The Target

H.L. was seated beside me.  He was busy playing with a red laser pointer he picked up at a dollar store, and judging by the way he played with it, it seemed as though he had never seen one before.  He was aiming it at things he wanted Santiago to bring him, which Santiago did not, and he used it to light up the ice in Kilgore’s clear drink.

Vodka on the lava rocks, H.L. laughed to himself.  Kilgore ignored his antics and doodled away during the commercial break.

It’s back on, Santiago stated like a command.  Kilgore put down his pen; H.L. his penlight.

We were watching that survival reality show Hank never let us follow in peace.  And since he hasn’t been around, we’d been getting back into a lot of shows.

A major fight broke out between contestants when my cell phone rang.  Everyone groaned and threw up their arms like it occurred all the time, when in reality – no one ever called me.

I walked away from the bar when I saw the display.  There was no name attached in the phone book, but I recognized the number.  I clicked Accept and let her speak first.

Aiden?  Her voice was soft and cautious.  And a little scared.

“Hey.”  I waited the obligatory I-don’t-care-you’re-calling two seconds before I continued.  “Is there something wrong?”

Why would you say that?

“I hear it in your voice.  The inflections and tone of your voice always gives – gave – you away.”

I need to see you.

“Is that necessary?  When?”

I want to talk to you about Ryan.

Ryan Antolini.  My friend’s brother.  My old teacher.  My enemy.  “Why do you want to talk about him?”

You’re the only one I can talk to.  You’re like… you’re like a friend.

“A friend?  We were supposed to be getting married!  That stopped being the plan not that long ago.”

Well, you were always more friend than boyfriend, to be honest.  We were never physical.

“Physical?  What do you call what happened in the bathroom here?”

Wait… are you at that bar right now?  I’m coming up.  It’s important, and I have no one else to turn to.  See you.

And she hung up.  I looked at my reflection in one of the many beer mirrors, or beerors as Kilgore’s apt to call them.  I had a red laser dot in the middle of my forehead.

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