Whew, Big Bob said.
For a split second I thought you guys were the cops.
Bend over and spread ‘em, Vic said.
Freeze, Buck said.
Let’s get serious, OK?
Welcome to Big Bob’s Booze and Burgers.
All right! We’re the first customers, Buck said.
You’re not the first customers, Big Bob said. You’re the first employees.
Clancy, Big Bob’s Irish Setter, came bounding down the front steps, tripping over his paws and somersaulting into the drive-way.
Graceful as ever, Vic said.
Clancy wore faded American flag boxer shorts Big Bob pulled over the poor dog’s haunches. Big Bob wore blue jeans, a T-shirt decorated with a Confederate flag and a red Make American Great Again baseball cap on backwards. Vic donned black and white wingtips, black dress pants, a black dress shirt and a white silk necktie. Buck stood slumped in Vietnam-era-type jungle boots he bought new last week at the Army/Navy store, cammies and a matching headband.
Big Bob turned to face Vic.
Where’s the Mussolini get-up?
That got old fast, Vic said.
And I see you shaved the Hitler moustache, Buck.
I’m more comfortable in camouflage, Buck said.
I’m mostly here for the ladies, anyway, Vic said.
Spotless in the sunshine, the garage freshly converted into an illegal bistro gleamed.
Big Bob showed off his leadership skills.
You two tend bar. I’m the chef and official host. Clancy’s working security. We stay open all night. See if the cops show up. If so, we video everything, refuse to close, demand to talk to our attorneys and call the TV stations.
Vic looked nervous.
We even got an attorney?
No, Big Bob said.
Buck went behind the bar and filled a 16 oz. red Solo cup from a freshly tapped beer keg.
I can drink on the job, can’t I?
Under the First Amendment it’s your right as an American, Big Bob said.
Alerted to the 2005 Nissan Frontier pickup pulling into the drive-way by the sound of fireworks the guys piled in the back shot into the sky, Big Bob stepped into the street.
Can I help you boys?
Burgers, the driver said.
Booze, said a man lighting and aiming a Roman candle.
Right this way, Big Bob said.
By 10 p.m. Big Bob had run out of coyote meat steaks and burgers. Drunks were fighting and sleeping all over the front lawn. A four woman tag-team mud wrestling match entertained a boisterous crowd around the hole the wrestlers dug in the back yard and filled with water from Big Bob’s hose.
I’d say our grand opening is a success, Big Bob said.
Flashing blue and red lights coming up the street caught his eye. Lt. Smith and Capt. Jones from the penitentiary pulled up, parked and stepped out of the official prison vehicle.
Figured you might need more of a law enforcement presence to protect your investment, Capt. Jones said.
Smith, wearing an Iron Cross pin on his uniform shirt fired off a straight-armed salute.
Everybody laughed and responded in kind.
The salute’s like the Boy Scout handshake, Buck said.
A brotherhood, said Capt. Jones.
From all outward appearances, Big Bob forgave Capt. Jones for getting Betsy drunk and taking her to the movies when Betsy had just moved in with him. Deep inside, though, he seethed trying to control his anger and humiliation at the affront. Nervous and a little intimidated, Big Bob faced his nemesis.
You said more of a law enforcement presence. What do you mean more?
Capt. Jones pointed to the mud hole.
See those Amazon mud wrestlers?
The action seemed more popular than the coyote chili.
The tag team on the left double-teamed the wrestler from the tag team on the right. She stretched out face-down in the mud, struggling for breath and spitting muck whenever she could turn her head. Each time she turned, though, the biggest of the tag team member on the left kicked her in the chin with a black construction boot. The remaining tag team member on the right prepared for the coup de grace by raising a folding chair over her head and bringing it down on the tag team on the left, a twofer you could hear a block away when the metal chair banged against their skulls. Scurrying to her feet like a hungry sewer rat, the victim leaped into the air and landed with both feet on her torturer’s shoulders with such raw force it made the fresh Grim Reaper tattoo on the back of her neck ooze.
Yeah, we see them, so what?
We figured you might need us to protect you from them, Capt. Jones said.
Big Bob looked stunned.
Capt. Jones smiled.
They’re state troopers, he said.