David Foulds' character braces himself for an evening of feigned politeness when his wife's friends drop by.
"For the eight hundredth time, Mags, you know I don't like the Lewises." I was setting a table for four when I really wanted to be setting it for two. Make that one.
"They're not so bad," Mags said as she entered the room holding a giant pitcher of Sangria. I looked at it and rolled my eyes. Trevor was bad enough with his tobacco chewing and talk of the rodeo, but with a glass or two of this toxic concoction that Mags makes up, which is in my estimation at least fifty percent vodka, his wife Danny becomes swiftly unbearable. First she starts talking politics; she's a right-winger, one of those fundamentalist nut-jobs who says that God's gonna come down and cast us all to Hell for being sinners. And then after the second glass she inevitably starts talking about sex, and then on her third glass she corners me somehow and makes a pass at me. She tried to kiss me once; I never told Mags about it.
Mags set the Sangria down on the coffee table with two glasses, sat down on the couch next to me and lit a cigarette, then crossed her legs, took a big drag and blew a big dark cloud into the dusty California sunlight. She had decorated the place fairly well, considering what she had to work with. She loved art, and I loved The Beatles, and so that was pretty much our motif. Mondrian on one wall, John, Paul, Ringo and George on the other.
"Just be nice," she said, after she had cleared her lungs of smoke.
"When am I ever not nice?" I said.
"Oh, I know that," she said and leaned over and pecked me on the cheek. "Danny means the world to me and I want you to get along."
I just nodded my usual nod and then got up and put on a record. It was "The Long and Winding Road." It was Mags' least favorite Beatles tune and I was feeling scrappy. She grumbled to herself, something like, "I hate that song, you know that," and got up and went into the kitchen. I sat back down on the couch and stretched out and enjoyed a few moments to myself before the Lewises arrived.
But only halfway through the song, we got a buzz from the gate. I quickly popped out back to smoke a quick bowl before they got here. Mags had her booze, I had my pot; we all had a way of making it through life.
I sat back down in the living room in my easy chair and lit a pipe. I liked the cherry tobacco. It burned hot, and it was the best flavor because of it, I always thought.
Trevor entered wearing what appeared to be a brand new cowboy hat. I tried to stifle my disgust and put on a grin. I rose slowly and shook his hand, offered him a cold Budweiser. He liked that shitty American stuff, which was fine, left more Guinness for me. He took the beer, then opened up the cabinet, pulled out the trash can and spit a big thick wad of saliva soaked chewing tobacco into it. I looked away, my stomach reeling with the smell and look of it and I stared at a fly stuck buzzing between the screen and the window. It'd be dead soon, I thought.
We retired to the living area where Mags and Danny had started in on the Sangria. Trevor started telling me all about how the truck was running, and I just didn't give a goddamn. All I could think of was how much gas the son of a bitch was using and how much pollution he was spewing into the air using it. Then he lifted up his right leg and farted, and my god wasn't that charming. He grabbed another beer from the fridge and then another, and we got the barbeque out back going with some burgers and hot dogs. The conversation had not gotten any better, but I had also had a few beers so it was at least turning tolerable. I tried to once again convince him that the Beatles were the best band ever, and he just shook his head and said, "No, Alabama is by far the best band that ever lived." He kept grabbing beers and was starting to garble his words, and then he only took a few bites of his burger and passed on the hot dogs. Mags and Danny were oddly quiet while we were eating, and later on, through the window, I thought I saw Mags putting her arm around Danny and it looked like maybe Danny was crying.
"Maybe you should ease up a bit," I said, motioning to his beer.
"Oh, you think so, huh?" he said, gritting his teeth. He squared on me and was red in the face. His body was shuddering glass, and it was about to shatter. He looked away and took another big gulp of his beer. Then he turned back and punched me dead in the face.
I fell to the ground, dizzy, spun, spitting thick blood through my teeth. When I could focus, I could see that he too was lying on the ground, but I couldn't recall hitting him. I spit out some more blood and got up to my knees. I saw that he was curled up in the fetal position, just crying and crying.
We sobered him up with some coffee, and he refused to look at anyone in the face. We called them a cab and they went home by nine o'clock. I crawled into bed with Mags and put my arm around her. She pulled me close and sighed.
They must have come back and got their car sometime the next day. It was there for a while, and then it was gone. They haven't been back. It's been seven years and we haven't seen them since.