Rick killed the engine outside the conference center. It rattled sickly, then silence. He took a deep breath and wished for a cigarette instead. Too bad he had quit last year.
The marquee said “Welcome Class of 1983.”
The car pinged. What made that sound? Dave would know. Rick smiled, remembering teenaged Dave driving through a corn field one night just for the hell of it. He wondered if grownup Dave would be at the reunion. Maybe Dave still worked on cars, like the old days.
The old days. He stared into the rearview. He looked tired.
Would they even recognize him? Was Angie in there? Maybe she would recognize him.
Angie. He sighed. She had been the first, and she had left a permanent scar. Had she gotten fat? She had always been worried about her looks. He straightened a little and pulled in his gut.
A bald guy went in. Rick flipped through his mental yearbook and stopped. Benny. Asshole. Rick remembered the short, sharp scuffle in a gravel parking lot. Shoving, a couple of clumsy punches, friends jumping in to break it up. Curses and dire promises, but nothing happened.
Rick still hadn’t unbuckled. Who would care if he went in? Why had he gotten dressed up just to be inspected by a bunch of barely recognizable old people?
Sure, he wanted to talk to Dave, and he wanted to see if Angie had stayed hot. And, a little, he wanted to stare down Benny the Asshole. It was agonizing, this unexpected attack of indecision.
He glanced into the rearview once more, catching a sudden glimpse of teenager Rick looking back. He liked that kid. That kid had powered through hundreds of unexpected attacks of indecision.
Man, he wanted a smoke. Maybe Angie still smoked.
(First published in Stripped Lit 500 on Aug 7 2016.)