“It’s been fun guys. See you all next time.”
I stood on the driveway and waved as the last one drove away into the night. I watched the car until it turned off our street and then looked back towards the house. A handful of lawn chairs were scattered in a loose circle on the driveway. My friends and I had spent the cold winter night sitting in those lawn chairs, smoking cigars and sipping bourbon. Hanging out in the driveway as we had so many years ago. One seat left vacant.
Of course, back then, there hadn’t been cigars or bourbon. But, we were younger then and not as concerned with such rambunctious behavior. Back then we just talked about what we thought mattered most: life, the universe, and everything. We would stare up at the stars, and try to unravel the mysteries behind them. We would create a set of new slang words and argue over what their definition would be. Sometimes we would grab a basketball and play a game that involved what we were all good at: not coming anywhere close to even making a basket.
The driveway had seen us graduate from high school and college. It had watched us haul all sorts of musical equipment across it. It had probably even heard much of the racket from the room above the garage. Though some who shared that space moved on, there was a core group that always returned.
This night, though, we mainly talked and smoked and drank. It was a time of remembrance, for honoring one of our own. The one who would have filled the vacant seat. The Bradman. He had died just over a year ago.
Over the course of the evening, we shared many stories. We laughed, we cried. We laughed then cried. But in the end, there had been more laughter than tears. There had been so many good times. So many things worth remembering.
I glanced back at the chairs staring at a bucket that we had placed in the center of the circle for the finished cigars. Flakes of black ash dotted the concrete. The night wind swept them away. Paper cups were strewn about the chairs as well, and I gathered them up to keep them from sharing the ash’s fate. Though someone had brought nice bourbon for the evening, we were not so high and mighty as to have nice goblets to hold the drink.
After cleaning up the mess we had made, I sat back down in my chair, the infamous fish chair, for a moment more before heading back inside. It was late, but I took the time to pause and stare up at the stars. I wondered as we all often had about the potential mysteries that lay beyond the twinkling dots of light.
I startled in my seat a bit as a shiver coursed its way from my toes all the way up my back. My head had been lolling. Had I fallen asleep? I never wore a watch, so I had no idea what time it was. I stood up and took one last walk down the end of the driveway and back. I yawned and stretched my arms, realizing that it was almost time to retire. It was then that I noticed that one of the lawn chairs from the circle had disappeared. I swept my head from side to side, thinking that perhaps a strong gust had sent it tumbling into the yard. If so, I didn’t see it. I couldn’t believe I had lost one of the chairs. And it was even the chair we were saving for Brad.