by Ron Downing
This is chapter 2
|“Hey, man what are you drinking?” Not wanting to disturb Don’s comfortable position he pulled up a chair from another table and sat down.
“Screwdrivers with cherries.”
“You had better watch it I hear that Russian Vodka will rust your pipes and you go woman crazy.”
“Well, if that be the case I wonder what effect it would have on the women.” Taco and Don both laughed about it. Taco pushed his wide-rimmed hat back and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his red bandanna. He then motioned for Darlene to come to the table so he could order a drink.
“What can I get you to drink Taco?”
“I’ll have a Rum and Coke!”
“Would you like another refill Don?”
“Yeah, why not the night is still young and put Taco’s drink on my tab.”
“I can’t believe that it’s as hot up there as it is.”
“Yeah, I bet it is with those lights set as high they are.”
“Well, what happened at work today anyway?”
“Oh, not a whole lot really Your Dad fired Cliff and Steve today so it’s just you and Robert in the parts department now.”
“What did he fire those two for?”
“Well, they got into a fist fight out behind the shop and I would say that Steve got the worst end of the deal.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because by the time that we got it broke up, Cliff had laid a tire iron across Steve’s forehead. Dad took Steve to the hospital and they put twelve stitches in his head, and they’re keeping him overnight for observation.”
“Did Steve ever say what the fight was about?”
“Yeah money, it seems as though Cliff loaned Steve one hundred dollars about two weeks ago. And He wanted Steve to pay him one hundred and thirty dollars. Well, Steve told Cliff that he would only pay him what he had borrowed.”
“Well, I figured that it would come crashing down on Cliffs' head sooner or later. He has been loansharking for quite a while. You remember last year, when Steve came to work with a black eye and he, was bragging about how strong his son was?”
“Yeah, I sure do, we told him he had better start minding his son a little better. And that next time he had better get that kid’s bottle a little quicker.”
“Well what really happened was that Cliff had loaned this guy at the Green Door Bar and Grill four hundred dollars to front a pool game, the guy lost and Cliff told the guy that he wanted five hundred and twenty five dollars by Friday. The guy never showed up the money. So on Saturday night Cliff went down to collect. BUT WHEN Cliff got there the guy informed him that he had no intention of repaying the loan or any part of it. They got into a fight and Cliff pretty much cleaned the place out.”
“I never thought of Cliff as being the violent type.”
“Cliff is like a real Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde one minute he could be nice and the next time you talk to him he would be downright mean, there was never a happy medium with him.”
“Yeah, I sure hated to see Steve go; Cliff on the other hand I can sure live without. He never did anything except run his mouth, and he knew something about everything but didn’t know a damn thing about nothing.”
‘Steve was really the victim in this situation he not only got his head cracked open, but he also lost his job.”
“Yeah, but it clearly states in the company’s policy and procedures manual, that anyone caught fighting on the job will be terminated.”
“I suppose you’re probably right.”
“Besides Steve knew what he was getting himself into and if he didn’t want to meet Cliff’s terms then he should not have borrowed the money from him. When you dance with the Devil you’re gonna get burned.”
Taco got up from his chair and returned it to the table from which he borrowed it. He turned back around and picked up his drink and with one good swallow he finished it off in two quick chugs. “Ah… that hit the spot. Yeah, I suppose that you're right about that.”
“Shit… dude you put that one down quick…howd… you do dat….”
“Lots and lots of practice.”
“Well, Don I would like to talk more but I have to start this next set. Anything you want to hear?”
“Yeah, play some Freddie Fender!”
Don spotted Darlene waiting on the table to his right, He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, Last time that he had seen Darlene was right after the Summers end which followed their high-school graduation. As she turned and headed back for the bar Don waived her back to his table. As she walked around the backside of Don’s chair he laid his head back Darlene ran her fingers through his hair and tickled him behind the ear.
“What else can I get for you Don?”
“When did you come back home?”
“About five months ago, Let me get your order Don. I have a break coming up and we can sit and talk.”
“OK well for starters I’ll have another screwdriver with a couple of cherries, and how about some cheese dip and chips.”
“I’ll be right back with your order.”
By this time, Taco had rounded up the band and was back on stage, tuning their guitars and getting ready for the next set. Taco removed the microphone from the stand
“While the rest of the band is getting a tuned up. I would like to take this time to take some request so just yell it out, and if we don’t play it please don’t get offended. It just means that we don’t know it.”
The crowd started clapping and yelling out their songs. One lady hollered “Highway Forty Blues,” another lady hollered “Love In The First Degree”. A man in the back yelled “Dixie.”
“I don’t think we had better do Dixie, we might get arrested for starting a riot.”
That’s when a man at the front table stood up.
“Why Taco if you get arrested I’ll personally come down and bail you out.”
There was a black man that stood up about three tables behind Don
“My Grandpappy fought for the Yankees after he escaped from his master. Our people know who won the Civil War it’s just a damn shame that no one has told you Rebels yet. Taco you go ahead and play Dixie for these Rebels I won’t be offended.”
The crowd cheered and some even laughed while others started chanting. Dixie- Dixie-Dixie!
“Well then guys lets play Dixie, Why don’t you all stand up and sing it with us!”
As the band began to play the crowd came to their feet, hats came off and voices filled the room. Proud voices they were, for many of the folks in these parts, had ancestors who fought and gave their lives for the south and her causes.
When the song was finished the crowd sat back down in their seats. Don resumed the comfortable position that he was in when all of this started Darlene returned with Don’s order and set it on the table. Her and Don had known each other for a few years, and she could tell when something wasn’t quite right. So she pulled up a chair and sat down.
“You don’t mind if I sit down here for a few minutes do you? “
“No, not at all. It’s always good to see you.”
“What’s wrong with you tonight? You look as if you just lost your best friend.”
“What makes you think that something is wrong?”
“Oh, nothing much just that down and out, lost puppy dog look that you have on right now. And not to mention the fact that I was the one, that brought you the two previous drinks and you didn’t even look up. I even called you by name Don. And besides a good women knows when a man doesn’t feel right, Or when something is wrong. But that’s OK if you don’t want to share it with me, then I will understand. And when you are ready to share it, you let me know. I have a lot of time and two good ears.”
“It’s that obvious Huh?”
“Yes it is!”
Darlene started to get up, but Don took her hand and gently pulled her back down. Darlene reclaimed her seat.
“Well, I just feel that I haven’t got much going for me right now. Here we are four years after graduation and I am still working for my Dad and I didn’t go to college. And I am still alone; I’m tired of being alone, I would like to have someone to share things with, to go places with, You know what I mean?”
“Yes I do. And I know that the girl you do end up with is going to get a real bargain. I also know that she is going to be special because you’re a special person Don. But these things take time and should not be rushed.”
“Time isn’t something that I feel I have a lot of, I refuse to be that sixty year old father struggling to stand so that he can cheer his son on as he makes the season's first touchdown.”
“Trust me it won’t happen that way.”
“You know my mother said those very same words to me last week.”
“Well then that ought to tell you something Don.”
“Yeah, I know but it doesn’t make life any easier.”
Meanwhile, Taco had just finished singing an old Conway Twitty song called “Hello Darlin.”
“This next song goes out to a friend of mine it’s a Freddie Fender song called Before The Next Teardrop Falls.”
“Darlene you're on your break aren’t you?”
“Yes I am.”
“Would you like to dance?”
“Yes I would love to Dance, but are you up to it?”
“What do you mean am I up to it?”
“Just what I said after all you have had at least three of those screwdrivers.”
“I’ve, I’ve never felt betterrrr.”
Don got up first and took Darlene’s hand and helped her to her feet. Holding one hand, he placed his other hand at the small of her back and escorted her to the dance floor, where he spun, her around to face him. Darlene was somewhat surprised by his sudden movements, but never the less was enjoying the attention.
As they began to dance Darlene laid her head on his shoulder; she was rather tallish and very lean and yet soft as a lady should be. Don lowered his hand to the top of her blue jeans. Her flowing strawberry blonde hair lay against the back of his hand.
“Your very good on your feet, where did you learn to dance?”
“You promise that you won’t laugh.”
“Why should I laugh?”
“No reason I guess, My Aunt Polly taught me.”
“Your Aunt Polly Huh, Well she did a great job.”
“So now that you know my secret, what about you, Where did you learn?”
“My father taught me. You see my mother had two left feet when it came to dancing. And I could always tell when he and mom went dancing.”
“How is that?”
“Dad would walk around with a limp for about three or four days afterward.”
“Any special reason that you waited so long?”
“Waited so long for what?”
“To ask me to Dance.”
“No this is just one of my favorite songs that’s all.”
“Mine to too I like the Spanish verse, I Have no idea as to what the words mean but it sounds pretty.”
“Would you like me to translate it for you?”
“Yes I would enjoy that very much.”
As Taco began to sing the Spanish verse Don began to sing it in English to Darlene at the same time Don was thinking about how this felt and what a good time they were having together. This was cut short however by some Drunk whose breath smelled like a sewer and didn’t look much better.
“Hey, there Buddy how about letting me cut in here for a dance with the little lady huh?”
The drunk tried wedging his way between Don and Darlene, But Don wouldn’t budge; he and Darlene kept dancing.
“Hey, fellow I don’t believe that the lady wants to dance with you so why don’t you go back and take your seat?”
“That’s strange I didn’t hear her say anything.”
“You're so right! That means that you didn’t hear her ask you to cut in either.”
With that the drunk turned and walked away, Don thought that everything was OK. But it wasn’t long after that Don felt someone poking his shoulder. He turned around thinking that it might be someone he knew, but instead he caught a fist in the mouth. He fell back against the other dancers knocking all of them to the floor. While Don was lying there dazed, Darlene let out a scream that would have scared the life out of a coyote and with one swift kick she dropped that drunk on his butt. And before he could get up she stepped forward and placed her foot on his private sector.
“Don’t even think about getting up jerk.”
“No Mam whatever you say just promise me that you won’t hit me again.”
“I’m gonna step back and you had better get up nice and slow, because if you even look like your gonna try something stupid; you will be singing soprano for the rest of your life.”
“Whatever you say Mam.”
About that time the two bouncers showed up and Darlene moved out their way.
“Looks like you’ve got everything under control Darlene.”
“Hey, Curly what took you guys so long anyway?”
“Ralph had the safe open and he wanted us to stand outside the door, so no one would walk in.”
“Take care of this guy he’s had a few too many to drink.”
“Has anyone checked on this guy on the floor, he doesn’t seem to be moving?”
Darlene quickly turned and noticed that there was some Blood on the floor behind Don’s head. She rushed over and knelt down to check on Don to make sure that he wasn’t seriously hurt and to see what he had hit his head on. Curly had made his way to the other side of Don and knelt down he reached over and took Don’s pulse.
“Oh God, Curly you think that he’ll be alright?”
“Well, I’m no doctor but usually if they have a pulse and there breathing that’s always a good sign.”
“Do you think that we need to call an Ambulance?”
“Let me try something first.”
Curly reaches into his pocket and pulls out an ammonia capsule He breaks it open and passes it in front of Don’s nose after about the third pass Don started turning his head and his nose started twitching.
“Well, Darlene I guess that we can rule out any kind of back or neck injury.”
Darlene started calling his name.
“Don, Don can you hear me? Do you hurt anywhere? Can you move?”
The crowd was all gathered around and Hank was standing at Don’s feet pushing the crowd back so that Curly and Darlene could take care of Don. Curly at this time had placed his hand behind Dons back and was helping him up to a sitting position so he could see where the blood was coming from. He could then determine what it was that Don might have hit his head on in the first place.
“Don this is Curly do you feel like you can stand up?”
Don still quite dazed and disoriented muttered.
“Yes I would like to sit in a chair.”
“Hank can you give me a hand over here and help me get Don into a chair.”
“Sure thing Curly I will be right there let me get this guy taken care of.”
The drunk that had hit Don was still sitting on the floor where Darlene had put him.
“Sir I am going to go over here and help them get this young man to his feet I don’t want you to move at all.”
“I-I-I w-a-n-t t-t-t-oo get up.”
“No sir you're going to sit down right here until I get done and until I tell you that you can get up again, so just hold your horses.”
The drunk was determined that he was going to get up.
“Sir you are working on my patience here. I told you to keep your seat and that’s exactly what I meant. Don’t make me have to get mean with you or put that young lady on your back again, I don’t think you want that.”
“Alright I’ll sit here but you had better hurry up.”
Hank went over to help Curly and Darlene get Don to his feet and into a chair. Hank came around the side where Darlene was standing.
“Hey, Darlene let Curly and I get him to a chair and then you can look after him while we take care of the drunk that started this mess.”
About that time Tammy showed up with a damp bar towel and an ice pack and hands it to Darlene who is holding a chair for Hank and Curly to sit Don in. Once Hank and Curly sat Don in the chair they left to take care of the drunk. Meanwhile, Darlene is running her fingers through his hair to find out where the blood is coming from
“Oh no, problem but it looks like Prince Charming here has a nasty bump on his head.”
“Yeah, he does he’s also bleeding a little and I’m not exactly sure where it’s coming from. Ah, there it is would you mind folding that towel in fourths and handing it to me?”
Tammy reached over to pick up the towel off the table where Darlene had set it, she folded it as Darlene had instructed her and handed it back to Darlene.
Hank and Curly got on each side of the drunk each taking an arm. Once they got him to his feet Hank started explaining the disorderly conduct policy to him.
“Sir have you ever been to the Cotton Gin before?”
“Sir what is your name?”
“Yeah and I’m John Wayne and he’s Glen Campbell.”
“Okay, Richard do you live around here.”
“I-I-I dddon’t know wwwhere’s here.”
”Okay, Richard I’m going to explain our disorderly conduct policy to you. When a person gets out of hand and acts up we either bar him from the club or you take the buckets. Now if we bar you from the club you can’t come back for a whole year on the other hand we have the buckets.”
“What are the buckets?”
“What we do there is we put you in a chair then we fill one bucket with ice and put it on your head, Then we take two more buckets and fill them with ice and you have to put your bare feet in them. You have to stay this way for fifteen minutes. We here at the Cotton Gin feel that this will cool you off.”
“You know something cool might be nice because my head sure does hurt right now.”
“Curly can you get the buckets and some ice?”
Hank takes a chair from a nearby table and sits Richard the drunk down in it.
“Okay Richard you need to take off your boots and socks.”
As the drunk leans forward to remove his boots he rolls out of the chair and onto the floor. Hank grabs him and puts him back in the chair. Realizing that the drunk is not going to be able to remove his own boots, Hank starts to remove them for him. As he removes the left boot first everyone around him takes two steps back and covers their nose. Even Hank is wishing that he could leave.
About that time Curly shows up with the ice and the buckets he sets them down and proceeds to help Hank take off the right boot.”
“Whoooee!! Look at this Hank his socks are marked Government Issue. Hey, Richard were you ever in the Army?”
“Yeah, a-a-as a-m-mat-ter of f-f-fact I w-was I f-f-fought in the g-g-great one the w-war t-to end all wars.”
Hank turned to Curly.
“Wonder if that was the last time that he changed his socks?”
“Kind of smells that way doesn’t it?”
Hank and Curly each grabbed a bucket of ice and each put in a foot, Then Hank picked up the third bucket and Curly removed the towel filled with ice and set it on Richards head while Hank turned the bucket upside down and placed it on Richards head like a helmet.
“Well, Curly that ought to cool him off for a while.”
“Hey, Darlene how is Don doing?”
“Well, Hank I got the bleeding to stop and he’s been drifting in and out on me.”
“What all has he had to drink tonight?”
“Three Screwdrivers over a period of two and a half hours he also had cheese dip and chips.
“Hey, Don how are you feeling?
Don rubs the back of his neck and his head and he remembers dancing with Darlene but everything beyond that is pretty much a blur or like a bad dream.
“I have felt better before. What exactly happened anyway?”
“Somebody else had a little too much to drink and wanted to start something with you. But you told him to buzz off, and he did, but he came back and popped you one. You fell down and hit your head on the floor.”
“Well, it sure does hurt.”
“Hey, Don would you like me to get you something to drink?”
“Yeah, get me a screwdriver with two cherries please and make it double.”
“I don’t think so, How about some H2O on the rocks?”
“Sounds good to me Darlene.
Darlene left to get Don his drink. Harold pulled up a chair and sat next to Don, to see if he was alright. Hank, Curly and Tammy all went back to their business. When Darlene returned she had a glass of water and her purse she sat down on the other side of Don.
“Here you go drink this up and you feel better.”
Don picked the glass of water up and drank it down in no time then he placed the empty glass against his forehead just briefly the chilled glass felt good on his forehead.
“You ready to go Don?”
“You taking me home Darlene?”
“Yes I am so, let me have the keys to your truck.”
Meanwhile, Hank and Curly had returned to take care of the drunk. Darlene was trying to get Don to his truck so that they could leave. However, Don was a little more than Darlene could handle alone. As he tripped she lost her grip on his jacket and they both fell to the ground.
“Don come on baby you’ve got to get up, we only have a few more steps.”
Don rolled over on his back, Reached up and grabbed a hold of Darlene’s hand and rose to a sitting position. It felt as though every muscle in his body hurt. Darlene knelt down beside him and brushed the tiny pieces of gravel off his face.
“Are you going to be alright Don?”
“Yeah, I just need to catch my breath and then I think I can make it.”
About that time the door swung open and Harold came out, He stood by the front door and removed a package of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. As he leaned against the pole beneath the canopy he pulled a cigarette from the package and put it in his mouth and lit it up as he raised his head he spotted Don and Darlene sitting between two old Trucks.
“Hey, Darlene you need some help?”
Harold had already started walking across the parking lot to where they were sitting he crouched down on one knee and remained there for a few seconds.
“Man that guy really clipped you good didn’t he?”
Don was fading in and out and did not answer Harold’s question.
“Yeah, we could use some help he’s a little more than I can handle.”
“You sure put that guy down in there Darlene.”
“Well, that’s a lot different than lifting dead weight.”
“Hey guys I’m not dead yet I would probably feel better if I were.”
Harold reached out and took Don’s arm and put it over his shoulder and brought Don to his feet.
“Let's go find your truck OLE buddy.”
Once they found the truck Harold leaned Don against the outside and opened the passenger side door so that he could get Don in. He handed Darlene the keys, she thanked Harold for his help and walked around to get in herself.
“Once you get him home how do you plan on getting him out of the truck and into the house?”
“I hope that by that time he will be feeling a little better and can make it in on his own.”
“Well, I’m going to be around here for a little while longer so if you get home and have a problem, just call me up; here at the bar. And I will come out there and help you.”
“I think we’ll make it but thanks again Harold.”