Barry studied the photo, squinting.
It could’ve been this kid. It was entirely in the realm of possibility that, in the three months since the license picture was taken, he had grown dreadlocks, which he’d dyed a deliberately filthy blond. It was also possible that he had regrown the three front teeth which had been very obviously knocked out. Or maybe they were plastic caps. The technology existed. Contacts could explain away the eye color changing from brown to blue. A lot of people wore them, these days. Barry himself opted for glasses, feeling they made him appear more sophisticated.
“This is you?” he asked.
The kid appeared to shit between three and five bricks. Still, he maintained composure as best could be expected of a sixteen year old boy, half-lidded his eyes in a caricature of calm exasperation, and nodded.
“When’s your birthday?”
He screwed up his face like he was doing calculus, then feigned an easy smile. “Every year.”
Barry pursed his lips and looked over the license again.
“How did you go from six foot seven to… what, you’re maybe five-five?”
“I was… there was an accident,” he said. “I was in Afghanistan.”
“Yeah. I… a mortar went off. Early. I was in the humvee. Blew my goddamned feet off.”
The boy shook his head, overcome by loss.
“Never gonna slam-jam again.”
“Boy, this has got to be the worst fuckin’ fake ID I’ve ever seen in my life,” Barry said.
“Hey, I fought for your country,” the boy returned, jabbing a finger at him. “You can’t talk to me that way.”
“Yeah? Let me see your feet.”
The boy paused, then swung his right leg up onto the counter and peeled back someone’s grandfather’s argyle sock to reveal a thin, barely hairy leg.
“Son, there’s hair on that.”
“They’re doing amazing things with prosthetics these days.”
He clunked his foot back to the floor and leaned on the counter.
“Look, man, I just want a sixer of Miller Lite. I’m not trying to buy goddamned meth porn here.”
“Oh, Hell!” Barry said, whirling to the cooler. “Whyn’t you say so? Ain’t no law against me selling you beer-flavored pisswater. I don’t even think there’s alcohol in it.”
“Are you serious?!”
Barry slapped the six-pack on the counter. “Hey, five even.”
The boy stuffed a bill into his hand and shook his head, dreadlocks flapping wildly.
“I just dropped thirty dollars on that fuckin’ shitty fake ID.”
“You got hustled, boy.”
“You’re telling me.”
“Doubly, if you’re gonna drink that swill.”
The boy eyed Barry, no longer comfortable with the level of familiarity in their interaction, and stormed out of the glass front doors.
“Semper fi, buddy!” he called after him.