Ron Mayhew walks into the bar, after a little while.
It’s hard to think I am, in fact, older than him. But then again, everyone in here, 60 years ago, looks serious, a patina of weariness and wariness, even when they are having fun. Jaws set, lines worn around mouths, only a couple middle aged men, and a younger woman, with the kind of figures you and I would simply see filling the mall on any given afternoon. Faces are more drawn, most roughened by a lifetime of smoking.
These people weren’t expected to smile for the camera like we are. And Ron was one of them.
I had imagined Bogart but bigger, wider. But as Ron approached, I saw he lacked the evasive brightness Bogart had. Humphrey Bogart was after all and above all, an actor, an artist, a thespian – he had to be a sensitive to do what he did. They all did. Even Mitchum.
He had pulled off his fedora without a thought along with his first step in the door. His brown trenchcoat cinched with a wide belt. It was almost as long as a duster.
He pegged me right away, approached purposefully but without a smile. I stood, shorter than him by a couple inches. He was younger than me but his broad face was craggy, his lips oddly full, his dark eyes darting under dark eyebrows and oddly long lashes. Beethoven came to mind.
He gave me a smile – it looked crooked, maybe a smirk, but it wasn’t, it was sincere. I remembered this was a man who came of age in the Great Depression and right into a war that certainly, statistically, took the life of a young man he knew, or a cousin.
“So you’re the professor…” He loosened his coat. “Bourbon, two, straight” – He looked me over again – “make that three.”
He got his drink “Table? I got a bad back, need the support of a chair.” I followed him, we sat.
“so you’re the guy from the future, huh?”
“Yes,” I nodded.
He grinned, nodded, whistled while swirling his finger up in the air. I figured he was referring to outer space or a rocket. Or yes, that he thought I was crazy.
“2010?” He said it ‘two thousand and ten’.
“You know, when the doctors think you’re crazy, or you’ve bumped your head, they ask you who the president is… It’s Harry Truman, if you don’t know.” He leaned back, took a sip, eyeing me.
“So tell me, professor spaceman – who’s President in 2010?”