Darla blamed me for Eddy running off to who knows where and not contacting her for three days. She asked me to find him and bring him home.
It was unlike Eddy to do something like that. I strolled over to my neighbor’s house and asked Zelda if she had any idea where I might start my search.
Fifteen and a half minutes after I had given Zelda twenty-five dollars and developed a severe cramp in my left leg, she came out of her psychic palm reading trance and released my hand.
“You will find Eddy in a field of carved stone.”
Getting specific information from a psychic is like trying to get a detailed balance sheet from a Wall Street banker. I had hoped for a latitude and longitude, but I left Zelda’s trailer with a pretty good idea where I might find my buddy.
I drove three hours and then turned off on a dirt road. It was dark by the time I made my way through the broken down gates of the old cemetery. The headlights of my car illuminated Eddy’s truck. It was parked under a large oak tree. Yellow and brown leaves decorated a good portion of its windshield. His push mower and a leaf rake sat beside the twelve year old Ford truck.
In the far corner of the cemetery, a Coleman tent had been set up. A lantern nearby glowed in the darkness. On the other side of it were a camp fire, a portable grill, and my friend, Eddy. He was sitting in a lawn chair petting a dog.
When I walked up to the fire to warm my hands, Eddy asked, “How did you find me?”
“Zelda,” I replied rubbing my hands together over the fire.
Eddy shook his head. “She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone.”
“She almost didn’t. It cost me an extra twenty to get the name of this place out of her. You should call Darla and tell her you’re okay.”
Eddy lifted the lid of his portable grill. The smell of hot dogs cooking made my empty stomach want to place an order with the cook. He moved three weenies over, placed three more next to them, and added two buns on the sides to brown them.
“I told Darla I was going camping.”
“Well, you know wives they like to stay in touch with us.”
He closed the lid, and then unfolded another lawn chair for me. “You want mustard on yours?”
I nodded and placed the extra chair next to his about four feet back from the fire. The warmth felt good.
After preparing two toasted buns with mustard, Eddy stuck cooked weenies in them and handed one to me along with a bottle of water.
“Thanks, I’m starving.”
Within thirty minutes, Eddy, I, and the dog had consumed three hot dogs each.
“Where did the dog come from?”
Eddy shrugged. “He just showed up the first night, probably smelled the grill. I don’t think he has a home.”
With ribs showing, and no collar on the animal, it was obvious the poor fella hadn’t been eating regularly.
With October 31st approaching, I sure didn’t want to spend two many nights in a cemetery. Not that I believed in ghosts or anything like that, but it never pays to push one’s luck on Halloween.
“How long you plan on staying out here.”
He glanced at me. “Until I figure out what I want to say.”
The leaves had been cleared away, and the grass had been mowed near a rectangle stone marker. I pointed to it. “Is that your father’s grave?”
He nodded. “Zelda called somebody who handles state records and helped me find him.”
At age twenty-two, my young friend still had a lot of healing to do. His father died when Eddy was a child.
“My father never had a chance to take me camping.”
I didn’t say anything. I just nodded and tossed two logs on the fire to counteract the drop in temperature. That’s the way it went the rest of the night. He talked and I listened until we both feel asleep.
The following morning, I awoke to Eddy breaking camp. He doused the smoldering ashes with water and cleaned the area up where you could barely tell we had ever been there.
When a young boy loses his father, he loses far more than his protector and hero. He also loses his way in life. Eddy had come to his father’s burial site to regain his direction. For those of us who understood, it was something that had to be done before we could continue our journey. A father needs to know his son is going to be all right.
“Did you tell him you’re going to be okay?” I asked.
He looked at the ground and shook his head. “I can’t stay here forever. Let’s go home.”
After everything was loaded up in Eddy’s truck, including the dog, he said he’d take the lead.
I went to my car and started the engine.
His truck hadn’t rolled ten feet before he jumped out and walked back to the grave. The dog followed him. Eddy stood there for a moment, appeared to say something, then he and the dog got back into the truck. Seconds later, we were on our way.
I followed in my car. We stopped once to take a break and refuel our vehicles. That’s when I noticed there was something different about Eddy. He appeared to be more confident. He had regained his path. I felt certain Eddy would never tell anyone what he said while standing at the foot of his father’s grave. He didn’t have to. I had a pretty good idea it was something like, “I promise to try my best to make you proud.”