Goodbye's The Saddest Word by writerforever
It was the summer of 1972. The Vietnam War was raging overseas and I was fourteen-years-old. I lived in a small town where nothing very exciting happened. Lately, the only thing that had been exciting was the news from overseas about the Vietnam War. I lived in a house with my parents. I had an eighteen-year-old brother, Jason, but he was overseas fighting in the war. I missed him a lot and longed for the day he could come home.
On this particular day I was riding my bike along the road to my best friend's house. His name was Shane and he was fifteen. We had been friends for as long as I could remember. But here lately things hadn't been going well for him. I hoped that I could be of some help to him. As I pulled into the driveway at Shane's I saw Shane's father walking to his truck. I smiled as I pulled up next to him. "Hi Mr. Martin," I said cheerfully. Mr. Martin just glared at me and climbed into the truck. He started the engine and drove away. I was puzzled by his actions and I quickly climbed off my bike and went to the door. As I started to knock Shane appeared at the door. "Alex? What are you doing here?" Shane asked me rubbing his eyes. "Well, we were supposed to go bike riding today remember?" I said. Shane nodded and said, "Oh yea I forgot! Wait just a minute and I'll be right out," he said as he left the door. I walked over and sat down on the nearby porch swing. Soon Shane came out of the house and he was smiling. "You ready?" I asked. He nodded. When we were riding our bikes through the streets of town later on I asked Shane, "So, was something wrong with your dad?" At the mention of his dad Shane grew silent. But finally he nodded, "Yea, mom found out that he's been cheating on her," he said. "Oh Shane I'm so sorry!" I said feeling sorry for him. "Yea, but it still doesn't change anything. Dad will probably be leaving. Mom is so sad all the time and I'm sad as well. I don't know what to do," Shane said as we parked our bikes outside Hal's Café. This café was the place where Shane and I always came for an ice cream. I guess you'd say it was the teenagers hangout. As we stepped into the café I saw Kevin and his gang. Kevin was a tough guy who was 'worldly wise' if you know what I mean. And all of the guys who hung out with him were the same as well. Kevin and his gang dressed in the latest bad boy styles and they were always stirring up trouble. But to my surprise they didn't say anything to Shane and I. Usually they always had something mean to say to us. After we had sat down at a booth and had ordered two milkshakes I asked Shane, "So, will your mom have to start working?" "Probably because there is no other way to pay bills and stuff," Shane said sighing. He then said, "Alex, I'd rather just not talk about my dad and everything okay?" "Of course," I said feeling rather mad at myself for rattling on and on about his dad and everything. Shane soon changed the subject. "I wonder what it would be like to hang out with those guys?" Shane said looking over at Kevin and his gang. "Miserable! I can't imagine living the life they do. There is no telling what they do," I said. "I think. . .it would be kind of. . .fun," Shane said. "What!" I exclaimed. But before I could say anything else the waitress brought us our milkshakes. As Shane and I talked of fishing and other things I couldn't keep what Shane had said before off my mind. "Why would he even want to do those things that Kevin and his gang do?" I thought to myself. But I didn't have much time to ponder on it because we were soon leaving and on our way back to our homes.
A week passed and I didn't see or talk to Shane that much. Every time I went over to his house he wasn't there and when I called his mom said he was out with some friends. This was very odd because Shane and I always hung out and stuff. I didn't know what was going on with Shane but I had to find out.
It was on a stormy Tuesday that I rode to Hal's Café on my bike. When I stepped into the café I saw Kevin and his gang. And to my surprise I saw Shane with them. He was dressed in a black leather jacket and black jeans, and a white T-shirt just like the rest of the gang. I walked over to him and when I reached him I asked, "Shane, what are you doing?" When he saw me he smiled and said, "Well, if it isn't my little friend Alex!" "Little friend?" I said confused by the way Shane was acting. By now Kevin had come over to me and he glared at me. "Who is this little wimp?" he asked. "This wimp is Alex Sparks," Shane said putting his arm around me. "I'm not a wimp! And what is with you Shane?" I asked angrily. "He's joined the gang," Kevin said. I stared at Shane for a moment then finally I asked, "Is it true?" Shane nodded smiling, "Yep, I'm a part of the gang now. Man it's great Alex! You should join to. You get to do anything you want," Shane said. "Just exactly what is so great about it?" I asked. "Well, you get to do things that you'd never get to do if you were just an ordinary boy. You get to smoke pot, drink, and all that good stuff," Shane said. I was very shocked by my best friend's total change in personality. "Shane, I don't understand. Why are you doing this stuff? Why did you join the gang?" I asked. "Alex, don't you see? I got tired of living my little normal life. Never getting to do anything exciting. I got sick of it," Shane said. "Do you realize who you are turning into? You're turning into your dad!" I said angrily. Anger filled Shane and he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside. He pulled me into a nearby alley and pushed up against a brick wall. "I don't want you to ever say that again! Do you understand me!" Shane said angrily. He struck me across the face and threw me to the ground. "Go ahead! Live your stupid little life but just remember this, while you're sitting at home bored to death I'm going to be out having the best time of my life!" he said angrily as he turned and walked away. Thunder rolled up in the sky and soon rain began to fall. I lay on the ground of the alley where Shane had thrown me. As the rain hit me I wanted to cry. But I tried not to because I wanted to be a man. But I couldn't hold it in any longer. As I lay there in the alley with the rain falling down upon me I cried. I cried because of what Shane had said. I cried because I had lost my one and only best friend. I cried because I knew things would change and nothing would ever be the same again.
A month passed and things only grew worse. The war grew worse overseas, Shane grew worse, and I was always in a sad mood. It was on a rainy Friday night that I received a phone call from Shane. As I answered the phone I asked, "Shane? Is that you?" I heard a muffled voice on the other line say, "Yea, this is Shane." "It's great to hear from you! I've been wondering what had. . ." Shane cut me off before I could finish my sentence. "Listen Alex the reason I called was because I'm in some trouble," he said. "What kind of trouble?" I asked. "Well, I need some money. I hate to ask you this but you're the only one I could trust. Could I borrow some money?" he asked. "Well, sure but all I have is twenty-dollars. Why do you need it?" I asked. "I'll explain that to you later but for now I need you to bring the money and meet me at the old shoe factory building," he said. "Okay I'll be there," I said. But before I hung up the phone Shane said, "Alex, hurry before it's too late." Before I could ask him what that meant he had hung up. I told my parents that I had to go meet Shane. I didn't tell them why exactly but they finally gave me permission to go. I pulled on my raincoat and grabbed my twenty-dollars. As I stepped outside rain poured down upon me. I grabbed my bike and pedaled to the old shoe factory. The shoe factory had been closed down for years and it was now just an old boarded up building. I lay my bike up against the wall of the factory and waited for Shane to arrive. There wasn't a light on in the town and all was quiet. Suddenly I saw a figure emerge from the shadows. Fear gripped me and I stood perfectly still as the figure neared me. To my relief it turned out to be Shane. When he saw me he smiled, "Alex, I'm glad you came. Did you bring the money?" I nodded but as I started to hand him the money I asked, "Why do you need this?" "Well, I owe some money to this guy who sold me. . .something and he's getting tired of waiting for me to pay him," Shane said. "What is it that you bought?" I asked. "It was. . .marijuana," Shane said and he shifted uncomfortably. "What! I can't give you this money. If I had known before why you needed this money I would have never agreed to give it to you," I said. I turned and walked over to my bike. As I started to ride away Shane grabbed my arm. "Alex please! I really need this money. If you'll give it to me I promise I won't buy any more marijuana or any other drug," Shane said desperately. I stared at him for a moment then finally I handed him the money. "Okay I'll let you have it but you have to promise that you'll stop all this nonsense about being a bad boy and just start acting like yourself," I said. Shane took the money and said, "We'll see Alex." As he turned to walk away in the pouring rain he turned back to me and said, "Alex, thanks." I smiled, "You're welcome." Shane acted as if he wanted to say more but he turned and walked away. As I watched him go I prayed that somehow he would change back to being himself. Suddenly I heard a gunshot coming from behind the shoe factory. I dropped my bike onto the ground and ran as fast I could to the back of the shoe factory. As I neared the back of the shoe factory I saw a dark figure crouched over something lying on the ground. When the figure saw me he jumped up and ran away. I ran to where the figure had been crouching. To my horror I saw Shane lying on the wet and muddy ground. He was gasping for breath and blood was oozing out of his chest. I knelt down beside him and grabbed his arm. "Shane what happened!" "He took. . .the money. . .he said. . .it. . .wasn't enough. He. . .shot me," Shane said with what strength he could muster to speak. At the sight of the blood I felt lightheaded. "I have to go get you help," I said rising from the ground. But Shane grabbed my arm and pulled me back down. "No, stay here with me. I'm. . .not. . .going. . .to make. . .it," he said. Tears filled my eyes and I shook my head, "I have to go get help!" But Shane acted as if he hadn't heard me. Instead he said, "You were. . . always like a brother. . . to me. I always. . .wanted. . .to be like you. Although I. . .am older than you." Tears began to fall down his cheeks and he said, "Alex. . .I'm. . .sorry. . .that I wasn't a good friend." "You were always a good friend Shane," I said gripping his arm tightly. It was as if I was trying to keep him alive by gripping him tightly. "Thank. . .you. . .for being. . .a. . .friend to. . .me," Shane said and these were his last words.
Shane died that night behind the old shoe factory in the pouring rain. The townspeople had soon arrived on the scene along with an ambulance but they were all too late. The police caught the man who had shot Shane the next day. The man had pleaded guilty. He said he had shot the kid because he hadn't paid him the right amount of money.
Now as I look back on that summer and that time I realize what a waste it was. Shane's death. Shane was just beginning life but his life was soon ended because of greed and drugs. I had never really said goodbye to Shane. I couldn't bring myself to say goodbye to my best friend who was dead. Because goodbye's the saddest word that can ever be said. But in time I know that I will be able to say goodbye to Shane.