Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scenes 24 & 25

The Star-Lite Lounge is located in a metal building that began life as a printing plant, with a couple of windows cut in the siding. The bar has a big seating area, ringed by stools, two-tops, and a row of booths. There’s a bunch of video games. The light is pretty good, for a bar, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Beyond the bar proper and up three steps is a larger food service area, with a sandwich counter and two dozen four tops. There’s a giant salad bar, about the size of a 1974 Chrysler New Yorker, that features six varieties of macaroni salad, a creamed soup, worn-out iceberg lettuce in a big bowl, onions, and any number of canned vegetables. The salad bar is strategically positioned to block your view of the bar from the restaurant.

Myron starts out in the bar. Charlene comes in on some pretext and relocates them to the restaurant area. She’s positioned herself like a mobster, with a wide view of the room. She can see the bar from her seat; she can also shift her weight and disappear behind the salad bar. Myron’s a got a beer in front of him, for lack of a better idea. Charlene is working on a whiskey sour.

She’s watching the door and speaking distractedly.

“The blockage thing. Lots of people have trouble with stomach acid,” she says, lighting a cigarette. “Try eliminating dairy.” She puts down her bic. “I’m very interested in healing. Different approaches to diet. Massage therapy. Stuff like that.” She exhales a plume of smoke. “I think touch has a great effect on people.” Charlene puts her hand lightly on his forearm. “Don’t you?”

Myron is thinking he might die before seeing Florida. But he stays put.



Over at the Fuel King, Blinky reclines on the back of the Buick, alternately daydreaming about spaceships and watching the overpass. He does not notice the approach of a large black 24-foot truck as it thunders up from the exit, until it’s practically on top of him. The truck pulls into the station and drives beyond the pumps, stopping out front but off to the side. Suddenly aware, Blinky reads “SBE, Ltd.” as it pulls past. He’s aghast. “A Sucke truck!” he exclaims quietly.

A man in a business suit and overcoat gets out of the SBE, Ltd. vehicle. His manner is crisp. “I”m looking for a Mr. Thomas Thick,” says the formerly grizzled man.

“Just a sec,” says Blinky.

Blinky bursts into station and says, “Is your name Tom?” He sees the name in the shirt oval. Tom is looking at a complicated document.

“You’re not getting involved with the Sucke Brothers, are you?”

Tom’s hammer-head is sweating; he’s looking pretty nervous. Tom holds up the papers. “I don’t know what this means,” he says. “A bunch of stuff about parties.”

Through the window, Blinky can see the man walking toward the door. Blinky scoots back outside. “Sir. Can I ask, are you an actual Sucke Brother?”

The man looks at him guardedly. “No. I’m from Legal.”

“Ah,” says Blinky. “Because you know, it’s funny, I’ve got a friend from out of town who’s had a bad experience with--”

The lawyer, who’s carrying a big envelope and one of those brown accordion folder things, smoothly redirects Blinky by ninety degrees, turning him away from the door.

As Tom steps outside, a new Ford truck with a squashed front plus an antique cannon and a dead deer in the back roars past the station and drives around the rear.

“Son,” the lawyer is saying to Blinky, “have you ever been on the receiving end of litigation? Have you ever been deposed under needling, deeply personal questioning for weeks at a time?”

“No,” says Blinky.

“Have you ever had your ass kicked in a dark alley by semi-pro hockey players?”

“Can’t say that I have.”

“How does that idea grab you? Would you like to meet Claude?”

Blinky’s silence says No.

“Now, I’d like you to go stand over there by that car, where you can mind your own beeswax. Thank you.” Blinky blinks.

The lawyer turns back to the business at hand. He and a worried-looking Tom go into the gas station. “I’m sure we can get this signed quickly, Mr. Thick,” the lawyer is saying.

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