nce a year, they’d meet for lunch in some charming New England town. The kind of place with booths covered in naugahyde, like tanned skin, and squeaking springs like bones. You’d almost feel they were all trapped in a bell jar of time, except the three of them were looking so old these days. Jay and Mike and Fred.
Things ached. As they should after so much pain. Burns and scars and broken bones. It all mended but none of it looked pretty. At one time, they’d been called unstoppable. Invincible. But you wouldn’t know it. Age wears even the biggest mountains down.
They came like three kings, laden down with gifts. Scrapbooks and old newspaper clippings. Frankincense. It used to be a competition: how many could you bag. In a day, in a season. A premium on teenagers. Now it was just comparing histories. A way for them not to forget, since it seemed everyone else did.
There used to be more of them. The guy who wanted to be a lumberjack. The one with the acupuncture fetish. That little doll would even sometimes show up. It was almost like a convention. Sometimes the owner would bring the good stuff out from behind the counter. It had been a party. But even in paradise, the milk goes off and flies get after the honey.
Fred would take off the fedora, run those long nails over his smooth head like some idle god. He’d prattle on about the old days. Jay and Mike would nod or grunt once in a while. They both still kept their faces covered. Better to fit in.
They’d finish their lunch. Separate bills. None of them tipped. The waitress cleaned the table with a dirty rag and watched them go. Bastards, sure, but harmless.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.