Taking the phone into the bedroom so Delia wouldn’t hear the conversation, Dave resigned himself to the inevitable. “Yeah, all right, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just hang tight.”
“Ah, you’re the greatest man. I’ll never forget you for this.”
Delia walked in. “Let me guess, Bill needs something.”
Dave’s ears were burning. “Yeah. He does. I have to go do this. I’m sorry. You know how it is.”
Delia crossed her arms. “So what is it this time?”
“He’s in jail. Drunk and disorderly. He’s got the money, but I need to bail him first.” He looked away as he spoke.
Delia stared for a moment then left the room. Cursing under his breath, Dave went after her. “Delia, I’m sorry, I…”
“Just make sure you get the money, Dave.”
Grabbing his car keys, Dave headed out. All the way downtown he wrestled with his judgement. Why did he keep doing this? He was being used. But Bill was his best friend. He’d have a talk with him.
“Hey, thanks for bailing me out buddy. I really appreciate it.”
Unlocking the car, Dave got in and waited for Bill to get settled. “Look, Bill, we need to talk. I have to say…”
Bill threw up his hands. “Hey look, man, just take me home. I’ve got the money there for you. But you’re right, we do need to talk. I need to come back to the shop and start working again.”
Dumbstruck, Dave just stared. Bill grinned. “Hey, it’s our shop, right? I mean, I know I left for awhile, but I’m ready to come back now.”
“Bill, I told you a couple of weeks ago. Things aren’t going well. The landlord raised the rent again, and the street isn’t getting the traffic any more. People have moved on, I don’t know where. There’s barely enough money for me to get by. I’m hanging on, just.”
Bill wasn’t impressed. “Yeah? Well maybe you just aren’t doing things right. I’ll come back and put everything in order. You’ll see. It will be like old times.” He rolled down the window and lit up a cigarette.
“Bill, I told you, there just isn’t enough in it.”
“You know something, Dave? You’ve got a bad attitude, man. Why don’t you lighten up?”
A strained silence ensued all the way to Bill’s place. Driving home Dave ran a dialogue in his head of how the conversation should have gone. When he walked in Delia knew.
“I take it he wasn’t exactly thankful.”
Dropping onto the sofa, Dave laid down and put his arm over his eyes.
“Dave, you’ve been making excuses for him for years. I know you’ve been friends since childhood, but really, don’t you think it’s time for a change?”
“He wants to come back to the shop, Delia.”
“What?! But we’re barely getting by. No way. You have make it clear.”
“I did. You know what? Maybe I should just tell him to find the money and buy me out. Serves him right. He’ll go bust in no time.”
Thinking it over, Delia grinned. “You’re right. Do it. You can find something else. You’re good. Let him have it.”
Steeling himself, Dave picked up the phone and made the call. When he hung up Delia was looking at him in anticipation. “He said fine. He’s got a guy who’ll come up with the money for a piece of the business. A silent partner. I feel sorry for the guy, but that’s not our problem.”
The day before the deal was to be signed Dave was still angry. All the years he had put up with Bill’s antics, and now he was selling out his half of the business all because Bill wouldn’t see reason. What was he going to do with his life now? He had no plan. Delia was good with it all, but he was at loose ends.
Waiting at the shop for Bill to show Dave was still in a bad mood. The appointed hour came and went and he was beginning to think Bill was off on another adventure and wasn’t going to show when he heard sirens outside. Stepping outside he could just make out a large van turned on its side a block down and a fire truck arriving at the scene. As he looked a feeling of dread came over him. He raced down the block and got there just in time to see a fireman pulling Bill out of the wreck.
Dave stood there dumbfounded and then helped his friend to the sidewalk and sat him down. Bill reeked of alcohol and the sound of another siren heralded the arrival of the police. Bill tried to stand up, but Dave pushed him down.
“You’re not going anywhere, man. You have to face up. Besides, it’s your van, they’d find you anyway and then you’d be in worse trouble.”
Bill was weaving from side to side. “You gotta come bail me out man. I’ve got the money, I swear.”
Dave looked into his friend’s eyes and shook his head. “No, Bill not this time.”
He walked away as the police came over to collect Bill and he heard him cursing as he was led away. “What kind of friend are you, man? What kind of friend, damn you!”
He turned and looked one more time. “The best kind, Bill. The best kind.”