The Chase

“Here you go stranger.” Tina sits a cold beer in front of me. “Get kind of thirsty with all the comings and goings around here, don’t you?”

“You got that right.” I had walked into this fine establishment thinking I’d drink a couple of cold brews, and grab a bite to eat. This day has not turned out as planned.

“Tina, I’ve been wondering about those sex stones that Tom has. Does he really think that the mayor’s wife will succumb to his advances with the use of his stones? What are they anyway? Oh, can I order a bacon cheeseburger? I think I should eat something.” Damned straight I need to eat something. I’ve got more beer in me than I’ve had in many, many years, and I can really use some help soaking up all the suds. Too late for the whiskey.

“No problem. Let me get that order in for you.” Tina walks away without giving me any clues as to what a sex stone might be, much less how Tambourine Tom got his name. Next time I’ll ask just one question at a time and wait for an answer before attempting to acquire too much information all at once.

I swivel on my stool and eye the mayor. It appears the man has dozed off, head cradled in his arms on the table. I guess if you’re the mayor you can do that. If asked, he’ll probably say it’s from all the work he has to do, but my guess it’s the whiskey that he’s been pouring down his throat. The way Tom was buying drinks it’s a wonder everyone in the place isn’t face down on the bar.

When I turn back to the beer sweating quietly on the white napkin on the bar in front of me I can’t help but notice that the mayor’s wife has returned to her seat at the far end of the room. She sips daintily from her glass and motions to Tina.

I sit here quietly contemplating my situation. I have a multitude of questions rattling around in my head. Things in this town are quite confusing to a stranger in the area. Or, most likely, it’s just the goings on in this bar.

“Come on up, Rod. I don’t think you can beat four fours.” Harry and Rod are still at it. They’re going to wear out the bar in front of them if they keep slamming those dice cups down like they do.

“Here you go, Stranger.” Tina sits a plate full of fries and the best looking burger I’ve seen in awhile in front of me. She reaches under the bar and pulls out a bottle of ketchup and some silverware. “Anything else I can get you?”

A leading question if I’ve ever heard one, but I choose to remain a gentleman. “Just some mustard. I like mustard on my fries.”

“Mustard? What kind of commie thing is that? Gotta go find some. Be right back.”

I pick up a fry and shove it unceremoniously into my mouth and begin chewing rapidly, almost spitting it out. Damn, those things are hot.

“Tom! Wait, Tom! I want to see your stones.” The mayor’s wife blows by me in a blur. She pushes through the front door like it isn’t even there. The racket she makes causes the mayor to stir ever so slightly, but it doesn’t wake him. Both Rod and Harry turn in time to watch the front door close behind the disappearing woman.

“Damn, it’s usually the other way around.” Tina sits a bottle of mustard in front of me, the kind of bottle designed to sit upside down so that the contents can be easily squirted out through the lid. She turns to make her way over to where the two dice players sit.

“Tina, wait. What do you mean it’s usually the other way around?” If I don’t get some answers I’m going to have to get out of here before confusion overtakes my sanity, of which I am quickly losing a grasp on.

“Well, Stranger, Tamby usually chases after Iris. After she’s had her fill she’ll turn up her nose, and march out of here like she’s the most important person in the world. He’ll bounce along beside her, hopping along like a little rat dog, begging her to stop long enough to get a good look at those sex stones of his. I almost feel sorry for the little guy.

“Harry, are you guys ready for another?” Tina reaches into the cooler and pulls out two more longnecks and meanders down to the center of the bar where Rod and Harry sit.

“See you later, Tina.” I look back to where the mayor has arisen from the dead and is trying to compose himself.

“Mayor, you be careful walking home. You know what happened last time you drank this much. If you want to wait a couple more hours I’ll see to it you get home safely and tucked in.”

What the hell is going on here? Does the lovely bartender have something going with the mayor? I don’t want to think about it. I squirt mustard over my fries and pick up my burger.

“Well, Stranger, how about you let me buy you a bee? Tina, deliver us a couple of drinks down this way. I’ll take my usual and bring this here man another cold one. He looks thirsty. I ain’t never seen anyone put mustard on their fries. Where’d you learn that from?”

The mayor is making himself comfortable on the barstool on my right. Not more than two minutes ago I would have bet that the man was down for the count. “Looks like Tom might have struck it lucky for a change. I would have given up by now.”

“Mayor, you did your time chasing after her.” Tina was sitting a cold beer in front of me, next to the one that I have just barely began drinking. The glass full of amber liquid she sits in front of the mayor looks ominous.