Last Call

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A very short story about a very long friendship

It was St. Patrick’s Day and the bar was crowded as Fred and Ruth made their way into -30- about halfway through the evening.

They could have been mistaken for a couple. The regulars, though, knew them as co-workers and drinking buddies from the newspaper across the street. And because they were regulars, they knew exactly what they were in for as they slid into the last open booth in the place.

That booth was empty because it was next to Charlie and Al’s. Those two guys had been there as long as anybody could remember. Some people thought they even slept there. Maybe they did; who knows? Their framed picture from years ago was on the wall behind them. They looked young and handsome in those old uniforms.

Photo by Pressmaster on

What kind of uniforms? It doesn’t matter, really. Little League, high school, college. Army, Navy. Cop, firefighter. These guys went back a long way.

And they revisited those good old days, loudly, every night. Complete with raucous laughter at the same old punch lines to the same old stories.

After about a half hour of this, Fred muttered something, paid his tab and got up to leave. Ruth, surprised, followed quickly.

“What’s wrong?” she asked when she caught up with him outside.

“Can you believe those guys?” he growled. “Can you think of anything sadder, more pathetic, than two old men talking about their glory days?

“Yes,” she said softly, touching his arm. “When one of them stops.”


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