A Friend, Animal

Even before I met you, they called you Animal, and I don’t know why.
I still don’t know, although I recall people telling me tales.
Those tales.
Some might’ve been true, others small-town apocrypha.
When I asked you about them, you just laughed.
You didn’t need to speak about the past.
I knew you as a giant.
In the physical sense, you were a giant to all of my friends, not just me.
I also knew you as the giant of a man who used to fall asleep at the bar.
And when you were asked to leave, it was never because you’d caused trouble.
It was because the pub was closing.
I knew you as a giant who read books.
You read a lot of books.
I would stand at the bar and get my beer
And from the bar, I could see you sitting outside in the beer yard reading a book.
A well-read paperback with a cracked spine.
But you’d still look up whenever I drew near to you.
You’d look up, mention briefly the book you were reading
Drop it down on the table.
And then you’d talk about other stuff.
Anecdotes, friends, and that was the way it was.
The way it was, but it’s like this.
I will miss you.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Rest easy, big man.
You will always be a giant piece of my memory.

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