My friend Bill calls me ‘White Eye’. I call him ‘Great Noble Red Brother’. Racist as hell, I imagine, our little joke, between us.
It is an odd relationship. We have worked together for 15 years or more. For about two years, I only spoke when spoken too. That was because he only talked to me with comtempt and sarcasm.
He treated everyone that way. I figured, the only way to deal with him, was to greet him with a hearty Good morning and keep on walking.
In retrospect, I can see he was going through some very hard times. He was lashing out at everyone. The nicer I tried to be, the meaner he was.
In time we came to a peace, perhaps even a kind of a friendship.
Bill and I never grew close and never will. We make jokes, he really has a deep humor which I am greatful to know. He keeps a hard, well definded line between himself and most people.
Once a year, or so, Bill cornors me and, for lack of a better term, tells me his confession. He just starts telling me about the troubles in his life. The break up of his marrage, the death of a parent. Why he chose me to be his confesser, I do not understand. I just try to listen nonjudgmentally.
The last time was a cold winters day. We were out in the far side of the yard, away from prying eyes and wagging tongues. He told me of several sad and troubling things happening in his life.
Knowing him to be deeply spritual man I asked if he had prayed lately.
“I can’t.” He almost hung his head, I could feel his shame. “I feel like such a shit.”
I felt tears in my eyes, no one should have such pain.
“Just talk to him,” I said, “He wants to hear from his son.”
“Would it be okay if I pray for you?”
Bill does not like to be touched, with anyone else I would have wrapped my arm around their shoulder. I asked if I could just put my hand on his should.
He nodded again. I stood there, at arm’s length, hand lightly on his shoulder, and talked with God.
I do not remember what I said, God gave me the words. It must have worked, no doubt along with other healing moments. I shared just one moment in his life.
Bill became his old self again.
“Hey White eye.”
“Hey there, Noble Red Brother.”
“Where do your people come from?”
“No. Before that, England, Europe.”
“Germany, we came from Germany.”
“Well it is time you went back, and take all your other white eye brothers with you.”
“What about our women? You want to keep them?”
“He’ll no! Just get on your little wooden boats and get out.”
“I don’t think they’ll take us back. My folks got kind of kicked out.”
“I don’t know for sure, I don’t think we were white enough.”
“Figures, they just sent over their rejects.”
Like I said, we almost have a friendship.