Farmer Friends

“You’re not funny!”

“It’s where things are right now.”

He rides bicycles too. He did Leadville while I was doing the Poconos to the Blue Ridge Mountains. He met me in Knoxville super stoked. Told me everything, twice. I was quiet and listened at this diner by a bike shop I liked.

“So. What have you been doing?”

“Just, kind of went over there and came back.”

“Well. Leadville was pretty hard!”

“Right.”

“Like, really really hard.”

“Oh. I bet.”

“How far did you go then?”

“It doesn’t matter. Does it? It’s not a competition.”

“It’s why I did Leadville. Competition!”

“It’s why I stopped racing.”

I cut into my chicken fried steak and the lady came over and filled my tea quietly.

“You boys gonna have to take it outside if you’re gonna fight. I just put down clean tablecloths for dinner.”

“Understood.”

“So what if you die?”

“Yeah. So what?”

“I’m fifteen years older than you it doesn’t seem fair.”

“What would be fair? Look! I know you’re mad—.”

He slammed his hands on the table.

“What’d I say now.”

“He was just leaving, Ma’am. Yon’t too? Go on.”

He looked like he wanted to say something but just kind of stood there and wrapped an arm around me. Looping a meaty arm under my arm pit. Put his head on the back of my neck. The couple weeks shave poked through my thin shirt.

“But you never die?”

“Everything dies.”