I heard almost every person sitting in that bar take one deep collective breath as I said to the officer, “look no further”. I stepped out from behind the bar and threw Big D my towel and said “take over here D, I’ll be right back” as if nothing had happened at all. I almost didn’t see the tears rollin down Big D’s face.
The room started to buzz as I walked across the mezzanine to the cops and invited them into my office. All around me I heard snippets of conversation “Mike…Muscle Beach, Baby and the baby, the Beach…”
Once inside they proceeded to tell me that Mike had been wearing a Walkman and headset so he didn’t hear his partner hollering as the load of cement slabs started to shift off that trailer. “When they hit him he was cut in half and the coroner says he was dead before he even hit the ground” the young one said, as if that would explain it all.
And it did.
I’d given him that Walkman this very morning and told him to listen to the music as a way to keep himself from straying to the snack shack while at work. A last ditch attempt at the battle of the bulge. Seemed like my Muscle Beach was wearing a spare tire. He was putting on as much weight as I was; only I was eating for two.
Things get kind of muddled from there.
A whirlwind of people trying to take care of me. I know that I insisted on working the bar. And I know that people did their best to help me. Some things others can just not do for you. Crying was something I let everyone else do. I just didn’t have it in me.
Then came the day that Mike’s stepmother announced that I would not be allowed to attend the funeral. That none of us degenerates would. She didn’t agree with a common law marriage and was sure that all I wanted was to take from her husband, Mike Sr.
I tried to remind her of all that Mike and I had meant to each other and I know that Big D and Al went to see her and told her the whole story of how Mike and I met and what a mess we both were at that time and how far we had come together.