“How are the kids?” Sebastian asked.
“Getting old. They’re finishing high school. Julie will be in college next year.”
“You’re kidding,” Sebastian interrupted, “I knew you were an old bastard but I didn’t realize you were that old.’
“I wasn’t that old. You were too young.”
They both knew at the time that Sebastian had been much too young to be flying helicopters in a war zone.
“I should have reported you but I thought a bullet in your ass would have taught you a lesson,” Kelly said, “It looks like you’ve done well for yourself.”
“I break people’s arms in cage matches and most of them are held illegally in some warehouse. When I’m not doing that I’m a door man at the Nite Lite Gentleman’s Club in Reno, where I spend most evenings trying not to get into a fight with a drunken salesman who’s annoying a stripper while his wife is at home with the kids. I am not sure I’ve done that well.”
Kelly sipped his beer and smiled at his friend.
“If you need money I might be able to help,” he said.
“I didn’t say I needed money,” Sebastian said. “As unimpressive as my career choices have been I really don’t need money. You would be surprised. I do okay.”
“Hey do still read those books from Russia? I read that one you told me about by Solzhenitsyn. You know, A Day in the Life of what’s his name. It was good.
I bought the Gulag book too but it’s been sitting on my bed stand for a while,” Kelly said. “I don’t usually read books with over seven hundred words. Actually I don’t get much time to read at all.”
Sebastian was surprised. “I’ve started reading some French writers.”
“You were always reading, now I hear you’re developing a reputation as a fighter. That’s how I found you. You’re getting well known. ”
Sebastian emptied his glass and looked across the table at his friend. Kelly was forty eight years old now but except for the grey which was spreading near his temples he looked to be about thirty. At six foot four he was bigger than Sebastian and worked out religiously. His commitment to fitness was one of the things the two men held in common when they met. He was a marine’s marine.
Robert Kelly was a tough, black kid who grew up in East Los Angeles who knew he needed a way out of his neighbourhood and so he signed up with the marines as soon as he could. Sebastian signed up even sooner.
“What have you been doing?” Sebastian asked, “I heard somewhere that you were a big shot with the FBI.”
“Big shot isn’t the official title. I’m a regional manager for the south west. I shuffle lots of paper and balance a pretty large budget. But when I’m not doing that, I close drug labs, illegal gambling sites, prostitution rings and monitor organized crime, which leads me to why I wanted your help.”
Sebastian had ordered a garden salad and was picking at it with his fork. He was careful with his diet even when drinking with an old friend.
“You need me to help shuffle the paper or with the other stuff?”