Through a haze of sinister moving clouds a half full moon glowed in and out over the treetops at 4:15 a.m. in the morning in the tiny town of Johnsonville.
Rhett C. Davis had every intention of getting to his house away from home some hours ago in the village of Kingsburg, which was four miles east of center of Johnsonville. He would have been there by now via bicycle and far past the black night that hung over Lynches river like dark shadows and where spirits of restless dead black men lynched and thrown into the river still walked, except he ran unexpectedly into his old and dearest of friend, Taavi Ronaldo, whom he had not seen in some thirty years.
The sight of Taavi evoked tears of joy in Rhett’s eyes.
His dearest of friend was not alone. He was accompanied by his wife, Nancy, whom after thirty years had gained weight and she was very pale and no longer beautiful and was as wrinkled as old Rhett’s mother on the verge of turning 77.
There was something sad about the way she curiously at Rhett over and over again and, along with Taavi and Nancy, they were escorted by the couple’s only adult son, Tad, who smiled boyishly and shook Rhett's hand rigorously upon their introduction. Rhett had not seen the son, Tad, since he was a little boy and remembered Taavi loved to discipline the child in front of him and Rhett didn't like that and had told Taavi he was a mean father. Tad had was handsome and inherited his father’s Portuguese good looks with tight black curly hair and they both kind walked the same way--sexy and pigeon toed, and that made Rhett grin from ear to ear and Rhett only stopped when he caught Nancy staring at him again..
In the middle of the restaurant, a Mexican grill, which was the only restaurant and bar in a town that no longer had several restaurants and no department stores and no coffee shops, the grill as the lone drinking hole stood in the old Radio Shack and across the street directly from the jurisdiction of the Johnsonville Police Department and underneath the town’s imposing water tower.
For a long moment Rhett and Taavi embraced in the middle of the restaurant without seeing another living soul, save each other, and they kissed each other hard and passionately like long lost lovers and Tad was impressed and Nancy turned away..
In Johnsonville long after dark, downtown was not completely dead but alive with ghosts who walked the empty streets and if you listened closely you could hear them stumble in the darkness when the temp stood at 77 degrees and outside felt like a fresh rain had just fallen and all that was left was mist and steam from the heat that hovered above the vacant buildings and caused the street lights to appear blurry.
The two men were alone now without the wife and the son, and they sat on the high steps outside of old Hyman’s Restaurant, no longer in business like the entire two blocks of most of downtown.
In the steamy mist that hovered like San Francisco fog they sat very close and held hands and smiled talking about things they both remembered fondly like eating their first lunch together at Hyman’s and that crazy time when Taavi shared his sandwich and it was raining and they were in Taavi’s old yellow coloured Toyato and Rhett was afraid to eat the sandwich because Taavi had already bitten it several times and how Taavi had screamed at Rhett to eat it because his white mouth wasn’t poison and Rhett closed his eyes because Rhett never ate after anyone black or white or even family, and Rhett bit into the bread and meat where Taavi’s mouth had been, and Rhett and Taavi laughed and decided they were best friends from then on.
Were there any regrets?
Yes, but they had found each other again. In the moment of being alive among the ghosts nothing else mattered except they were together and happy with the other...