for over 25 years. Right now they were on a on again cycle. This time they had been together for about 4 years. I knew that she did a lot with the Library but I wasn't sure of her current employment status. We all gathered around a table. Jenny left to go get some drinks from the vending machine. All of us sat around the table, looking at our phones, hoping for a distraction of some sort. In moments like this, it seems as though we shift our attention and hopes from it is gonna be fine to how long does he have. There really isn't anything wrong with that mindset. It is just a part of human nature. 

After Jenny brought the drinks and handed them out to us, I decided to be proactive. I didn't want to be negative. Lucas needed all the positive thoughts we had and I was gonna give them to him. 

"I remember this one time Lucas and I went on vacation together to Wyoming. We were going on a Whitewater rafting trip. It was his idea. So we went to this spot in Jackson Hole and before we were gonna go out on the water, we heard the local radio station. It was all Country Music, Lucas's pet peeve. So we were listening to this and after 20 minutes, Lucas pulls out his phone and looks up the directions for the station. I couldn't figure out why he was gonna go there, but we ended up there. Well, he walks up to the lady at the main desk at the asks to see the Manager. After five minutes, this burly looking gent comes out and says for us to speak our piece. There was Lucas, this tall gangly looking guy standing forehead to chest with this mountain of a man and dresses him down about how awful Country Music is and how people such as him are contributing to the end of Terrestrial Radio. I mean Lucas was on fire. After he was done with his piece, the guy said that he was actually the head of Security and that he would pass on the message to the big boss. What really stuck out was probably, 20 minutes or more after our visit, they started playing Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings." I said. I was laughing pretty hard.

Everyone got a big chuckle out of my story.

"I remember the night Nick and I were really drunk and we called Lucas to come get us out of the Snow. We thought it was a great idea to set in Picnic Chairs while the Winter storm was happening." Chris said.

"Oh god, I remember this." I said.

"I called Lucas and asked him if he could come get us. After a bit, he came and noticed how drunk we were. So he started to walk down from the little hill to where Nick and I were sitting at. Genius was wearing shorts and a T shirt during one of Ridgeview's few Winter storms. He kept slipping and sliding down the hill. It didn't help that Nick was throwing Snowballs at him. So Lucas was getting pelted and finally he had enough of this. So he found a shovel. It was my old Snow shovel. There was one problem. The damn thing was frozen to the ground. Solid." Chris said.

I started to laugh. Jenny elbowed me in the stomach.

"So that lanky bastard is in his shorts and shirt and freezing as all get out. He pulls at the shovel so hard that he falls back in the snow and gets soaked. We both were laughing so hard we forgot he was even there in the first place." Chris said.

We all had a fun laugh with this.

"Lucas let us on his show quite a bit over the years. Jake and I knew that it was the best place for us to practice our craft. We got to do some fun characters over the years and Lucas never let on that we were really great friends with him. I know Jake would want to be here right now but he is on a solo show in Baton Rouge. I can't even begin to count all the good times you and I and Chris and Jake have had, Nick. We can't lose him. We just can't." Casey said.

Jenny came over and wrapped her arm around Casey. We all sat in silence, waiting to see if we could get any news. Chris was texting rather rapidly. Jenny was twirling a pen in her fingers. Casey was staring at the hallway, just waiting for any kind of sign. I was letting all of this sink in. In 35 years, I have done a lot involving Lucas. Even though I had two sisters, I had always considered Lucas my brother. We fought, cried and won together. If I had anything that I couldn't and wouldn't put a price on, that would be my friendship with Lucas Coleman. Sure I was great friends with Casey and Jake and Chris, but Lucas and I always had that bond.

Liz Howley came running down the hallway towards our group. Jenny Mintz came and hugged her. Liz quickly hugged the rest of us. As she finished, Michelle Dalmer came out and met us. She was in her Nurse's scrubs. She was tapping her pen on the clipboard.

"How is he doing?" Chris asked.

"Let's us know," Jenny said.

"He remains unchanged. Pulse is the same. Doctor is still keeping an eye on him. It basically comes down to prayers." Michelle said. "I'll be back in a few."

She walked back towards the group of Nurses. We went back to our makeshift living room.

"Prayer. That is what it has come down to." Casey said.

Liz shook her head. "Don't you start. Now is not the time for a rant." She said.

Jenny was standing next to me. 

"What is going on, Nick?" Jenny asked.

"Casey sometimes gets fired up when it comes to certain words or behaviors or thoughts that are uttered at what he considers inappropriate times. It is a pain." I said.

"Damnit, Casey. Just shut up." Chris said. "I am not in the mood right now. I mean it. If Michelle says pray, you will close your eyes and fold your hands and offer some words to God."

"You know as well as I do. Prayer doesn't help. When does it ever help? It doesn't help. Everyone knows that Prayer doesn't do shit. From the time we were kids, we were always told say your prayers. God knows and listens to all the prayers right? Well, if he really does then what I have to ask is, where the hell were you? Where in the hell were you when there was all of this mindless slaughter going on in the world around us? You want me to believe? Then get rid of Lucas's suffering. If our so called 'God' does that, then I will believe." Casey said.

I shook my head.

"You know, I am a believer. I really am. This world is a terrible place. It is cruel and it is nasty and there is a meanness that I cannot really believe exists. The only person that seemed to quell that notion for me, was in fact Lucas. We would talk regularly, as we had for the past few weeks and he would tell me of his way to escape. You would be surprised that for a DJ, he doesn't listen to Music at all. No. None what so ever. What he liked to do was make Model Airplanes." Jenny said.

"Really?" I asked.

"Oh sure. He would call me or Liz and tell us of his latest model he made. Liz asked him on numerous times why would he do that. What did he tell you, Liz?" Jenny said.

"It was for one moment that even a DJ could feel the beat of silence as you were trying to put the pieces in the right spots. It was a certain kind of escape that even all the songs he played over the years couldn't offer." Liz said.

"What happened to him?" I asked.

"He was riding his Motorcycle on Mollander Drive. It was pretty rainy. According to the Police and Paramedics, he misjudged a turn and skidded on the rain. Heading straight into a tree." Chris said. His head hung low as he was speaking.

I felt like crying. 

"Lucas told me something that always caught me off guard," Casey said.

We all turned to Casey.

"He said that we were the closest family that he ever had. No matter where we were or what we were doing, we would always come together when the time was right. Just like a family would. I believe him." Casey said.

We all nodded. I never thought of us as a family. However, I could see it from Lucas's perspective. Throughout his whole life, Lucas sought some sort of normalcy when it came to his personal life. I knew that he never really liked to talk about his parents or his brother in Omaha. But when it came to his friends, I always thought Lucas was more than a friend. He was like a protective parent. He cared about all the people in his life and was above and beyond devoted. Whenever he called me, he would ask questions like a parent would. Then he would brag immensely about everyone in our group. I could always hear the swell of pride in his voice. 

For the rest of the night we shared stories of Lucas. The memories that we shared were positive. To me, it was as if we were attempting to eulogize Lucas. After we had all started to nap, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Michelle Dalmer came and got me. She had a smile on her face. I sprinted all the way to Lucas's room. When I got there, I was horrified at what I saw.

My best friend, his face was practically all covered up. His left side wasn't covered. Tubes hooked up to Machines. He was lifeless in person, only the Machine was informing us that he was alive and barely alive at that. I found a chair and pulled it up closer to him.

"You lazy bastard. You took me away from my vacation." I said.

"Cheyenne isn't a spot for fun," Lucas said rather hoarsely.

"Go to Rio." Lucas said.

Michelle and I laughed and hugged each other rather tightly. 

If I were to sum up what happened afterwards, I suppose that I could sum it up best like this.

I am at best a cynical person. World weary. I have had my doubts on the current state of humanity and those who would make me believe that a mighty man in the sky is watching out for us. But the fact that my best friend, who by all accounts should have died in that awful accident, is alive tells me that there is something out there. Or maybe it is someone that is watching out for us. In good times or bad times, we have that someone who will always be there when least expected.


© Copyright 2018 Robert Logan. All rights reserved.

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