“My condolences,” he said as he polished off his beer. His third? Maybe fourth? I couldn’t remember how long he’d been sitting with me. “She was a good lady. She deserved better than that.”
I indicated to the bartender that another round was in order. I didn’t have the strength to face sobriety.
“You know, you’re the first person that’s recognized me all day,” I said.
He chuckled. “Whaddaya think we’re dumb? Becky saw you at the diner this morning. I figured if you were in town, you’d be here so I came to find you. Figured I should see it with my own eyes.”
My stomach dropped. Maybe I’d had too much to drink. “What do you mean?”
“Come on, man. You think that a haircut and some new clothes is all it takes to make yourself anonymous? Use your head. Just because they haven’t been talking to you doesn’t mean they don’t recognize you. You look good, better than I ever seen you, but you still look like you. And no amount of time will change that.”
I knew that. Of course I knew that. Just like I knew that… “Do they believe it, Keith?”
He downed the rest of his glass. “Where are you staying, man? You shouldn’t be driving anywhere tonight. I think the boys are looking for you to mess up, give them an excuse. And you better take care to look good in the morning.”
“Keith, do they believe it? Do they actually believe it?”
“It doesn’t matter what they believe, and you know it. God himself could show up in the middle of the town hall and tell them they’re wrong. These people don’t care about the truth, they care about convenience. And there’s nothing so convenient as someone else to blame.”
I hailed the bartender. Another round.
[word count: 305]