Boy, I Tell You What

Location: A sports bar somewhere in San Angelo
Miles:

You know, this is a nice enough town. Bill has settled right in; he’s even becoming part of the Establishment. Coming up will be his third campaign for mayor. He’s a Rotarian. He volunteers in the community. Yep, Bill is becoming one of them. It’s a large enough town that there are the amenities and while perhaps there aren’t the same cultural opportunities here as in other places at least there is a university to soften the, uh, West Texas Cowboy *cough*redneck*cough* influence.

There are lots of elderly drivers in this town, creeping from light to light and making left turns with agonizing care. The landscape is dotted with small towns, but when people get older and want to be closer to care, shopping, and other old folks this is where they come. I can’t blame them; this would be a good place to be retired.

There is also a wide variety of bars. Bill has shown me several, from the Lone Wolf Pub (which I now call Shea’s bar), which is a fairly divey place but they take their darts very seriously, to the newly-remodeled Oasis which would fit in just fine in downtown San Diego. Not swanky, but nice. Lots of wood paneling, trendy light fixtures turned down low, and whatnot. The modern version of the fern bar.

Those bars all have one thing in common. They don’t open until 4 or perhaps even later. What’s a boy to do? Well, this boy headed to the the mostly-dead downtown. I figured since the government buildings were still down there that there had to be at least one bar. Bureaucrats gotta drink, after all. I went down the main drag, witnessing the destruction wrought by the big box stores and strip malls, a side effect of the automobilization of America. If I was Bill, I would come up with a plan to lure businesses back down there and make that my Mayoral platform. I doubt Bill would agree with the government getting it’s fingers into business’s business.

I found no bar. There was a restaurant that probably would have sufficed, but I was looking for a bar. I drove on, and was suddenly surrounded by giant churches. After the congregation finished praying for their teams, where would they go to watch them? I kept driving.

I don’t know where I am now. I saw the sign for something-or-other Sports Bar. It didn’t look happening, exactly, but there were a couple of cars in front. I pulled up right in front of the reflectorized glass front door and read the hours. Open at 2 p.m. I looked at my clock. 2:05. Pay dirt, baby! I secured my car and went to the door. Locked. With a heavy sigh I turned back to the Miata when I heard the keys rattling in the lock. Praise Jesus. “Sorry about that,” the guy said as he opened the door. “We just barely opened.”

“Dang,” said I, “It’s tough finding a place to drink at two in this town.” The guy sitting at the bar, reading his book and sipping his draft beer, laughed. There is a group of three at one other table and that’s it for the patrons so far, so the bar is not yet smoky. I am currently the only person in here who does not speak Spanish, although everyone speaks English. Televisions surround the bar, while two pool tables in good condition dominate the center of the room. Beer propaganda covers the walls, broken occasionally by Halloween crap. The ceiling is festooned with streamerrs and banners for competing NFL teams and competing beers. The beer selection is limited, but not too expensive. I don’t think they have booze at all. It’s a beer and wine bar, without the wine. As I was typing that, the bartender came over and told me they have free hot dogs. I’m getting to like this place. Lil J’s Sports Bar is the name of the joint. I’ll tell you this, it’s the best bar in town before 4 p.m. on a weekday.

Apologies for the Silence

Just a quickie here to explain my relative silence. The problem is that Bill is such a good host. When I go to the bar he comes to, so I leave my technology behind. Then he’s driving which means I’m not (he won’t fit in my car) which means, well, bring on the Big-Ass Beers! That means when I get home I have lots of things to say but not the fingers to say them with.

Oh, all right. The real reason is the game he has on his computer that swallowed my brain for a few days. But that’s all going to change today. I’m going to a bar and I’m taking my laptop with me, by gum!

On an unrelated note, Squirrel Chatter is at an all-time high, and — AND — yesterday as I was pusing my flat-tire bike (healthy lifestyle courtesy Bill) the Black Squirrel of San Angelo scampered across my path. I am not sure what evil this portends, but please take the necessary precautions.

Finally, Haloscan seems to be having trouble right now. If it weren’t for all the comments already in their system, I would consider switching. Hopefully by the time you read this the problem will be fixed.

In Google We Trust

As those have been around know, sometimes I like to take a look at the searches that lead people to this site. Sometimes I put the search string in pig latin here so the actual search will still go to the intended episode. This episode is not as well cross-referenced as previous ones, but on dialup it’s just too painful to go back and look up the episodes that were hit.

  • XML RSS feed seduction – I’ve always found RSS to be pretty sexy too.
  • horrible accident pictures – I hope that my lovely words overcame their morbid fascination. I probably just fed it.
  • all curse words in pig latin – I guess they couldn’t uckingfay do it themselves.
  • “steve martin” “no pants” – now there’s a real fan.
  • free parking lot sex meps – Ooo! I want one! It’s the word meps that brought them to me.
  • sweaty ass damp pants – no comment
  • spaceshipone escape velocity – get this one pretty often. No, kids, it does not reach escape velocity. Not even close. Not even close to close.
  • rain water and grain alcohol – it’s all about purity of essence
  • stuff that’s in montana like mountains and some other things – it’s the other things that interest me most
  • unkyhay esusjay ontestcay – interest is starting to pick up on that topic again.
  • amy carmay it rest in peace. On an italian search site this blog came up in the top slot!
  • sweaty ass problem – it’s never been a problem for me
  • drunk women get haircuts – a new reality show?
  • JOJO HOW OLD IS SHE – I’m not telling, but she’s been my beer slave for a long, long time. I guess Jojo is also some up-and-coming kid pop star. Just what we need.
  • drink shots get drunk – You’ve come to the right place, baby!
  • Fuck everyone poems – I’m going to have to look around for those myself.
  • 2th birthday game ideas – I’m sure among us we can come up with some good suggestions…
  • my college sex tour – That’s what I’m dong wrong! I’m not going to colleges and having sex!
  • peterbilt bumper chicken lights – for truckers who already have the flashing pink flamingos.
  • elk poop picture – I should have taken some better shots when I was in Yellowstone. Here’s the best I have.

Well! That’s quite a list and there’s lots more I left off. Of course there were the usual searches for culinary advice and squirrel violence, and many for bars, especially the tourist trap in Jackson Hole.

On a barely-related note, the SSDC episode was linked on some site called madville.com on Monday. Wow! by far my biggest day ever, but not one person left a comment.

Episode 7: When It Rains…

Alice was not alone when I got back to the office. There was a man standing on the far side of the room, as far from her desk as possible, whom she skewered with a venomous look for my benefit as I walked in. She didn’t like him.

I couldn’t blame her. He was a big man with a broad face, his heavy-lidded eyes almost bulged over a nose that had been broken more than once. His tailored suit was straining around the middle but it was the bulge from the shoulder holster that got my attention. One of his scarred hands was never far from it, as if he thought there would be a quick-draw contest. If there was, he would certainly have the advantage; my gat was in the safe in the next room.

“There’s another one inside,” Alice said. “Even worse. This one’s just stupid.”

“Watch it, sister,” he growled.

Alice looked back at me. “You OK?” she asked. “I heard there was some trouble.”

That girl could hear cockroaches whispering secrets from across the city. “You don’t have to worry about me,” I said, but I was glad she did. “You know how it is: when it rains it pours. So who is it in there?”

“He didn’t give his name. He’s not a very polite man.” She raised her voice on the last part, to make sure she could be heard through the glassed door. “He said he had some work for you.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’d rather starve.” You gotta admire the spunk in that girl, even though it was sure to get her into trouble someday.

I didn’t want to go in there. I needed time to sort things out, just me and the bottle hanging heavy in my coat pocket. If you don’t stop and think sometimes you get sloppy. I took a breath. “Hold my calls, Doll,” I said. “And don’t antagonize this guy. If he’s as dumb as you say he might try to shut you up. It would cost him plenty, but morons are like that.” He took a step toward me, his face turning purple. “Easy, Boss,” I said, holding up my hands, “Just having a little fun”

“I don’t like your fun.”

“I didn’t ask you to. I didn’t ask you to come in here at all. If you’re going to stay in here bothering my secretary, then take your hat off and sit down like a civilized gentleman.” I gestured to the chair we used on the odd occasion when a client came in. We’d put them in the chair for a few minutes to make them think I was a busy man. He hesitated. “Take a load off, relax,” I said. “We’re all friends here.” The oaf had been taking orders all his life; all I had to do was sound like I was in charge and he buckled. The look he gave me said that he disagreed about us being friends. The chair groaned under his weight. I turned to Alice. “If he bothers you any more, tell him to wait in the hall,” I said.

I was just stalling, I knew. I was dealing with the insignificant problem, the one I knew I could handle, while the real danger waited in the next room. I could turn and leave, skip town and keep running the way I had told Lola Fanutti to run, but I knew that my best escape route included one more visit to the safe in the next room. I couldn’t turn yellow in front of Alice, anyway, even if yellow was the same as smart. I pulled out the bottle and shed my coat. A bottle of liquor in my hand would perhaps disarm my guest, and it was the best weapon I could put my hands on at the moment.

I turned and walked with what I hoped looked like confidence to the door and stepped through.

He was seated in the client chair, facing my desk, legs crossed, savoring a thin cigar. The smoke rose in a thin trail, feeding a layer of haze in the room that filled the cieling but stopped just short of the top of his slick black hair. If Lola Fanutti smelled like money, this man smelled like power. The kind of power that doesn’t even need money, transcends it, the kind of power that simply has to ask for what it wants and expects to be satisfied. If money is an issue, someone else will pay.

“Mr. Cello,” I said. He didn’t stand so I went straight around the desk and sat in my chair. It was subtly taller, but with Cello that didn’t matter.

I had never met Cello before, and I had never seen a photograph, but this couldn’t be anyone else. Presidents had kissed this man’s ass. He was about as close to a King of the World as there was likely to ever be. Sure, there might be some bankers over in Europe somewhere who were more powerful, but they would shun the title, preferring to remain “friends of the king”. Cello had been born in the Bronx, with nothing but a keen business sense and ruthless efficiency. He was the biggest shark in the pool. In the ocean. He’d managed to stay on top for a long time, even as the feds trumpeted victory over so-called “crime bosses”. The man sitting in my office was the boss of the bosses.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lowell,” he said in an easy, conversational voice.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” I asked.

“Your secretary,” he said. “I like her. You are very lucky.”

“Sooner or later she’ll come to her senses.”

“When she does, give her my card.” He flipped a heavy white card onto my desk. It shone against the dingy oak.

“I don’t think she likes you.”

He laughed softly. “I need more people who are not afraid of me,” he said. “Which brings me to why I’m here. You have recently accepted a new client who I know very well. Better than you, certainly. I’m sure her story, while touching and plausible, was not entirely accurate. A complex woman, Mrs. Fanutti. One thing she likely told you is certainly true, however; she holds the key to vast wealth and power. Vast enough that even I find it interesting. The fact that she killed a man who was like a son to me motivates me further.”

“You’re wrong about two things,” I said.

“Oh?”

“First, Alice is too smart not to be afraid of you. Second, I didn’t take the job.”

“Interesting. Perhaps I misspoke before. I need people who can be honest with me, even if they are afraid. Your… Alice? She has that courage. You said no?”

“I told Mrs. Fanutti that what she asked wouldn’t work.”

He smiled, and took a slow pull on his cigar. The smoke billowed in twin plumes from his nostrils, then slowly rose into the cloud above. “She is subtle,” he said. “You will work for her, and not because I say so. She will make you want to help her. I wish I had that kind of power over men.” He shrugged. “But that is woman, no? Let me tell you a little more about her.”

Tune in next time for: The Black Widow!