By Will Musgrove
I met George Thorogood once. Except it wasn’t George Thorogood. He’d contacted me through email, claiming he was reaching out to his biggest fans, that for a hundred slammers I could have a one-on-one meet-and-greet. I like his music, know the hits, but I’m more of a casual listener. Still, how could I pass up the chance, especially for so cheap? As I sent the money, I imagined myself at a party, a circle of people leaning toward me, me pretending the musician was a personal friend, that he let me call him Georgie, flashing a few photos as proof.
He responded to my request to meet at Pair-A-Dice, a dive bar a couple of blocks from my apartment, on Saturday with: “See you there.” On the day, I showed up fifteen minutes early and ordered a shot of bourbon, a shot of scotch, and a beer. Thought it’d be funny. Besides the bartender, who went back to watching the Knicks’ game after pouring my drinks, I was the only one in the bar. I sat in the booth next to the karaoke machine just in case inspiration struck.
The scheduled time came. No George. A half-hour passed. Still no George. Celebrities always run late, I thought. Another half-hour ticked by, and I was racking my brain for other songs with drinks in the lyrics just to spite him. When I couldn’t think of any, I planned to get another bourbon, scotch, and beer to take a picture of me dumping them down the bathroom sink. I’d email the image back with something biting like: “How many alcoholics have you enabled, George?”
During a commercial break, the bartender gathered my vengeful spirits when the door flung open. In stepped an older man with a headband pulling back his thin, shaggy brown hair. He wore sunglasses, a snakeskin shirt, and tight leather pants. It was him. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t even the scammer.
“Mr. Thorogood,” I said.
He looked at the bartender then back at me.
“It’s me, George…Charlie.”
“Oh, Charlie,” he said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. “How you been?”
“Better. I got us a booth.”
The bartender made him a Long Island on my tab, and we slid into the vinyl seats. He asked me all kinds of questions. How I was. How the family was. I told him how hard it was sometimes, how I felt like no one saw me. Either that, or no one cared to see me. He did that thing where you point at your eyes then point at another’s eyes.
“Let me get the next ones, champ,” he said, removing his wallet.
His wallet, a bifold, slipped out of his hand and landed open on the table. I stared at his exposed license. Mark Williamson. There wasn’t even a G in his real name, but he was George to me.
When he got back, we sang duets, and it felt like the world was watching.
Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in trampset, Cleaver Magazine, The Lumiere Review, Oyez Review, Rejection Letters, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove.