I Knew Him Well – Alex S. French

The communal pot began to boil. It happened quickly. The fabric fold-up chairs roiled from under and yawns heaved out their former occupants. Everyone felt the shifting waves and knew it was their time to vaporize into the night. Almost everyone, at least.

Rick swung his arms wide and gazed incredulously about, “What are you guys doing? It’s barely dark out. You haven’t even finished your bottle of wine yet, Trudy. And since we’re in your home, you can’t use your favorite ‘I have to drive’ excuse.”

Trudy shrugged, “I’ll throw the vacuum stopper on it and put it in the fridge. It’ll still be good tomorrow.”

Rick sidled up to Graham, waving the case of Coors below Graham’s nose like smelling salts, nudging his elbow into ribs. “Hmm? Hmmmmmm? We could have a couple more pre-gamers and then head downtown. I mean, the Saturday night’s so young it’s practically jailbait!”

Graham winced and clapped Rick on the trap with one hand, took Eamon by the other, who had been bouncing nearby like a funhouse version of Rick and looked just as ready to not head to that dreaded bedtime beyond the sun. “Sorry, my man. I think the game’s already been played. No overtime tonight.”

Rick opened another beer in a woeful attempt to tempt another, but managed to at least say his farewells between pleas. Jane corralled him into the passenger’s seat of their car and let him play with the dials until he found a song that appropriately matched the rapid BPM of his dilated heart. An inebriated tongue like quicksilver, he gleamed at her side, jabbering all the way home.

She wondered how much of this he would even remember in the morning. The week after that. The event would still be there, but the details, the words, the stories, might be lost. She had seen it before. She would surely see it again. He lived so much in the moment on days like these. Cracking open great oysters of experience and slurping them down with unmatched zeal. But he shucked the pearls of memory back into the ocean, along with the shells. He didn’t care about the wealth that he threw. He didn’t care how many she saved from the sands. That was her choice, her burden. Designated driver. Designated recaller.

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