Peter pushed back in the soft leather chair and looked out of the window from his childhood, only now he was senior citizen. The window belonged to Martin, four years his junior. In fact, over 50 years ago Peter had been Martin’s babysitter for a few years in this very room.
Outside a light snow had dotted the field that separated Martin’s house from the home Peter had lived in as a child. His parents sold the home and moved to another state when Peter graduated from college, severing the last physical link between the two boys. The departure actually began when Peter went away to college, leaving his younger friend to bombard him by email with questions about college life with an emphasis on wild parties and the sexual attitudes of coeds. By the time Martin was accepted to an Ivy League school, Peter was busy working as a reporter for a mid-sized daily newspaper. The job didn’t pay much, but Peter loved the work.
Now Peter was back in the room where he had spent hours keeping Martin occupied. It was the window he remembered best. During his adult life he’d never been able to afford a view like this one. He and his wife raised three children who, in turn, were now married with children. Tragically, his wife died in a car accident a year ago, prompting Peter to look up old acquaintances to avoid loneliness. Martin, who was at the top of the list, had taken a very different path. Although he was a Wall Street big shot, Martin had told Peter that three failed marriages had reduced his wealth to ownership of his deceased parent’s house and a rusting BMW, 700 series in the driveway.
“The view is still great,” said Martin, entering the room in an unsteady fashion with two Manhattans and a bowl of nuts on a silver tray.
“Nice tray,” responded Peter.
“Yeah, a wedding present from marriage number two…no, number three.”
“I only had one.”
“I read about your wife’s death—very sorry.”
“I’m here and that’s good.”
“You know, Peter, I haven’t looked out this window in years—I come home to an empty house, check the phone messages in the kitchen and hit the booze. So, I’m glad you’re here—I’ve got to do something more than pay alimony. Now drink up–I’ve had a head start on you.” He served the drinks and sat down.
“When are you going to retire?” asked Peter.
“I have too much debt to retire.”
“Too bad. Life is a one shot-deal. The last six months for me have been ones of discovery now that I live alone. You need to find the joy…sorry, I don’t want to come off as an advice counselor.”
“I could use some.”
“Hey, look…there’s a stag in the field.”
“Time for Smith and Wesson!” Martin jumped up and pulled a gun out of nearby desk drawer. Peter’s mouth hung open in shock. He grabbed Martin’s shoulder at the doorway. “Stop—don’t kill it.”
The explosion of a shell from the 9mm pistol echoed through the house. The bullet split the 120-year-old random plank floorboard. Martin fell to his knees, sobbing.
Peter helped Martin get into bed.
“Do you mind if I take your gun for now? asked Peter.
Martin, his head propped against a pillow, replied,” I’m sorry. You know best. In fact, if you could stay here for a time, I’d appreciate it.”
Peter nodded and returned to the den where he saw a herd of deer running through the field.