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2007-04-27 - 3:18 a.m.

My friend from grad school always called me his "pal." As in, "Listen, pal, I've got a mix CD for you."

So, about pals. Met up with some at Friends, the bar, which works out for now, and I ate some pizza and drank some Pabsts and then Kevin came in and we shook hands and said hello. And he said, in his close-to-the-ear serious voice, that our friend Boarman had broken up with his girlfriend. I asked how Boarman was doing and Kevin said he'd been better. So I got another round and gave Boarman a squeeze around the middle and said let me know when you want to talk. We drank some more beers and I shared the pizza.

We went to this bar on the water. There's a deer-hunting video game there. They put in their dollars and I saw Boarman at the bar and I sat next to him. "Hey, buddy," I said, and he patted the stool beside him and I sat. We had a shot of tequila and a beer to chase and I let him start talking. He started talking. A summary: he's heartbroken and she's got a past and he does, too, and the two were unable to meet at a place at which everyone could take a deep breath and smile. He's getting too old for this, he said, and he wishes he could find a way to let it out before it explodes. He asked about me and the girl and I was as honest as I could be. I've got to go the men's room, I said, and we played the video game. I came in third out of four and even that was lucky. We played and Boarman knocked over my beer and the bartender gave me another. We left because love and video games all end and, outside, we found a tug captain doing tug captain things. Kevin asked tug questions. I took photos. Boarman left, saying good night to us all and I took more photos.

I found my truck and turned on the wipers, the blades this way and then that, the streetlights flashing, the radio staticky, all of it rocking me, rhythms burrowing, whispering toward song.

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