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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Friendship (04/04/05)

TITLE: Mace and Joey
By Karen Deikun


It had been more than a year since Mason James and Joey Friedlinger had last seen each other, and this was a hard goodbye. Mace was being shipped to Iraq. It was ironic: Mace, the scrawny little kid with the backwards name and backwards brain had become a Marine; and Joey, the big burly football player, was studying accounting. Who would’ve guessed?

The drill sergeant - who said that Mace was the skinniest, shortest little excuse for a Marine he’d ever seen - also had to admit he was the scrappiest. It hadn’t always been that way. When he and Joey first met, Mace was a shy little scaredy-cat without a friend in the world. Mace often wondered how it had happened that they’d become best friends, but he was thankful that he’d had Joey in his life all these years. His life would be so different today if he hadn’t always been able to count on Joe being there, covering his back, keeping him in line, and making him feel like he belonged somewhere.

The summer following fourth grade they’d both attended Summer Bible School, and they’d both asked Jesus into their lives that week. Although neither boy could have imagined that their friendship could be improved, their shared faith bonded them like superglue. They studied the Bible and prayed together. They helped each other change and grow. As teens, they’d discussed girlfriends - or lack of them. They struggled together with temptations and celebrated with each other in their victories and successes. Their friendship was definitely a David and Jonathan thing. Their hearts were knit together – no doubt about it.

As difficult as it had been to say goodbye when Mace left for boot camp, it was nothing compared to this. They were both trying to put a good face on it – even cracking a few jokes. Mace told Joey he’d gotten fat and soft. “I guess I have to beat up bullies for you now!” he said grinning. Joey said Mace’s haircut made him look like a cue ball stuck on a cue stick. There were a few jabs to the arm and a few hearty slaps on the back. But underneath they were both holding back tears. Both knew this deployment inched Mace a little too close to danger – or maybe even death. They were aware that this might be a last parting. There was so much to say and at the same time so little. Two men, closer than brothers, were being pulled apart. Joey felt a wrenching pain at the thought.

As the sun went down, the two sat quietly, talking of things they remembered and plans for the future. They shared thoughts about faith, and the assurance of being eternal friends. Knowing that his friend belonged to Jesus was the only thing holding Joey together. Physically, Mace might be in serious danger. Spiritually, he was 100 percent safe.

At the end, they stood in the dark, hugging each other, tears streaming down their faces. It was so hard: so hard to express the gratitude each had for the other’s friendship, so hard to say goodbye. As Mace walked around the front of the house to his car, Joey thought that his friend had never looked bigger. He’d put on muscle, and carried himself like the hero he was. He himself had never felt so small and scared. “God, please, keep him safe. Bring him back.” Joey prayed.

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This article has been read 1243 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dixie Phillips04/11/05
Wow! This should be read to the military families..... Beautiful job! Written with much heart..........
darlene hight04/11/05
Compelling! It pulled me right along all the way to the end and left me wanting to know the end of the story.
Kathy Bruins04/11/05
Very well done!
Mary Nellum04/11/05
Catherine Pollock04/11/05
Hope it's not just me being tired that has me teary-eyed at this one, because I want it to be the sentiment behind it. My brother's in the Army and leaving for overseas very soon (though he's not headed to Iraq), and that's part of what hit me so strongly with this piece.... thanks for posting it.
Lisa Vella04/12/05
Very nice story. I especially liked the line "Joey thought that his friend had never looked bigger." It is a reminder of how big and strong we can all be when we are strong in our relationship with our Savior.
Hope Horner04/12/05
This really pulled me in...such a simple story told in a powerful way. It is refreshing to read a story about friendship between men that is unabashedly sentimental. Great story!
Nancy Hardy04/12/05
An excellent story of true friendship. It exhibits a real depth and tenderness so often left untold.
Delores Baber04/13/05
Wonderful story! You used your gift of writing well! Friendship means being vunerable. Their love for one another caused their parting to be a rending experience. But the friendship was a pearl of great price. Precious.
Lori Othouse 04/14/05
This is a beautiful story! I also was touched by the unreserved show of emotions between men. Very moving!
Debbie OConnor04/15/05
This was a real blessing to read. Thanks.
Maxx .04/16/05
faith ... like superglue

Ya gotta love it! Nice job!
vicki mccollum04/18/05
As a mom of a 15 year old JrRotc boy, this sure brought tears to my eyes. There's such a short bridge of time between 4th grade VBS and growing up!
David Stewart04/20/05
I really enjoyed reading this. Well. done!
Sally Hanan04/23/05
Beautifully done Karen. You have such a way with words.