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Short Story #2

Here is another short story about a group of childhood friends that reunite. I wanted a lot of dialogue and to get the story going based around their pasts. It's about 1,500 words. Enjoy!

The Reunion

Jimmy entered the coffee shop. He hadn’t been back in the town of Ingleside in ages. It was like a long-lost friend he had known as a boy but rediscovered in this moment. He was filled with anticipation to see his old pals from high school. Those days were filled with wild times, mischief, girls, and fast cars. He was excited to see the old gang.

            “Jimmy!” he heard a voice yell from the opposite end of the coffee shop. He looked over and saw Dan “The Man” Schmidt.

            Dan used to be a hotrod king in these parts. He always had a different car or truck each year since he was sixteen years old. The other guys looked up to him since he was a year older. He’d been held back in the seventh grade. Now, he was an engineer on the West Coast—Southern California if Jimmy remembered correctly. He lived there now.

            Dan thought it would be a great idea if they all came back to their hometown of Ingleside and met up—sort of a “boy’s trip”. Jimmy, Bill, Craig, and he all lived pretty much out of state now, except Jimmy. He lived in San Antonio, which was about three hours away.

            Jimmy waved and headed for the table where Dan sat. He made his way through a maze of tables and chairs to get to his old childhood friend.

            “Dan, how are you?” Jimmy greeted as he approached. He extended his hand.

            “Get that shit outta here!” Dan said, pushing away his hand. “We give hugs after years and years ‘Slim Jim’!”

            Dan brought Jimmy into his arms and gave him a firm hug.

            “But I’m good, Jim. Thanks for asking!”

            They both sat down.

            “Where are the others?” Jimmy asked.

            Dan replied, “I’m sure they’ll be here in a minute.” He looked around and he could see Jimmy staring at him. “Isn’t it weird being home again?”

            They hadn’t been in Ingleside since graduation. They all went off to different colleges throughout the country. Jimmy went to NYU, and Dan traveled California and the Coast for several years before settling down and attending college himself, still in California.

            Jimmy said, “Yeah, it’s strange, but it feels like I never left. What about you?”

            “I could burn this place down,” Dan said, “And never look back. It wasn’t exactly my Golden Years. I wasn’t like you, Jimmy. I didn’t have all those friends like you had. You, Craig, and Billy were my buddies. Plus, my stepdad was an asshole and beat the shit out of me any chance he got. You know that. I had to leave. I left as soon as I got away from those high school doors. I couldn’t stay. It was hell for me here—besides the three of you guys.”

            Ingleside was a small town. It had two gas stations, three fast-food places (including a Whataburger), and a tiny grocery store called H-E-B. It wasn’t much. But growing up here was everything to Jimmy, although he lived elsewhere now.

            The plan was to meet up in Ingleside at the coffee shop Dan had heard of. It just opened a few months back. They were to meet here and then go out for the night. Later, they would talk about going to the river near Garner State Park. Jimmy was familiar with it since he lived in San Antonio. They would rent a cabin and have the best weekend of their middle-aged lives. They all needed it. Whether it was divorces or bad break-ups near forty-years-old, they all could use the trip out of town.

            Dan had flown in from California earlier that morning. He was jet-lagged, but it was manageable. He didn’t mind grabbing a coffee while waiting for his pals.

            Jimmy knew Dan had a bad childhood. But he also knew that Billy, Craig, and he were family—much more than his old man. He understood and nodded at Dan. He knew his old friend had it rough growing up. His stepdad, Lyle, was very abusive. He hit him with the belt any time he slipped up. Jimmy always felt bad for Dan. But at sixteen, what could he do? He was nobody but another kid then. Now, at forty-two, he just wanted to console his friend more than ever. He made sure not to bring up Lyle again.

            He did have a lot of friends growing up—Dan was right about that. Maybe not all close, but many acquaintances and friends of the family. He knew the whole town pretty much. I guess that’s why Ingleside felt so much like home to him.

            A tall man with a belly that protruded outwards walked into the coffee shop about five minutes after Jimmy had arrived.

            “Jim, there’s Craig,” Dan said, and nudged Jimmy’s elbow. He lifted an arm and waved, trying to flag Craig down. “Over here, you big over-sized goof!” Craig saw them. “Come on! We don’t have all day!”

            Jimmy was slightly embarrassed at how loud Dan was. He kept a sense of humor about it though and sat. He was all smiles as Craig walked up.

            “Hey, boys,” Craig said and acknowledged the two men at the table. “Cold as hell out there. Isn’t it?” He took off his coat and placed it on the back of the seat. He nestled into the chair with his big bottom. “How are you two fucks doing?”

            Craig had gone to college in Michigan for medicine. After his studies, he stayed and made a home of Detroit. He was now married with two kids.

            “Craig, you son of a bitch!” Dan said and laughed. He pushed Craig’s arm and drew back belting out a chuckle. He was overjoyed.

            “How ya been?” Jimmy asked him.

            “Good. I’ve been dabbling in stocks,” Craig replied.

            Craig was the youngest of the bunch, but by far the tallest and most robust. At fourteen, he weighed over two hundred pounds. He was large for his age—always carrying a snack and eating whenever he and the boys would venture out and look for trouble in tiny Ingleside. He was also the comedic sidekick really. He always had a joke to tell. He was the funny one of the four of them.

            “They say you can make a lot from that,” Dan said. “Good thing to get into.”

            “Yeah,” Craig said, “It’s proven true. I’ve prospered.” He then laughed.

            Jimmy looked around hoping Billy would show up next, but he was nowhere in sight. Billy was shy and timid—always had been ever since they met in the sixth grade. He was quieter than the others, but he truly was a lady’s man. For some reason, Billy always got the girl. And he loved science. Jimmy remembered when they were all in the eighth grade, Billy entered his volcano exhibit into the middle school science fair contest. It would have been a winner—if it hadn’t exploded all over Mrs. Peabody, the Junior High science teacher.

            “Jimmy, tell us what you’ve been up to these last few years,” Dan said. His squinty eyes beckoned him for answers.

            “Well,” Jimmy said, “I was married for about eleven years and that just ended a few months ago. But it had been a long time coming. I guess we kind of fell out of love like some people do.”

            “Oh, shit,” Craig said. “She messed around on ya?”

            “No. It was mutual. Things got stale, I suppose, and we agreed that we just weren’t meant for each other. No body’s fault. She filed and I signed willingly.”

            “Damn, ‘Slim’, I’m sorry to hear that,” Dan added.

            “It is what it is,” Jimmy said, then lowered his head. “I just thought I would have a family by now.”

            “It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be,” Craig said. “I have two kids. You can have one, if you want.” He laughed.

            The coffeeshop door opened wide, and in came a slender fellow with blonde hair and pale skin.

            “Holy shit! There’s Billy!” Craig hollered. “Billy!” he screamed.

            Jimmy was sure the staff of the coffee house had had enough of the hysteria coming from them. But he didn’t say anything as his childhood friends stood and waved to Billy. He waved back and followed the trail to the table where the three men were. Jimmy didn’t get up. Instead, his posture straightened, and he waved slightly with the others. Billy made his way over and got to the table at last.

            “Hey, guys,” Billy said, and took a seat. “How’s everyone?”

            Billy had rolled in from Florida. He loved Ingleside though. Almost as much as Jimmy did. But he wanted more. He wanted to see the world, so after high school, he moved to Florida for college, graduated, and traveled. He would send postcards to Jimmy and the gang. He had visited Spain, Italy, Ireland, and even the Middle East. Japan seemed to be Billy’s favorite though. Jimmy remembered the postcard from there. It had a long message on the back and Billy’s signature. Jimmy wished he could be more like Billy and venture out, but Texas was home—Ingleside was home, even if it had grown in the last decade.

            Ingleside, growing up, was a safe place to raise kids. Maybe not so much anymore, but on the outside, it remained quaint and cute. It was the quintessential town to have a family in.

            “You look good, Bill,” Dan said. “And I’m fine. Thanks for asking! Jimmy was just telling us about his heart-wrenching divorce. Care for the details?”

            Jimmy slouched. He was embarrassed.

            Billy said, “I’m okay.” He grinned.

            Craig looked around the room. “They don’t have any of those little sandwiches or anything like that for a big guy to eat around here. I’m starving! I could use a bite!”

            Dan chimed, “Don’t worry, Craig. We’ll get a bite after the coffee. But later. Not right now.”

            Craig looked disappointed.

            Jimmy asked Billy, “What have you been up to?”

            Billy replied. “Oh, the usual. Hawaii, China, and Ireland—trips around the world to sooth the soul, Jim.”

            Billy had led a life of a bachelor for years. After him and his long-time girlfriend had split up, he decided to find himself. He had traveled after college, but he decided to venture out again. He traveled—country to country—in search of meaning behind life. Jimmy wished he could do the same, especially after he and his wife separated, and finally divorced a year after they called it quits. He wished he had that kind of courage, but instead, he stayed put and worked. He put his nose to the grind so he wouldn’t think of his ex-wife and their failed marriage.

            “Are you still working on cars?” Billy asked Dan. He shifted in his chair.

            “No, not these days, Billy,” Dan replied. “I’m saving up for a boat. Might do a little traveling along the coast. See the sights and meet some people. You know? I’m sure you understand.”

            Craig interjected with, “I understand being a starving man.”

            Jimmy couldn’t help but laugh.

            Dan said, “Alright, alright. We’ll grab a bit now.” He looked at Jimmy and Billy. “Are you guys ready to get out of here and begin the night?”

            They were headed for a restaurant nearby and after, a few drinks at the pub.

            “Sure,” Billy replied.

            Jimmy nodded.

            “Thank, God,” Craig said.

            “Alright,” Jimmy said, and began to lift himself out of his seat.

            The others followed suit and got up. They all pushed their chairs in and took their coats from the backs of the chairs.

            “What restaurant?” Billy asked.

            “You’ll see,” Dan replied. “Some new place in town that I heard of. The barista here recommended it.”

            The small town only offered three options for dine-in. The third was the “new place” Dan mentioned.

            “Strip club too?” Craig asked.

            Dan laughed. “We’ll see about that one. But a drink for sure!”

            They all got up and headed for the door.

            “It’s nice to see you guys again,” Jimmy said, with a smile.

            “You too, Jim,” Billy replied.

            “Yeah,” Craig added.

            “This night will be a good night with friends,” Dan finished. “Then, we’ll head to Garner in the morning and set-up at the cabin.”

            They all exited the coffee shop and entered the evening night to continue their adventure with old pals from their childhoods. Each man had a story to share, and, in due time, they would reveal what life had been like since they had last seen one another. Old friendships rekindled over drinks and food. The four men celebrated their youth once again. It was a reunion for the ages.

A Short Story

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