Flash Fiction: Last Call For Old Friends

By: John Patrick Robbins

Tom knew his old friend Rusty was on his last leg. And much like his owner the promise of a new day was shaky at best. The old dog kept more to his bed during the long winter months as his owner kept more to his recliner. Pouring drinks and watching the days pass slowly.

"Hell old man, don't we make a hell of a pair." The old dog with gray on his muzzle just looked at his owner, knowing full well at the end of almost anything said to him would be followed by a treat and his owner pouring yet another drink.

The only time it seemed either one moved from their posts these days was to either get dinner or relieve themselves. The old man was getting worse and old Rusty himself ached from the cold yet he kept holding on for his friend and owner.

He watched him go through his usual phases. From his rough morning ritual of cursing the world and spending hours in the bathroom getting sick. To his first few drinks poured and the semi happiness that ensued. The blaring music the deaf old bastard played. To the eventual tears when a song hit upon a memory and all too familiar nerve.

"Hell old man, looks like it's last call for me you old mutt." His owner said. Rusty just took his tossed treat, got a drink of water, and returned to his warm bed. Turned round and round in four circles and eventually laid down again.

That morning, Tom awoke like any other, rushed to the bathroom feeling half dead. After evacuating the scene of the crime, it certainly smelt so. His gut burned and his head ached. He made it back to that recliner and just laid there, wondering how much longer this could continue.

"Hell old man, you ready for breakfast?" Rusty was always ready to fill his gut much like Tom was always ready for another round. His old companion didn't even budge.

"Hey you old son of a bitch! Time to wake up stink up the world and bark at the neighbors."

Rusty still didn't move.

Tom knew his old friend had passed. He didn't need to check on him. For the silence said everything. The tears came naturally. Tom had lost more than a pet. He had lost a friend. They had known many a mile together and the road ahead was a dismal view from here on out. Tom poured a huge drink and toasted his best and only friend. That half gallon of Beam wouldn't be a match for him today.

He was into his twelfth drink when it hit him. The pain in the chest was as sudden as a bullet. And all too quickly, Tom much like his old friend, had left the confines of this dingy room to something far better.

There was just something not right in the noise his owner made that finally awoke old Rusty from his near coma. He viewed the old man slumped in his chair, a full glass on upon the table. Rusty knew the old man was gone. He ached as he arose from his bed to join his friend's side. He sniffed his hand. And although it shot pain through his aching bones he jumped up in his owner's lap. Gave the old man a farewell kiss, drank his drink and laid down upon his lap. Taking a final nap to join an old friend again.

Some friendships never truly die. They simply change locations.

Bio- John Patrick Robbins is the editor of The Rye Whiskey Review, Under The Bleachers and Drinkers Only. His work has been published with: Ariel Chart, San Pedro River Review, Mojave River Review, Red Fez, Punk Noir Magazine, Outlaw Poetry Network, Piker Press, Blue Pepper, Blognostics, Synchronized Chaos, Romingos Porch. He is also the author of Smoking At The Gas Pumps with Soma Publishing. Available everywhere eBooks are sold. His work is always unfiltered.

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