Throughout the Dances with Rattlesnakes series, the reader has gotten a vague picture of Johnny and Roy’s lives during their fifteen-year estrangement. Johnny relocated to Colorado, where he met Ashton Riley, and where Trevor was born in 1992. Roy’s family grew and changed as his children pursued careers, left home, and married. Roy suffered the heartbreaking loss of his grandson Brandon Sheridan to cancer, while Johnny suffered the heartbreak of Ashton’s rejection, and then leaving him to raise Trevor alone. Roy and Johnny eventually mended fences, and the friendship that was once torn apart by tragedy grew strong again. But it would take another tragedy for the men to talk about the years in which they had no contact, and to finally get a complete understanding of what each other went through during those lost years.
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I smoothed my matted hair into place, then opened the door that led into the kitchen. Johnny swiveled around when I entered and flipped on the light. For just a few seconds, he looked more surprised than he looked angry.
“What?” I held up the key ring so he could see how I’d gained entrance. “You thought I’d come all this way, and then give up without a fight?”
When all he did was glare at me through narrowed eyes, I said softly, “Johnny, I came to help you. I’ll help you in any way I can. You just have to let me.”
“La-la-las ‘ime you...you ‘igh me, you hay...hay go. Hay go ‘ell owe. Me...now me...hay-hay you go, ‘oy. You go! ‘Ell owe! Go ‘ell owe...m-m-m-my sigh!”
I wouldn’t have thought it was possible for a man with a cane to stomp away from me, but that afternoon, Johnny did. He retreated to his office, leaving me standing in the kitchen to figure out what he’d said. It took me longer to decipher his words this time. I was halfway through cooking supper before the meaning behind his garbled sentences finally came to me.
Last time you fought me, you said I should go. You said get the hell out. Now I’m telling you to go, Roy. You go! Get the hell out of my sight!
I’ve often heard that words spoken in anger will someday come back to haunt you. It had taken Johnny twenty years to hurl those hateful words back at me, and though I was at his house purely out of friendship and a desire to help, I knew the words had been a long time in coming, and that I deserved them.
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