A Good Friend
Steve Mount

Driving down the highway, the only thing Daniel could think about was the fact that he needed someone to talk to. A friend. He thought about it and he came up with a few names. Joyce, Allen, Liz. He decided to try them when he got home. God, I need a friend, he thought.

He pulled into the driveway and braked to a stop. He looked at his watch. The numbers were illuminated by the lights in front of the condos: 11:23. It's late, he thought. They won't mind. They're my friends.

He walked to his door and unlocked it. He slowly pulled open the door and entered. He looked into the mirror at the entranceway of his condo. His hair was flat looked into the to his head and in disarray. His blue eyes were darkened by their sullenness. His fair complexion was inlaid with deep lines of sadness. He looked terrible. The figure in the mirror didn't look like him.

He made his way from the entry and into the small living room. He took a deep breath and sat heavily on the couch. He pulled the phone to him and dialed Joyce's number. Answering machine.

"Hi, this is Joyce. If you're calling this late , you deserve to talk to a machine. Wait for the you-know-what." Pause.

"-BEEP-" the machine said. He sat for a second and then decided against a message. He pressed the disconnect button and dialed Allen's number. Three rings, and then, "Yeah."


"Yeah," said Allen.

"This is Daniel."

"Hey, Dan, how are you?" Daniel could hear Johnny Carson's theme in the background.

"Not real good, Allen. I need a friend to talk to."

"Aw, jeez Daniel, I'm kinda busy right now."


"Yeah, um, Janet's here, making us some drinks."


Pause. "Look, she's coming back. I gotta go. I'm really sorry, OK?"


There was a muffled "Thanks, honey. Hold on a sec." Then, "Call me tomorrow or something."

"Sure. Bye." -Click-

He put the phone down. He breathed slowly as he thought. Liz, he thought. I'll call Liz.

He dialed. Five rings. He was about to hang up and then came a weary "Hello?"


"Yeah. Who's this?"

"It's Daniel. Did I wake you?"

"Uh, yeah, but it's OK. Um, like, what's up? Why'd ya call?"

"I had to talk to someone. A friend."

"Uh-oh. Sounds bad."

"Yeah. Uh, my brother just committed suicide."

Pause. "Oh, gee, Daniel, I'm, I'm sorry."

"So am I. I just wanted to talk to someone about it."

Pause. "Look, Daniel, maybe you should talk to someone else. I mean, I'm not good with death, you know? I just don't handle it well. I mean, if you wanted to talk about religion, or politics, or whatever, fine, but, but death, I just can't, no, I can't talk to you about death, I just can't."

"Oh. Yeah. Sure, I understand."

"Do you?"

"Yeah, sure. I'm sorry I woke you."

"That's OK. Look, I'm really sorry about your brother. Maybe you could call Allen. He's, he's good with this kind of thing."

"Yeah, I will. Bye." -Click-

He replaced the receiver. Head in hands, he began to weep. Why? Why? Why?

He perked his head up as he thought of one more number he could call. He wiped the tears from his face and sniffled. He picked up the phone and dialed with shaky hands. Three rings. Then the answer.

"Hi, this is Daniel .... Yeah, I just needed a friend to talk to, that's all .... Are you doing anything? ... Good. Look, uh, my brother just committed suicide .... Oh, around four this afternoon .... Yeah .... Well, he did it this morning .... I've just been driving around thinking about it since I left work .... Yeah, the boss let me leave early .... Uh-huh .... Knife .... No, throat. Must have hurt like a bitch .... Mmmm .... Yeah, my uncle told me what the note said. It was type written, you know how he is .... I mean was .... Well, it basically said that he loved his family, the kids, and that the trial had just become too much .... Yeah, he thought for sure he'd lose .... Yeah .... Yeah .... Uh-huh .... Mmmm .... I know. I'm going to miss him, though. I loved him .... Yeah. Thanks. It was good talking to you, too .... Thanks. He would have liked that .... Yeah .... OK, b-bye."

Daniel got up from the couch, phone in hand. He placed the phone on the arm of the couch and looked at his watch. Yup, 12:04. I'm going to throw up, he thought and with that, he ran for the bathroom. The sounds of his retching and his sobs ran together in the bathroom. After a while, he knelt and thought, But thank God for friends.

As he turned away from the toilet and flushed, he curled into a ball and began to weep again. He still heard his friend on the phone in the living room. As his friend spoke, he began to cry louder and louder until the voice was drowned out. He wept for his dead brother and he wept for himself. Friends.

And still, through all the noise, his friend continued: "Orange County time, 12:13 a.m., Orange County temperature, 53 degrees. Orange County time, 12:14 a.m., Orange County temperature, 53 degrees. Orange County time, 12:14 a.m., Orange County temperature, 53 degrees..."

Back to the Index

Last Modified: 11 Jan 2000

Email comments to The Webmaster