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By Michael Massee

        Everyone likes Norman.  You could even say everyone loves Norman.  And the feeling is reciprocal; Norman loves everyone back.  He’s a big hugger and kisser, both men and women, and has nothing but good things to say about all his many best friends.
        “But Norm, you can only have one best friend,” explained Alan, a co-worker at the accounting firm at which they are both employed.  “I mean there are friends and then there is a best friend.”

        Now, you have to understand that everyone who has known Norman over the years is very familiar with his Best Friend Syndrome.  He has a hierarchy of friends: best friend---very best friend---best best friend---dearest friend---favorite friend, the list goes on and on.   There are no ‘just friends’ for Norman.  When he talks about someone the dialogue goes something like this:
        “I was talking with my very best friend Paul yesterday and he told me about his vacation in Mexico.  My best friend Elaine had recommended Playa del Carmen to him and he said the food was outstanding and you know how Paul likes to eat.”
        “I got a call the other day from my best friend Trevor and he said that a favorite friend of mine, Stacy, was in the hospital, Harborview I believe.   I have a best friend, Doctor Samuels, who practices there, so she’s in good hands.”

        Norman is one of those people who just radiates good will.  He has filled his life with a wonderful family and with so many activities aimed at benefiting  those less fortunate than him.  He volunteers at the local soup kitchen, belongs to the Big Brother’s Association,  coaches a little league baseball team,  sings in an all-men’s chorus and, once a year, volunteers to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.  His latest endeavor is to find work and homes for immigrants who have, against all odds, made it into America.  “What’s the big deal?” he says when his friends complement him on his generosity.  “Unless you’re Native American we are all the descendants of immigrants.”  Everyone loves Norman.

        Norman’s great-grandparents fled the Ukraine and came to the United States in the 1920’s.  Sissy (Rosita),Norman’s wife is the granddaughter of immigrants who fled Chile in the 1970’s.  She and Norman have two gorgeous young daughters who are very smart and very athletic. 

        Norman and his family are world travelers and many of their trips are to third world countries where they volunteer to help on projects such as creating sources of clean water or establishing local industries.  Norman speaks three languages and, even when they are just vacationing, he is known for approaching total strangers and engaging in a conversation that always ends up with the stranger becoming his best friend.
        “When I was in Costa Rico, last year, I saw this young guy selling flowers and I asked him if he grew them as well and I found out his name was Marcos and where he was from and we had a café con leche and we parted best friends.”
        “During my visit with my sister in Philly, there was this woman standing on the corner of Broad and Walnut and she looked kind of lost so I asked her if she needed help. At first she backed away, which I can understand, but then, when she could see I was no threat, she said she was trying to find the Walnut Street Theatre.  I told her I’d be glad to walk her there.  On our way she opened up and talked about the audition she was late for and how trying to break into show business was so difficult and I talked about my doing some dramatics in college and by the time we arrived at the theatre we were best friends.”

        “Norm, am I your best friend?” asked Alan, as they sat on a park bench eating their lunchtime deli sandwiches.
         “That’s a silly question.  Of course you are.  I mean, how long have we known each other?”
        “Since Sophomore year in high school.  It’s just that you keep talking about your best friends and there seem to be so many of them.”
        “Really?  I guess I do have a lot of friends.  I like people---I’m kind of a  people magnet,” he chuckled.
        “Is there anyone who’s not your friend?” Alan said, taking a swig of his soda.  “I mean, you know, someone you don’t like or a person who rubs you the wrong way?”
        Norman thought for a brief moment and then shook his head.  “Nope.  No one that I remember.  I can safely say that I’m good friends with everyone I know.  It’s been like that all my life.  You know, I have one thousand twenty-two friends on Face Book.  I’ve never had to unfriend one and no one has ever unfriended me,” he said with more than a hint of pride as he wiped off a little smear of mayo he had gotten on his eye glasses.
        “Well, that’s great,” Alan replied, rising  up from the bench to dispose of his trash.  “Not many people can make that claim, nor would they want to.  I wish I could be friends with everyone like you do but there are some folks that just---my mother-in-law for instance and I’m sure you’ll agree Harry is  an asshole of an office manager.”
        “Harry and I get along okay.  In fact he has often said I’m like a friend not just an employee.  I guess it’s the luck of the draw, genetics, how I was raised,” offered Norman, as they started the walk back to the office, “Although, if I really think about it, it might be that I determined to not be like my parents.  They weren’t big on showing affection and our house wasn’t exactly what you would have called a friendly place.  But that’s unimportant.  As I said, I like people.  It’s just my nature.”

        All that you have read so far, however, changed radically a few weeks ago.  It started with an ad in the local shopping news.  Norman had placed it there instead of online because he was looking for a buyer who lived in the neighborhood.

Vintage Car For Sale
1974 VW Bug in mint condition.
Cherry Red exterior, Black upholstery.
Will accept any fair offer.
Call: 206 684 8344

        The response was a bit thin at first but Norman got some nibbles and, after turning down a few offers, because they were a bit below what he thought the car was worth, he invited a buyer to drop by.

        The evening of the appointment Norman looked out his front window and saw a tall man peering into his beloved bug and figured him to be the prospective buyer. He appeared to be in his forties and was dressed in Levi’s and a hooded sweatshirt.  Norman flipped on the porch light, opened the door and walked down the flagstone steps.
        “Hi there!  You must be David ,” he said extending his hand, “She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?”  The man nodded and gave Norman’s hand a quick shake.  “She was my dad’s.  He bought her brand new.  He gave it to me when I went off to college.  By that time he had moved on to a Volvo and then a BMW.  I call her Cherie, kind of a play on her color, you know, Cherry Red.  I retired her to the garage after we had our second child because we needed something with more room.  But I kept her maintained.  She runs like a dream.  You’ll see what I mean when you take her for spin.”

        During this monologue, David Watson, the prospective buyer circled the car checking the finish, the windows, the windshield wipers.  He kicked the tires.
        “New tires.  I replaced them last year and all the gaskets, anything rubber, you know, it deteriorates after so many years.”
        David nodded and handed Norman a check.
        “Don’t you want to test drive the car first?” Norman asked, taken aback by David’s swift completion of the transaction.
        “It’s fine.  I’ll test it when I drive away,” he replied with a crooked smile, “If there is any problem I know where you live.”  This caused Norman to cough out a nervous little laugh.
        “Right.  Well, here are the keys.  I know you will treat Cherie kindly.  She has meant a lot to me.  It was hard making the decision to sell her but we need the cash, growing daughters, mortgage---you know.”
        “Yeah.  So, you have the title?” David asked, holding out his hand.
        “Oh, right, yes,” Norman answered, “It’s in the glove compartment.  I put it in there yesterday so I wouldn’t forget.”  He patted David on the back.  “Well, my friend, she’s all yours.  I hope you‘ll love her as much as I do---did.  Maybe you’ll drive by once in a while so I can get a glimpse of her now and then.  You said you live around here, right?”
        “Yeah,” David answered, unlocking the car door, “ I’m about five blocks east of here.”  He settled himself down in the seat and turned on the ignition.  He adjusted the rear-view mirror, turned on the head lights, gave a quick wave to Norman and drove off.
        Norman stood watching his beloved bug’s rear lights disappear down the dark street.  Finally he slowly turned and walked back up to the front door.  He wiped away the tears as he entered the house.

        “You’ve been awfully quiet today, Norm,” said Alan, as he stirred milk into his coffee mug. He and Norman were standing by the counter in the office break room.  “Not like you at all.  How was your weekend?”
        “Fine. Okay.  The guy who bought Cherie came by and picked her up.  Seems like a responsible person.”
        “That’s good.  I hope you got a good price.”
        “Oh yeah.  Two thousand but it’s not---”
        “Wow!  That’s about what one of those babies cost brand new back in your dad’s day!” replied Alan, truly impressed.
        “Well, I was more concerned about finding the right person for Cherie.  I would have taken less for the car if someone who was a better fit had showed up but this guy seemed okay.   Now I’m a little apprehensive.”
        “Listen Norm, you made a great deal, you have space in your garage, you don’t have to pour money into keeping the car running, no more insurance payments---enjoy the freedom and you can finally buy Sissy those pearls she’s always talking about.”
        Norman nodded his agreement but by the time he got back to his cubicle he still felt uncomfortable.  He was worried that he had made a mistake.
        “I think I’ll give the guy a call,” he said softly to Alan in the next cubicle.  “See how it’s going.  His name is David Watson and I’ve  got his number on my phone.”
        “Geez, Norm, it’s only been---what---a day since he took the car?  Give it a rest, already.  You sold your car, it’s gone, it’s not yours anymore.”
        Norm, ignoring Alan,  punched in the number.  After a few minutes he spoke into the phone.  “Hey, David this is Norman.  I was hoping to speak with you but obviously you are busy.  Just checking in to see how things are going with Cherie.  Call me back , if you’re up for it.  Bye.”  He let out a little sigh and went back to his computer.

        At five o’clock Alan and Norman headed out to the parking lot. “Well, buddy, that takes care of Monday,” Alan said as he reached his car, “You wanna get a quick drink before heading home?”
        “Ah, no, maybe tomorrow,” Norman replied, “Sissy’s fixing an early dinner tonight ‘cause she’s got her book club meeting so---”
        “No problem.  See ya in the morning.”  The two men backed out of the lot and joined the rush hour traffic.

        The real reason Norman wanted to get on his way home alone was that he wanted to try and reach David Watson again and he didn’t want Alan to rag him about it.  He used his Bluetooth in the car to dial up David’s number.  It rang several times before it was picked up.
        “Yeah?” came the sound of Watson’s voice.
        “Oh, hi Dave, this is---
        “David---not Dave.  What do you want?” was the curt response.
        “Oh, I’m sorry, David.  I was just calling to see how it’s worked out with the car. Everything okay?”
        “Yeah.  Anything else?”
        “Ah, well, no, not really.  I just wanted to make sure you were satisfied and that there were no problems.”
        “Everything is fine.”
        “Great.  You know, when I---”
        “Listen, I gotta go now.”
        “Oh, yes, of course.  Just one more thing.  We’re having a cookout next Sunday with a lot of my friends and neighbors and we’d love to have you come by.  Since you’re technically a neighbor, you know---"
        After a short period of silence Watson replied.  “Yeah, well, I’ll be busy this weekend.  Thanks anyway.”  There was a click and the line went dead.

        Norman pulled into his driveway, turned off the engine and sat back.  This was very confusing.  He was just being his usual pleasant and friendly self.  ‘I mean, I presumed a connection had been made through the sale of Cherie,’ he thought to himself.  ‘He has sort of adopted her or maybe it’s more like he has become her foster parent and so we should be  having some sort of communication.  I don’t get it.’
        What he really didn’t get, if he would admit it, was meeting someone who wasn’t interested in being his friend.  It was as simple as that.

        The rest of the week was a busy one.   There were two big audits being worked on and both Alan and Norm were putting in some very long days and late evenings.  When Friday afternoon finally rolled around they were ready to partake of some liquid stress relief.  The Stumble Inn was the bar of choice and, after a short ride, they parked each of their cars and went inside.
        “Ah, the fragrant perfume of stale beer,” remarked Alan, as he and Norman slid into their favorite booth.   They ordered their drinks from Denise, the winsome waitress who had been working there since the Revolutionary War, and began to let the past week melt away.
        “So, big doings this Sunday, Mr. Normie man,” Tom said, stirring his Smirnoff on the rocks with his index finger, “Watcha serving?”
        “Oh, just the regular---hamburgers, hot dogs.  Sissy’s got a rice pilaf recipe she’s trying out,” replied Norman, sipping his Sam Adams, “You and Julie are still coming, right?”
        “Wouldn’t miss it.  Who else will be there?”
        “A lot of the old gang.  Oh, and my best friend from back east, Barry, he’s in town visiting his mom.  And I invited that Watson guy.”
        “You know, the guy who bought my car.”
        “What?  Why?”
        “Well, he seems like an alright guy.  And he lives nearby so he’s practically a neighbor.  And he could probably use---”
        “Normie,” interrupted Alan, “what is going on here?  This Watson dude bought your car, that’s it.  End of story.”
        “I know, I know, but I’d like to stay in contact with him because of Cherie.  I mean I didn’t realize how much I would miss her---”
        “Hold on there, pal.  It’s just a car.”
        “Yeah, I know, but it was such a big part of my life; school, meeting Sissy, my dad, the first house, the first baby.”
        “Okay, but you can’t keep bugging this dude.  It was a business deal, nothing more.  He paid you with a check, you gave him the car.  Over, done.”
        “But---I---no---no, you’re right,” Norman sighed and took another sip of his beer.  “It’s just going to take some time for me to get used to not having Cherie around.”

        The barbecue came and went and Norman basked in the memory of being surrounded by so many of his friends, both ‘best’ and regular.  The weather was beautiful and Sissy’s pilaf was excellent.  But he was disappointed that David Watson didn’t show up.  He had hoped that Watson would arrive, driving Cherie of course, and that he could introduce him to his circle of friends. ‘ Perhaps I should have given him a follow-up call to remind him about the cookout.  Yeah, he probably forgot all about it.  I mean, who turns down free food and booze?’

        Alan was looking a little under the weather when Norman got to the office the next morning.  He was nursing a cup of Starbuck’s and staring at a photo of a puppy on his computer.
        “I think I overdid it at your party, my friend.  One vodka too many, I’m afraid.  How you doing?”
        “Good.  You need an aspirin or something?  I think I have a Tylenol in here  somewhere,” Norman offered as he dug around in the pencil mug on his desk.
        “Nah, I’ll be okay.  Tylenol doesn’t work for shit anyway.  Except to damage your liver.”
Norman smiled and started sorting the spreadsheets on his desk.  The workday had begun.

        At ten o’clock the two men stood up, stretched and headed for the break room.  Alan filled his Seahawks mug with much-needed caffeine while Norman leaned against  the counter and entered a text on his phone.
        “Who ya writing to?” queried Alan, as he stirred extra sugar into his coffee.
        “Just a short hello to the Watson guy, to see if he’s okay.”
        “You mean the guy who bought---Norm, what the hell?!”
        “Well, he didn’t come to the cookout so I thought I should check and---”
        “Norm, he didn’t come because there was no reason for him to come.  He’s just some stranger that purchased your VW and, may I remind you, payed you a good price and doesn’t know any of us from Adam.”
        “Yeah, right, but it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the opportunity to get to know us,” Norman replied, as he stared at his phone’s screen.  “Maybe, he could use a good friend, you never know, and---” His phone dinged with an incoming text.

who is this?

        “What was that?” Alan asked, as Norman began texting a response.  “Did he get back to you?”
        “Er, yes.”
        “Well, what did he say?”
        “Oh, ah, that he was okay.  Just had a stomach thing on Sunday.  Was sorry he missed the party.”
        “Really?  That’s surprising.  I don’t know, it sounds to me like he’s just being polite.”
        “Maybe.  Anyway, I just wrote him back that he’s always welcome at our house.”
        What Norman actually texted back to Watson was:

hi its yr friend Norman

        And what Watson sent back to him was a semi-polite demand that he, Norman, cease and desist from trying to contact him.  Would that Norman had honored this request.

        In the weeks following, Norman continued to make neighborly overtures to Watson by phone, texts and emails.  At first he limited himself to only one a day. But eventually he upped it to twice a day; once in the morning, on the way to work, and then in the evening on his way home.  He was careful to not let Alan know of his friendly pursuit of Watson but every once in a while Alan sensed that something was going on.
        “You aren’t still bugging that dude that bought your car are you, my fine friend?”
        “No, of course not.  If he wants to contact me it’s up to him.”
        “Why, in god’s name, would he want to get in touch with you?”
        “Well, if something went wrong with Cherie, you know---”
        “If something goes wrong with that car it’s his responsibility to take care of the problem, not yours,” Alan responded, with a slightly exasperated tone to his voice.  “Jesus Christ, Norm, let it go---just like that song, let-it-go!”

        But Norman couldn’t let it go.  For the first time in his life he met someone who wasn’t interested in being his friend.  Not only was Watson not interested, he was completely ignoring all the messages Norman was sending.  It was as if he was shunning him.  It was an experience Norman had never been through and he was determined to remedy it.  He decided to write Watson a real letter, the kind that used pen and paper and that you stamped and mailed.  He had spent a Saturday afternoon driving around the neighborhood and spotted his dear red Cherie parked in front of what he presumed was Watson’s house.  So now he had an address.

Dear David,
        I have been trying to reach you for several days with no success.  It may be that your various services are down or that you are very busy so I thought I’d drop you a line.  I hope all is well with you.

        I feel that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot and I would like to correct that.  When you took ownership of Cherie (how is she by the way?)I felt that she was in good hands and that a bond was formed between the three of us.  It seems you might not have felt that way and misunderstood my intentions.  The simple reality is that I am a very friendly guy making new friends all the time and so I would like you to be one of those friends.  That’s it, the whole enchilada, as they say.
        Please let me know that you got this letter and that you understand my motives.  I’m sure we will become friends, maybe even best friends.
why not!

Yours truly,
Norman Whittel

PS: Feel free to contact me at any time.

        And he did contact him two days after Norman had posted the letter.  It was a text.
please stop annoying me or i will report you to the cops

        Norman was stunned.  This couldn’t be happening.  Such a hostile response.  Something  was very wrong.  He knew he had written a good letter.  He actually gasped as he stared at his phone’s screen.  Alan looked over, from his computer, at Norman.
        “What’s wrong buddy?  Are you alright?” he asked, stepping into Norman’s cubicle.  “You’re pale as a sheet.”
        “No---well---I just got this text—”
        “From who?” Alan asked, grabbing Norman’s cell phone.  He read the text and knew immediately who the sender was.  “God damn it, Norm!  I told you to leave this dude alone.  He’s absolutely right about contacting the police. It’s like you’re stalking him!”
        “No---no.  I’m just being neighborly---friendly, that’s all.  It’s no big deal.”
        “Norman , it’s creepy.  I mean he must think you’re a pervert, or something, like you’re coming on to him.  If I didn’t know you were straight as an arrow I would begin to worry.  This has got to stop.”
        “I think he just misunderstood.  I’ll  explain to—”
        “NORMAN!” Alan exploded, speaking loud enough for the whole office to hear.
        “Okay, right, you’re right.  Calm down.  I’ll stop, already.  Don’t have a coronary.”
        “I just don’t want you to get into any trouble, buddy.  Promise me, no more ‘friendly’ communications with this guy, okay?” Alan asked, as he handed Norman back his phone.
        “Er—okay.  I promise,” Norman replied, as he crossed the fingers of his left hand which was conveniently hidden under a spreadsheet on his desk.

        Norman kept his promise for a while.   But after a week had passed he felt he really needed to resolve the situation.  Probably the best thing to do was to ask for a meeting in which he could explain his position and assuage any fears David might have.  Let him know that he, Norman, was his friend and that he wanted nothing more from David than his friendship.  Yes, that was it, clear and simple.  He wrote Watson an email stating this.  An hour later a response arrived on Norman’s home computer.

           what the fuck man!  are u completely nuts?
           i don’t want to meet up with u 
           im not yur friend   yur not my friend
           i wouldn’t be yur friend if u were the last human on earth
           im sick an tired of all yur fucking texts n emails n phone calls
           i bought yur stupid car! thats all faggot!  that doesnt make us besties
           u contact me again or come near my place im calling the cops!
           u understand?

        Norman didn’t understand.  All that hate that spewed out from the screen of his laptop.  All those violent, vitriolic phrases, those angry responses to his kind and friendly letter.  Why?  Where did he go wrong?  ‘I know I’m a good person,’ he thought to himself, ‘ I’m a good husband, a good father.  My friends like to spend time with me.  I’m a good story teller, everyone likes my jokes.  I’m always there in an emergency to help out.  Everyone likes me---except David Watson.’  For the first time in his life Norman was ready to give up.  Maybe it was a lost cause after all.

        If Norman had been able to accept the David Watson incident as a failed attempt at friendship perhaps what ensued would not have happened.

        It was on a rainy and windy Sunday evening, about a month after Norman had received that blistering email from David Watson, that he came to a decision.   He had refrained all this time from communicating with David in any way.  It was difficult but he used the days and nights wisely to reflect on the situation. He eventually came to the conclusion that he had only two choices;  to, as Alan had said, ‘let it go’ or to work it out between David Watson and himself.  Having let go of very few things in his life, certainly never a friend, he felt he couldn’t abandon David.  A face to face, one on one, meeting was the only answer.

        Telling Sissy he was going to the liquor store to replenish his dwindling supply of Sam Adams ale, he got into the family SUV and headed off  to  Watson’s nearby
neighborhood. He thought about stopping somewhere and picking up a potted plant or a bottle of something but that seemed a little---gay.  He had also debated on whether he should have called David first but felt it was best to just show up---the surprise element.  Of course he might not be home but he’d take that chance.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

        It was dark as he approached the small ranch style house that belonged to Watson.  There was his beloved Cherie parked in front.  He pulled alongside the curb in back of her and turned off the engine.  There were lights on in the house and that would mean David was probably home.  Norman sat for a few minutes gathering his courage and watched the raindrops ski down his windshield.  The yellow glow from the house’s windows made the drops sparkle like Christmas tree lights. “Enough,” Norman grunted, “It’s time.” Reaching into the glove compartment he pulled out the Colt Mustang 38 he kept there for protection and slipped it into his jacket pocket. Turning up the collar on his coat he opened the car door and stepped out into the rainy night.

        The rain was gentle but he was somewhat damp by the time he reached the front step.  He thought about knocking on the door but that seemed a little too aggressive so he looked for, and found, the doorbell.  When he pressed it he heard a muffled buzzing sound coming from somewhere in the house.  A moment later the porch light went on.
        “Who is it?” came Watson’s voice from behind the door.
        “Ah---it’s Norman Whittel.”
        “Norman---Norm Whittel.  You bought my car.”
        “Oh shit!” And with that the porch light went out. “Go away, get out of here!”
        “Please, David, I just want to talk to you for a few minutes.”
        “Get the fuck out of here before I call the cops!”
        “I came here to apologize for any trouble I may have caused you.”
        “You’re not listening to me.  I said get away from my door.”
        “Please, I’m truly sorry.  I just want to explain and try to make amends.”
        “Make what?
        “Please, open the door.  I’m getting sort of wet out here.  I won’t take more than a minute of your time.”
        There was some rustling noises behind the door and then the porch light came back on.  The door opened a crack and Norman could see one brown eye, a nose and half a mouth above a slice of white undershirt and green sweat pants.
        “Please, there’s been a big misunderstanding here and I just want to make it right,” Norman said, putting on his famous ‘I’m your very best friend’ smile, “May I come in.  The rain is coming down harder now and I’m getting soaked.”
        “Oh what the fuck,” Watson whined, “I’ll let you in but you have exactly one minute and then you’re outta here.”  He swung the door all the way open and Norman squeezed by him and stepped into what seemed to be the living room.  It was furnished in some very tired Southwestern style furniture but Norman was amazed to see walls covered in photos and posters of antique automobiles.
        “Wow!  Those are some beautiful cars.  Is that your hobby?”
        “Fuck no.  I restore vintage cars and then I sell them.  That’s my business.  That’s why I bought your old VW,” Watson growled. “ Now, you got sixty seconds to say what you have to say and then you are out of here.”
        Norman wiped the rain off his glasses with his handkerchief and smiled again.  “Thanks for letting me speak with you, Dave---David.  All I wanted to say is, that as your friend---”
        “For Christ sake,” Watson barked, “you are not my friend!”
        “But I am,” Norman replied, “ I truly am and I want you to know that.”
        “Are you some sort of Jesus freak, some kinda crazy religious nut?  That’s it isn’t it?”
        “No, David, I’m just a nice guy who wants you to understand that I am really your friend.  It’s important that you know that, that you believe it.”
        “This is so crazy!” Watson muttered,  “Okay, times up.  On your way, friend.”
        “Oh, thanks for seeing the truth at last!” Norman said excitedly.
        “What the shit?  What truth?”
        “You just called me ‘friend’ didn’t you?
        “What the---I was being sarcastic, you numbnuts!”
        “I’m feeling a little shaky, David,” Norman uttered as he leaned on the arm of the sofa, “May I sit down?”
        “No, you may not!  Get the fuck out of my house NOW!”
        But Norman was already sitting down on the sunken cushions of the fake Navaho print sofa.  He rested his head on the back edge and closed his eyes.
        “What the fuck are you doing?” asked Watson, standing by the open front door.
        “I’m sorry, just give me a minute to pull myself together and then we can continue.’
        “Continue?!  What?  There’s nothing to continue!”
        “Just one more thing and then I can go.”
        “Listen you stupid wanker, I want you gone.  Get the fuck out of here!”
        Norman sat up and opened his eyes.  “Close the door, David.  The rain is blowing in.”
        “Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  Now you’re giving me orders in my own house!” exclaimed Watson as he slammed the door shut so hard the walls shook.  “Okay, what’s this last thing business?”
        “Well, you’ve accepted me as your friend---”
        “Wait a minute---
        “And now you need to tell me that you’re my friend, my best friend Norman said softly as he stood up and walked towards Watson.
        “You are absolutely bonkers,” replied Watson as he backed away from Norm, “You know that don’t you?”  He reached for his cell phone on the kitchen counter. “I’m calling the police.”
        “Please don’t David.  Let’s just finish this agreement.  It’s very easy. We become best friends.”
        “Are you kidding?  Over my dead body, loser.”
        “I don’t want that to happen, David,” responded Norman, as he slowly pulled his gun out of his jacket pocket, “I just want you to tell me you are my friend.  I told you I’m yours, right?”
        “Shit, man, you have gone off the deep end for sure.  Just put that little baby back in your pocket and walk out of here and this will be all over.”
        “It will be over when you say ‘Normie, I’m your friend.” Tears were forming in his eyes.  “Please, David, please,” he begged as he wiped the tears away with his free hand.  When he had cleared his eyes he found himself starring into a Smith and Wesson pistol.
        “It will be over when you are out of here, Norm-ee” barked Watson, “You look shocked.  Yeah, it’s a gun.  You think I’m going to open my door to any stranger without some kind of protection.  And, look at that; mine’s bigger than yours. I guess size does matter.”

        Norman and Watson stood facing each other like two 19th century duelists but with only three feet separating them from each other.
        “You like movies, Norm-ee?” asked Watson, “Westerns?  This is like an old western.  We’re in what they call a Mexican Standoff.  Not a politically correct term these days, I guess, but here we are.”
        “Please, David, be my friend,” whispered Norman.
        “Oh, Jesus, Normie, give it up.  Look, I could say I’m your friend but I’d be lying and you’d know it.  Forcing me at gun point?  Really?  Let’s put down the guns and end this.”
        Norman starred at David Watson through eyes full of tears.  He started slowly moving towards the man who had taken away his Cherie, the man who refused to be his friend.  No one had ever refused to be his friend.
        “Please, David, be my friend.”

        The funeral for Norman Whittel was really something.  So many beautiful flowers sent by friends from all over the world.  The chapel was packed to the proverbial rafters with hundreds of Norman’s friends.  The music was played live by a string quartet of musician friends conducted by his best friend, Gustavo.  The All Men’s Chorus sang a medley of Beatle’s songs.  Sissy and her daughters were dressed to the nines in designer black.  Everyone commented on Sissy’s handsome strands of black pearls.
        Alan, as Norman’s very best friend, gave the eulogy.  He made it through but with several pauses to wipe his eyes and clear his throat.  The coffin was a beautiful dark mahogany but it was kept closed due to the condition of the deceased.  Everyone was horrified when they first heard what had happened to Norman.

        The police report said that, after receiving a 911 call, they entered the residence of a David M. Watson to find the deceased, Norman Dean Whittel, lying on the floor in a pool of blood.  He had been shot twice, once in the chest and once in the face.  Mr. Watson claimed the deceased had entered his home uninvited and after making certain crazy comments and unreasonable demands pulled a gun and threatened to shoot Mr. Watson.  Mr. Watson then revealed to Whittel that he also had a weapon in the hope that it would deter him but instead the deceased lunged at him and during a struggle both guns were discharged accidentally, killing the deceased.  Mr. Watson was not wounded.  The case is being investigated.

        Of course, as it is with all sensational scandals, everyone has a theory as to what really happened:  a drug deal gone bad, a lover’s quarrel, a jealous husband.  However, only one person knows what probably went down on that rainy night; Norman’s best friend Alan.

        Almost everyone loved Norman.”

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