Juan LePuen

Published at Smashwords by Fario

Copyright 2011 by Fario

Jeff and I were sitting at the bar, sipping our mixed drinks, the successful ordering of which struck me as further proof of my growing maturity and sophistication, when James walked in. Loping through the bar with his trench coat and the thick hair he had let grow long and had dyed several different colors in addition to its natural red, he called to mind a lion brought low by mange, reduced to prowling the barrooms of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, in search of nourishment, fellowship, or a permanent waterhole where a shaky truce allowed prey and predator to slake their thirst in uneasy communion.

He took a stool beside us and, without the slightest hesitation, ordered a vodka tonic. Spurred by drink, our conversation soon became lively. Jeff was talking about high school. James was replying energetically. I put in a word now and then. Only when Jeff finished a story and a brief silence fell over us did it occur to me that we were reminiscing about those days because we no longer had anything to say to each other. Barely four years out of high school and we were already struggling to keep the bonds from dissolving altogether. Not so much because we prized each other’s company as because of our hatred of silence, our common incredulity before the evidence that time could so easily turn us into strangers uninterested in one another.

Do you remember,” Jeff was saying to James, “that night you went into that apartment on Southfield and didn’t come back out?”

James laughed, but I thought I saw him stiffen.

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