Eric ordered a lager, and headed for the change machine. It was a Sunday night, so the bar was empty except for those who waited for the end of the race, or for the end of the world, which ever came first.
"We need quarters. I have a few one dollar bills; I'll be right back."
I sat at the table, looking around, waiting. The waitress brought me a windsor and water; a drink I only started drinking because my grandfather taught me how to down it properly. "Don't wince," he said. "Just sip it slowly, and run it through your teeth a few times. Then let it glide down your throat. Wincing is a sign of weakness, you know."
Quarters clinked against the tabletop. Eric looked up with a slight grin on his face.
"It's time to foos," he remarked.
"I know," I said. "You get the dark side this time."
He frowned, and went for the opposite side of the table. The middle row had a broken piece in the center; we nicknamed him "Handyman," because although he was broken, the little bastard could still score.
I dropped the ball, and the game commenced. Eric took control, playing the ball up to his front line and scoring off my goalie. Eric was head by one.
"You know, my grandfather died yesterday," he said.
"Jesus, I'm sorry. May I ask what from?"
"Leukemia," he replied. "It's been a fight for months; my parents brought him home last week to die at home. He told us that's what he wanted."
I broke his five-man line, banked it off the wall, and fired a shot into the left side of the goal.
"It's better that way," I said. "It's better to be with family when you go like that."
The ball was in play again.
"Yea, he wanted it that way, and we could be by his side. I miss him already, though," he said.
The waitress got our attention to let us know our wings were up. We turned around to the table, and I played the ball back to my goalie, ripping a shot from the back and scoring. I was up by one.
"So are you depressed at all?" I asked.
"Fuck yes," Eric replied. "My grandfather was my boy. We were so close."
A lemming rolled in to my goal. Eric glanced my way, and gave me the look of approval. We never counted lemmings; they weren't quite a shot, more of an accident.
"Sometimes I wish the world would end," he said.
"Me too," I replied, "but I'm not ready to go."
"I am," he said. "I just want an asteroid to come and land right on my fucking head, right as I'm laying out sunbathing, all piss drunk. Just land right on me."
The ball rolled to his front line, and he trapped it. Eric held the ball there, for what seemed like an hour, and finally faked to move my defenseman enough to score. It was tied.
"That's pretty profound," I remarked. "Maybe you just need time to think about things more clearly. Death isn't always the answer, you know. You're so morbid like that."
"Eh, I'll get by. It's just unfair," Eric said.
I dropped the ball into play, and as it rolled to my middle line, I rolled my wrist hard into the pole, launching the ball straight back into Eric's goal.
"Like I said, unfair."