Pittsburgh had given Troy an edge, but he managed to stay pretty calm. He kept an agreeable conversational way about him, yet cut right through the bullshit, told it like it was, and with an unwavering intellect. That was the first thing I loved about him, and it would be followed by many more. Pausing often to roll a smoke, we had chess games for hours, days, weeks, at the local coffeehouse where our names were known. Judging by our expressions, no one could have guessed we were actually enjoying ourselves.
Christian would come and go, handsome Christian from Chicago in his self-imposed purgatory over all the girls he’d slept with. Confident, exuberant Christian, with his overalls and guitar and philosophy books – a modern-day Dean Moriarty living in a bus in an old hippie’s back yard.
The three of us were there at the bar, the night before I split town, with the smell of fried calamari and nachos and pints of stiff beer. We drank late, and were high and boisterous. We all loved each other but never said anything about it – a commonly avoided social transaction among men.
Parting ways out in the empty rain-dampened streets of our small Oregon town, I said I’d be in touch, my drunken voice raised. “You’re a beast for saying that,” they yelled back. They were older, wiser, and perhaps knew me better than I knew myself at the time. Christ, they were glorious friends.