Battle Scars

Big John hustles on the streets of Montrose. He's been there since he was 13. For now, there's no plan B.

I set down the glass and stare at the TV for a moment. There's no sound, but The Simpsons is on. Homer is mouthing something to Marge.

I don't know about you, but I think it's about time to go.

John and Carl accompany me back to Hollywood Food Store, where Carl takes his leave. He goes to bed kind of early, so it's dinnertime.

Halfway back to my truck, John asks if he can get a ride to bartender school.

"If it's really just a ride, sure," I tell him.

"That's all it is," he says.

We crisscross a couple more blocks, trying to stay in the shade along the way. But just as we near my vehicle, John mumbles, "I'm really feeling irresponsible. I think I'm going to pass."

"You sure?" I ask.

"Yeah, man."

He gives me a prolonged hug, flashes his bad-boy grin and walks away.

And all I can think is, he was feeling irresponsible? What did that mean? Should he have come or shouldn't he?

The world may never know.

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