I knew Ronnie was going to suggest going to The Locker Room before he even said it. The sad, local bar where the locals who had graduated within the past 15 years who stayed in town frequented to try and relive their younger days, it was like something out of that Springsteen song “Glory Days.”
I heard my name hollered drunkenly before I even fully walked through the door. Shit. I had already been spotted.
It took my eyes a second to focus after walking in out of the bright light of the midday sun, but once they focused in I saw my fan was the very person I had come to meet – Ronnie. He bounced up and down on a bar stool like a baby in high chair just before dinner is served.
“Leeeeeeeeeeevi Green,” Ronnie announced name like the old Chicago Bulls PA announcer when I neared.
I kept my face down, took a seat next to Ronnie at the bar and avoided eye contact with the female bartender I knew I went to high school with. She was the only person in the bar other than Ronnie and based on the distance she gave from where Ronnie was seated, she was about as thrilled about reuniting with him as I was.
“L-Dog. I got you a Fireball and Coke,” Ronnie announced and stuck out a handshake greeting.
I accepted Ronnie’s handshake and gave him a firm up and down, never acknowledging the bizarre drink he ordered for me.
Ronnie had not aged well. All of the features which made him unattractive as a youth had worsened – his underbite was even more pronounced, the cystic acne on his cheeks had somehow increased, even though we were in our 30s, his hair was still pizza greasy, but was now an awkward shoulder length. His teeth seemed to crook and curl all around his mouth like the trunk of a tree when he beamed a smile at me.
“I’m surprised you wanted to meet up. I never see you when you’re in town anymore,” Ronnie started in.
“I know. I barely see anyone when I’m around, usually in for like a day or two. Don’t even really see my brother.”
“Well fuckin a, man. I appreciate it. Gets pretty boring around here. I’m sure it’s not as cool as like Denver or something. Go fuckin Broncos. Better than the fuggin Titans. Can’t believe they picked that overrated piece of shit from Oregon at QB.”
I gave Ronnie the last courtesy smile I reserved for him. Flashed it at him after he downed the last of what appeared to be his Fireball and Coke.
“I wanted to meet up with you to ask you a little bit about my cousin, Chase Lucas, the one who died back in the nineties.”
A piece of ice flew out of Ronnie’s glass and slid down his cheek. He coughed and gagged. His eyes darted around the dim bar.
“I haven’t heard that name in like twenty years,” Ronnie answered with a mouthful of ice.
“I know. I didn’t even know you knew him, but I ran into your mom and she said you guys were friendly back in Crave.”
Ronnie nodded furiously. Jingled his icy glass at the bartender. Let out a deep breath.
“It’s crazy shit man. Glad I’ve already taken down a good chunk of these F and Cs. I don’t know what happened to Chase, man.”
“What do you mean, crazy shit but you don’t know what happened?”
Ronnie received another drink and got to work on it right away.
“It’s some heavy shit man. Not easy to talk about.”
I moved my face closer to Ronnie’s. Fresh tears had formed in his eyes.