Lunch with a Skull Ring
“Dude, you look like, awful!” Morgan said loud enough for everyone to hear – standing outside Jo’s smoking one of his American Spirits. Since we were high school seniors, he’s never been without a pack of American Spirit cigarettes and at least one pack of Wrigley’s gum.
Senior year, Morgan, Sue and myself road tripped to Lubbock to see Buddy Holly’s grave. On the way home, well past midnight, Morgan was at the wheel of his parents’ Range Rover when he dropped a lit cigarette on his lap. He veered off the road and we hit an approach. Sue was lying down in the back seat, and from the corner of my eye, I saw her stay horizontal and hit the car’s roof. We came to a halt and the only thing we could hear in the dead silence was our panicked breathing. We were okay. The Ranger Rover was damaged to the tune of about two grand.
“Thanks,” I said, my voice sounding like an old scratchy phonograph record. We walked inside Jo’s and got in line. My stomach felt like a pot of water on the verge of boiling, so I opted for coffee and toast. As we sat down, I told Morgan about watching Bright Lights Big City at MSP International while waiting out my delay.
“I think the only reason you like that movie so much is because that guy spends the entire movie pining for a girl named Amanda,” he said, accusingly. Morgan always wears a giant skull ring like Keith Richards. It stared right at me as he was putting french fries in his mouth. It was like having lunch with two people.
“No,” I countered, acting insulted. “I like it because in the end he walks away from a girl named Amanda.” He made it seem so easy.
“And I bet you still haven’t removed her as the emergency contact on your gym membership,” Morgan said with all the confidence of a seasoned trial lawyer cross-examining a trembling witness. His skull ring acting as the less-experienced junior associate.
“Only because it never occurs to me that she’s still my emergency contact. Who really thinks of those things?” I do. It crosses my mind every single time the blonde kid swipes my gym card at the front desk. It would be so easy to remove her…take maybe five minutes. But to do so would mean hearing the blonde kid verify my current contact, which means hearing her full name. It would instantly transport me back to the day when we joined the gym together.
My cell vibrated and it was a text from Jeanine back in Minneapolis. She’s throwing a party next month and wants me there…
“Seen her lately?” asked Morgan, as three UT cheerleaders with still-wet-shower-hair took the table next to us.
“Who? Amanda? Yeah, just recently.” I told Morgan about running into her and hearing about her live-in boyfriend and their outdated rented condo. How weird it was hearing her say, “My boyfriend,” a role I once played to mediocre acclaim. How that little run-in left me somewhat shaken for a week, and she probably forgot all about it as soon as I walked away.
Morgan took a sip from his lemonade, “Sorry, man”