The day had turned out sunny and vibrant, the sky a clear expanse, as rich a blue as the Gulf of Mexico, where it deepens south of Mobile. Donnie rode with Wilson and Noxanne, Archie with Lu and Sam. Lu, who sat between the two men, turned off the radio and motioned for Archie to crack the rider’s side window. For the next twenty minutes or so, the only sounds coming to them were the pickup engine’s hum, the hissing of the truck’s tires against the pavement, and the shrill complaint of wind as it buffeted the gap in the cab’s side window.
“Sam,” said Lu, “you really ought to thank everyone for our dinner.”
“I did,” said Sam.
“No, you just shrugged and let them pay.”
“It’s awright, Lu,” said Archie. “He’s done a bunch for us. We don’t need no thanks.”
“Yes, you do,” Lu replied. “It’s just common courtesy.”
“Aw, Lu,” said Archie, “it don’t matter. We’re all friends.”
“Okay, okay,” said Sam, “I’ll thank ever’body proper when we get back to my place.”
“Good,” said Lu.
“Hey, Sam,” said Archie, “I just ‘membered sumpin. You was good friends with that Irish doc’s bunch when you was a kid, right?”
“For a while.”
Archie tee-heed. “You was better’n friends with ol’…what was that gal’s name?”
“Drop it,” Sam growled.
Hardly chastened, Archie winked at Lu. “Ol’ Sam, he didn’t get around much back then, but when he did, boy-damn-howdy.”
Lu shook her head and then elbowed Archie playfully. “Now, you know the last thing I want to hear about is Sam’s past lives.”
Archie frowned. “Past lives? You believe in that stuff?”
Lu laughed softly. “I mean his B.L. lives.”
Archie’s eyes almost crossed with bafflement.
“Before Lu,” she said.
That had them laughing, even Sam.
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