Biographical Non-Fiction posted October 10, 2023

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What True Friendship Meant To Me


by Brett Matthew West

Stop Contest Winner 

When I saw this prompt, mentally, I immediately returned to my younger years. I knew I must pen this posting. I was one, no, I was THE luckiest little boy in Nashville at the time of this event. You see, I got adopted by an unknown stranger I begged money from in a Walmart parking lot. One of my friends was not so fortunate. You may recall I wrote about my youth in my autobiography Unwanted Dog. This is not so much a part of those happenings. Instead, the writing is a recounting of my friend Steven Kyle's hardscrabble existence, if you can call his life existing. It sure wasn't much more. Stevie, this one is for you.


How could I, or anyone else for that matter ever forget the desperation in Steven Kyle's steadily growing frailer with each passing day's voice when he pled, "STOP!"

I did not to have to ask. I fully understood what Stevie meant. Whoever looked at him would know. Still, I waited for him to finish his comment.

I saw the pain in Stevie's eyes when he said, "All I want out of life now is for this nightmare to stop. Someone please take me out of this world!"

Though I had not been on the streets long after running away from Hermitage Hall for good, one passing glance was all required for me to first approach this stranger seated on a worn out bus stop bench on 16th Avenue South. I did not look much better myself.

We both had ragged, holey shoes on our feet, no socks. I started running around barefooted most of the time at this point. Adorned in frayed blue jeans, and tattered tee shirts soaked many times over with perspiration and grime, we must have resembled Pigpen from the famous Peanuts comic strip. The homeless don't get much choice in what they wear. After all, you did not just walk into a laundry mat and strip down to your BVD's to wash clothes. On second thought, reckon you could remove them as well and toss the garment into the washing machine. God knows, your underwear required a good cleaning when you sported the same pair for days on end.

I knew Stevie was older than me. To tell the truth, he looked a couple hundred years past prehistoric. His unkempt and scraggly beard first caught my attention. I wanted to ask him if he knew what a comb was? Instead, I planted my scrawny rump on the bench beside him, reached my right hand out and picked at the scratched wood my back rested against. Finally, I mustered enough nerve to ask him his name.

Stevie told me, "I'm just a 21 year old kid. My dad tossed me out of his house on my 18th birthday."

I muttered a response, "Some birthday present."

What was I talking about? I had never seen a birthday, Christmas, or any other kind of present in the dozen years I breathed air up to that point. I looked at Stevie and asked, "Why did your dad throw you out like a rotten slab of roast beef?"

Remember, I never had parents one single second of my life up to then. What did I know about such critters? Moreover, at that time, I wouldn't have considered not having them any humongous loss.

"I didn't want to go to college, and I couldn't find a job," Stevie replied. "My dad said it was his house and he would be damned if he would support a freeloading bum like me. I was forbidden to ever darken his door again."

What did I just say about not having parents not being a bad thing? Some so called "parents" are simply not worth the bother. Stevie and I continued to talk. He did not fault me for running away from Hermitage Hall. In fact, Stevie agreed he would have done the same thing if he had been in my position. Maybe it was his remark that began our friendship.

A few days passed. I made a point of meeting Stevie somewhere in my roaming around. We kind of looked for each other. When you resided on the streets, you took any help offered to you wherever it may come from. We scrounged coins from the ground the many tourists, and others, kabitzing through the area dropped. I watched Stevie consume grub he was fortunate enough to pilfer out of trash cans. Hey, don't be judgemental. Until you have been there, you really can not say for sure what you might have to stoop to in order to survive. I never saw Stevie do drugs or drink. If he did, it was not in my presence.

For several months after this Unwanted Dog was taken in, I still visited Stevie as often as I could, Occasionally, he might travel to a homeless shelter for a short period of time. Never did he stay in one long.

Stevie told me, "They are not set up for more than a night or two. I'm better off on the street."

Winter came and I made sure one of the Christmas presents Dusty was going to give me became a coat for Stevie. It did not take much persuasion to get Dusty to agree to the act. I tossed a warm fleece blanket off my bed in for good measure. It often snowed and grew frigid in Music City. April 6th of the next year, I was honored to be one of Stevie's pallbearers when we laid him down to rest. Self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

R.I.P. Stevie. Though your light still shines in one small corner, mi amigo, you never enjoyed any in your trials on this earth.

Can somebody, like Stevie did, yell "STOP!"

Writing Prompt
Write a story of any type. But at some point your character must shout: Stop!

Contest Winner


Two Friends, by avmurray, selected to complement my posting.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by avmurray at

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