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A True Friend

You don't need a James Taylor song or a Sesame Street skit to test a friendship.

No, what you need is a crisis. A real crisis.

A True Friend by Jeffery C. Gibson



"A friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body." – Unknown

Daryl Saunter was a true friend of mine. He was with me the day I killed Johnny Renzo for trying to steal my motorcycle. Johnny snuck into my garage and fired it up while me and Daryl were in the house getting high, but he fucked up and stalled the engine. I ran out and cracked his head with a baseball bat and kept hitting him until he stopped moving. Dumb son of a bitch should have worn a helmet.

Daryl nudged Johnny with his toe. “Clear case of self defense,” he said. “Besides, he had it coming.”

“Damn right.” Johnny fucked me on a heroin deal a while back. It was mostly milk sugar and wouldn’t get a puppy high, so I refused to pay him. And he thought he deserved my motorcycle in return? Heh.



We took a look outside. “I don’t see his truck. He must have walked here from town,” I said. The road was clear for at least a mile. It dead-ended at my driveway and only the cops ever came that far uninvited.

It was Daryl’s idea to wrap him up with a shower curtain. The curtain wasn’t long enough but I put a plastic garbage bag over Johnny’s head and used a lot of duct tape and it worked fine. We dumped him in the back of Daryl’s pickup and covered him with an old piece of carpeting.

I hosed down the garage floor. Daryl took a shovel off the wall and put it in the back with Johnny. “Where to?” he said.

“I know a place down Route 27. It’s mostly swamp. Nobody ever goes there.”

“Works for me.”

We turned off 27 onto an old dirt road and stopped at a clearing about a half mile in. Daryl grabbed Johnny’s feet and I took the head, and I was damn glad I had Daryl along because that Johnny sure was a fat fuck. It ain’t fun dragging a body through the woods by yourself.

I dug the hole, most of it. I was four feet down when Daryl volunteered take over while I took a breather. That’s the kind of friend he was.

“I owe you big time, Daryl,” I said.

Daryl leaned on the shovel. “Hell, I figure I owe you, after you gave me that alibi.” Daryl got busted for robbery again last month. He’d just gotten out of prison after his second stretch and wasn’t anxious to go back. But I testified at the hearing that he was with me when the robbery took place. Not that I had a sterling reputation with the courts, but it was enough to get him out on bail. That’s what friends were for.

I took the shovel back and kept digging until I hit seven feet, and we rolled Johnny in. Daryl said the last rites: “Johnny, you poor schmuck.” I didn’t know what a schmuck was but I said “Amen” anyway.



Daryl was still looking down at the body when I hit him over the head with the shovel. He collapsed like an empty gunny sack, face first into the grave. I jumped in and rifled through his pockets and laid him flat on top of Johnny, head to toe.

I was filling in the hole when the mound of dirt over the bodies started to heave upward. Shit, my fault, I should have finished him off. I sat down and smoked two of Daryl’s cigarettes, watching the mound. Eventually it stopped moving and I shoveled in the rest of the dirt.

Now it was my turn to say the last rites. “Here lies Daryl Saunter, a true friend. I’m sorry I had to kill him, but he saw me murder Johnny Renzo and I just couldn’t take the chance of him ratting me out for a reduced sentence. Hell, if I was facing a third strike, I’d do it. Anybody would. Rest in peace, Daryl.” I scattered leaves over the mound and headed back to the truck. 

The drive home sure was lonely with no one to talk to.

Jeffery C. Gibson has been writing professionally for over 30 years in the software industry. He's a movie nut, reads a lot history and crime fiction, and likes to play the ponies. His work appears in Short-story.me, Over My Dead Body, and Out of the Gutter magazines. He lives in San Jose, CA, and is currently writing a novel. You can follow him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/jeffcgibson).