“Just get me a damn beer, will ya?”
The bartender gave me my drink, I slapped down a five-spot - more than enough to smooth any feathers I’d ruffled with him - and I headed over to my usual seat... in the corner, but able to keep my eyes on what’s going down. I’d downed half of the beer when she walked in. She was the kind of woman that every guy wanted back in high school... the sexy cheerleader type with just enough “girl next door” to bring home to the folks. Blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, legs that go to heaven… On any other day, I would probably be pleased as punch for the visit, but I’d just losing five grand worth of equipment on a screwjob assignment and wasn’t up to polite and pleasant conversation.
“What the hell do you want?”
“Nice to see you too, Dante”, she purred without missing a beat, laying out just enough sarcasm to get the message across.
I motioned for her to sit down, expecting some kind of game - the norm for her line of work (and she’s one of the best I’ve ever met). This time, though, something was different. What she said next blew my mind.
“I’ve missed you, Dante.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t share the sentiment at the moment.
“You never answered my question, Alexis. What do you want?”
I pulled a smoke out of my pack and lit it up, waiting for her reply. She hated it when I smoked. I blew some in her face as she responded.
“Why do you always change the subject when I tell you how I feel?”
“Why did you run out on me, Lexi?”
“You know the nature of the business, Dante. Will it make you feel better if I said you’re still the only person that can call me Lexi?” She gave me that look that always told me that she was being serious... that, and the last person that called her Lexi wound up with both arms and their jaw broken. “How long has it been anyway, Dante? Two years?”
“Two years, four months, seventeen days, twenty-two hours,” I said, “but hey, who’s counting?”
Alexis put her hand on my face, softly running her fingers along my five o’clock shadow, then continued, “Dante, I’m sorry I hurt you... but there is something I need to ask.”
“What would that be?” I lashed out. “How many times can you push me away before I don’t give a damn anymore?”
Alexis answered that question with her eyes. The sparkle in them dulled a bit, and I knew that I’d pushed the wrong button. She fought through the frustration and the hurt and asked me the one question that I thought that I’d never hear...
“You want to put the band back together?”
It seemed that the good old boys were trying to come back strong: reforming the old cells from back in the day. I’d originally agreed to help them out on a part-time basis, just to keep my sanity, pay some bills, and guarantee that I would have air in my lungs... but now, they needed me back full-time... and it worried me.
I thought for a moment, then said, “I’ll have to think about it, Lexi.”
She slid a business card across the table, leaned over the table and gave me one of her famous ‘melt in her hands’ kisses, then got up and started to leave. I picked up the card and read the name ‘Alexis Fairchild’ printed across it. I flipped the card back and forth between my fingers for a few seconds, then dialed the cell phone number on the card. I could hear the cell phone ring at the other side of the burger joint, and watched her answer it. The background noise nearly drowned out our phone conversation.
“Fairchild, huh? Weak alias...”
Alexis paused and turned, smiling straight at me when she spoke again. “It’s my real name.”
She hung up the phone, turned back towards the door, and winked at me before leaving. Whether she was telling me the truth about her name or not didn’t matter. I had a choice to make: take the easy road and play it safe for the rest of my life, or take the chance, the road less traveled, and make an impact before I checked out - even if no one never knew about it.
Well, I’m the kind of guy who loves a challenge, so the question was pretty easy to answer. The rest, as they say, is history.