Mikey and ‘River Rat’ had been friends since 3rd grade. From grade school through high school they had shared everything. You hardly ever saw one without the other being too far away. But after graduation, Mikey went off to college while ‘River Rat’ moved on to do life’s little things just to try to keep from starving. ‘River Rat’ didn’t dig the college scene because, in his words, “I just can’t understand the need to go into debt for the rest of my life to get a little piece of paper with some snooty guy’s signature on it. Just to proclaim me smarter than someone else.” But in truth, Mikey knew that it was because ‘River Rat was more in tune with a bottle of beer than he was with books.
A year later, ‘River Rat’ was requested to join the Army. By the luck of the draw, he missed Vietnam and ended up in Germany for a couple of years before coming back home. In the Army, ‘River Rat’ became Specialist Henry Bowman and had learned how to stay out of people’s way. He also learned that it was a pretty small leap from beer to whisky and even a shorter step to drugs.
As his youth faded away, he eventually got a job as the maintenance man for the local cemetery where he grew marijuana in the woods behind the back wall. His name changed to just Henry and then Mr. Bowman as, over the course of the next few years, he faded into the everyday life of another rural Midwesterner.
Mikey went on to graduate college at the top of his class and moved on to Law School where he became Michael Schmidt. He ended up in Kansas City where he worked hard to become a partner in the law firm Lindsey, Graves, Schmidt and Leland. He married a model from the city and when he did visit home, she sat beside him in his Porsche 911 as he paraded her through town like some trophy he’d won at the carnival.
Over the years, Michael and Henry drifted so far apart that they no longer recognized each other if they should happen to pass on the street.
One day, the police got a call about the smell coming from the apartment. When they busted down the door, the groceries were still sitting on the kitchen counter. A gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a box of aspirins and a 12 roll pack of Charmin. A note beside them read, “Don’t try to find me.” They found a box knife in the bathroom next to the body. They never found his wife.
‘River Rat’, his wife and their three children were the only people to show up at Mike’s funeral.