“How can an asshole with no redeeming social qualities whatsoever snag the woman of his dreams even though she’s way out of his league?”
I stared across the table at Jacob, and wondered out loud if that silly murder law was still in effect. The little smartass tried to cover up his laughter with a hand over his mouth, but I could see his shoulders shaking.
“Boy, take a good look at me. I’m sexy, funny, I have a couple dollars in my pocket, and I know how to treat her right.”
“Yeah, a couple dollars, like…two dollars. You’re sexy in a Shar-Pei kind of way.”
“So Baby’s an animal lover,” I said. “Just ’cause my birthday suit needs ironing and a few inches taken out ain’t no reason to be jealous.”
Jacob’s head flew backwards and laughter shot from his big mouth. I tried not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. He has one of those laughs they call infectious. Sort of like kennel cough, or the flu. He starts in, then everyone else catches it and coughs up a lung.
I watched his eyes scan the table, look up at me, then down at the table again. After all this time, I can almost read his mind.
“You touch that whiskey bottle and you’ll be wipin’ your ass with a hook the rest of your life.”
Jacob smirks. “I figure I’ll be wiping yours before long anyway.”
“Not for a while yet, boy,” He looked me in the eye, serious, and wise. I frowned at him, then rubbed my belly. “Okay, maybe sooner than I thought. Your mom’s chili may have gotten the best of me.” Another lungful of his air shoots into the chilly Colorado morning, the vapor barely visible in the purple light from the sunrise. He’s howling this time, looking at me and shaking his head from side to side while he holds his own belly.
Just as he gets it under control, I add “get the pressure washer from the shop. I’ll meet you in the bathroom.” He doubles over laughing so hard that he crumples to the porch deck, curled up into a little ball. I can’t help myself, ever, so I throw out one more cheap shot when he finally composes himself and looks up at me.
“What’s this?” I ask, gesturing at his body curled up on the deck, “the fecal position?”
Once again the adolescent humor cracks him up. He stopped laughing a time or two, wiped his eyes, then started in again. Finally, he sat up, leaned with his arms behind him for support, and looked at me with a familiar smirk.
“You’re a sick old man, old man.”
“You’re a sick young man, boa.”
Boa. That’s my nickname for all my male kin. I heard my great grandpa call my grandpa that once or twice, and I stole it from him. Him and Foghorn Leghorn, I guess.
Jacob is my great grandson. I don’t mean he’s a great kid that also happens to be my grandson, although he is. What I mean is, he’s my grandson Dale’s son.
I was sixty-one years old when that boa Jacob was born, and he’ll be sixteen soon. That makes me…let’s see, seven, carry the one, so I’ll be… older than dirt on his birthday. Oh, and we have the same birthday, too.
So anyway, Jacob called us in a panic. I should’ve known something was up because Baby — she’s my last, and favorite, of many, many wives — put the phone up to her ample breasts, as they say in crotch novels, and gave me That Look. You know That Look. The one where she turns her head just a bit to the side and, without saying a word out loud, you get the message that you’re fixin’ to die if you fuck up? That Look.
Now, I spent years trying to win Baby over, and she’s way above my league, just like Jacob said, too. I’m trying real hard to keep her. And, I’ve had more wives than most Mormon churches. So when she gave me That Look, I knew I had to keep my smart mouth shut and listen to the boa.
Seems Jacob lost a good friend of his to lung cancer. The first thing he thought of was me because I’ve smoked since my own birth, or so it seems. The kid was, of course, way younger than me — who isn’t, right? — and he’d never smoked a cigarette in his life. I had the sneaking suspicion that Jacob was going to nag me to quit smoking again, but it turned out he was scared that I was going to die any second now.
They say your mind is the first thing to go. Or maybe it’s the last. I can never remember. But I remember Jacob’s phone call like it was yesterday. That’s because it was, in fact, just yesterday.