There was something not quite right in his face which agreed with the same quality in my own. As a sophomore he broke his leg and kept a rabbit in his room. Two years later he took a week away from classes in order to fulfill the obligations of a North Carolina motorcycle license. His bouts were typically opposed to mine such that one of us was often secretly disapproving the other, recognizing shameful attributes.

We were traveling from one side of the road to the other in an awful parabola. The burrito place was closed so we had gone to the grocery store where I had selected mixed nuts, which were now scattering around the backseat. I couldn’t wait to eat them and did not expect this exercise in slalom.

Dan was in that car too. None of us were saying anything. I didn’t think I was the drunkest anymore and was recounting many regrets. The car skidded off to a precipice despite its superior handling. There we sat, a few inches from a narrow pine.

The officer was standing in the middle of the street, shining a bright light. Matt walked over there. When he came back, I could not believe it.

“You should memorize the alphabet backwards,” he said. “For when these things happen.”

That whole week he grumbled about the cashews he kept finding.