Old gum underneath the café table
Dog and a beer
Russleman Greefolder sat on his porch, wondering where his life went. His youth, his marriage, his kids were lost in a relentless fog of neglect. He brushed his bent fingers across his beard stubble which lacked the panache of those younger guys on the Viagra commercials. He shifted his weight as he sat on his porch swing and felt something pricking the small of his back.
Russleman reached behind to find the source of the irritation and ripped off the underwear label from his briefs. “The hell with it,” he muttered as he stood up and pulled off his stretched, white Hanes. “What do I need with these anyway?”
He reached down to give himself a good man-scratch which felt like touching old gum underneath the café table downtown. “Hrumpf,” he muttered. “Haven’t needed you for a long time.”
Russleman gave a toothless whistle and watched his Lab, Rosie, push herself up from her blanket. Together they hobbled inside to the kitchen.
He pulled a can from the fridge and looked at Rosie. “Ain’t no better companions than a good dog and a cold beer.”
That is some kind of messed up, Jeff.
Horrid mental picture – funny though!
A swing I trust is not in any of our futures. (The dog sounds nice though!)
Oh my Jeff – this story is priceless. I am not a man (obviously) but had only brothers, a husband, and a son so I know the underwear deal. Commando I believe you men call it. Anyway – this story just gave my heart a great chuckle.
🙂 Thanks, Karen!
Russleman Greefolder was in the Relentless Smog Cigar Bar and knew that the Trident he’d chewed on the way to clear his palette had to go. What the hell had he done with the wrapper? His Armani suit pockets (all seven of them) yielded not one scrap of paper or handy wrapper.
He’d already ordered his Cohiba Esplendido so he had to act fast. Russleman bent forward, gave a quick cough into his hand, wadded the gum into a ball, and planted it with a well-manicured thumb underneath the walnut café table. Smush. He wiped his hand on his pants and exhaled in expectation. His favorite waiter, Old Ramon, was already creeping across the warm mahogany paneled room with a tray holding the cigar and a crystal glass with Cragganmore scotch on the rocks.
Russleman was eager to continue to pleasure himself that afternoon. He had left work early since he was tired from the ballgame the night before. The Red Sox had beaten the Yankees for the third time in a row. Priceless. The Sox had run up the score 14 to 1. He’d even indulged in a dog and beer to add that special baseball ambiance to the victory.
Pleasure pleasure pleasure. What else would make this moment complete? Greefolder leaned back in his leather wing chair, unwilling to think of going home to his trendy loft apartment just yet. He pursed his lips and puffed out some expensive smoke, considering. He ran a slow hand through his $200 haircut. Sitting across the room was PJ Rambunctia, the underwear model, puffing on her own cigar, looking off into space the way beautiful women can, looking deeply intelligent. He’d certainly like to fondle the label on her favorite pair.
Meanwhile, PJ Rambunctia was working hard to ignore the oogling of the man in the expensive suit. She had her precious cigar, a Montecristo Edmundo and the fine Cuban went exquisitely with the Glenfiddich 21 year old Grand Reserva. The downside of this fine pleasure was having to sit in the Relentless Smog Cigar Bar so that she didn’t bring the cigar smoke into her penthouse. She’d worked hard all morning, modelling for the latest underwear label. It had been extremely annoying to pose in underwear, sitting at a Starbucks café table, at dawn, so the light was just right. So public. And she could imagine all the used gum stuck right where her finely groomed left thigh was nearly touching. Who did that?
She slowly sucked on her Montecristo, blew a few smoke rings, sipped her scotch, and turned her thoughts ahead. After her moment of relaxation she was heading for the races at Suffolk Downs. Her newest purchase, the thoroughbred, Heinekin Bulldog, was scheduled to run. That would be her next pleasure. She smiled, smoked, and sipped.
In his own corner, Old Ramon wiped his tray and thought about his next pleasure—getting off work at 5 p.m. If his boss asked him clean the gum off the bottoms of the tables tomorrow, Ramon had promised himself to bring out a spray bottle of Lysol room deodorizer and spritz all the patrons. Under all the wear and tear was an old man who fit no easy label. He had two loves: his dog, Old Russ, and ice cold Bohemia beer with cheese enchiladas smothered in green sauce. In two weeks he was going to quit, climb into his ancient VW van and drive to his father’s old farm house in Del Rio, Texas where he would never have to inhale cigar smoke or relentless Boston smog again. Life was good.
Everybody came to RG’s Malt Shop. It was fat city. The place was hopp’n on a Saturday night. We had the Greasers, Jelly Rolls, Paper Shakers, Hipsters, Jets, Ivy Leaguers and even a nerd or two make the scene. The disc-go-round, actually a Seeburg Select-O-Matic, blasted. One hundred songs right at our finger tips. Big daddy, Russleman Greefolder, plugged the coin door on the weekends. He did that because some shuck would have done it anyway. You could pick any song you wanted and didn’t need to drop a single coin to hear the latest Doo-Wop, Rock & Roll, and Swing singles out on 45.
The parking lot rippled and flapped with the rods. Convertibles, top down, showed off their mirror warmers. The chrome was polished to where you could comb your hair in the reflection. Headers exposed on a hot-rodder coupe belched out a song all its own. All cruis’n started and ended here. The lines would go for miles. Kids even came out of the relentless smog of the city to trail with us.
In RG’s, a bored vulture melvined a nerd. He looked like a deer in flight as he ran to restroom with his underwear pulled up so high you see the fruit on its label. He ran right past Perkins, my best friend. He chewed Bazooka Joe with his mouth open. “What’s buzz’n, cuz’n?”
“Leave’em alone, Perk. That kid has enough problems without you pil’en on more.” I punched him in the arm.
Perk read the Bazooka Joe cartoon out loud. Pesty had written her name on a fence and Joe told her not to do that. So she asked him, ‘Who’s name should I write on the fence?’ Perk gurgled with the joke. At the bottom of the joke was a fortune of sorts: ‘Those are smart that don’t eat yellow snow.’ Finished chewing the gum he stuck it under the table and covered it with the joke. It was his calling card, so to speak. He looked up at me, “Hey, let’s haul ass over to the ball field and grab a dog and a beer.”
“They ain’t giv’n us no beer.”
Rubbing his pink chin, “They are, I have my beard growing.”
Long after those crew-cut jerks with their mirrored Ray Ban Aviators and coiled wires behind their ears slammed him onto the scorching sidewalk of Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix without so much as a how-de-do or a do-si-do, long after that black-robed harridan shattered her gavel and shot him a look that left no doubt she felt she was dealing with slug slime, and long after those phony white-toothed piranhas decamped with their behemoth satellite TV trucks to another circus, Russleman Greefolder lay marinating in his own sweat on a cot in a sauna-like tent, clad only in Sheriff Joe’s mandatory pink boxers stamped with the acronym for Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, wondering why, after a satisfying all-afternoon-and-into-the-evening interlude tipping a couple cold Coronas with lime wedges—well, maybe more than a couple but, hey, who’s counting when it’s 117 in the shade out there, your dog is sprawled in the sawdust at your feet, and you’re hoisting a few in the air-conditioned refuge of Jose’s Cantina—why oh why he chose that moment, that particular moment when he was floating out the door of Jose’s in the unrelenting smog of sudsy befuddlement, to drop his drawers and rid himself of the annoying label sewn into the waistband of his X-rated (certainly not XXX-rated) boxers that his ex, when she was still his wife, bought for him at that adult shop over on what he liked to call Not-So-Grand street, just as the president’s motorcade and its gaggle of black Suburbans with dark-tinted windows was passing, all of which resulted in an indecent exposure rap eternally stuck to him like old gum underneath a café table.
Awesome, a story in one sentence. I was actually panting when I got to the end.
Bravo! You certainly aren’t resting on your laurels, but giving yourself new and mighty writing challenges. I wonder if you have been reading John Gardner’s books. I know that in one of them he challenges his readers to write a page long sentence that is grammatically, and punctuationally (new word) reasonable. Take a bow, Gullie!
I have a comment still showing as pending. Do I need to do something with it? Or am I now found out as one of those spammers. Tehehe.
I still haven’t figured out why sometimes things get held up. However, I did go in and approve that posting. It should show up now. Thanks for letting me know.
The mystery of the technology. Programmers don’t have better things to do. I used to be one. I guess you can’t shake that sort of thing. 🙂
The punctuation was a grab bag. What challenged me the most were the prepositions. I tend to write in the short sentences of a print journalist, so surviving a long, convoluted sentence was exquisitely satisfying. Thanks, Ann.
Confession: I wrote this sentence in my head as I was delivering mail over a 130 mile long route (I’m an occasional substitute for a friend who has the rural delivery contract) through the mountains on slippery roads, and I will admit I lost track of where I was at times. Fortunately nothing stayed me from my appointed rounds.
Neither rain nor sleet nor spacing out during writing prompts shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds….or something like that.
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle