The Chuck Wagon To Kansas

March 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Get out! No! Get out.”

I say that so many times a night. Thieves, scumbags, crazies. If I see them coming through the door in time, I issue a preemptive strike. I start with a normal tone, albeit a bit loud. If I have to repeat myself, I switch to Dad-Voice and project an authoritative “HEY!” that would pierce the tones of Slayer on headphones. It usually involves an argument, “I didn’t do that!” or “That was somebody else!” Once in a while I am wrong, but not too often.

There’s a group of winos that live in a doorway a couple blocks from the store. Dr Seuss, Mister Wall Street and Mrs Voorhees. Dr Seuss got his moniker from his omnipresent Cat-In-The-Hat hat, (tall, red and white stripes, slightly dirty.) Mister Wall Street (Wally) used to be a bigshot somewhere; he has a LinkdIn profile. Days and nights of drinking have left him on the sidewalk. Mrs Voorhees looks just like, well, Mrs Voorhees:

She has a shaven head, I’m guessing lice removal. It’s not a good look. She’s been the girlfriend of all the guys. They are all 86ed, mostly for being drunk and argumentative. They have friends and followers who give them money, booze and weed. One of their friends, another street drinker with no home to call his own, we call him Peggy, because he’s missing two legs and has shiny steel ones. He walks around pretty good for someone so drunk and physically challenged. He was their emissary until one drunken night, when Eva kicked him out in front of me. (He has a tendency to lose control of a certain bodily function when drunk, and Eva hates the smell of piss.)

So when he showed up outside the store, hollering to ask if he could come in, I politely declined. “Sorry, you know you’re 86ed.”

“Yeah, but I talked to the German Lady, (Eva) and she said it’s okay.” He sounded meek and sincere.

“She didn’t say anything to me. Until she tells me different, you are still outta here.”

The last time I told him that, I received a drunken tongue-lashing that would make a sailor blush. It was kinda funny in a way. I pictured it like I would Lou Piniella chewing the ass of an umpire. “You’re tossing me? Imma get my fucking money’s worth.”

A couple weeks had passed, and he’d respected my boundaries. “What is it you want?”

“I just want a package of Jackpot cigars, and a cup of ice to mix my drink?”

“Just make it fast. And you’re still 86ed until I find out different.”

He was as quick as his tin legs would haul him. “$1.24.” A lot of 86ed types make it back in. We watch them like a hawk, and make as much money as we can off them before we catch them misbehaving, or a boss sees them. If we kicked out every transgressor, we’d lose 90% of our customer base. So we jack up the prices and open our eyes a little wider.

I wasn’t too surprised when he showed up a couple hours later. “I need more Jackpots, and another cup of ice. Is that okay?”

“$1.24. You guys are going through a lot of cigars today.”

“This hippie dude that works at the jewelry store gave us a bag of weed. It’s really stretching the drinks!” Steel Rod has always been an easy touch. Wish he’d given me the weed. I could use the patience.

The third time Peggy came back, I didn’t say anything, just let him in. After the transaction, ($1.24) I asked, “What’s your name?”

“My street-name is Skyler. Everyone needs a street name, and since I didn’t have one I took my grandfather’s middle name. My real name is Dustin. I fuckin’ HATE Kansas.”

“The place or the band?”

We both said it at the same time. “Dust In The Wind…”

“Bwahahaha. Sorry, but I can relate. My name is Charles, and you can only imagine the number of insulting combinations. I was Junior, then Chuck. I’d almost like Junior now, but back then there was only Junior Samples. When Uncle Junior came along, I almost adopted it.”

“Whatdya get these days, Charlie Tuna?”

“Nah, I have a couple girlfriends that call me Charlie Chan or Charlie Brown, but that’s a term of endearment in my heart…”

“What was the worst, Chuck?” Peggy/ Skyler/ Dustin The Wind asked.

“Don’t chuck with me, boy!” I said in my best Foghorn Leghorn voice. “But I’ll bet you’re old enough to remember…”

He did.


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