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  • I don’t know why his arms are out, maybe to keep himself from falling down after another night at the bar – where I had probably had a couple beers while he had more than ten. Maybe a sobriety test, but just for us.

    When we were kids we stuck a bumpersticker to his mom’s car that said “I love to fart” and then rode all the way back from Berkeley, laughing in the backseat. Later, he couldn’t write with his right hand anymore and no one knew why. We both got into college a semester late and stayed in Palo Alto while all our friends left for school.

    A few years later his sister called. He had collapsed at a restaurant carrying a bus-tub full of dishes. A seizure. A tumor the size of a golf ball behind one of his eyes. And they were flying him back from school to get it taken out back home. I drove up I-5 in the middle of the night in my black celica, the windows open, trying to get there before they cut him open. I got there at five AM. He hadn’t gone in yet.

    When he got out, we were both adults…maybe. He was still doing the same stuff, urinating in alleys, opening beer bottles with his teeth, prank calling our old friends back home – who were now married. But I was done.

    Still, it was his couch I slept on when my wife and I separated for a while, and it was us he called when he was picked up for a DUI.

    Then my wife got cancer and everyone in our life came and showed up in our living room, asking what they could do to help…except him. And when he did show up, he drank every beer in my fridge and trashed my house. And that was it.

    I didn’t call him again. And he didn’t call me either.
    It’s been five years since I’ve talked to my oldest friend.

    I keep waiting for the phone – saying that he’s dead, or me saying hello again.
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