by Andy Henion
When I get home from work I find a note on the kitchen counter from my wife saying she has packed herself and the child and driven to her mother's house in Dubuque so she can find herself. My first impulse is to call her at her mother's house and tell her where she is, Dubuque, but that would only enflame the situation so instead I extract a bottle of light beer from the refrigerator, remove the cap and step out onto the deck. My neighbor Bernie and another man are standing in Bernie's backyard despite the chilly weather so I wave and Bernie tells me over his chain-link fence that this is his brother Bert who is about to get married and that they are going out for some beers and would I like to go. Bernie and his brother have sly looks on their faces that promise a night of hi-jinks or at least mild entertainment so I say, What the hell, it is Friday and I could use a night out with the boys. I do not tell them about my wife finding herself in Dubuque but figure Bernie already knows since my wife tells his wife everything, even about the time I injured my penis during intercourse and subsequently had to undergo six sessions of treatment and rehabilitation with a urologist named Frank who wore a turquoise ring on his pinky finger.
As I brush my teeth with sensitive toothpaste I get excited about the evening ahead the same way I used to in high school before I would go to field parties where I would get drunk on cheap beer and cinnamon schnapps and engage in various forms of sexual activity, sometimes by myself. I believe this night holds special promise because Bernie is a handsome man with silvery hair and a confident demeanor about him that tends to attract females. This is according to my personal observations of Bernie at neighborhood functions as well as the stories of his various affairs with females ranging from his coworkers at the car plant to the clerk at the convenience store to two of his daughter's college friends at the same time. Bernie is a dog or a stud depending on who you ask.
In the vehicle Bert and Bernie drink from matching flasks with symbols of skull and crossbones on them and talk about a club called Gi-Gi's which I have heard about but never patronized. Bert seems to be driving particularly fast on the icy road but I do not mention this fact as to not appear concerned or frightened. Instead I pull on the loose thread on my shirt and find enjoyment from breathing in the brothers' cologne and staring at the back of their sculpted silvery heads. As we turn onto the state highway Bernie turns up a song on the radio and the brothers make squinty rock and roll faces and begin to bob their heads and twiddle their fingers as if playing guitars. At this point the vehicle veers off the road and apparently catches a patch of ice because we spin around several times before coming to an abrupt stop in the ditch. The side of my head bumps against the window but otherwise I do not suffer ill effects. Bert and Bernie exit the vehicle quickly and position themselves on either side of the hood and shout to me to get in the front seat and put the vehicle into Reverse and let's get the fuck out of here. The brothers' faces turn red from pushing and after several attempts the vehicle shoots onto the road, just missing an oncoming truck which has to swerve to avoid us prompting the female passenger to roll down her window, present her middle digit and tell us in an angry tone to have intercourse with ourselves.
Back in the vehicle the brothers continue drinking from their flasks as if nothing has happened and Bert begins telling story about a methamphetamine lab he busted the day before and I come to understand that Bert is a deputy for the sheriff's department. This is rather surprising given that Bert is not wearing a seatbelt and drinking alcohol while driving a motor vehicle but then I tell myself, silently of course, that the guy is human after all and has a right to let his hair down like the rest of us, despite the fact that Bert has a brush cut. Anyway, the methamphetamine story involves Bert leading a team of narcotics officers into a trailerhouse and encountering a shirtless man with his ribs and cheekbones protruding severely and an open bottle of anhydrous ammonia in his hand. Bert says he tells the gaunt motherfucker to put the bottle down three separate times and then the hopped-up freak purposely drops it on the floor between them so that some of the anhydrous ammonia spills onto Bert's boot. Bert takes the opportunity to say to the anorexic son of a bitch, Funny, huh? and then takes out his nightstick and breaks the bastard's elbow. Nothing more painful than a busted elbow, says Bert.
Bert then asks how Trish is doing and Bernie says she has not spoken to him since her reunion last weekend when Bernie got to bragging to a pack of her classmates about how his football team was better than theirs even though his school was Class C compared to their school which was Class A. Before you knew it they were all out on the field playing smashmouth in their shirts and ties in the mud, only they did not have a football so they used a roll of duct tape from someone's car. Bernie explains that he hits this one gump so hard that he is sure he has broken some ribs so two guys carry him into the auditorium all dramatic and everything and Trish and everyone is looking at Bernie all serious so he says, Fuck this noise, and walks out of the reunion and hails a cab to his favorite pub, the one with pints of Guinness for three bucks.
Following the story there is silence in the vehicle until Bernie asks me how the hell I am doing, anyway, and I realize it is my turn to tell a story to include violence and/or the breakage of someone's bones but I cannot think of one immediately so I say, My twenty year reunion is next year but I do not think I will attend because I did not enjoy high school to begin with so why should I pretend like I did. I tell them I wish I there was a college reunion because I really thrived in college by which I mean I attained a B minus average and played coed softball and served as secretary-treasurer on the College Democrats two years running. College is great because everyone wants to learn, I say, before realizing that neither Bert nor Bernie probably went to college.
There is more silence until we arrive at Gi-Gi's and proceed to park and exit the vehicle and encounter a heavily muscled bouncer who asks for a fifteen dollar cover charge until he recognizes Bert and the two give each other a greeting involving their fists and the bouncer says, You're good, chief, and Bert enters the club followed by Bernie. When I try to pass the bouncer he puts his hand on my chest and says, Whoa, guy, that's fifteen bucks, and I look to Bert or Bernie but they are not looking back so I remove my wallet and hand the bouncer a ten dollar bill and a five dollar bill, which leaves me with three one dollar bills. This turns out to be not much of a problem, however, for Bernie buys numerous rounds of beers and tequila shots as we watch four females in a row dance around to popular music while simultaneously removing their clothing and licking their fingers.
A dark haired dancer wearing angel's wings and a thong comes up to our table when she has finished her routine and smiles at the brothers and says, If it ain't the Bert and Ernie Show. The angel sits down and orders an alexander and begins discussions with the brothers that involve frequent laughter and the rubbing of her breasts against their arms. Soon two other dancers join her at our table including a blonde with fuzzy bunny ears and tail who asks me what my deal is. I am not sure what she means by this, exactly, so I say, Just hanging out, and take another drink of my beer even though the rapid consumption of tequila has caused my head to spin and my insides to gurgle. The bunny then asks me what I do and I tell her I am a writer without specifically saying I write propaganda for labor unions and then she motions to my wedding band and asks me how long I have been married and I tell her nine years and excuse me, please, and I move quickly away from the table and head for the front door because I do not know where the bathrooms are but I do not make it and end up vomiting on the floor and down the front of my shirt. I hear the heavily muscled bouncer say, Damn, man, but I keep moving out the doors and straight for the vehicle thinking that Bert and Ernie or rather Bert and Bernie will never take me out again, the silvery haired bastards, but that will not matter as long as my wife finds herself in Dubuque and packs herself and the child back into the vehicle and returns to me soonest.
About the author:
Andy has a predilection for Swedish Fish candies, the color tangerine and the song "Baker Street." He has fiction upcoming in Monkeybicycle.net, Fiction Warehouse and Old Crow Review. Check out another of his stories at Raging Face.