He couldn’t believe it—he was no longer a young man. He was thrity-seven and looked every bit of it. Thirty-seven and what had he done with his life? He’d avoided making decisions, taken the path of least resistance at every tough turn in road. He was rootless, wandering through life without direction.
He’d already thrown back six pints of beer but felt steady on his feet. He could use at least three or four more. When he pushed the door open a big guy was shuffling in and said something threatening without looking at Jack.
“Watch where you’re going, asswipe.”
Jack ignored him. You could usually get around guys like that if you didn’t say anything. If you didn’t challenge them they wouldn’t feel they had to fight—no reason to make a federal case of it.
Things had changed while he’d been in the john. First, when he left Cat Stevens was singing “Wild World,” one of his favorites. But when he returned to the bar The Doors were shouting “Been Down So Long.”
Butch sat in the same place, the table top littered with empties, a little forest of brown glass. But now a girl sat beside him. She wore a black hat with blonde hair flowing down and out both sides of it. And she had a fatuous smile plastered on her face—definitely Butch’s type.
She insisted her name was Sunshine. For some reason Butch was trying to find out her real name, but he wasn’t getting far. Maybe Sunshine was drunk and so had an excuse. No such luck. She sounded sober.
Since Butch was driving, Jack figured he might have a tough time making it home now that Butch would have company. Jack would either have to hitch or sleep on Butch’s uncomfortable couch.
Jack looked at Sunshine a minute and then said, “Catherine.” They used to call you Cathy, with a C, right? You reinvented yourself, decided to go by Sunshine, particularly around strangers. You think it gives you a certain cachet. Actually, most people think you’re a dolt. You’re divorced with kids, two maybe, but your mother takes care of them.
Sunshine stared resentfully at Jack. “What the hell do you know? You clairvoyant or something?”
“No, Cathy, it’s just that I can read you like a book.”
Sunshine stood and left. Without looking back, she sat down a couple of tables away with friends.
“She wasn’t built to last, anyway.”
“Who cares. What’s wrong with tonight?”
“I care. I want a ride home,” Jack said.
“Okay, so where do you know that girl from?”