The Man Sitting in the Left Chair

February 13, 2008
By Jillian Mismas, Highland Hts., OH

It wasn’t John who was going to die.

No matter how much he mulled over his thoughts, he knew he was going to die in war. The man that sat next to him, Alex, he had known since he was a toddler. They exchanged jokes as they sat in the sparse restaurant wearing their uniforms and drinking beer to past the time. The two men thought of one another as less of friends and more of brothers. They had been their for each other through every hard aspect of life, and now, here they sit together, both American soldiers. But only one of them had such a horrible fate.

Twenty years old, Alex had much to live for. John, however, didn’t. Alex knew what he wanted his future to be. A scientist that will one day resolve the conflict of cancer. Marry a wonderful women named Lillian that he was to purpose to after he returns from war, and maybe even become a teacher.

“I’m just keeping my options open.” Alex said, as he scratched at his handsome face, describing his plans for the future to John.

“Do you know what my future’s gonna be?” John took a sip from his beer, his back slouched and his hair disheveled and unkempt as he ran his fingers through it. Just like Alex, John was attractive. It was difficult to decide which one was more handsome, for they both had striking features. Alex had nice brown hair with beautiful green eyes. John had a jaw bone that made him look more muscular without having to take off his shirt.

“What is your future gonna be, mate?” Alex asked.

“I plan on dyin’ in this place. Will you promise me to name your kid after me?” John downed his beer.

“Your gonna get outa here alive, mate. I just know it.” Alex broached, leaning on his chair for support.

“Not unless I jump in front of a gun. Listen Alex, you know as damn well as I do that I’m going no where in life. You’re the one who will have three kids with the beautiful and wonderful wife and have all of your dreams come true! Now me, I see death approachin’ real fast, man.” John looked at his friend he had known his whole life.

“You can’t jump in front of a gun! That’s suicide! You do that you mine as well kill me and go straight to hell! Besides, I wouldn’t let you jump in front of a gun, I’d take myself over you, mate.” Alex spoke the truth, he would most defiantly take his own life for his confidant.

“You got so much more to live for, man. I’ll kill you meself if you’d do that.”

“What’s going on with you and Jamie? I thought you really liked her.” Alex changed the topic of the conversation.

“I did like her, until I caught her and Sam in bed together, and they weren‘t sleeping. Bet you Lillian wouldn’t do that. You just got everythin’ man.” John envied his friends good fortune and luck. Though it was not based upon such incredulous aspects. Alex worked extremely hard to get where he is today. He would be in California right now, looking for a wanted manuscript to get published, but when John said he signed up for war, he went to join his friend. John pleaded for Alex not to join, nevertheless, Alex would not budge. He would rather be with his friend in war and become a soldier, he could do the manuscript when he gets back, he thought. Oh, by the way, he wrote a book based upon children who have been abused, based on a true life experience.

“I don’t got a father that loves or even loved me like you do, mate. You got to stop being such a pessimistic. You’ll find a great job and a wonderful wife. Trust me.” The words Alex spoke were nothing less then true.

“Sorry man, I forgot. You know how absentminded I am.”

“At times. If only you had self-confidence, you could do great things. You have so much going for you, but you just can’t see that.” Alex explained.

“No, I can’t and I never will.”

It was John who sat on the chair to the right, and Alex who sat on the left. It was the last conversation they had between one another, before the explosion happened.

It wasn’t John who died.

But the friend who had been sitting in the left chair beside him. The last exchanging of words they had:

John held his friend in his arms, blood was stained on his face, though the blood did not belong to him, but the person who lied in his arms, half dead.
“Please, Alex, stay alive! You’ve got so much to live for! Think about Lillian! Think about me! I’m the one that wanted to die! It wasn’t supposed to be you!” John cried, as his friend held his head and stomach. The bullet wound had gone through his entire body., and the brick that smashed his face had only done more damage.

“You have so much to live for, John. Please, take advantage of your life, because you will have the years that I will never have to live. Tell Lillian I love her and give her the ring. I love you mate…” Alex’s voice faltered. His grip loosened and John realized he was holding his hand up for him.
“No! Alex, come back! I need you! I need you!” John wept, and wept, and did not stop…

Six years later….

A man stands over a gravestone, still unable to say good-bye to a friend that has been dead for six years. The heading of the gravestone was as followed; Alex Euclid Fitch, youthful son and like a brother

“It’s been two years since I visited you, man.” tears already started to well within his eyes. “I miss you. I wish you were still here. I got your book published for you, and I told Lillian that you loved her, but I already told you that at least twenty times. I’m a teacher. High school. Eleventh grade. I like some of the students but some of them I just want to smack them across the face.” John laughed to himself, and though he was alone at that moment, he could hear the same laughter he had once heard before. It sounded like Alex’s. “You know, the explosion that one day, you really saved me. You told me to sit in the right chair because you thought it was more comfortable. Then you jumped in front of a bullet for me.” John chocked on his tears, reliving the death of his friend who was more like a brother in so many ways.


John cocked his head in the direction of the voice and whipped his tears on the ground. A small young boy about the age of four came running up to John. John embraced his child.

“Good-bye friend. I’ll see you in eternity.” John turned to his son as he started to walk away from the gravestone, his eyes glistening with tears. “Come on Alex, lets go home..."

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