[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ate afternoon. I stopped at the convenience store in Westville, Florida, located off Highway 10. Almost thirty miles from the Alabama state line. It’s a nondescript building, with a pay phone out front and a cemetery across the street. Inside, three fellas lounged in lawn chairs, circled around a cooler.

One man offered me a beer.

I declined and told him I had somewhere to be.

“Where you got to be in such a hurry?” he asked.

Small town folks are nosy.

“Actually,” I looked my watch. “I’m on my way home.”

“Suit yourself,” he nodded to the cooler. “But the beer is free.”

He had a point.

I relented and sat down.

The old boys talked about everything that came to their minds. Including local gossip. They made me feel right at home. All of us laughed until we were purple. One older man cackled so hard he almost passed a kidney stone. No joke.

It was the most fun I’ve had in years.

In Westville, of all places.

When we were through laughing, the youngest man of the group wore a smile on his face.

“Y’all know I hated Westville,” the kid said. “I know y’all remember how I tried moving up to Birmingham. Took a job laying carpet.” He looked at me. “I couldn’t wait to get away from here.”

The men grew quiet.

“Hell,” the kid said. “I was a fool. You can’t find friends like this in Birmingham. You just can’t.”

The whole group raised their cans.

They knew what he meant.

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