Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Last Part of The Drunkard's Second Tale

My cell phone buzzed and rattled on the nightstand in the hotel room. I yelled an obscenitiy and picked it up. The display read five past noon. I sat up and chucked a shoe at Cloyd in the other bed. He responded, “Stop your kickin, Goat. I ain’t gettin up.” Last night had been his first drunken experience, and this afternoon would be his first hangover. I shook my head. There were two reasons I needed him to get up:
The first was because he had to have been at least twenty, and, by now, he should’ve been drunk and hung over more times than he could count on his fingers. The only for him to get any more experience was to man up and get drunk again—and he wasn’t going to do that by sitting in bed all day.
The second, less deplorable, reason was that I really could’ve used his help. This Tea Party psycho was no good news, and I knew a con artist when I saw one. He was trading on a misplaced sense of governmental distrust and, in doing so, trying to secure a seat of power. The man had to be stopped, and I was truly concerned about my prospects of going in on this alone.
I knew the sorts of people who were in this ultra-conservative, ill-informed grassroots movement, and Cloyd, with his borderline impenetrable accent and bouts of extreme idiocy, would fit in perfectly. My original plan—where I would walk into the conference room and try desperately to blend in with a bunch of hicks—was thrown out the window. Cloyd was the new operative and, if I could get this kid moving, I’d more than happily buy him a first-class train ticket to Nashville.
“Cloyd, come on,” I said.
He opened his eyes and groaned. “Mr. Yudavitch, I don’t much feel like gettin up. My head hurts somethin nasty, and, on top a that, I done puked about three times over the night and I keep feelin like I’m gonna do it again.”
“If you do, we can pull over to the side of the road.” I stood up and paced across the room. “Cloyd, you don’t understand how important this is. This state is my home. Unless I get into grad school, I’m going to be living here. I will not stand idly by and let some schmuck who wants to have prayers in public school take office in this state. It’s the duty of every American with a functioning mind—and yes, that includes you, my friend—to try and stop this prick.”
I walked back over to my bed and sat down on the corner. “Come on, Cloyd. We can be part of history. Don’t you get that? All it’ll take is just a little friendliness on your part and just a modicum of stealth.”
“I don’t know that word,” he said.
“No, that’s when yer bein sneaky. Apple called me that when I tried to sneak up to Cow and stick an apple in her ear, but tripped over the plow and shouted ‘Tarnation!’ and scared her off. He was being irony. The m word. I didn’t understand that.”
“Modicum? It means ‘a little bit.’ Kind of. Look, all you need to be is just a little stealthy and then bam, we’re done, we watch the proceedings from the comfort of a bar across the street, and you’re off to Nashville to find your Dad. What do you say?”
Cloyd groaned again, but kept his eyes open. This was progress. “Can you make this feelin stop? I don’t want my belly to feel like it’s a-gonna go flip again.”
“I can’t make it stop, but I can make it feel a little better.”

There is a place that has all the trappings of the stereotypical South. Old people in rocking chairs. The vague atmosphere that, unless you’re white and Christian, you’re unwelcome. Food that immediately brings on a heart attack. And, of course, country music blaring out of every nearby speaker—not the good country, music where drugs and death and murder are the subjects, but the bad country. The sort of music where Jesus is  a recurring figure and the United States is an unstoppable vessel of God (generally spelled Gawd). This place is Cracker Barrel, and, as much as I hated it, it was the only place I could think of where the food could heal a hangover.
We walked in the front of the restaurant—cash registers on one side, and a carefully marketed, researched, and stocked gift and sweet store on the other—weaved through the hordes of elderly people and trailer trash, and got a table in the middle of the restaurant. Cloyd looked around him with a very confused face. No doubt, part of this was because he was getting whiffs of sick off of his shirt (neither of us changed into fresh clothes before we left the hotel), but, probably, another reason was because he, like myself, realized there was something dreadfully wrong about this place.
At any rate, he didn’t say much except groan occasionally. The waitress—using an obviously fake Southern accent—came over, I ordered for us and got a pot of coffee. “Here,” I said, “have some of this.” I poured some coffee into a cup and pushed it towards Cloyd. “This place may be one of the largest offenders in terms of institutionalized racism, but they have damn good coffee. Probably about as far from fair trade as you can get, but, hey, there you go.”
He took a sip and said, “I don’t know if I like this.”
“That’s a typical reaction. Like anything worth having, you sort of have to force yourself to drink it.”
I told him my plan for exposing the candidate and, though he looked fairly confused, I think he understood what I wanted him to do.
Our orders appeared at the table and we dug in. Cloyd said that he hadn’t eaten anything like this before—apparently the last homemade breakfast he had involved a copious amount of bagels and scrambled eggs, which really got me hankering for a place in Nashville specializing in kosher deli food.
At any rate, we paid back in the restarant side and left, headinb back towards the hotel and our date with destiny.

Just as I suspected, Cloyd got in without attracting any attention. I hung out in the bar next to the conference room and watched the TV. It was turned to CNN. The sound was muted, but the flawed closed captioning kept pace with what was going on on-screen. (Occasionally, jewels like “President Obama splayed that Iran’s knocker program has to be squelched by verdict of U.N.” would flash across the screen.)
One of the network’s talking heads stood in a room filled with TVs showing correspondents standing in front of blue screen-produced backdrops of Murfreesboro’s Broadway Avenue. Turned out that having the first standing candidate running under the Tea Party was big news.
I nursed my beer (five dollars for a bottle of Fat Tire). I shifted it across the top of the bar between my fingers, like an air hockey puck. The bartender looked over at me, then looked at the pool of water that was forming from the dripping condensation, and flicked a coaster my way. I put it under the beer and continued.
“H’eve just been alertold that candydate Bob Hackem is about to speak,” said the closed captioning—a good five seconds after the image of the talking head shifted to Hackem walking up a small set of stairs to a podium in front of a deep, red backdrop.
“God I hope this guy loses,” I said.
“Fuck you,” said a hick next to me. “Get outta the country.”
“You,” said the bartender, pointing to the hick, “get out.”
The hick, thankfully, knew better than to start up with a bartender. He drained his beer and shuffled out of the bar.
“God,” said the bartender. “I hate this state.”
Hackem, on screen, started talking. The closed captioning read: “Howdy neighbors. I’d like t‰o thank Jesus—the Gib Buy Upstairs—for bringing me hear today. Y’know, if there’s one thing I hate more than traffic on I-24, it’s g‰vernment graft.”
There was a pause. Presumably, the crowd was cheering their inbred heads off.
“I don’t kn‰w about you all,” continued the captions, “but when I herd that our Senate up there in Nashville told us God-fearing Christians that our kids couldn’t pray in school, well, I was plum about to [expletive deleted] m‰yself. My kid wants to prey, then lettem plry. [Expletive deleted] the Ahabs in the school, Jesus is the Answer!”
There was another pause in the captioning. Five seconds ago, Hackem gave the audience a manic grin/nod combo ripped from the playbooks of televangelists. The bartender snorted and shook his head.
I started worrying about whether or not Cloyd managed to drop the stuff into Hackem’s water. He wasn’t acting like a man who was drugged—he was acting like a man who had no conscience.
“S‰ yeah,” the captioning said again. On-screen, I thought I saw Hackem sweat a little bit. He loosened his tie. “What else I gotta talk to you about. Ah. The other week, I brought kids my to Sunday School d‰wn at church.”
Whoever was doing the captioning before must have been fored, because at least the delay was lessened to roughly a half a second—there were still some errors, but hey, typing quickly’s a hard thing.
“The lesson was about Jesus and some fucking friend of whis. Don’t matter who. After, I got the best coke-fueled blow job ever. Y’all got an escort service in Murfreesboro? Get em coke. They’ll do whatever you ask em t‰.”
I smiled.
The bartender’s jaw dropped.
One of Hackem’s aides rushed up to the stage and Hackem reached back and punched the kid in the face. The aide dropped to the floor like a sack of rice. “Fuckin faggot,” Hackem said. He turned back to the audience. “Y’know, he woudn’t take shots wih me the other night. God forbid I brought a whore on the bus—that one was liable to throw a Goddamn hissy fit. Whaddya’ll say? You’d run a train on a wh‰re with me, wouldn’t y’all? My constyants.”
Why another aide—or a group of them, for that matter—didn’t run up on stage was beyond me. Maybe they, like my friend the bartender, were in complete and utter shock. I, on the other hand, laughed.
Cloyd walked into the bar and said, “There you is, Mr. Yudavitch! Gosh, that guy sure can talk a lot, can’t he? Mighty dirty mouth on him, too. You know, if Mrs. Silver was to hear him, she’d pop right up and say, ‘Gul dernit, you watch yer language when there is kids around.’ Cause there is kids in there, Mr. Yudavitch. Buncha em had shirts what have that picture on em and—gosh, why you laughin so hard?”
I patted the stool next to me and said, “Just watch, Cloyd.”
On the stage, Hackem’s own jaw dropped and he, slowly, as if it weighed a hundred pounds, raised his hand up, pointing at someone in the audience. “Ma’am, you have the biggest Goddamn horn growin outta your head. Holy—holy shit, you see that?” he leaned forward and squinted. “You ain’t a person. You can’t be a person. No—DEAR GOD!” (Of course, in the land of closed captioning, everything is in caps lock—but, judging from his face and the way he pushed away from the podium, Hackem had to have been screaming his head off.) “WHAT IS THAT THING?”
And then, sadly, any more comedy that could have been dredged from the situation was stopped as two aides rushed Hackem and tackled him to the ground.
The camera feed returned to the talking head, who, sagely, opined that “this may be the death sentence for Hackem—no political candidate has ever recovered from a complete and total meltdown during a press conference—especially one in which the candidate referred to perverse sexual acts on prostitutes.” Truly, the voice of the media was an indispensable one. I clapped Cloyd on his back and said, “Good job, my friend. You may have saved this state from more ridicule than it deserves. I’d buy you a beer, but you’re driving.”
“I’m driving?” Cloyd asked.
“You bet ya. Going to the train station. First-class ticket to Nashville to find your Dad, right?”
“Gosh!” Cloyd said. “I plum forgot about that, what with havin so much fun with you.” Cloyd’s face fell. “Aw. Does this mean we won’t seee each other no more, Mr. Yudavitch?”
I shrugged. “Who knows what the future holds. Barkeep! Two celebratory shots of whiskey. One for me, one for you.”
The bartender, still looking at the TV set, nodded like a zombie and poured the shots. I drained mine, toasting in my head to American democracy, where politics were treated with all the reverence of a sporting event and an election was decided a month before the fact.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fourth Part to The Drunkard's Second Tale-b

Cloyd was up as fast as a drunk man can be. He fell out of the booth, staggered, and walked over to the soroity girl. They weren’t that far away, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying because two thick-necked cretins wearing McCain-Palin t-shirts walked in front of my view and started having the loudest conversation about Dave Matthews I’d ever heard.
The two moved a little bit—one of them had encroached upon the Straight Man Bubble of Protection and, by universal frat boy law, they had to rectify this by putting a distance of five feet between them. This, of course, meant that their discussion became louder and they started talking about tits. I like tits as much as the next guy, but I don’t view them as a discussion topic necessary to prove masculinity.
So, as these two beef-necked sub-mentals started arguing about whether Scarlett Johansson or Penelope Cruz had a better rack (my opinion: Johansson, hands-down), I hocked up a loogey and let loose on the one on the left. It flung through the air like a javelin hurled by an Olympian, with a certain amount of grace and form that only comes from years of practice of spitting on football players. It landed on the man-child’s neck and his left arm, spring-loaded, swatted it off his neck. “What the fuck?” he asked, wiping it off on his khaki shorts.
His friend laughed and said, “Dude, you just got spit on. Fuckin baller!”
I took this brief moment to look for Cloyd. He was in the middle of the dining area waltzing—with perfect form and rhythm to some unheard chamber orchestra—with the sorority girl, who looked like she was having the time of her life. (Considering her alternative was to be grinded on by some roofie-wielding Neanderthal, it was probably the best time she’d have all night) I grinned, glad for the kid, and then I jerked upwards by just such a Neanderthal.
“What the fuck, bro?” he asked.
I kept my grin. If I was going to be beaten, I might as well take it with a smile. “Don’t you think referring to the person who just spit on you as ‘bro’ is a bit, ah, strange?”
He answered with a solid punch to my stomach. His friend shouted, “Fight! Fight!”
The cry was answered by the rest of the frat boys in the place, who stampeded over and formed a circle around my booth and my assailant.
“I don’t like smart kids who think they’re smart when they ain’t smart, broseph.”
“Do you really want me to point out the logical fallacy in that, or are you goi—”
He punched me in the stomach again. My reaction in this situation was fairly predictable: I vomited. Had this been during the Presidential election, vomiting over the words “McCain” and “Palin” would have been hilarious political satire.
My assailant, now really having a bad day and realizing that, even if he did save face and beat the crap out of me (and judging by the look of pure rage in his eyes, he fully intended on doing so), he wasn’t getting laid—not even the least self-confident woman with no self-respect would sleep with a guy who got puked on. And so, my new friend simply took off his shirt and then started to land blow after blow on my face.
The human body can take a lot of punishment, but even if you train yourself to accept pain and not fight it, being punched in the face hurts. Around the second hit, when I staggered back into the table behind me, I heard a scream that landed somewhere in between a pig in heat and a seagull. Chet—as I’ll call my assailant—turned around and I saw Cloyd leap through the air as if his legs were springs. “What the—” Chet said, before Cloyd landed on him, sending Chet crashing into his friend.
Cloyd started raining blow after blow on Chet. Where the frat boy clearly had been in a few fights in his time and knew what he was doing, Cloyd simply let loose. No part of the body was hit twice in a row. His torso twisted, his arms flailed around, and, in between screams of rage, I occasionally caught Cloyd saying something like, “I don’t like when people hit my friends and just be meanies! Meanies are mean!”
A couple bouncers—Behemoth and his friend, Behemoth II—shoved their way through the crowd. Behemoth jerked Cloyd off of Chet and held him at arm’s length like a trash bag filled with cat litter. Cloyd, still screaming, punched the air. Behemoth II picked Chet up and pushed him to the other side of the bar. Behemoth turned to me and said, “You and your friend get the fuck out, now.”
My mouth was already swelling, and the blood running from my nose meant that I couldn’t properly form words without swallowing some of it down, but, nonetheless, I tried to say, “I can’t get my friend out of here when you’re carrying him around like a puppy.”
Behemoth, it appeared, did not have a sense of humor. He shoved me out of the bar, into the parking lot, and then threw—actually threw—Cloyd at me. I didn’t have the energy to shout him down for being a fascist, and just lay there on the asphalt with Cloyd panting next to me.

The Fourth Part to The Drunkard's Second Tale-a

Now, I’d mentioned before that I had been to Murfreesboro. When I first joined the paper at CRU, the then-editor had the gall to stick me on sports. I knew nothing about any sport aside from baseball, and the Cumberland Rift University baseball team was the worst—absolute worst—in the NCAA. Any coverage of their games could have been summed up by a cartoon stick figure hanging himself. So, naturally, they stuck me on football. The first game I covered was versus MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) in a bowl match in their home town.
I learned two things on that trip: the first was that a journalist has power over editors—all you had to do was act a little nuts while on assignment and they had a coniption fit and did whatever they could to make you behave. The second thing was that MTSU girls were easy. They were the polar opposite of CRU girls, who were so damn uptight about life—results of being brought up by Fundie parents who thought CRU was a Christian institution—that you brushed them in the hallway and they ran screaming.
That, by my reckoning, was exactly what Cloyd needed. So I reigned him in—his eyes darting from object to object in the midrange, two-bed room—and told him we were going to an adult playground.
“Gosh! You mean a bar?”
I blinked. “You’ve been to a bar?”
Cloyd guffawed. “Course I have! Dale took me to one. Dave Silver, he took me to another one where we got into a fight with some folks who called him a Jewface, and then we got arrested. I didn’t much like gettin arrested. They put these big iron thingies on your wrists and, gosh almighty, do they smart like no one’s business. Say, you ain’t never been arrested, has you? If you hain’t, then, boy, I got one up on you, and I ain’t ever even—”
I reached back and slapped Cloyd. “Shut up.”
Cloyd’s eyes got wide for a second, terrified wide, and I thought he was going to start crying. Thank God, though, he didn’t. “Why’d you do that? I thought we was friends.”
“We is.” I shook my head. “We are friends. You just... man, there’s this thing called a filter. It tells you when to stop talking. You’ll develop it, just... shut up for a second.” I reached into my bag and pulled out a black shirt (stained, but it was barely visible, and if I remembered correctly, this bar didn’t have strong lighting) and gave it to Cloyd. “Put that on.”
“But I got on a shirt.”
“Yeah, a blue-and-red plaid shirt that’s going to give any sane person an aneurism. Put the black shirt on and we’ll go get you some tail.”
“But I’m a person,” he said. “I don’t have a tail. Oh! You mean to eat! Gosh, I ain’t ever had tail before. I had hoof after Mr. Gamble killed Horse and gave me the hooves to eat. I didn’t much like that, though. I felt bad eating Horse and—”
I reached back my hand and he shut up.
He took off his shirt and, well, fuck. The guy was built like a Goddamn bodybuilder. If his story about pulling a plow every day of his life weren’t true, then he sure as hell did a lot of manual labor. If we could get him to calm down enough to talk to a girl, all he had to do was flex a little and she’d be putty.
 “Gosh,” Cloyd said. “I don’t think I like this shirt.” He started picking at the fabric. “It’s mighty tight.”
“Yep,” I said, grabbing the keys and making my way out of the door. “That’s the point.”
“Oh!” Cloyd said. “Is this like one of the shirts that Dave called a douchebag shirt? I don’t wanna be a douchebag, Mr. Yudavitch. The douchebags got into a fight with us at the bar.”
“Clothes don’t make you a douchebag. You, in fact, couldn’t be a douchebag if you tried.” We stepped into the elevator. “You’re a simpleton.”
Cloyd snorted. “You sound just like Apple.” His face fell. “I miss Apple sometimes. Too bad I threw him into the woods. Shouldn’t-a done that. That were stupid.”
We walked through the lobby, I nodded to Derek, and we headed out into the night, across the hotel parking lot, through a massive mall parking lot, and towards the bar. Cloyd jabbered the entire way about topics ranging from how to survive head-butting contests with goats, how to wash in a creek, to how to rip ticks out of your skin with only your teeth. I zoned out and steeled myself for the onslaught of frat boys.

Sure enough, we walked into The Ostrich and the first thing I was hit with was the low, thudding bass of whatever hip-hop was top in the charts that week. The second thing I was hit with was the overpowering stench of Axe body spray. The third thing I was hit with was the sight of loads of women wearing pastel-colored t-shirts with Greek lettering on them. “Ah,” I thought, “the sorority girls.”
“Gosh,” Cloyd said. “It stinks in here. Worse than the barn after Goat got sick that one time.”
“An apt description,” I said. “Your powers of observation are overwhelming.” I got the bottle of whiskey from my jacket and felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned to see a Behemoth in a black t-shirt. The man must have been seven feet tall, had a shaved head, and probably could have killed an ox by staring at it. One thing I’d forgotten about this place was that they had the audacity to have bouncers. (A common occurence in establishments like The Ostrich.) Behemoth cleared his throat and spoke in a voice somewhat like James Earl Jones. “No outside beverages.” He held out his hand.
“No worries,” I responded. “It’s empty.” I gave him the empty bottle, tipped my cap, and we walked into the bar proper.
The place had about twenty TVs sprinkled around the bar, most of them tuned to SportsCenter, and a couple on some tennis match in Europe. The sound system thudded with recycled bass notes set to some abitrary rap lyrics about materialism and mysoginy. All around the bar, there were guys wearing pastel-colored shirts hovering—orbiting—around bleach-blonde women tanned to the point of orangeness.
There were two accents spoken in a place like this—for both genders. There was a fake California/Valley/surfer accent with a like of “bro”s thrown in like pepper in a soup; and then the native Tennessee accent. A soft lolling sort of thing that took its time getting out of the speaker’s mouth. It was different than the one I was used to: The East Tennessee accent is a harsh, nasally version of a Southern accent.
I looked over and saw Cloyd wincing. “What’s up?” I asked.
He wined some more as the music got louder for a second. “I don’t like this music, Mr. Yudavitch,” he said. “It ain’t as nice as the Baitman I listened to before—this stuff makes my head hurt.”
I ndoded. “That’s because you have a working brain, my friend. Come, let’s adjourn to the bar and get some alcohol to dull the pain.”
I took him by the shoulder and guided him through the crowd (passing by a guy in a pale blue polo shirt, I heard “So yeah, down at the A-Chi-O house, we’re having a Madden tourney,” and almost threw Cloyd at him) to the bar at the opposite end of the room.
You can tell a good bar by the best kind of whiskey available. Here, the best kind of whiskey they had was Jack Daniel’s. Luckily, I wasn’t going for quality here, just sheer, blackout-inducing quantity. I paid the bartender—a petite girl who may or may not have been 21 herself—and waited as she struggled to pick up the half-empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s to pour a couple singles on the rocks. I looked back and groaned.
“What’s wrong?” Cloyd asked. “You ain’t a-gonna puke again, is you? I don’t think you want to, on account of if you do, it’ll be on me, and this is your shirt. Say, you think I should climb on back there and help the lady pour the water?”
“That ain’t—isn’t water, Cloyd. It’s whiskey. We’re drinking. The reason I’m groaning—no, stop trying to climb over, you’ll get arrested, and I don’t have the money to bail you out. The reason I’m groaning is because this,” I gestured out to the crowd, “is our generation. And our generation is doomed.”
“You sound a lot like Apple. Apple started soundin sad when he talked about people. Cept he used this other language that I ain’t heard you use yet. I don’t reckon I get why we’s doomed. They look like they’s havin fun, don’t they?”
Oh, they did. Off at the other side of the bar, underneath a TV showing a replay of a double play in the Cardinals-Cubs game, a girl slapped a guy in a Billabong t-shirt, and he shouted, “Don’t do that again, bitch!” before getting dragged off by his friends. She probably caught him putting a roofie into her drink.
“I can guarantee you, if you were to go out amongst these people and ask them who the President was, a third of them would tell you it was still Bush, a third would say McCain, and a third would say something like ‘some nigger what don’t belong in Washington.’”
“I don’t know who the President is,” Cloyd said.
“Yeah,” I said, “but you have an excuse. You’ve done so many drugs that your face looks like it’s about to collapse in on itself. No offense.”
“No matter,” Cloyd said. “And I ain’t never done no drugs. My face ain’t about to collapse in on itself, but I did get kicked in the face by a horse once. That hurt a lot, but it’s okay, I kick-killed the horse a little while later. Weren’t a-cause of revenge, though. Apple told me I couldn’t kick-kill a horse, so I did, and Horse died, and Mr. Gamble went  to town on me.”
I turned and blinked at Cloyd. He grinned.
The bartender finally put the whiskeys on the table. I glanced at her and saw she was sweating her ass off. I tipped her a couple of dollars, said, “Babe, you need to eat something,” and led Cloyd over to a booth facing “Baseball Tonight.” “The point,” I said when we sat down, “is that out of all of these people here, you and I are probably the most intelligent.”
“Shucks,” Cloyd said. “I ain’t that smart at all.”
“Exactly, that’s my point.” I held my glass up. “L’chaim,” I said. I clinked glasses with Cloyd and took a sip of my whiskey.
“What’s that mean? I ain’t ever heard that, and it don’t sound normal.”
“It means ‘to life.’ Drink some of your Jack.”
Cloyd took a sip from his glass and winced. “That don’t smell right. It smells like Mr. Gamble. I don’t think I want this if it smells like Mr. Gamble.” He put the glass back ont he table and shoved it over to me.
I picked up the glass and drank from it. “Fair enough. What’d this Gamble guy do to you? Head of the commune? Touch you places he shouldn’t?”
“What?” Cloyd asked. “No, he was just a right ornery fella what wanted to kill me afore I got to realizin that I didn’t want to be chained up to a plow all the time. Shot at me a few times with one of his shotguns, but I dodged him. I ain’t seen him in a while, and I hope I ne’er see him again. Probably won’t, on account a how he refuses to go to the cities, and here we are, in the city.”
“Hmm,” I said. I finished off the whiskey and caught the attention of a waitress—she looked older than the bartender, and looked capable of picking up something heavier than a shirt. “Ma’am,” I said, “can we have two pints of Red?”
“Sure can,” she said, and walked off.
“Two pints of red?” Cloyd asked.
I nodded. “Among other things, we’re going to find out what you like to drink. Red doesn’t taste anything like whiskey, and actually smells nice, so we’re going to give that a shot. Cloyd, you ever fucked a girl?”
“Do what?”
Cloyd sat back, grinned and blinked.
I shook my head. “Vey iz mir, what sort of stuff did they do to you at that commune?”
“I told you,” Cloyd said. “I weren’t on a commune, I was on a—”
“I know, you were kept prisoner on a farm by this Gamble scoundrel.”
The waitress returned with the two pints of Red lager, set them on the table, and put down the bill.
I raised my glass, Cloyd raised his, and we clinked. He sipped from his and said, “Dang!” He took a swig. “I like this! It tastes like summer, or somethin. Somethin nice, anyway.”
I grinned and said, “Reds it is.”
By the time he finished his pint, Cloyd was drunk. Admittedly, it wasn’t really smart of me, thinking he could handle alcohol after seeing him leap up and down in amazement at potted plants in a hotel lobby. But, there you go. You let your guard down for a second, not fully understanding the person you’re with, and they go and get absolutely plastered on a 4.6% red lager. “Oh well,” I thought, watching Cloyd sway back and forth in his seat, “he’s having fun.”
“Sssay,” he said, “you—you think that nice lady over there,” he pointed to a sorority girl wearing a teal shirt and pink hotpants, “wants to dance? I dance. Apple told me how to dance, and—and so I can dance. Don’t you think I can dance.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’m sure you can. And, as to the lady, you won’t be sure unless you go ask, will you?”