They’d been friends for nearly 40 years, since Donald and Tim started working together. Both worked administration, but it was the important kind of “keeping things running” administration, not the silly “just here to file shit” administration. They’re wives knew each other, though they were not too close.

For 40 years, they shared summers and grilling together, camped together, smoked cigars together, and waded into the Atlantic Ocean together. When Donald and his wife, Patricia, moved down south, they all stayed in touch with the various card in the mail, random gift basket, and of course the occasional joke gift of gummy penises once every few months.

Donald was a joker, and Tim loved him for it. Tim received a bag of these joke penises in the mail one winter afternoon, and added them to the collection of stale candy.

Six months later, he received what he thought was a joke email from Patricia, who rarely talked directly to Tim. The subject read “LEAVE US ALONE” and the body had only one sentence reading “and don’t try to call, we are fine.”

Tim thought this odd, being that they hadn’t spoken in six months, no animosity had grown between them, and he’d been growing worried over time. He had even called an acquaintance down south, someone who also knew Donald, to knock on Donald’s door to make sure all was okay.

He never heard from the acquaintance again, and now there was this note, this oddly worded, blunt, and, frankly, rude note: LEAVE US ALONE.

40 years, a friendship seemingly tossed down the toilet for a mysterious reason.

Tim hoped that Donald was okay, and that this was all just a misunderstanding. He thought about calling again, or hopping a plane, but then realized that, in time, trust would come again. All he had to do was keep checking the mail.

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