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Glory Days Article by Jacob Abrams & Photos Courtesy of Flickr: Creative Commons

When Janey told me she was finished and was going to move in with her supervisor, Jimmy, I really lost myself. I had no one. Night after night in the dingiest bar in Newark. It’s a good thing I can’t even remember a lot from those months. Things reached an all-time low when I showed up at Jimmy’s place at 2 a.m. Long story short, things got physical and I spent a night in the clink. The next morning I took a good, hard look at myself. I quit my sales job at Cisco and I called Billy, one of the boys from high school.

“Stevie!” he says to me. “Me, Johnny, Rocko, we miss ya!”

He says they’re still working construction, 20 years on from graduation.

“You still workin’ for those suits?” he says to me.

“Oh, I’m out of that business,” I say to him. “You know I’m not the uptight type.”

So Billy says to me that him, Johnny and Rocko are still living together after all this time.

“Look, Billy,” I say. “I’ve hit rock bottom. I could really use you guys.”

Later that week, I’m back in Long Beach. Billy gets me a job with the construction company. Us boys are livin’ like kings. We drink beer and sing Bruce late into the night after work. It’s like I never left. I sees everyone from high school everywhere. All the places I go, “Stevie! How the heck are ya?” I’m back where I belong.

A few days before Halloween we’re doing our thing. I’m about eight deep and halfway through “Rosalita” when Rocko pauses the music.

“Rocko!” I say, gettin’ in his face. “You can’t stop before I’m about to tell Rosie I just got a deal, my friend.”

“No, no Stevie, you’re gonna thank me,” he says to me. “You were Mr. Bruce back in the day, that curly mop and the toned arms.”

I blush a little bit. I look in the full-length mirror leaning against the wall. Yeah, a lot of the hair is gone and I have a bit of a gut, but Bruce is still there deep down.

“Whaddaya say we go trick-or-treating again, you go as Bruce!”

I tell him I don’t know. Then I remember the Halloween party back in ‘83. Oh man, I was the talk of the town! “Little Springsteen,” all the chicks called me. I look around at the boys and smile.

“Rocko,” I say. “That, right there, is an idea.”

We all high five.

***

Well mister, time slips away and leaves you with nothing but boring stories of glory days.

On Halloween, I take the red bandana and denim vest out from the plastic bin under my bed in the living room. I never got rid of them. The vest is a little small now, but it works good enough. We go out, drunk as skunks, and start knocking on doors. Most of them get slammed in our faces. Then we get to this big gray house. It looks like I’ve seen it before, but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe in a dream or something. I knock.

“Last night I dreamed that I was a child,” I sing.

To my shock, Christie answers. I recognize her the moment I see her, but it takes her a little. I forget to say trick-or-treat.

“Christie!” I say. She’s older, but that same cheerleader from high school is still there. “She ain’t a beauty, but she’s alright.” That kiss we shared at the Bruce show in ’84 when he played “I’m On Fire,” I haven’t forgot it. She gives me this look, and I know she feels the same way.

“Oh my god, Stevie! Come inside, won’t ya? I can’t believe it’s you!”

She gives me a hug like her life depends on it. I turn around and look at the rest of the boys.

Finding love on Halloween night

“Alright, Stevie, I guess we’ll see ya tomorrow,” Billy says.

He gives me a big wink and they walk away, laughing. Christie brings me inside. There are Bruce tour posters all over the walls of the kitchen. She runs to a drawer and pulls out a ticket stub. “BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND: BORN IN THE USA TOUR. August 11, 1894. Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ.”

“I haven’t forgotten about you,” Christie says.

I pull her close. She gives me an everlasting kiss.

Jake Abrams can be reached at jbabrams@umass.edu.

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