PAW AND ORDER: Chapter 1, Excerpt 3
We hopped out of the Porsche—me actually hopping, Bernie using the door—and walked toward Ti-Pierre’s Cajun BBQ. They had a deck on one side, so that was where we headed, restaurant decks usually being pretty welcoming to me and my kind. We took the last empty table—all the others occupied by biker guys and gals—and Bernie ordered: beer for him, water for me, ribs and brisket to share. A biker at the next table leaned toward us.
“That your Porsche out there?”
Bernie nodded. I’d been about to lie down in the shade under the table; instead I sat up nice and straight.
The biker leaned a little closer, one of those dudes with a neck thicker than his head, not a look that shows humans at their best, in my opinion. “Piece of crap,” he said. He had the most interesting breath I’d smelled in a long time, a rich mix of onions, garlic, pulled pork, whiskey, pot, cocaine, rotten teeth, and strawberry ice cream.
“This is America,” Bernie said. “You’re welcome to your opinion.”
The biker dude turned to the biker gal beside him. Hey! She had the same kind of neck, thicker than her head. Had I ever seen that on a woman before? I was trying to remember when the biker dude spoke in a high little voice. “You’re welcome to your opinion.” The biker gal thought that was funny. So did a bunch of the other bikers, all of them now looking our way. “My point exactly, pretty boy,” the biker said, now back to his normal voice, rough and loud. “This. Is. America.”
Pretty boy? Was he agreeing with me that Bernie had the best face in the world? I went back and forth on that. Meanwhile, the biker dude was saying, “Your piece of crap ride ain’t American. Makin’ you a traitor, as well as a sexual deviator.”
It got very quiet out on the deck at Ti-Pierre’s Cajun BBQ, so when Bernie spoke every word was clear. “You’re embarrassing yourself,” he said.
It got even quieter. I heard the sounds of chairs being pushed back a bit and feet getting gathered underneath dudes, dudes maybe planning to rise in a hurry.
The thick-necked biker’s face was real red now and his nostrils had opened up a surprising amount, reminding me of a bull I came across once in a corral I’d regretted entering almost immediately. “Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll give you a choice. I can either beat the shit outta you here and now—”
“Yeah, do that, Ferdie,” called someone from another table.
“—or you can put those airy-fairy wheels of yours up against me and my Harley, say from here to the Pont Greve Bridge and back.” He took out a fat wad, counted out some bills, and slapped them on our table. “A thousand bucks says you lose.”
Another biker dropped in more money. “Make that two grand.”
And one more biker. “Three.”
Meaning there was a serious pile of money on the table, how much exactly I’ll leave to you, since I don’t go past two. I had the feeling that we hadn’t walked away with a whole lot of green on the Ralph Boutette case, although the details wouldn’t come. Something about emergency car repairs? Maybe. But none of that mattered now. All that mattered was us latching on to that pile of money.
Bernie leaned back in his chair, looking real relaxed, unlike everyone else on the deck. But that was Bernie! “I’m mighty tempted, Ferdie,” he said. “But you’re too drunk to drive.”
– coming Aug. 5; now available for preorder.
– welcome Sallie, in various poses; Cashew, please reload.
Tonight, 6:30 PM. Eight Cousins Books Falmouth Mass.: Spence and PAW AND ORDER!
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