Benny smiled. It was always good to see Harry. “So whatcha been up to, Harry?” he asked. Harry sat across from his old friend and replied, “Well I’ve been pretty busy with the grandkids --- the garden --- and running around for Elizabeth since we retired”.
“How is Elizabeth?”
“Just fine, Benny. I swear she gets better lookin’ every day!”
“I love that gal! I really do. She’s done more favors for me over the years than I can count.”
“Yeah, but you’ve done us plenty of favors during that time, too, my man”.
“Well maybe. But who’s counting?”
Harry and Benny had been friends for over seventy years --- going back to first grade. They had attended the same high school and different colleges that were only fifteen miles apart. After college both had trained at Naval Officer’s Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island and then served in the fleet for three years. Harry had been on a destroyer and Benny had served on a carrier. After their military service they had both returned to their home town, which was a suburb of Trenton, New Jersey. Harry had run an insurance agency and Benny had his own jewelry store. They had each gotten married only a few months apart --- and each was the Best Man for the other. Harry had had three kids and Benny had had two. They had both been members of the local Rotary Club and they both loved to play golf and dine out. Harry was tall and lanky with a full head of silver hair --- while Benny was only five foot seven and mostly bald since his late thirties. But both of these old friends were retired now and in their late seventies.
“So what’ve you been thinking about these days, Benny?”
“Well I’m looking forward to my journey. I can’t wait to see Pete, Big Jim, Jack and all the rest of the old crowd.”
“I know what you mean. Make sure you tell all of ‘em that Elizabeth and I sent our love. Especially old Pete.”
“Yeah --- Pete is some kinda guy. I remember when he used to throw all those costume parties. He had us dressing up like Indians, monsters, pirates, gangsters and everything else! He sure knew how to throw a party!”
“That he did. That he did.”
“And I wanta see Big Jim when I get there, too. He still owes me ten bucks from our bet on that Super Bowl. But I know he’s good for it.”
“Oh yeah. You can always count on Big Jim.”
“And Jack is one of the funniest guys I ever met. He could tell a good joke better than anybody!”
“That’s a fact. When he told a couple of those jokes I almost wet my pants. And I loved those jokes where he did an accent.”
“Yeah, Harry, I’m really looking forward to seeing all the old crowd. It’s been a while since we all got together.”
“Well I hope you have a pleasant journey, old friend.”
“Thanks, buddy --- I’m sure I will. And look --- if I don’t get a chance to say goodbye before I leave, I know you’ll understand.”
“Sure I will. But no doubt Elizabeth and I will be seeing you soon after that.”
“And then the whole old gang will be together again”.
“Just in case, Benny --- you take care of yourself. And I’ll see you whenever. I gotta get home for dinner now.”
“Stop by anytime, Harry.”
Harry stood up and gave his old friend a military salute. Benny answered with a salute of his own. Then Harry turned around and walked to the door. He opened the door and walked out of the room. As he closed the door to Benny’s hospital room tears began to run down his cheeks. His oldest and closest friend was now getting ready to make his final journey.
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