It was a clear, cloudless January morning in Lewiston. Just another Monday. But Barry the bartender thought, for a moment, that he must be suffering from hallucinations. The guy in the Albertson's check-out line in front of him was, undoubtedly, that same drunk kid from the bar. Out in the real world, in daylight, standing up straight. Roger noticed him in the same instant.
"Hey! Hey, Barry, how's it going?"
"What are you doing here?"
He was wearing that same old gray-green hoodie, but his face looked different, somehow. Maybe because he was sober and smiling.
"Bear hunting. Looking to shoot a grizzly, so I can make, like, a nice rug out of the hide, you know?" He chuckled. "I'm just picking up some things, man. What're you doing here?"
"I, uh. Yeah. Same."
Roger had just been into Shooter's the previous weekend, but he'd only had two drinks and he'd had some girl with him, some tall black girl who looked like a model. And now, here he was at ten in the morning at the supermarket, piling groceries onto the conveyor belt. Barry glanced at them. He expected to see a case or five of beer, but instead the conveyor belt was loaded with—baby things? Huggies, Johnson's shampoo, wipes, a dozen little pots of stewed vegetable baby food. What in the name of God?
"I've got my son this weekend," Roger explained. "Just stocking up."
"Oh. That's… wow. That's nice."
"Yeah, so you probably won't see me at the bar. He can't drink yet, he's ten months. Do you wanna see a picture?"
Oh, no, Barry thought. It was gonna be the dead girl again, or more boobs. But it wasn't. The picture on the phone screen was of a baby boy, a cute little dark-haired guy, asleep on his back on a blanket.
"Oh. Nice picture. That's a nice baby."
"Thanks. His name's Mason. Hey, how was your Christmas?"
Was this conversation for real?
Roger swiped a credit card and paid for his stuff, and left like a normal, competent adult human. Barry watched him leave. Imagine that, he thought. Maybe the kid had really changed, had finally got himself a life. It seemed like he had. Well, whatever had happened to him, it must've been some kind of miracle.