Of course, he was talking shit. But Gordon wasn’t about to stop him. To stop him, he would have to stand up, to block the space Linneman was filling up with quips, snipes, chortles, and increasingly, real rancor. It was mutters, clear enough to be heard but quiet, with occasional volume spikes that stretched Gordon’s intestines like the lurch of a boat caught in storm chop.
Linneman kept going, rocks glass in one hand, other arm along the back of Stuart’s beige deco sofa, leg crossed in a four. Promises, yeah. Well, no one spoke any I-promises, but it was understood. I mean, everyone knew that, right? She knew it. In her heart. That’s what she told Gordon. That’s what she told Linneman later, when he was there to pick up the pieces, which thank God he was, right?
Linneman paused, sipped; Stuart, Jackson and Stein shifted in their seats. The USC game was on at one end of the room with the sound down; Stein feinted a look but he wasn’t kidding anyone. Linneman lip-smacked the barely visible milk moustache of Scotch and went on. The big question, said Linneman, after all these years (20, Gordon thought, and let’s keep in mind everyone is happy with their children and houses and friends and no one really got hurt, let’s remember that) is how so many people could hand Gordon an upstanding citizen medal so many fucking times, huh? (Big smile. Is this what people meant by sardonic?) HUH GORD? HOWZAT WORK? (Still smile, now loud too.)
Gordon stayed on the edge of the beige chair that went with the sofa, where he had been all along, feet together, knees splayed, forearms on thighs and hands around his particular vat of Bourbon, staring at the rim of the glass. Twenty years. Now came the moment. Gordon’s moment. Let it flow by, or he could…he could. It would just take a short-arm right-hand fling, ice and all, and the rim would catch Linneman right above his supercilious dental work and then the leaded bottom of the glass would follow right away and really get the job done.
Gordon did not move. On the TV, there was a first down, and the shot went to close-up of a player springing up and loping off the field. — Adam Barr