Southern exposure

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

It’s 10:33 a.m. on Friday. I’m feeling a little stream-of-consciousness this morning. I got an email from an old friend, Dave “Opie” Hilley, yesterday. It didn’t say much, just the subject line: Hard day @ work, 60 cent beer, MMMMMMMMMM. It also included a photo titled “Panama 105.” That’s it—no explanation necessary.

Featured in the photo was a picture of Opie and a friend sitting in what can only be a cantina in Panama. There are three cans of beer and two cans of Red Bull sitting on the round blue table. The beers are in front of Opie, and he’s wearing a gray T-shirt, knee-length camo shorts and flip flops. His long orange-red hair is flying as though in a wind, he’s got a movie-star smile flashing and he’s waving his left hand, and kicking up his right foot. There’s a fourth beer in his right hand.

I’ve seen that look before, and it evokes a Pavlovian response. Do you remember those days when every day was a countdown to Friday night? Back when Reno was in its dirty heyday, and every afternoon—especially for those of us who worked swing shift in the casinos—was Friday afternoon?

I understand there are hundred-mile-winds forecast for us this evening. I can feel the negative pressure in the atmosphere of the calm before the storm. Not to confuse metaphors, but at 10:59 a.m. on Friday morning, it’s like slipping on loose gravel as I sprint to beat a Sierra Spirit bus.

I’m alone tonight. Hunter is safely ensconsed at his mother’s for the week, and Opie is nowhere to be seen.

Come publication next week, if you happen to see a long, red smear on the road in front of some dive bar downtown, you’ll know what happened: crushed by the Spirit. You might raise a glass and imagine me in a South American cantina.