Goodbye, Watermelon Man

I had a dream about an old flame a few nights ago. And that prompted me to contact him to see how he was doing. I knew he’d been very sick, and in fact the last time we spoke, he mentioned he was in hospice. This was earlier in the spring. This afternoon, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the CVS waiting for Robert’s prescriptions, like a chicken-shit. I had Leighton’s contact info pulled up on my smartphone, my finger on the “Dial” button. At least five minutes passed by before I had the courage to press it. The phone was picked up and I heard a familiar Southern drawl on the other end. “Hello?” “Leighton?!” I exclaimed. “No, this is his brother #####.” My heart sank. I knew then that my call was too late. I introduced myself and I could tell his brother was trying to process the information. He then told me in as gentle a voice as he could muster that Leighton had passed away less than 36 hours before, at four o’clock the previous morning in fact. I was a day late. I’d been trolling the internet in the last week …

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