Gimme a pig foot and bottle of beer


Waiting. Patiently. Staring at the floor. Staring at the carpet. Thin, cheap, shitty carpet, easy to install and easy to not give a fuck about. You'll notice that it's usually dark gray or brown- stained somewhere between decomposing flesh and fecal smear. In the morning, with the sunlight pouring in, reflected off of the lake like it is now, if you were to crawl around on your hands and knees and move any of the tables with the big, round, metal bases on the bottom, just beyond the rust ring and organic crust, right beneath the flattened piece of popcorn and maraschino cherry stem, you might be able to see what color it originally was; but even then it isn't much to look at. It isn't there to be part of the decoration or ambiance. It isn't special or pretty. It's there to soak up spilled liquor and minimize the instances of drunken idiots slipping and busting their asses- a thousand bucks worth of liability insurance. If it didn't originally come out of an elementary school somewhere in the surrounding area then it probably came from the very darkest and forgotten corner of some warehouse and the guy who sold it is probably glad just to be rid of it. It's cheap and expendable floor covering. If you lose a contact lens in here the chances are that you'll find it in one of the half billion cigarette burns concentrated mainly around the bar itself and the tables nearest the dance floor, plasticky black craters on the surface of Planet Shit.

It's eerily quiet in the bar this morning.

The owner and the manager are in the office behind the karaoke stage, next to the push-button juke box. The man in the gray business suit has been here for a little over ten minutes. Just long enough to be let inside, directed to the bar, asked to wait, and to pour himself a steaming cup of coffee from one of the pots next to the plastic cups, napkins, and soda gun.

The wall of the office facing the bar has a window of semi-transparent mirror that usually allows the bartender, who happens to be the manager's son, to keep an eye out for the owner while enjoying the occasional blow job from the cocktail waitress on slow nights.

They each keep glancing out the two-way every now and then just to make sure that no one else has come in to the bar besides their visitor, who is staring at the carpet. Both of them realize it's silly to worry about that because the front and back doors are locked, the flashing neon OPEN signs are cold and gray and it's quiet enough to hear the visitor set his coffee mug down after every sip.

But they are still afraid.

This morning the owner's silver hair is curling out in sprigs and sprouts from underneath his black ball cap that announces his status as U.S.N RETIRED SENIOR CHIEF PETTY OFFICER, below that VIET-NAM VETERAN and right under that U.S.S. ENTERPRISE CVAN-65. His wrinkled polo shirt is stretched a little tight in the belly, a little loose around his biceps, and the matching tattooed panthers on both forearms are a little faded, but they have been faded for years.

Sitting on his knee is the bleached-blonde manager, wearing the same black yoga pants that she was the night it happened and on her lap are the high heels she uses to accentuate her perfect ass, calves, runner's thighs, and a low cut leopard print blouse to show off her surgically enhanced, mostly visible, and highly distracting features. She hasn't left the hospital to do anything except meet him here, he said it was important. Despite the fact she hasn't even thought about touching up her make-up, and her hair is messy, no one would argue with you if you commented on her looks; the college boys that come to the bar all wish that they could take up temporary residence between her athletic legs, even though she is old enough to have given birth to them. She would be absolutely gorgeous for a woman ten years younger. The owner has been having an affair with her for over eleven years and they are usually happier together than he and his wife ever have been.

But today they aren't happy. They are holding hands and talking in whispers, because this is serious shit. In fact, the seriousness of this shit is making the quiet scarier than it needs to be and her stomach is in knots.

She has spent the last forty eight hours by her son's side, watching his bruised and broken body inflate and deflate with each breath forced into his lungs from the ventilator. Lightly tracing her fingertips over the mangled face of the little boy that she used to tuck into bed and kiss goodnight. Staring in abject horror at the endotracheal tube taped in place to the corner of his mouth and the sleeping eyelids that didn't twitch back and forth with dreams. The beautiful blue eyes that didn't do anything at all except stay swollen shut. Fat, shiny, and maizely purple-black.

The doctor says that the damage to his spine was extensive and he will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, if he ever comes out of the coma.

"Are you fucking KIDDING ME?" She forcefully whispers while peeking out at the man in the business suit again. "This guy doesn't look all that impressive ,y'know, and I think that those big fat boys would just chew this guy up and spit'em out. He looks kinda like a pansy." Her accent is 53 years of Minnesota.

"I know, Kitty, I know, I know..." He never calls her by her name. Always Kitty or Kitten or Cat. He leans back in the swivel chair and pinches the bridge of his nose where his bifocals leave angry, red depressions in his skin. He does this same thing every time she tells him he should leave his wife and move in with her. "But Pickle said that he heard this guy is an ex-Navy SEAL though, and those boys are mean as they come," chest swelling with pride to be able to mention the Navy this early in the morning, "and believe me I know 'cause when I was in the service," he starts to say, but she interrupts him and he deflates as she cuts him off.

"Well, he looks like a frickin' ex-accountant or something," she says with a worried sigh, "I just don't think that we should give him that much. I'm tired and I'm worried about Brandon and I'm afraid that he's gonna take one look at those guys and then he's gonna get in that rental car outside and leave town with our money and nothing'll change." She looks like she is going to cry.

"So you're saying that you don't wanna do it then?" He has put his heavy glasses back on and is blinking up at her.

"Well, I mean, I don't know. I think it's a little late to just... tell this guy that we changed our minds, y'know? He could go to the police or the FBI or the Feds or something,"

"The FBI are the Feds, Claire. And anyway, what's he gonna tell'em even if he did?" he bobs his head from side to side and adopts a falsetto, "Hi, I'm a hit-man from god-knows-where and these people made me come all the way out here to kill a couple prospects from an outlaw biker club and then they changed their minds." He sighs and shakes his head, conflicted.

Claire Vanderbilt doesn't need conflicted right now. She needs strength and fortitude and comfort and vengeance, not sarcasm and ridicule. She jumps off of Roger's lap as if she'd been zapped with a cattle prod. He steals a peek, despite the current situation, at her beautiful bottom as she turns to slam the office door shut. He averts his gaze with the practiced technique of a married man as the walls of the office shake and an autographed photo of Brett Favre falls down behind the old safe in the corner. He is jarred by the sudden noise, grips the armrest of the swivel chair, and is immediately caught in Claire's menacing and wrathful glare. Roger is afraid she might throw her high heels at him.

"Don't treat me like I'm stupid! I don't give a motherfucker who the goddamned FBI's are, Roger Beltran!" she screams. "If it was your boy Morgan, instead of my Brandon in the hospital all broken up and might not walk again, what would you do? This guy is-" she is boiling inside but she runs out of steam mid sentence and she does start to cry now, tears washing her two-day old masscara down her cheeks like watercolor.

"Now hey," he furrows his brow, leans forward on the chair, and points a stubby finger at her, his voice a gruff bark, not quite as loud as hers, still attempting to keep the conversation private from the man at the bar. "You don't need to swear at me! I seem to remember this was my idea, Kitten," he gets to his feet and takes his desperate, sobbing lover in his arms, "And you know that I love you, and you know that I love that boy as if he's my very own. I was his scout leader for two years and I coached him at little league for goshsakes. I just want you to know that I'll support whatever decision you choose to do. I was just trying to make the point that you don't have to go through with this if you don't want to. I don't know what else to do though."

"It's just it's all of our money we've worked for together...and the hospital bills..." Her face pinches in at the corners as she faces the possibility that she might lose her son and her life savings all in the same short period of time. Claire slumps against the man she loves and after a few more moments of quiet sobbing, she relaxes, sniffs against the tears and the nasal drip and turns her face to look out the two-way at the man in the suit again, "I'm sorry I cursed at you honey, it's just, I mean, how the heck does Tom Pickle know this guy anyways?"

Whispering. Door slamming. Muffled, angry yelling. Silence. Still waiting. Patiently. Staring at bar. Staring at nothing. There are two extra large jars, each at least a foot and a half tall, with white metal lids near the cash register, right next to the black plastic container filled with slices of lemon, limes, cherries, and olives. Inside the first extra large jar, bunched together at the top are about two dozen hard boiled eggs; the sign that is scotch-taped to the front of the jar says that you can get SALTY HARDBOILED EGG'S $.25 OR 5/$1. Next to the eggs, in the second extra large jar, half floating and half suspended in the viscous jelly are cheerfully pink pickled pig's feet. The top of the bar is clean at first glance but upon closer inspection you can see streaks on the varnished surface left from the bar rag. Probably a mixture of pig foot coagulate and spilled Budweiser diluted in the grimy little bucket of gray water sitting on top of the sink next to the beer cooler. If you look close you can see little bits of gunk and crust packed into the seams where the fit and finish of the bar was off just a little bit. Probably not the most sanitary surface but undoubtedly cleaner than the floor. It could be argued though that the bar top itself had been subject to its fair share of boots, shoes, and bare feet, and therefore could be considered just as dirty as the floor. The biker gangs that swarm this town like locust in the summer encourage their skanks and bitches to dance on tables and bars and flash their tattoed, sagging tits to the boys as a sign of their devotion. The college girls having their twentyfirst birthday celebrations would end up here too, dancing to the cheering of the hockey team and usually just as topless, but with fewer tattoos. In either case though, if you were to drop a bite of your cheerfully pink pig foot in here, you should probably just chalk it up to a loss and move on with your meal. The five second rule does not apply here.


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