Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ham sandwiches

I was walkin around the lake when I came across Jo Jo and Lubby. They were sittin on a big rock down by the firehouse eatin ham sandwiches and chips. First one would take a slug of Bud Light and let go a burp, then the other. A regular belchin contest, right there off Breakneck Road. Jo Jo's a skinny kid who can barely fill a muscle shirt while Lubby still carries a satchel's worth of baby fat around his middle. They were hot and tired, having just cleared the area behind the firehouse of brush. It was one of those humid September days you get when the air comes up from the south, carrying insects, storms, and such. These two were gonna sweat the beer right out of themselves.

The boys worked for the county and had come up from the valley in a white beat-up Chevy 1/2 ton pick-up with a load of unidentifiable crap in the back. Every time they hit a pothole, the front end would shimmy and rattle like the devil, but braking was not an option. They liked to ride it out instead. "Scares the clowns in their Beemers comin the other way. Gotta have some fun. County says we can't smoke in the truck, but who knows what we do? Keep the friggin windows down."

Whenever they turn up, they're either goin on about sex or politics, like most of the kids up here. Jo Jo liked live girls and claimed he knew how to talk to them down at the OK Tavern. Lubby preferred going on-line to watch the cam girls play with themselves. He was particularly fascinated by hermaphrodites, what they were and the word itself. He liked saying it. "Hermaphrodite. It's weird, right? But there's something exciting about it too, like carryin a secret weapon."

Jo Jo wouldn't have none of it. He'd put on one of his tee shirts -- "Will Buy Drinks for Sex" -- douse himself with body scent, clip his nails, and let his beard go unshaved for a couple of days. "If you get done up right and let things happen nice and easy, you'll be fine. I'm tellin you, chicks don't wanna be rushed." He took another swig of beer, coughed, and started braggin on how he'd sweet-talked some drunk into the edge of the woods for a 'midnight snack' last Friday. It was his usual routine and Lubby let it go. Just a couple of boys bullshittin at lunch. You hear the same thing down on Wall Street.

Politics was another matter. Jo Jo hated everybody in office, especially the liberals who were givin the country away. "What's the matter with those people? Let 'em go back to Africa. What the hell they have to come here for?" He would listen to the radio and get mad. "Effin banks stealin our money. And all these lyin bastards in Washington screwin people like us right and left. Takin away our freedom. Effin son-of-a-bitch ain't even American." Lubby was mainly disinterested. He figgered life was pretty much what it was gonna be no matter what politicians did. As long as you stayed healthy, you could always get by somehow. "What are you talkin about? Look at us. We work for the friggin county. We'd be eatin dirt if it wasn't for the government."

Jo Jo looked at him. "I ain't talkin about the county, you arsehole. The county don't mean shite, they just take care of the roads and stuff like the effin library system. I'm talkin about the Federal Government that's tryin to control our whole lives."

They finished their lunch and twelve-pack. Jo Jo yawned. "Siesta time." Lubby agreed that it was too hot to cut grass in the middle of the day. "Yeah, let's go down to the reservoir and chill in the shade." By that time, I wanted out of there. A couple of minutes with these guys was all I could take. I headed into the last mile of my walk and thought to myself, when Mrs. Gill fell down her back stairs, these were the two guys who heard her cries and took her down to St. Anthony's. Then stayed with her until her son got there. There's gotta be
something there. So how do you reach them, poot? Tell me, what's it gonna take to get them to grow up? What in god's name is it gonna take?

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