The Last First Friday. fiction by William Baker

William Baker

The Last First Friday

Brandt Colson watches his frenetic daughter as she flits around the room in her usual style. She is talking about ten different things at once, fussing over details and generally majoring in the minor. Brandt notices the bored and frowning, mostly grown grandson as he leans against the wall at the apartment entry. The boy takes no pains to hide his brooding impatience.

The daughter stops talking and pauses in front of the chair. Brandt looks up. “There is plenty to eat and all laid out. Your list is on the counter. Are you sure you feel up to it, Dad?”

“I feel fine,” he says. The stroke is a jumbled memory now.

She looks doubtful, “don’t over-do.”

This daughter is an impulsive, disorganized and frenzied worrier. The years of West Coast living, three husbands and many fiancés, has not changed that about her. Now she is back, living in his house, free of charge, with her son and a new husband. She is here to bring a whirlwind of fuss and worry over her sick old man.

Brandt is glad to have her back, even if it does mean all of the drama that goes with it. He doesn’t care about moving into the apartment over the garage and letting her have the main house. The big place is too much for him now.

“You have my numbers. Call if you need me. Jeff is asleep, wake him if you have to, but he goes in to work tonight, if he isn’t too sick. So call me instead. Unless it’s an emergency. Then call Jeff, and 911, but me first.”

The boy speaks from the doorway, “he might go to work if he isn’t too drunk.”

She turns and stares at him then pecks her father on the cheek.

“We’ll be fine” Brandt says.

She stops at her sullen child and pats him on the arm. “Don’t over-do” she admonishes and leaves.

The boy looks away. “Did you get all of that?”

There is a ticking silence in the room as the grandson looks around and Brandt watches him. He doesn’t know this boy and hasn’t seen him for years until the move back to Indiana. But the kid looks like his mother with the same big bones, chestnut hair and crinkle around the eyes. He is her without the ninety mile an hour pace.

“We have our instructions” Brandt says. The boy shrugs. “Grounded, huh? Isn’t almost eighteen a little old for that?”

“Yeah well, she has to get it in while she still can,” the boy slumps against the wall.

“So your punishment is to cart me around.”

“Huh” the boy says. “It’s better than sitting in the house watching him sober up.”

“OK bud, you might as well have a seat. There’s no hurry to get anywhere.” Brandt motions to a chair opposite him.

In time the boy pushes himself from the wall, sits down, brushes hair from his forehead, then rests his forearms on his knees, leans forward and brings his head up. He looks around the room until his eyes at last meet with Brandt. “OK, get this…” he pauses a few seconds. “I don’t do bud, or buddy, or pal, or champ, or kid, or sport. I won’t call you Old Man and you won’t call me all the cutesy kid things.”

Brandt smiles, “Bravo, very impressive. Do you do surly S.O.B.?”

The kid grins “it’s better than champ.”

“Or Kevin, since it is your name” Brandt says.

“Not Kev. Never Kevvy. What about you? Brandt isn’t even your name,” Kevin asks.

“My middle name. But you can call me Grandfather, Grandpa or like that. Not Gramps or Pawpaw, or any cutesy names.” Brandt sits back and studies this serious boy. “Or Brandt, if you prefer.”

“Surly S.O.B?” Kevin asks.

“That would fit.”

“Get this,” the kid says “we almost didn’t even come here. They had some big fight over your Jesus Freak religious conversion thing. At least that’s what he called it. What’s all that about?

“It isn’t about religion,” Brandt says.

“So what is it?”

“If you really want to know it’s a life change. I left my way of thinking and looking at things and started a new life based solely on the teachings in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures” Brandt says.

“Sounds brainy.”

“There is an intellectual element. There has to be.” Brandt says

“Intellectual, that’s what I meant. You aren’t going to preach or, like, save me or anything are you? Cause, I don’t do church or any of that crap.”

“I don’t do churches either. Churches don’t have the answer, that’s why there are so many of them.”

“Cool. I think I’m through talking about this,” the boy says. “Why do you go by your middle name?”

“Simple,” Brandt says “when I started writing there was a writer of Western paperbacks named Rick Colson, I didn’t want readers thinking that Richard Colson was the same person.”

Kevin nods “you haven’t written that many books. How long have you been writing?”

“Long time. First published the year I got out of the Army.”

“That Peterson guy has written like a hundred books.”

“Different kind of writer. Different audience” Brandt says.

“Anyway, I’ve never read either one of you. Seen some of your movies.”

“Not my movies” Brandt says.

“That make you mad?” Kevin says.

“Billions of people have never read my books. If I got upset about it, I wouldn’t have time for anything else” Brandt says.

The boy is silent a moment. “Does a stroke hurt?” he asks.

Brandt says “I don’t remember it hurting. Don’t remember much about actually having the stroke. I remember afterwards in bits and pieces until I started recovering. It was tiring and confusing. I remember feeling like I couldn’t move, couldn’t do or say anything. Time moved back and forth and kind of …” he pauses “…went away.”


“Yesterday was like it just happened and like it never happened all at the same time. Today was like yesterday and like….” Brandt says.

Kevin gets up and saunters to the bookshelf. “Mom says you won all kinds of awards I never heard of” he brushes a forefinger over the book spines. “Which book is the best?”

Brandt doesn’t hesitate“the one that didn’t win anything.”

“I don’t know one from the other” Kevin looks at him

“End, second shelf. The Last First Friday.”

The boy picks out the book and leafs through it. “What’s that mean? The Last First Friday?”

“Read it and find out.”

Kevin snorts “I don’t read books.”

“Can’t or don’t?”

“Don’t” Kevin says with emphasis. He saunters to the chair and casually lays the book on the side table next to the door. “What’s so special about it?”

Brandt answered, “sold the least. Written after my crazy Jesus Freak conversion. Ignored by the all knowing critics. Publisher didn’t promote it.”

“Is it that preachy religious Christian fiction stuff?” The boy asks.

“Not at all. It’s about life changes and other things.”

There is another ticking silence as they study one another. “What about you?” Brandt asks.

Kevin says “She tell you why I’m grounded?”


“Want to know? I’m bad news, a real troubled kid.”

“That’s between you and her.”

They are silent again.

“Any friends yet?” Brandt asks.

“Sort of,” he says.


“Maybe I don’t like females,” Kevin looks at him and the older man shrugs. “I do” Kevin smiles.

“So do I.” Brandt smiles.

“Grandma’s been gone a long time. I don’t remember her” Kevin gets no reaction from this. “Are you ready?” Kevin asks and they stand

In the car, Kevin gets directions to the Doctor’s office and they are silent. “OK, did you always want to be a writer?” he asks at last.

“Hmm,” Brandt thinks for a moment “no. Not really. I never liked to read. Writing came later.”


“I went to college about your age…” Brandt is abruptly cut off.

“Oh, here we go. I walked into that one” Kevin says.

“I don’t get it” Brandt says.

“Mom’s been on me about college and now here you go. College made you realize you wanted to be a writer. Blah, blah. Forget I asked.”

Brandt sighs “I was going to say I went to college and dropped out my first year and joined the Army. It made my father furious, which is probably one reason I did it. The other is I couldn’t see that it was going to get me anywhere since I didn’t know what I wanted to begin with.”

Kevin looks at the road “oh.”

“After a while I moved up in rank and the Army decided I was a smart guy. They assigned me to a remote place in the foothills of South Dakota. A one man building a few miles outside a little nowhere town. It had a one man office and living quarters. I couldn’t see or hear another person from there; the main road was some distance. They did not want me wearing a uniform.”

“Sounds strange. What did you do?”

“Not a lot. At irregular intervals I would get a call saying a delivery was coming. Sooner or later a van would pull up and a couple of guys in regular clothes would get out, show me their credentials and unload some metal file crates which we would stack in the office and they would leave. In a day or so I would get another call about a pick up. I would write down some information on a form and wait. Guys in regular clothes with credentials would show up and get the crates. Once a week I would go into town and mail my forms. I did that for over two years.”

“Wow, no one else ever came around. Like an officer or something?” Kevin asks.

“No one. I never saw anyone in a uniform until I left there and went to a base for a briefing.”

“Weird. What was in the boxes?” Kevin asks.

“I don’t know” Brandt says “I was told not to open them and they would know if I did.”

Kevin risks taking his eyes off the road and looks at the old man “you never found out what was in the crates?”

“Never. Watch the road, will you?”

“Weren’t you curious?” Kevin asks.

“Of course, I asked once and was told to keep my mind on my work” Brandt says.  “Anyhow, I got bored quickly. Only so much television and radio you can stand. The town was small and didn’t offer much but they did have a junk, antique flea market with second hand books. I decided to try reading and picked up a book that was supposed to be some kind of prize winning thing, highly acclaimed, bestseller and all of that. I read it and said, ‘wow this stinks’. I bought another one, then another, etc. Finally I said, ‘I can do at least this bad and I started writing. I got up the nerve to send some short things off to magazines, a few got in. I wrote my first novel and got it published the year I left the service.”

“Highway 36, turn here?” Kevin asks.


“Then you came back to Indiana and met Grandma and she had a pile of money” Kevin says.

“Not exactly. She worked with her father and took over the business. I kept writing and did pretty well. She gave the business to your mother and uncle when she got ill.”

“And my father almost ruined the business, Mom ditched him and moved to California with me and got married and engaged a bunch of times, stayed there most of my life, and now we are back with my latest Daddy-man because he’s a drunk and Uncle Dan had to find him a job. I’m supposed to be all screwed up over everything” Kevin adds.

“I’d like to think she came back for me” Brandt says.

“Oh Right.”

“It is the ugly brown and glass office building on the left. 5480” Brandt says

Kevin pulls the car into a parking space. “We’re early” he says.

“You wanted to leave” Brandt says. He motions to a nearby coffee shop “coffee?”

Kevin says “ok but I’m through with the talk.”

“Good” Brandt says.

Brandt is tired when they return in late afternoon.

“Another appointment tomorrow? Two days in a row?” Kevin asks as he sets the keys on the counter. “I’ll get your groceries out of the car.”

“A different doctor” Brandt says.

“Do you need all that, the doctors?” Kevin asks.

“No, but it keeps my agent off my back. I’m under contract for another book” Brandt says.

“What’s this one about?”

Brandt considers for a moment as he sits in his chair “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you. A government employee stuck in a useless and non productive job that everyone has forgotten about.”

Kevin saunters to the door “huh.”

Brandt settles into the chair and closes his eyes. He suddenly feels as though he can’t stay awake.

Kevin unloads the car and puts things away. He is concerned when the old man doesn’t move from the chair. “You alright?”

“Sure. I’m going to sit here a minute then see what your mother left me for dinner. I’ll watch the Pacer game later” Brandt says.

“Want me to get dinner?”

“No. You’ve run me around all day. I’m fine.” Brandt keeps his eyes closed.

“Maybe tomorrow you can tell me what The Last First Friday means” Kevin says.

“Fat chance,” Brandt mumbles with eyes closed.

“See you early.” Kevin hesitates in the doorway then leaves.

Brandt opens his eyes. His copy of The Last First Friday is gone from the side table. He closes his eyes.

Kevin has the book in hand when he returns the next morning. He can see his grandfather sitting in the chair with his feet on the ottoman. Kevin enters talking “I did it. I read it. Well most of it. I stayed up late.” His Grandfather looks at him and blinks. Kevin shuts the door still talking “you know what I found out? I’m a fast reader. I’m almost done.” He holds the book out.

Brandt blinks again.

“You don’t look ready to go. Want something to eat or coffee?” The boy asks and places the book on the side table. He sits on the ottoman and studies his Grandfather. “Hey, no,” Kevin says after a moment “no, you can’t. See I know now” he stares into his grandfather’s face. “Not now Grandpa, I know what it means. I know what The Last First Friday means.”

Yesterday is like it just happened and like it never happened at the same time. Today is like yesterday and time moves back and forth and slips away. Brandt looks at his grandson.

Return to Journal

William Baker has 15 short fiction publications to date and several more upcoming by June 2023. He doesn’t lack for story ideas and has never experienced writer’s block.

He maintains an author website with publication links at and can be contacted at:

He is currently working on numerous short stories and stage plays. He enjoys studying scripture, photography, amateur homesteading, and community theater. He lives a positive and purposeful life with his family in Indiana.

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.


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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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