Copyright© 2015 by Bill Offutt
"Hey Bucko," Bud yelled across two sets of alleys. "How the hell are you?" After he finished his frame, he grabbed his beer and walked down to see his friend, slapped him on the back and shook his hand. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Korea," his buddy said, "Pusan in fact, unloading ships and freezing my butt."
"Shit, I didn't know you were in the army."
"Joined right out of high school. Hah, you remember all that fuss 'bout the fuckin' fraternity?"
"Damn right," Bud said. "But you got to walk across the stage and get your diploma. They mailed me mine."
"That's cause I'm a better liar than you. What're you up to these days?"
"Not much. I've just lost a good job in fact. Even thought about joining up."
"Don't do it," his friend said. "Those people over there, they use shit for fertilizer and don't give a damn about nothing."
"It's about over isn't it?" Bud asked. "That's what they say in the papers; there's just this prisoner business to settle."
"I guess, but don't trust 'em. I seen 'em bring in these boys, fresh out of boot camp and ship right up to the 38th parallel. Stay home and keep your head down. They come back in plastic bags and big aluminum coffins"
"You're up," Bud said, pointing. "I'll see you later."
"Right, we usually go down to Martin's,"
"Meet you there," Bud said, as he headed back toward his own team, two of whom were waving at him.
Sitting across from each other in the quiet bar, Bud Williams and Buck O'Reilly toasted each other with mugs of beer.
"What's been going on around here?" Buck asked. "Lots of new stores, ain't there?"
"You looking for work?"
"Naw, my Dad's sheet metal business is doing fine, and he was ready to take on a new man when I mustered out."
"That's great. There's all sorts of building going on, new subdivisions popping up like mushrooms."
"You still working with your father?" Buck asked as their order of french fries arrived.
"Not for a long time. Let's see; I worked for a auto body shop, the VA, here and there in construction, and lately, you won't believe this, I was teaching history at a boys' school."
"History, holy jehosophat, you used to crib off my work." He shook ketchup on his side of the crisp fries.
"Yeah, but I was coaching too, that was the real job. I just stayed a chapter ahead."
"Can't believe it. Why'd you quit?"
"Didn't, I got fired. Needed a college degree and I never got one."
"Damn, that's tough, but you liked it?"
"Most days," Bud said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
"You're still married, ain'cha?"
Bud nodded. "I forgot you were at the wedding. Seems a long time ago."
"Kept you out'a the friggin' draft didn't it?"
"I suppose," Bud said. 'Anyhow, I'm looking for work. Been running a backhoe for Jim Marshall. He's building a new high school up the road."