Texas Friend Blues- Jim Bates

Bio: Jim Bates lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in many online and print publications. His collection of short stories Resilience is scheduled to be published in 2020 by Bridge House Publishing. All of his stories can be found on his blog: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.

The knocking woke me from a dead sleep. I glanced at the bedside clock. Two a.m.. I went to the front door and looked out. An apparition was half turned, smoking a cigarette. I flipped on the porch light illuminating a figure dressed in worn camo. My friend Rick. He looked at me, crushed out the butt, picked it up and put it in his jacket pocket. Something was in his hand.
            Happy to see him, I grinned and opened the door.
            "Hi, Jessie, he smiled shyly. "I made this for you." He handed me a CD.
             Texas Fried Blues the label read. I was touched. "Hey, man, I appreciate it. Thanks."
            "It's got some kick-ass stuff. I think you'll like it."
            Rick was a war vet. He couldn't sleep most nights so he made mixed music CD's and gave them away to his friends.
            I couldn't help myself and inadvertently glanced at the clock. I had to get up in a few hours to go to work. "I'll play it this weekend."
            He grimaced, trying to, but unable to hide his disappointment. "Really? I was thinking maybe we could listen to it together."
            I looked at him, tall and thin and burned out. Haunted eyes sunk deep in their sockets. Stale sweat emanating. My heart went out to him.
            "Good idea," I agreed. Then I gently took his skinny arm, led him to the couch and sat him down. I went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee before joining  him, sitting side by side. I took the cover in my hand and read the song titles, stunned almost speechless by his caring nature.
            I put the CD in the player. "These songs look great," I told him and watched his face light up. Then I pushed play and sat back. "Let's have a listen."

            Old time blues from the deep south filled the room. From the kitchen I could smell the coffee brewing. It'd be a long night. I was looking forward to every minute of it.

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