UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY

JAMES BABBS

That's What Friends Are For

couple of days ago I decided
I'd go around to my buddy's house
because
I hadn't heard anything from him
for the last two or three weeks and
I was starting to think
maybe something was wrong
I pounded on the front door
then I tried the knob
but it was locked
I went to the back of the house
walking through the unmowed grass
I tried the back door
but didn't have any luck
there was a basement window
on that side of the house
so I bent down and looked inside
I saw my buddy in the laundry room
standing about waist-deep in a hole
that had been broken in the floor
he was shoveling dirt and
putting it on the pile next to him
there were empty beer bottles
strewn around him and
fast-food wrappers and
dirty paper plates and
pieces of concrete
I beat on the glass and watched him jump
then he saw me and grinned
a couple of minutes later
he came to the door
what the hell are you doing
I asked
he was dirty and
covered in sweat and
he smelled like stale beer
listen, man
he said
his voice frantic
I'm really busy right now
what's going on
I said and
he motioned me down to the basement
he had this crazy look in his eyes
crazier than normal and
he hurried over to the corner
where papers were scattered and
started foraging through them
until he found the ones he wanted
here
he said
thrusting them at me
I took them from him
glancing at the top one
not really sure about
what I was suppose to see
he said
I'm digging a bunker
a place to hide
you know what I mean
I said
okay
you don't get it, man
he said
looking toward the laundry room
things are happening
he said
what kinds of things
I asked
he blew air out of his mouth and
I could smell his breath
it's all over the internet
he said and
I'm already way behind
I asked him
if he had any beer
check the fridge
he said and
he went back to work
I found two bottles on the top shelf
I took one and started drinking it
my buddy was back in the hole
shoveling out the dirt as fast as he could
they're going to start rounding people up
he said
I took a long drink
when's all this suppose to happen
I asked
soon
he said without stopping
I finished the beer
went back to the fridge and
started on the last one
I stood there without saying anything
I watched him for a couple of minutes
then I told him
I had to get going
but I said
I'd come back later on and
check on him and
could he give me some money
so I could run by the store
because
he was all out of beer









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