Falling Off a Log
Copyright © 2003, 2015
As we pulled up Scott's long driveway, I felt an apprehension. I didn't know what was going on. I'd come up to this house millions of times and never felt a worry. Scott's parents were great, his brothers and sisters were always friendly to me. I never thought I had a care in the world when I was here.
His mother was sitting on the side porch reading the paper when we pulled up. She looked up, but didn't seem surprised to see us. She stood up as we were getting out of the car. "Hey, all - good to see you," she called out. "Come on up and join me."
I stood at the car door - "Should I leave the guitar in the car, Dad?"
"No. Bring it with you." He must have seen something in my face. "Don't worry, kid. You'll know everything very soon. This is a big secret, not a bad secret. This is your best friend's house, and I know he's dying to see your new guitar."
"What do you mean? How can he know about the guitar? I never even had a chance to call him."
"Joey, all I can say is take things in stride. This may be the best day of your young life."
I reached in the car to get the guitar, trying not to scratch up the case as I pulled it out.
"Need a hand, Dufus?" came from behind me. I looked around and it was Scott's older brother, Dave. He was my second best friend next to Scott, even though he was sixteen. He was over six feet tall - almost as big as his Dad. Scott and I were both about the same size, but still small for our age. Runts, really. Whenever we went somewhere with Dave, people called us Mutt and Jeff and Jeff. He was the brain center of the Johnson household. Straight A's. Master of everything, but hardly a nerd. He was very coordinated and a terrific athlete. He'd spent countless hours trying patiently to teach Scott and I the basics of all the games. Totally pointless. If I was a klutz, then Scott was Mr. Klutz. If I had a dime for every time I'd seen him fall over or drop something I could have paid cash for the guitar and had enough left over to put myself through college. You'd see him stumbling on linoleum floors, tripping on his shoelaces, leaning against things that provided no support. He often thanked me for teaching him how to fall off logs. At least it was painless.
We headed up to the porch. Mrs. Johnson said "Is that the new guitar, Joey?"
'Was this broadcast on the radio or something?' I wondered, but she'd stuck her head inside the door and was yelling, "Scotty! Your boyfriend's here!"
Preceded by a crash from inside the house, Scott appeared in the door wearing a grin from ear to ear. "JOEY!" He ran over without falling and hugged me to him. We held the hug until he started to make me lose my balance, then I let go and backed up.
"What was that for?"
"For making the promise. Now I don't have any secrets from you. I've hated not being able to say, but I knew I never could."
"Say what? I made a promise, but I still don't know what I was promising."
There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around. It was Mr. Johnson. With his short hair and big glasses, and his big perfect white teeth smiling at me …wearing his faded orange t-shirt.
I froze. I'd seen that shirt that morning. In the music store. It was ''him''!
"But ... how?"
"Contacts and a wig, Joey,” he said while patting my shoulder. “Let's go make some music."
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