I Knew Him Well – Alex S. French

The stage was his again. Sprinting, swirling, twirling, his body torqued, the world blurring. Golden pirouettes trailed his every move like fainting devotees. They splashed around him like bubbling shooting stars. Finally one admirer could restrain her fervor no longer. She raced at him full bore, letting loose the sounds of joy that society had always wished to quash, to domesticate. Rick flashed his cool smile and knelt for her arrival. He would not be her oppressor. Not today.

It was beautiful. Pure. They came together. Merged as one on that grassy scene, naked enthusiasm for voyeurs and prudes alike to gawk. Bodies clashed. Tongues slavered. And Rick was left with a fine dusting of hair to keep as trophies in his teeth.

“Yo Rick, stop riling up the dog. Come on, man, you’re getting beer all over her.”

Rick looked down the barrel of his Stella Artois. Graham told no lies; Rick certainly couldn’t have drunk all that. He swilled the last of it before placing the bottle at the dog’s feet, allowing her to gingerly teeth the thin foil wrapping and lick away all traces of yeasty aroma from her new paramour.

“You’re right. Might as well throw me a fresh one. One of my cans this time.”

His friend sighed but acquiesced. Pulled one of the warming Coors from the cardboard ‘teener next to the cooler.

Rick had never seen any need to put his beer on ice. Just made it more work to extract later on. Efficiency was one of those strange byproducts of the lazy. Cold drinks, less so.

The toss landed heavy in Rick’s hand. He cracked the can, blew the resulting fluff into a zephyr, and turned to Graham’s son.

“Alrighty, Eamon—let’s get back to this footballin’ we been up to.”

Eamon grinned, nodded and brought the football back to his ear, his left hand out straight in perfect poster-worthy form. Then the rubber of his body released and he heaved his whole spine into it, from shoulder to hip, looking as though the ball might very well rocket his eight-year-old body to new lands. A puff of dust arose at Rick’s feet as the football completed its short journey solo instead.

Rick scooped it up with well-oiled ease and dropped back over the crunchy, half-yellowed grass. Barren clouds slipped by like greasy smudges on deli paper. It had been a warm summer. Seasonably, you might call it. But the lack of rain was beginning to taint the merriment of amber waves of heat. As though a good storm was needed to wash away not only the smoke particles that now omnipresently clung to the sky, but the various bickerings and injustices that had sparked up over the past few months as well. The forecast called for it soon, though. That’s what they all said. That was the skillet-hot news of sidewalk chats and past schoolmate’s social media twitterings. Exciting stuff! No matter, they would all return to their misery soon enough come winter. Rick had no antipathy for the sun and all its glow.

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