He called to me from the street, "Hey Dave! You don't remember me, do you?" Even from across the lawn and up the stairs to my front porch, I recognized him. I didn't want to.
"Hey Dave!" He was waving. As much as I may have wished that this was an apparition from some undigested bit of meat or blot of mustard, there he was: Eddie. Gone, but not forgotten and now not gone anymore.
I walked down the stairs and met him at the gate, where I was preparing to leave with my wife. Just not quite soon enough. "Hey Eddie."
Eddie smiled at my recognition and offered up his fist to bump. Suddenly we were bros. "How's it goin', Dave?"
Hearing my name come out of his mouth was a surprise, since the entire time he lived next door to us, I cannot remember him uttering anything but a string of profanity and hate. Most of it, sadly, was directed at his sainted mother, who worked tirelessly to raise her two sons, one of whom appreciated this effort. The other one was Eddie.
Eddie was the teenaged drug dealer that lived across a parking lot from us. One of the biggest chores his mother faced was trying to keep him out of jail. This amounted to a great many late nights of yelling, screaming, and slamming doors. At one point, I showed up the morning after one of these outbursts and helped repair the broken jam after Eddie had stormed off into the night before. It reminded me of something my sister-in-law's father had said to his kids once upon a time: "If you go out the front door and leave it open, just keep going."
But for all those years, Eddie kept coming back. Until one day when he stepped into something just a little deeper than selling a little weed and making his mother and brother's lives miserable. The police came. They took him away. Not just overnight, but for a good long while. That was when his mother and brother packed up and moved. Away. They didn't bother telling Eddie. They were done with him.
Now, some years after that fact, here he was standing in my driveway like we were old friends. My wife came out and gave the same glad appearance of seeing our old friend Eddie. She gave him a hug and later thought how strange that gesture was. Eddie asked about our dog. The dog that he had sneered at just like everything else in our neighborhood. Now he was back for some odd and unsettling victory lap?
Why was he here? What was he up to? I felt bad for having these thoughts even as I got in our car and drove away. When we came home, the driveway was empty. Eddie was gone again. I felt sad for his missing family and for him missing them. If he did. Why else would he have shown up on our doorstep?
Maybe he had nowhere else to go.