The Paperback Edition…
“WHAT are you doing out HERE?” I cried.
“And what part of guardian ‘watch over you’ angel…do you not get exactly?” asked Fred with just a hint of snippiness in his voice.
“I ‘watch over you’ ALL the time.”
I pulled out the breakfast bar stool and started to sit down and paused a bit to give Fred a not so friendly but rather meaningful look. He wisely drifted slightly away toward the patio door. He seemed to sense I needed some space…and why wouldn’t he?
I opened the bottle of Jim Beam and pored a couple of inches into my glass. I took a sip…it was AWFUL!
I got up and walked over and opened the freezer. I scrounged around and found some ice cubes in a bowl and tossed them into my glass. I returned to perch on the stool.
“Here’s to livin’ the dream…” I said and I raised my glass in a toast to Fred. He swayed a little. I nodded back.
“If I go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow…will I remember any of this? Will you still be here?” I asked.
Fred didn’t say anything for a minute or two. I sensed that he might be thinking…or perhaps not…
But then he said, “I don’t know…and…definitely yes.”
I took a bigger sip. It wasn’t that bad now…with the ice. I swirled it around a little.
“I’m not sure I can handle this,” I said hesitantly…and stared at the bourbon in my glass.
“Oh…you’ll be fine, Tobey. You’re pretty tough. You have to remember…I’ve seen you in action…during the good times and some very bad times…I’ve been with you your whole life.”
“…I hugged you when you cried…helped you create new swear word combinations when you were furiously angry…I tried to steer you away from people who were not good to you or good for you…and I even let little words of encouragement and love from your mom and dad seep into your subconscious when you were sleeping.”
“I even helped you get this job and this apartment. I could go on but I don’t want to brag…too much.” Fred swayed from side to side…obviously very proud of his accomplishments.
“Wow! That’s awesome!! And you didn’t need…like…permission to do all of that…right?”
“Oh, no,” Fred said confidently. “That fell totally under my job description. I can do a LOT of stuff.”
My glass paused on its way to my mouth…brain now seriously engaged in full speculation mode…