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Full Circle: The Loan
A tale of two buddies who finally lost touch
By Maury Z. Levy

People let me tell you about my best friend. From the first day of high school, when we sat in the lunchroom and shared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a carton of chocolate milk, we did everything together. We were as thick as thieves.

Lenny Goldberg and I ate the same food, liked the same music, and got turned down by the same girls. We even drove to the prom together. With different girls.

And every Sunday night, we drove to hear jazz in Delran. Then to the Penn Queen Diner, where we ate apple pie and drank coffee and talked about taking over the world.

“Do you want to be class president?” Lenny Goldberg asked me.

“Nah,” I said. “I don’t care about stuff like that. I just want to be editor of the yearbook.”

And there, on the back of a napkin, stained with Maxwell House, we hatched the plan that would get us to our goals. I would run his campaign for president. I understood messaging and arm-twisting. I would be the power behind the throne. And once he was president, he would appoint me editor of the yearbook. That’s all there was to it. And it worked.

At school, he always got better grades than I did. He could focus on Latin and physics and trig. And I focused on the Playmate of the Month. He went on to college at Dartmouth, and I went to the Harvard of the mid-Atlantic: Temple.

He became a lawyer. And quite a lawyer he was. He would go on to head up the whole division of one of the biggest companies in the world. He would move to Atlanta. For a few years, we sort of lost touch. Big jobs took us all over the country.

But best friends never really lose each other. A few years ago, he called me. He was coming up my way and wanted to get together. We hit it off like it was yesterday. And he invited us down to his house in Atlanta. Actually, he had two houses. One in the city and one by the lake. That’s where his boat was, of course.

The lake house was incredible. He had a wine cellar that was bigger than most houses. And art. He had great art. “That’s a good replica of a Remington,” I said, pointing to a sculpture.

He just chuckled. “That’s not a replica,” he said.

And so it went. We had our own lives and destinies. I hadn’t heard from him in a long time. And then I got the call. He was breathless.

“I need your help. The IRS is after me, and I just picked up and left. I threw a few things in a bag, didn’t tell my wife and started driving aimlessly across the country. When I got to Montana, they canceled my credit cards. I have no money. I need to buy prescriptions. Can you wire me some money?”

I thought he meant to cover the prescriptions. “How much do you need?” I asked.

“Two thousand dollars,” he said.

“Two thousand dollars?” I don’t have that kind of money sitting around the house.”

“Come on, buddy, you’re my best friend.”

I put my hand over the phone and told my wife a very brief version of the story.

“If you want to send him some money, go ahead,” she said. “But I guarantee you’ll never see that money again.”

“No,” I said, “he’ll pay me back. We’re best friends.”

The next morning, I wired the money to him. A few days later, worried about him, I called. No answer. Called again the next day. And the next. Crickets. And then, I got a letter from his lawyer that said he was declaring bankruptcy, and that if I wanted to be one of his debtors, I could fly to Atlanta and get in line.

So, it’s been 14 years now. How does the story end? I don’t know. Have you heard from him?

August 2019
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