“You want to know what’s sad?”
Tim glanced briefly at the blackened patties smoking on his grill and pushed one back and forth a few inches with the spatula. “No, what’s sad is you still have never once gone to church with me. I mean, I’ve invited you about a million and twelve times.”
Ryan let out a loud sigh and leaned hard against the deck railing. “Here we go again. Don’t you ever give up?”
“It doesn’t appear like it,” answered Tim.
“I would’ve thought the millionth try might have broken you,” Ryan laughed. “Going for two million?”
“Oh, as long as you’re not physically abusing me for my efforts, I’m pretty sure I’ll never quit.” Tim contemplated the burgers for a few seconds before pressing his spatula hard on top of one, causing flames to flare between the patties.
“Well, that’s what’s really sad, if you ask me,” Ryan said. “And just what are you doing to those burgers? Don’t you think they’ve suffered enough?”
Tim slid the spatula under one of the blackened patties and held it several inches above the flames. “Poor Ryan, if only he had listened to his good friend, Tim,” he boomed in a deep narrator’s voice. “One million and twelve chances.” Tim slowly lowered the patty into the flame.
“Oh, brother,” Ryan sighed.
“If only he had known there would be no one million and thirteenth chance.” Tim flipped the burger violently and slammed it down onto the grill, his exaggerated hissing sounds mixing with the sizzling of the meat. “Poor Ryan, carcinogenated in Hell’s bbq.”
“Yeah, well, it sounds more dramatic, don’t you think?” Tim asked.
“I suppose,” Ryan said. “So, basically you’re telling me that I’ll have a fate as tragic as those burgers if I don’t go to church with you. Is that right?”
“No, of course not,” Tim answered as he finally turned off the grill and scooped the burgers onto a plate. “But you yourself have admitted that you’re not entirely happy with the way your life’s going. Aren’t you at least curious?”
Ryan stared blankly at the vacant grill. “Curious probably isn’t the right word. Scared, perhaps.”
Ryan opened a bun on his paper plate and considered which of the shrunken patties was the most edible. “That I’ll like it,” he answered. “I’m not sure I’m ready to like it. I’m not sure I can be like you.”
“Ryan, no one’s asking you to be like me,” Tim said. “Hey, I don’t even like being like me sometimes.”
“Yeah, but – “
“Look, none of us is perfect. We all have our own things. We all struggle. Come struggle with us,” Tim laughed.
Ryan offered a weak smile. “Tell you what. If you promise never to force another of your burgers on me, I’ll give it some serious thought.”
“Seriously serious thought?” Tim asked.
“Deal! No more crusty blackened orbs for you,” Tim agreed.
“And no more talk of carcinogenation,” Ryan said. “I’ve heard that can be painful.”
“Yeah, that’s the word on the street,” said Tim.
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