"I don't know, Mark," Angie whined some more. "It's too risky.
Let's just go find the others and see if they've got extra..."
"Forget that, Ang," I interrupted. "Kyle and Lisa got other plans
tonight, if you know what I mean." Kyle and Lisa were our best
friends. "Kyle's mom and dad are gone for the weekend and he told me
that Lisa and him are gonna celebrate their six month anniversary at his
house. Alone." Actually, he'd told me that he'd kick my ass six ways
to Sunday if Angie and I showed up, but male pride wasn't about to let
me tell her that I took Kyle's threat seriously. "Anyways, I'm almost
positive we can trust Steve. He's an old jock, and you know us football
guys look out for each other. Just like me and Kyle always do."
I knew Steve Campbell used to play because he had been an
all-league cornerback in his senior year of 1978, the last year our
school had a league championship season. You couldn't miss his picture
displayed in the coach's office in the locker room, an old black and
white job cut out from the county newspaper, with Steve standing next to
Pete Martin, the all-everything quarterback from the same team.
Kneeling in front of them, grinning from ear to ear, was Coach Duane
"Let me at least go ask him if he'll do it," I said, already
opening my door. "If he says no, then we'll figure something else out."
"Whatever," Angie replied, frowning, her arms still crossed.
I rolled my eyes and closed the door, immediately forgetting about
Angie's attitude. Thirst, after all, was on my mind. I walked over to
where Steve stood. As I got closer, I could see that this was
definitely the guy from the locker room picture.
He was about my height, maybe five-foot ten or so, with the same
straight, shoulder length hair he'd had in the photo. The only
difference now was the amount of forehead that was showing. He had on
round, John Lennon-style glasses and a thick black and red-checkered
flannel jacket. His jeans were worn and faded, bottomed off with a pair
of brown and green camouflaged hunting boots. He had both his hands in
the pockets of his bulky coat, leaning with his back against the wall
next to the liquor store door, staring down at his boots. My first
reaction was to turn and leave him be, but the dismal thought of a dry
Friday got the better of me.
"Steve... Steve Campbell?" I asked, apprehensively.
"Hmm... wha?" He mumbled, looking up in my direction. The face I
saw was one I knew -- and also one I didn't. The features were the same
as those I'd seen so many times in the locker room picture, but gone
were the big smile and bright eyes that not even an old grainy black and
white photo could hide. The face I looked at now was vacant somehow.
Distant. There were wrinkles along his cheeks and around his eyes. And
his eyes looked... man, his eyes looked dead.
Suddenly I wasn't so thirsty.
"What'd you say?" He asked, looking at me with those empty eyes. "You say my name, man?"
"Uh, yeah. You're Steve Campbell, right?"
He stood there, staring at me quietly. I could tell he was trying
to figure out who I was. "Yeah, that's me," he said. "Who're you?"
Both the answer and the question seemed nervous to me.
"Oh, sorry," I replied. "I'm Mark Jansen. Janice Lewison --
actually Janice McElroy now -- is my stepsister. I think you guys went
to school together."
He thought about that for a moment and then seemed to relax. For
the first time, I could see a small smile on his face. "Oh yeah, I
"She's married now, living over in Bridgecross Heights with her
husband Bobby and..."
"Janice Lewison," Steve cut me off. I don't think he'd heard a
word I'd said about her marriage. "Wow, man, another blast from the
past tonight. Go figure." He chuckled to himself, then grew quiet
again, looking back down at the ground.
"Uh... yeah," I said, even though I knew he wasn't listening.
He didn't speak.
I stood looking at the top of his head, wondering what the heck to
do next. I was starting to think that he was either drunk or high.
Frustrated, I decided to give up and turned to walk away.
"How... how'd you know me?" He suddenly asked from behind me.
I stopped and turned to face him again. "Oh. I seen your picture
in Coach Payton's office. You know... the all-league one from