It had been 21 years. 21 years since life had changed so drastically. Now...he was home. Bright green eyes took in the exterior of that bar. McAvoy's, the place his father had gone almost every night when they lived here. It looked much the same as he remembered. Some new lighting and the music selection had changed, but for the most part, still the same. It was amazing how the old neighborhood had changed and grown in all that time. New subdivisions, a new man-made lake, new businesses...hell they had a Walmart there now and the K-Mart was an empty building, recognizable only by the dirty mark in the shape of the signage.
The town was much like him. It looked familiar and maintained its name...but was very much changed. He pushed open the door and stepped inside, Whitesnake blaring on the speakers. Whoever owned this place now had done a lot to modernize it. No longer an old man bar, the place had pool tables, music that wasn't Perry Como or Johnny Cash, and completely new decor from the taxidermied animal heads Old Man McAvoy had hung up everywhere. Danny remembered them very well. No, this was very-
He stopped in his thoughts, seeing the woman behind the bar. God, she was beautiful. And...and something familiar about her face. He was trying to place it, who was she?
The woman glanced over her shoulder and called, "Go, grab another bottle of the Three Olives from the back, will ya? I'm out."
And then it clicked, his jaw dropping. My God, he thought. Kara. And...his eyes trailed to the man who responded...a tall, hulking man in a tight t-shirt strategically engineered to earn him more tips from the straight female and gay male clientele. Go. That was what she called him when they were kids. Gerry Finnegonads. Oh, those razor sharp 7 year old wits, he thought. A sly grin curved Danny's lips as he made his way over, elbows leaning on the bar.
Kara turned to him with a smile. "Hey, how's it goin'? What can I do ya for...." she trailed off, narrowing her eyes. Something familiar about the face before her. "Do I know you?"
Danny thought back to how he used to talk and did his best to bring it back. "Heddo, Kawa." he said with a smirk.
Her blue eyes went wide, her mouth dropping and forming an "o" shape. "Dah? ****in' DAH Dubek?!"
He laughed and spoke, his voice deep, smooth, a mild British accent to it now, those green eyes squinting ever so slightly as he laughed. "That is a name I have not heard in a very long time." He said.
Kara threw her hands up and laughed. "WHAT?! Oh my g- WHAT?! LOOK at you! Holy ****! " She exclaimed. The gorgeous bartender practically ran around the bar, wrapping him in a big hug. God, she even smelled amazing.
"What happened to your voice?! You lost the...the...thing!" She said, her eyes also trailing over his body. Danny's fitness regime was very strict, as he had found himself with a lot of high impact hobbies.
He chuckled. "Yes! Long time ago. Out of necessity, as it turned out."
"What's with the accent?" She asked, sitting on a bar stool across from him.
That was when Gerry came out, a bottle of vodka in his hand. He looked around for Kara and found her talking to...who was that? He looked familiar. Gerry squinted. Finally he just put the bottle on he back shelf and approached. Danny smiled to him, flashing those pearly whites. Gerry offered him a polite nod and looked to Kara, trying to sound nonchalant. "Who's this?"
Kara face was still lit up with a smile. "Go...you're not gonna believe this but..."
Danny smirked, "Dewwy don'd be a bucker." He said simply.
Gerry's brow furrowed in confusion, but then his eyes went wide when it clicked. "NO!" He said backing away. "NO ****ING WAY!" Laughter escaped him. "DUDE! DAH?! What the hell, b-brother! Get over here, you att ho!" Danny was taken by surprise as Gerry wrapped him in a big hug, almost pulling him across the bar. Finally, he let him go and looked him over. "How the hell you b-been, man?"
Danny laughed and nodded. "I've been rather good, yeah! Just keeping busy."
Gerry looked delighted at his improved speech and accent. "Whaaaaat?! Listen to YOU, m-man! You sound...uh...you sound..uh...GREAT!"
Danny noted his troubles speaking and his smile faded slightly. He perked right back up for Gerry's benefit. "Oh...yes. Bit of a long story, that."
"Where you been?" Gerry asked him. The three of them talked, Gerry and Kara listening in between serving drinks to his stories of world travel, how he had spent the majority of his adult life writing for various news organizations and doing nature photography for various magazines, TV Shows, websites, and blogs. He pulled up pictures of him with a tribe of painted-faced aboriginals somewhere deep in the heart of Africa, several of him riding and befriending an elephant, some shots he'd gotten of Lions and Jaguars, and him at the summit of Everest. Dah Dubek had lived a helluva life.
Eventually, closing time came and the trio were alone. Gerry locked up and headed back, Danny and Kara in mid conversation.
"So, I've got this Koala bear staring me in the face, and they look VERY cute, right? Like a big teddy bear. But I know, they are just vicious little bastards, right?" He grinned. "So, I'm moving slowly back...back away from this little furry death machine, trying not to set him off. And this...bloody ****ing moron in the crew just shouts, 'Holy ****! Is that a Koala!'" Danny chuckled. "So, this little bugger snaps to him and just charges at him. He thinks it's coming to hug him or something, but when that thing leapt up and bit into his leg, he just starts screaming and trying to run away, but the Koala won't let go! I'm yelling at him 'Stop! Stop! You're just making him mad!'"
Gerry grinned and sat the table, plucking up his bottle. "Alright...so...I g-gotta hear." He started, but had trouble continuing. "Th-the...uh....the um...." He snapped his fingers, trying to find the words. "The voice!" He finally managed.
Danny smirked "Ah yes. Well...it was, uh...let's say born out of necessity. See, when my mother and father moved from Clute, we traveled all over the states. But I couldn't make any friends like I had here. When I was 13, my father was transferred to London."
Off the looks on their faces he chuckled. "Yes, the UK was ill prepared for Barry and Linda Dubek." He smirked. "Anyway, I decided to seek out a speech therapist. Basically, they taught me how to speak all over again. It took almost 3 years for me to perfect my speech and I found that when I had, I developed a bit of my instructor's accent."
"Wow." Kara said. "Well, it paid off."
"Oh, I completely agree." Danny said. "Can you imagine me going up to National Geographic and saying 'Heddo. I wanda tate pit-tuhs of po-wuh bay-uhs!'"
Gerry and Kara laughed. Danny took a sip of his bottle and turned his attention to Gerry. "Forgive me if this rude or...intrusive...but I noticed you having a bit of trouble with your own speech."
Gerry's grin faded. His eyes lowered slightly and he nodded. "There was a...a, uh..."
"Fight." Kara finished for him. Gerry nodded and gestured to her. She continued, "Gerry took a pretty vicious blow to the head."
Danny nodded. "There was some neurological trauma?" He asked, knowing the answer. "Dysnomia, right? That's what they diagnosed?"
Gerry laughed. "Yeah. It's...better some times than others."
"Well, I have a bit of experience with trouble speaking, so if you ever want to talk about it, I do know a few techniques that might help." Danny smiled as Gerry nodded.
Kara smiled to their old friend. "How long are you in town?" She asked.
"I'm not sure yet. There was that oil spill they've got me covering, but given the way the company's been acting, I think they want me to stay as long as the story develops. I figured, if I'm going to be near here anyway, I might as well visit my old home."
Gerry smiled at that and raised his bottle. "Well, Dah, it's good to have you b-back."
"Cheers. Good to be back." he said, clinking his bottle to each of their's.