Jimmy wasn’t thirsty. He wanted a drink for other reasons. A beer would get him out of the cage Sully and his lot had been putting him in all night — that cage of being a lesser veteran.
“Come on, Jimmy. Where are your stories tonight?”
Still not thirsty, all Jimmy could think to say was, “Memory can play tricks on you that only alcohol can solve. Buy me one for a story?”
Sully knew tricks. He knew that memory wasn’t something that could be fixed with alcohol like a screwdriver to a loose electrical socket.
“Actually, Jimmy, I think you owe me this one.”
Jimmy didn’t answer, only reached over the counter and grabbed some matches. He had kept matches from his time abroad, souvenirs for uneventful but patriotic times. He struck a match and thought of the one Sully had told of the crow eating the carcass of a dead soldier, so morbid and moving he’d gotten free drinks for hours.
His time in the service had been quieter. But so what. He couldn’t pretend he was in Sully’s league. But just for the night, he wanted to be the one to get the rounds.
“You know I don’t have any stories about fighting tigers to wow the crowd, Sully. But, I was a veteran too.”
The way Jimmy rubbed the pack of matches between his thumb and forefinger was making them both filthy with desire and longing.
Sully bought two bears.
“It doesn’t always have to be a competition, you know. I’ve known some vets who could talk rings around me. Too many good stories, real stories, and they build up in you like time bombs. A match like the one you’re playing with and they could explode. Sometimes, I don’t want to even compare stories. Might as well be two adolescents comparing dicks after school! No, tonight we just drink.”