Is there an unbridgeable gap that divides friendships? Where is the crossover point where friendships divide and cannot be bridged? Are friendships forever no matter the circumstances that befall us?
The reality was that I knew my place in the pecking order. Derek was the clown, always in your face with his off color jokes trying so hard to make you laugh. Steve was the wise one always stating his opinion, continually expounding on the state of the world. Rick was the negative one, pointing out the inadequacies of everyone we met and dissing every person that ever lived. Which leaves me, the quiet one, the listener, the one who doesn’t like confrontation, the one who just nods his head in affirmation to the continual barrage of sound directed his way. The one who can be molded into the image of the friends he surrounds himself with
Being the quiet one doesn’t mean that my head is empty. There are all kinds of thoughts being processed as I listen to the ramblings of my friends. I wish Derek would just shut up with his off colored jokes, they’re not very funny. What does Steve really know about the world, everything he learns is from social media. Rick is giving me a gigantic headache with his constant negativity. Why can’t he say something positive for once. See I have a lot going on in my head. But we’ve been friends since grade one and friends put up with each other and stick together.
As the four of us swaggered down the street, listening to Derek’s latest off colored joke about a prostitute and a politician, the rain started. We sprinted for cover into the nearest doorway shaking our heads like wet dogs, wiping our hair to prevent the drips streaming down our face. So it was a few moments before Steve commented on the ragged bundle laying in the corner, clutching a brown paper bag and snoring loudly.
Rick never missing an opportunity took a few steps, crouching down to examine the snoring specimen and exploring the contents of the paper bag, an empty wine bottle. He lit a cigarette, took a deep drag and exhaled the smoke into the bundle of rags. Receiving no response Rick looked up, gave us an inquiring look, flicked his lighter and held the flame to the paper bag. The bag instantly burst into flame causing Rick to leap away, Derek to laugh hysterically, Steve to stare with fascination and I to leap forward and attempt to quash the flames with my foot. Rick grabbed the back of my collar and jerked me back, forcing me out of the doorway and into the rain.
The flames from the paper bag started to dim but random sparks made their way onto the bundle of rags, the homeless man twitched but continued to lay there snoring away. The sparks started to smolder, igniting his sleeve, small flames beginning to flicker up his arm. We all stared fascinated by the glow. Breaking out of my trance I pushed Rick aside. Reaching for the flaming bundle I heaved it along the ground out into the rain. The steady down pour quickly doused the flames and woke the homeless man. He stared around in bewilderment. Steve, Derek and Rick giving me a dirty look kicked the bundle of rags in the side as they strolled out of the doorway. I gave them a guilty look, shrugged my shoulders, gave the bundle of rags a double kick and followed my friends in search of another shelter from the rain. Derek broke the silence ” Have I told you the one about the French maid and the butler.”