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.” 

About Jack LaBloom

I write suspense novels and short stories. I live with my wife in the Boston Mountains.
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16 Responses to THE PROMISE

  1. I actually teared up at this. The idea of sharing that missed camping trip with his father was so poignant. Liked this a lot!

  2. Beth says:

    Compelling and powerful. You should enter this in a short story contest!

  3. Jack LaBloom says:

    Thank you, Beth. You made my day. I'll take your advice and enter it at OWFI and in other contests as well.

  4. Jan Morrill says:

    Beautiful, Jack. Warm, tender and poignant. And what a sense of place! I felt the warmth of the fire and smelled the hot dogs. 🙂

  5. Jack LaBloom says:

    Thank you,Jan. Now that Eddy has a dog, the Hamptons may never be same.

  6. Beth says:

    Yea, good for you! When is the OWFI deadline? I must Google that. I've never been to that one.

  7. Jack LaBloom says:

    Beth, I'm so glad you're going to OWFI. It's going to be a great conference. OWFI is open for entries December 1 and theymust be postmarked on or before February 1, 2012.See you there.

  8. Russell says:

    Nice tight story, Jack. Made me want a hot dog.

  9. Jack LaBloom says:

    Thank you for reading my blog, Russell. Do you want mustard on yours?

  10. Rain Laaman says:

    Can I just say you are the nicest friend, Jack? Paying the extra 20, driving 3 hours to find your friend, and sitting and listening to him share his mind. Thanks for posting the story!

  11. Jack LaBloom says:

    Thank you, Rain. I really appreciate your comments.

  12. Wow, what an amazing story. Your life is so dramatic.

  13. Jack LaBloom says:

    Thank you,Tamara. I am so glad you liked the story. I really appreciate your support.

  14. Ruth says:

    Well, well, The Southern gentleman is quite a friend. And those fortune tellers will always tell you true.(as long as the price is right.) Loved the story but can't help but wonder, "What did you say to your dad?"

  15. Jack LaBloom says:

    Hi, Ruth. Thank you so much for reading my blog. You're right, Zelda always tells the truth, but getting a reading from her often results in a reduction of my net worth.I know you can figure that one out. 🙂

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