8. Head StartMarc walked into the bar and saw Donnie at their usual table, a nearly empty glass in front of him. As he got closer, he saw another empty glass nearby. “I thought we were meeting here at 6:30,” Marc said.

“We were,” Donnie said. “I got here early and got a head start.”

It was the third straight time Donnie had gotten a “head start” on Marc. They met at the bar every Thursday, just to catch up. They were friends, and while they had been closer friends in the past, it was a relationship that neither wanted to lose, to drift away from. It was getting hard for Marc to stay up with Donnie, though. He was developing some strong drinking muscles.

“Everything okay, man?”

“Sure,” Donnie said, draining the last of his beer and motioning for the waitress to bring two more.

“What time did you get here?”

“I dunno. Four? Four thirty?” His slight slurring told Marc that he was seeing only the latest two glasses of Donnie’s late afternoon activities.

“What’s going on?” Marc asked.

“Why do you think something is wrong?” There was an edge to Donnie’s voice, evidence of a nerve being struck.

Marc thought for a moment. If there was going to be a time to let this relationship go, this was it. He could drop it, find a reason to miss a couple of get togethers, and that would be that.

Was his friend still there?

“Humor me,” he finally said.