He’s going to say, “Hey, Mirsky, wazzup?” and I’m going to . . .
“Hey, Mirsky, wazzup?” Harris says and keeps walking since he knows he’s not going to get an answer from me.
Next month is my twenty-fifth year of not talking to Harris. It’s also our twenty-fifth high school reunion. I haven’t decided if I’m going or not since most of my schoolmates still live in or near Bridgeport, Connecticut and the only difference is that we’ll see each other dressed up.
No one asks me anymore about the me and Harris brouhaha that precipitated my not talking to him. It was spring and we had only weeks to go before summer vacation and us jocks were sitting on the wall smoking while everyone else who wanted to hang out in the courtyard sat or stood anywhere else. Someone passed me a joint and I took three heavy hits and all I could see clearly was Harris in his red polo shirt that he wore two or three times a week.
I decided right then and there that I didn’t like his shirt and if I didn’t like his shirt I sure as hell wasn’t going to like Harris so I stopped talking to him. It’s true we were next door neighbors and in the same homeroom and played on the same intramural basketball games but I wasn’t going to let that bother me. I envisioned myself hopping off the brick courtyard wall and walking up to Harris, spinning him around to face me and taking out my switch blade and cutting all around him so he stood like a cutout doll from my sister’s doll book.
There were many times I missed Harris. We’d been best friends basically our whole lives and I refused to talk to his parents or mine about the reason I stopped talking to him. It became a way of life. Barely. It was in year ten that some bozo left his car in gear and got out to buy a newspaper when his car started to roll down the hill. It picked up speed and I didn’t hear it coming but Harris saw it and ran into the street and grabbed my arm pulling me out of the way of death by Buick. I got up from the street, brushed my clothes off and continued on my way as the runaway car plowed into the driver’s side of my Honda crushing it like a beer can. I know I would have been right by the door or just getting into the car if he hadn’t pulled me away but that didn’t mean there was cause for me to begin speaking to him again.
A couple of days later I picked up a Hallmark “Thank you” card that said “Thank you” on the front and two guys on ladders paining a house inside where it read “For helping out”. I didn’t address it or sign it but put it in his mailbox. He happened to walk out his door as I opened his mailbox and we passed, looking at each other and he said, “Hey Mirsky, wazzup?” I ignored him and went back to my house and ignored him ringing my doorbell for five minutes.
Now it’s fifteen years later and Harris is wondering around with his right leg in a cast up to his thigh maneuvering slowly with crutches and he falls off a curb trying to cross the street. A woman is in the car in front of him putting on her lipstick and doesn’t know he’s behind her back wheels so I have a dilemma. I most certainly don’t want to yell to Harris because it never enters my mind so I flag a passerby and point at the car and tell him he’d better stop the woman from backing up. If he hadn’t asked me to repeat what I said Harris would be well on his way to regaining his health; but how was I to know this guy was a foreigner who didn’t speak the language. When they held the memorial for Harris at our reunion everyone turned to look at me.
Paul Beckman collects memories and punchboards. Some publishing credits:
Pank, Connotation Press, Journal of Microliterature, Litro, Boston Literary
Magazine, The Connecticut Review & other fine magazines online & in print.
He’s had three collections and a novella published. His latest flash story
collection, “Peek” from Big Table Publishing came out in Feb. 2015 weighing
in at 65 stories and 117 pages. It can be purchased from his published story
website http://www.paulbeckmanstories.com or Amazon.