The last I saw of him was a picture in a newspaper clipping. The small photo showed an angry young man. He had robbed a series of banks and when he was finally caught, he shot himself and died. In the newspaper, he looked like a monster. However, I know better. He wasn't a monster, he was my best friend.
We met at the same church back when we were little kids. He and I were the same age and I suppose we met in a Sunday School class. At church, we were inseparable. We played on the same basketball team, we ran track together, and we always sat together during the service. I can still remember the times that we would have a sleepover. I'm pretty sure we asked every Sunday night after church during the summers. We would always spend part of our days dumpster digging - walking down the alleys looking in the dumpsters for good crap someone else decided to throw away. The stuff we dragged back to the house was enough to drive our mothers crazy. Another thing that we did was build a volcano garden in his backyard. We would get vitamin bottles and put them on the ground and then pile the dirt around them like mountains. We'd then put baking soda in them. Once we had them all set, we'd pour a little vinegar in the bottle and watch the volcano "explode." The solution that ran over would make little pock marks in the dirt making it look like volcanic rock. He and I were fans of the Dallas Cowboys - who wasn't in the 70s? We would take our quarters and run down to the corner 7-11 and buy a package of football cards each. After that, it was comparison of the collections and trading. "I'll give you my extra Roger Staubach for your extra Bob Griese." I used to carry a small scar on the inside of my left forearm where on one of our sleepovers, we decided to become blood brothers. We both made a tiny cut on our arms and then held them together for a minute or two to allow our blood to mix.
His dad was transferred whenever he was 10 and they moved to Amarillo. He came back to visit once or twice after that, and I think we made one or two trips to see them. I also remember writing a few times, although with boys, that is usually a shaky proposition. We pretty much lost touch after elementary school although I did think of him often. I guess I'll always think of him whenever I make that long drive back home through Shamrock and Amarillo. I'll probably wonder if things might have turned out differently if we had managed to keep in touch.
He was a good kid. He was my best friend. You never again have friends like the ones you have whenever you're 10...
We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take
We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers
Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin' a fool's joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother
On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always movin' ahead and never lookin' back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I've gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all
But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart
My blood brother
-Springsteen "Blood Brothers"