My Friend “Little” Billy
Growing up in a small cotton-farming town, there really are no strangers. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that we didn’t have neighbors. There may have been a mile or two that separated each family home, but all you would need to do to is take a slow drive down any gravel road, and as sure as sunrise, when a car passes the other way, there’ll always be one finger or sometimes two that go up fast, like an anautomatc tick of the clock followed by a full hand wave, usually with a little “pop” at the end. That’s just one of the many good ways that “neighbors” kept up with out intruding. Standard procedure.
On the long dirt road I lived down, there weren’t too many options for a kid to find a good running buddy; at least not before I got a driver’s license and started barrelling down Webb Hill Road in my grandfather’s 1978 “Start-Orange” Ford F-150. The stick shift was located on the drive shaft, so I’m sure a few of my first double-fingered pump waves were disastorus misfires.
But the days of true adventure, imagination, and early friendship, came most often from the only other kid within 40 acres, named “Little Billy.” I havent seen him in some years, but even though he could probably go toe to toe with me these days, I think he’ll always still be “Little Billy” to me.
Billy is a friendly, spirited competitor. We used to play Mario Kart, and every once and a while I could slip up and just about beat him…at least until that joker would flip the game off RIGHT before my victory could be officially gloated over. Ah well…I hadn’t quite learned how to be a gracious winner back in those early days myself.
He had a little yellow 4-wheeler, and his dad fixed up an old T-Model gocart that I could drive. We must’ve covered 12,000 miles making the rounds of their place. We collected baseball cards, went fishing, argued about politics (mostly me), and even shot a few squirrels or various other flying creatures. Once we stopped outside to hunt what we thought was a coyote den for what seems like hours. With a single-string bow and arrow I might add. My daddy told me later it was just a possum hole.
Growing up in the country is special for a number of reasons; but making friends to argue with, or just convincing someone else to play Rosco so that I could be Luke Duke was all the fun a kid needed in any given summer.
As we got older, I went to one high school and Billy went to another; and as things tend to go in life, we pretty much lost contact after we both became men with responsibilities and families. Billy is a good person. He’s got a great heart, and I’m thankful for all the fun we had as next door neighbors.
Billy is now 31, and I’m still 3-4 years older. He’s going through a lot these days, as is his family, and they’ve all been on my mind a lot these last few weeks. He was diagnosed with Acute Mceloid Leukemia in October of 2014, and he’s in search of a bone marrow transplant in order to survive. If you’d like to know more about Billy, and his two little daughters, here is a great story our local TV station ran on his condition. There have already been a couple of blood drives to see if there is an elligible match, but they’ve been unable to secure one so far.
Please join me and countless other friends, his family, and his good ole’ neighbors down the long dirt road, in helping Billy find a cure.
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