A bunch of old guys finished playing cards for the night. Small sums of money were won and lost. Talk shifted from women, sports, and cards to one guy who was no longer part of the game due to an untimely death. Talk centered on individual remembrances by those on hand. The last card shark volunteered his special times with his buddy, Jimmer.

“I’ve known him longer than most of yous guys sitting here tonight,” he began. “I believe there isn’t one thing I don’t know about his life. Like most of you, I was cheated out of growing old with him by his sudden death.”

A member of the group wanted to test his pronouncements and questioned why a friendship of over 40 years wasn’t sufficient time to call it a day for such a friendship.

His reply was simple and heartfelt, “We had two bodies yet one soul. When the almighty called him home, he took a piece of me with him. With him in my life I always felt like he was my ace in the hole when I needed advice or reassurance in my daily life.”

The questioner followed by asking him if the remembered his chum’s old phone number from 40 years ago. He immediately blurted out the answer and decided to pull out his cell phone and tap out the numbers.

He shook his head in the affirmative and said, “It’s ringing fellows.” He smiled and looked down at the floor when the receiver was picked up. One in the group quipped, “I hope it’s not long distance.”

“Jimmer? There was a brief pause. “Jimmer, is it really you?… Who is this?

Everyone was spellbound at the turn of events. Some stopped drinking, others removed cigars from their mouths. Everyone on hand leaned in.

“It’s almost like a Twilight Zone episode. I can’t believe it’s you. I’ve got so much to ask you.” Tears poured down his cheeks. “Yeah, yeah … I know. But I gotta know if …”

Those witnessing the phone exchange were speechless.

“You’re kidding me.” He smiled broadly. “Yes, yes … but …”

Suddenly he dropped the cell phone and followed his phone by dropping dead on the floor.

Was it the ravings of a lunatic? There was no consensus of opinion at the next card game the following month. Most, however, did believe there was no way in Hell that their buddy had connected with Jimmer.

The deceased card player had no family, and his business was handled by a lawyer. One of the dictums in his last will and testament asked that his ashes be interred next to his friend. Also, on a headstone he wanted the usual — name, birth, and date of death. Underneath the inscription he wanted the following inscribed: “Two bodies, one soul — now together forever.”

After the house settlement in his office, the lawyer visited the deceased’s home one last time. Everything was gone in the house. As the lawyer walked out the door he noticed a phone bill in the mailbox. He opened it and fingered down the bill’s list of phone calls and said out loud, “Must be some type of billing error. Who thinks someone can afford a ten thousand dollar call to a residence that only lists the letter ‘H” on it?”

Michael Tasker is a teacher at Mercer Project TEACH in Ewing.

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