Jack found Bob at the Hub over on Franklin Street. It was dark inside, but he could see him in his lime green polo shirt and jeans. His head was on the bar. Not leaning on his elbow, but actually on the edge of the bar.
Jack eased toward him quietly from behind and was surprised to see his eyes open, trained on the small tv set hanging from the corner of the bar. “Jeez Bob, I thought you were asleep. Are you okay?”
Bob sat up. No hello. “Of course.” He drew his drink close and looked at it fondly.
“Why aren’t you at the Forum?” Jack looked up at the tv. “They aren’t even showing the convention.”
“Duh.” Bob took a sip. “I couldn’t take it anymore. I know M. C. sent us down here to cover the convention, but. . . ” he shook his head, unable to go on.
“Are you crazy? Haven’t you heard the speeches? Even if you don’t agree with everything, I mean, I thought you were a professional.”
Bob squinted at Jack. “You just got here, right?” He took another gulp. “I went down there the first day, I was hanging around, you know, where they were doing those cable shows. I tried to watch. I was there an hour or two. I swear to God, Jack, they were interviewing corpses. Zombie politicals. And they all said the same thing. Over and over. I watched the producers. They came towards me. They started grabbing up people in the bar, making them talk on camera. I had to get out of there.”
The bartender came over and Jack got an iced tea.
“Bob, do you think maybe you got a hold of some bad fire water?”
“No way. But wait. It got worse. I went to the convention Tuesday night. I know a guy who got me some credentials. . .”
“Really—that’s great. Why didn’t you write something about it for the blog?”
“Maybe I will, when I recover.”
“What happened? Did somebody hit you or something?
“Almost. There was a sea of red, white and blue. And I couldn’t find the bar. Then, more zombies saying the same thing, more or less. The great state of something or other casts most of their votes. Bla Bla . . . Some of them had on red cowboy hats.”
“Come on, is this your first convention? That’s what they always do.”
The bartender came back and asked if I wanted to order breakfast. Not sure what he meant by that, so I said no.
“No, it’s not my first convention. But you know how we block out certain things. Like you remember what it’s like to go over to Rehoboth and swim in the ocean. You remember the hot sun and the cool water lapping against you as you walk out to the surf. But you forget completely how the waves crash down on you, knock you over, spin cycle you with sand and grit and small shells and get up your nose. I went home and burned every red, white and blue article of clothing. This shirt is all I have left.”
“No you didn’t. You can’t burn things in a hotel room.”
“Okay, true, but I got rid of it.”
“So you didn’t watch any of the speeches? Seriously?”
“I thought you were going to write that part.”
“Great. I thought maybe, since you were here, that you were. What happened to your cell phone, anyway?”
“Good question. How did you find me, by the way?”
“Easy. Asked the concierge for a list of dives. This was the first one he mentioned.”
Bob waved at the bartender and pointed to his glass. “By the way, I started a tab.”
The bartender slid his drink in front of him. “Here you go, Jack. Is that Abbott with one t or two?”
Obviously a complete waste of money to fly these characters to Tampa. Please help us by voting in the poll, so we have some kind of convention coverage.