Mike was always five steps ahead. He was that guy who’d bring a picallo to a tuba fight and come home pregnant. The night the shit hit the fan I remember hearing some meathead shit talking Swayze. I knew right then there would be trouble. You don’t diss Swayze. Not to Mike. I saw it in Mike’s eyes, too. I knew he heard it. Sure, he’d wind it out long as he could but at some point I knew he’d fatigue. He could handle a lot but I knew he wouldn’t suffer some meathead bad mouthing Swayze forever. To be honest, it was kinda cheeky for the guy to suggest a Roadhouse reboot with Guy Fieri and Shiah LeBoeuf. When he moved on to describing his version of Point Break with Robert Patinson I abandoned sympathy.
“I’ll kill you last.”, I heard Mike groan through clenched jaw. He had the most deliberate detachment in these times. Whatever his disposition, Mike was masterful. He laughed at their jokes and challenged their small talk just enough to seem involved. He raised his glass to their toasts and he snorted approval at their feigned sheepishness when they were off color. He was seemless and settled the entire night. I had to pinch myself, I was watching one of the most skilled operators Quantico had ever produced.
After a spell he decided it was time and he gave me the look. How does one look communicate such a specific action? That look. It said, “Take the fire poker from beside the furnace, put it right into James’ eye, I’ll get the fat one and his friend with the freckles, you subdue the asshole talkin’ reckless about Swayze but don’t kill him. I want to torture him.” It sounds crazy but that’s exactly what was articulated in that look and if I’d hesitated we might still be in Lancaster.