A Friend Beyond Price

If you could sell friendship, how much would you charge? Friends don’t have price tags, because they’re worth more than any number you can put after a dollar sign. If you don’t believe, here’s a true story of a priceless friend in a small town.
by Michael Mernagh, LC | Source:
If you could sell friendship, how much would you charge? Friends don’t have price tags, because they’re worth more than any number you can put after a dollar sign. If you don’t believe, here’s a true story of a priceless friend in a small town in Illinois.

The pale quarter moon hovered over sleeping Summerstown. Earl rolled over in bed and stared up at the blank ceiling. Rain again. The pitter-patter on the roof tapped on his frazzled nerves. Yet another dull day lay ahead at the realty office. Debts, more debts, and no customers. Why had he ever gotten into this in the first place? If it wasn’t for the Maple Hill hotels, he’d certainly be up to his neck in the red. Better not to think so much, and get some sleep. After all, who knows? Maybe tomorrow…

Similar thoughts raced through the mind of his partner in realty, Kevin, as he too lay awake across town. Through the flittering curtains he gazed out on the rusty green cable bridge.

Months of slump had nibbled through his last savings. The kids had quit grade school when tuition hit the roof. The family station was long gone in exchange for milk and eggs. It was impossible to mortgage the house, and Kathy grew snappier every day, with good cause. He slipped out of bed and peered through the window. Cold waves bashed the gray rocks. All those problems just wouldn’t leave him alone.

Thursday at the office was cloaked in a heavy silence. No luck. Hoping to cast a flicker on the brooding moment, Earl offered to buy his partner a drink. They sat in silence at the bar down the street from the office, staring at the wall. Suddenly, Kevin pulled a folded note from his pocket and slipped it to Earl, then turned and left.

“Kathy,” it read, “I’m sorry it had to end like this. Take good care of the kids, and I love you.” Earl crumpled the note and burst out onto the street. In the distance, a silhouette trudged toward Summerstown Bridge.

“Kevin,” he gasped, “are you crazy?”
“Leave me alone.”
“But you can’t… Slow down. Wait a bit.”
“I told you: leave me alone.”
“Wait. Wait.” Earl stammered, searching for words. And then it came to him.
“If you were in the black, would you still jump?”
“There’s no way out; the debts, tuition, bills…” Kevin muttered, staring down glumly.
“And if there was a way?”
“But there’s not. I’ve tried.”
“Give me half an hour and I’ll find a way.” Earl looked too determined to simply be buying time.

The two headed back in silence to the office. Earl unlocked the door and slipped into a back room, reappearing after a moment with a wad of papers in his hands.

“They’re all yours” he exclaimed, thrusting the Maple Hill Hotel deeds into his hands. “Oh, and,” he paused, turning back in the doorway, “you can keep this too.” He pulled a crumpled note from his pocket and set it on top of the hotel deeds.

Heroic acts of generosity have a heavy price tag, and it was not surprising to find Earl nine months later living in a simple cottage and riding to work every morning on a mountain bike.

“I suppose I did kind of act without thinking,” Earl admitted as he unstrapped his helmet and padlocked the bike to the rail, “but ask Kevin or his family if you think it was a mistake.”


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