By Alex Rang
My Buddy Reeko called me up early one Thursday morning.
"Yo Chico," he said (I don't know why he called me that), "we ain't going to school today. Pick me up."
"Who is this?" I asked, though I already knew. "Yo Chico, it is me Reeko. I changed my mind, I'll be over in five." And then he hung up.
Well, four minutes and fifty-four seconds later, my front door opened and Reeko walked in.
"I had to hide in your neighbors bushes 'cause your mom drove by. I think I broke 'em. If they ask, you know nothing." He spoke loud and with confidence.
I was standing in the kitchen cutting a bagel. Sleep was still in myeyes; it was too early to be with Reeko. Reeko wasn't very tall, but he wore such big clothes he looked big. Everybody called him "Reeko" because he wore so much cologne. His real name was Joshua. His hair thick, black, and dirty. It stuck out in each direction about 5 inches. He was carrying a skateboard; he never went without it. He looked smooth, he really did. It kind of disgusted me.
"Yo Chico, we going to Louisville today, so put on some clothes. Hurry, the show starts at one," he commanded.
"What show?", I had no idea. This is so typical of Reeko to have his day planned out, as well as mine.
"What are you talking about? I got to go to school today," I said this, though I knew he had already made my mind up for me.
"No you're not, I told Caesar we'd pick him up at eight thirty.
That's in fifteen minutes, so hurry up," he barked.
I went to my room as my bagel toasted. I got there and dug around on the floor to find some clothes. When I returned to the kitchen, my bagel was more than just toasted.
"Yo Chico, where did you get these bagels, these are pretty good."
"You're a jerk, what am I supposed to eat now?"
"I don't know. Get your jacket; we got to go."
And that was that; he barges into my house and takes my bagel. I went out to my car. Reeko followed slowly.
"Reeko, shut the door!" I yelled back to him.
"Oh yeah, sorry."
I can't believe him sometimes. He just walks around with no care in the world.
"Let's go get Caesar," Reeko chimed.
Caesar was a completely different person. People sometimes wondered why he hung around with a bunch of slackers like us. They said we dragged him down. He was the guy that was going far in life. He was extremely smart, good looking, and came from a prominent wealthy family. He loved everybody and everybody loved him. Maybe that was his problem, though. Well, that and his lungs. He had the worst case of asthma I'd ever heard of. When he was little and always running around, he would constantly become short of breath in minutes.
Once, he was in the hospital hooked up to a machine that breathed for him.
Since then, he has always been in and out of the hospital. He can't do a thing; play sports, run, he can't even skate with us. Doctors warned him never to let his inhaler out of sight. I didn't know a soul that wasn't fond of Caesar.
"Who are we going to see, anyway?" I asked.
"De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, and A tribe Called Quest, are having a benefit show. It's only seven dollars. Gonna be phatt," he said with a sly grin on his face, "P-H-A-T-T, phatt." I smiled.
Though we seemed like hated each other, it was just a way of keeping us on our toes. Reeko and I got along really well, we had been friends ever since the 6th grade.
As we turned down Caesar's Street, a cold chill went down my back. I stared forward, I knew what was wrong. I looked at Reeko; he saw what I saw.
Outside Caesar's house, an ambulance was parked, and emergency care people were running all around. A crowd was gathering in the front yard. I slowly pulled the car up and looked over at Reeko; he was sitting straight up trying to see through the crowd. I crept the car forward until I could see. Caesar's mom was following the medics crying. His little sister stood alone in the middle of the yard trying to figure out what was wrong. Caesar was lying on a stretcher like so many times before, but this time, it was different. As I looked on, a medical examiner pulled the sheet up, completely covering the body of my best friend. Caesar's dad pulled up, jumped out of the car, and ran to his only son, collapsing at the foot of the stretcher, crying his name.
I looked at Reeko. He was just staring off into space. I could see he wasn't going to get out, so I pulled out and started driving on. I had no idea what to do. Reeko was still just staring off. I kept on driving.
I started thinking about all the places Caesar and I went and all the thing we did. I remember the time we went to Colorado snow boarding and the high elevation made Caesar weak, so in the afternoon, when I was on the mountain, he would sit in the lobby and hit on girls. When I came back, he was always with a different girl, but he wore that same soothing smile.
I thought of the time when Caesar and I spent New Year's Eve in Key Largo.
I thought of the time when Caesar and I went to Canada to fish. One image came directly to mind. It was a gorgeous night. The pink sun setting in the west made the clouds reflect off the glass water so that we could look down and see the sky about. We weren't fishing that night, just out enjoying each other's company and the beauty surrounding us. I remembered Caesar looking out over all the beauty, the looking at me and saying; "Ya know Brandon, when everything else goes to hell, I know you'll still be there for me. You're like my guardian angel. I just wanted to say thank you, in case I don't get another chance later."
We had gotten about an hour outside of town. I had no idea which highway we were even on. I looked in the rear-view-mirror and realized I was crying.
I turned on the radio to fill the void. My favorite song; "Lay Lady Lay", by Bob Dylan came on. Reeko was just staring out the window. Without looking up at me, he spoke; "I had just talked to him five minutes before. I told him we were coming to get him, said good-bye, and hung up," and then he put his head in his hands and cried. I had no idea what I should do. A million thoughts were going through my mind at once. "I guess," I said, trying to hold back the tears, "Only the good die young."