It had been eight years already since Battle of the Bands, but for Reggie, the wounds were still fresh. High school was supposed to be a world of possibilities, of beginnings, but Mr. Raster had literally pulled the curtain on all of that. Now, Reggie was just a man displaced in time, robbed of his moment in the spotlight and unable to move forward.
And like most men displaced in time, Reggie ate SpaghettiOs for dinner. It was all he could afford and all he knew how to make. He had finally moved out of the house a year ago and into a one-room apartment, which his few friends affectionately referred to as the Haunted House. The last tenant had died in an apparent suicide, which was lucky for Reggie, because it meant he got a few leftover T-shirts for free. Luck was always in short supply for him, so he took it wherever he could find it.
Reggie leaned over his TV tray while shoveling another spoonful of cheap sustenance down his throat. His hand shuffled under the old magazines on his table seeking the remote, so that he could put on the local news. He tried to catch the first fifteen minutes every day, just to make sure the state had not condemned his building.
[For Mature Audiences Only, Absolutely No Exceptions]
My name is Christopher, but I insisted that everyone call me Chris. I just liked to keep things simple. You can call me Chris too.
“So, you gonna kill me now?”
“Man, I really don’t want to. But you’ve seen my face.”
“The longer we talk, the more I see your face.”
“Yeah, you’d definitely pick me out of a lineup now.”
“I’m near-sighted. So if the line is far away, then maybe not.”
“You probably have glasses though.”
“Old glasses. I need a new prescription.”
It was a real pickle. Donovan White had not planned on robbing Jesus Santos’s home while Jesus was still awake, and Jesus Santos had not planned on being awake while Donovan White robbed him. But there they were in the kitchen together. The cookie in Jesus’s hand had gone soggy from being dunked in milk and not getting eaten in a timely manner afterward. It was in mid-dunk that Jesus had first noticed Donovan.
Donovan had been in the adjacent room, sizing up Jesus’s living room furniture with visible disappointment. It looked like oak up close, which for a near-sighted person like Jesus was good enough, but Donovan could tell it was fake. Imitation oak did not pawn as well as actual oak. Donovan had pawned enough imitation oak to know that. One of these days, he was going to rob someone who could afford actual oak.