The phone only rang once before it was picked up. In the era of ubiquitous caller-Iding and considering the late hour the caller was surprised by the speed at which he was connected to his intended target.
"Hey, whats up?" Said the receiver.
"Hey? are you still up?" Said the caller.
"What are you doing?"
"Watching romantic comedies and drinking warm High Life."
"Would you mind if I came over? Do you think I could sleep on your couch?" The caller asked.
"Yeah sure. Get here as soon as you can. I am going to go put pants on." answered the receiver
And then they hung up. Joe was up at three in the morning and he was in fact watching romantic comedies (He had just finished Say Anything and had just started Love Actually) in his boxers with a half empty box of bargain bin beer sitting next to him. His academic scheduled and lack of employment allowed him to indulge in such late nights. So he slipped on a pair of dark green work pants took a bottle from the box and walked outside. There he sat on a half rotted wood bench and waited for his unexpected house guest.
Gus arrived shortly. He had already been on his way when he called. His night was not nearly as relaxing as Joe’s. He parked the car along the street making sure he did not block the yellow fire hydrant or the white painted metal mailbox. Previous late nights and later mornings where he did not take this precaution had been met with notes of complaint. Two from the mail man and one from a concerned neighbor who was not interested in having their house burn down.
Gus walked up the driveway and then up the sidewalk and was greeted from the darkness with the sound of a twist top bottle. He let his eyes adjust and Joe sat there smiling mildly flush with questions and acceptance. Not trusting the state of the bench Gus sat on the concrete ground and took small sips of his warm drink and breathed heavily in-between them. Joe sat patiently letting his friend calm down.
"I done fucked up Joe." Said Gus. He was listless.
"Like your normal level of calamity or have me moved to a new level of trouble?" Joe picked pieces of dead leaves from his bare feet.
"This might beat out everything else combined."
"Well you can talk your way out of it, or we can rally the troops and plan our next move." Joe was now casually digging at the splintering wood next to him.
"Not this time. I don’t think that’s an option. I joined up today. Put my name on the dotted line." Said Gus. "In October I leave and I’ll be gone for four years. It’s all settled already."
Joe looked at now. He looked at Gus and tired to figure out if it was a joke. He saw nothing to give away anything. He saw a blank man holding a half empty bottle.