July 1986

July 4, 2016
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In July of 1986 two young men sit on someone else’s roof deck, a half empty six-pack of beer next to each of them. Their bodies and brains are worn out from roofing houses in a rich neighborhood under the Texas sun. Laughing and watching the sun go down, they promise that one day, when their bodies and brains are worn out and they are no longer unstoppable, their children will be friends. They will buy property near each other, far away from whatever monsters of mundanity have grown like Spanish moss over their lives and they will drink six-packs of beer and teach their children how to barbeque and play kick the can. The sun disappears and they finish their beer, still smiling.

Thirty years later one of the men has just turned fifty-five. He sits on a deck he built himself in the hot Pennsylvania sun looking over his property, watching the sunset and sipping Dr. Pepper. He doesn’t drink anymore.

The other man couldn’t keep his promise: it was drugs, or suicide, or some combination of the two. He died wild. Maybe the universe realized he couldn’t be tamed.

Even so, the man has done everything in his power to hold up his end. He does not have the wife or the job or the body he expected but he has bought property far away from the city where mundanity threatens to infect him. His daughters know the other man’s legend. He is teaching the older one how to barbeque. The younger one doesn’t know how to stop laughing- it reminds him of his friend. The older one still believes she is unstoppable- it reminds him of his friend. The other man has been dead for twenty-six years, and he still sits next to him. They raise their glasses. The sun disappears. They’re still smiling.

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