Arnie flexed his fist and looked at it as he continued his yarn for his captivated buddies. “I told him if he didn’t shut his piehole I was going to put this right into it for him.” He looked around and Steve and Frank nodded and muttered their approval.
Arnie, taking a sip of his Guinness, nodded along with them and went on. “He puffed himself up and gave me the evils, but I could see he wasn’t going to do anything. He knew I could kick his ass, he did.”
Frank jabbed his finger at Arnie. “Damn right he did!” He slapped Arnie on the back. “You’re the man, Arnie. You’d never take any shit, and that’s only right. Did you punch his lights out?”
Arnie took another swig and wiped his mouth. “Naw, everybody could see he didn’t have anything to bring. I made my point, you know?”
The others nodded their assent as Arnie’s eyes darted among them, looking for any tells. “Anyway, I could have, and he knew it and I knew it, and so did everyone else.” He put his glass down hard on the bar for emphasis. There were grunts of approval all around.
Frank rubbed his jaw, looking thoughtful. “That reminds me of the time this guy was eyeing up my girlfriend, you remember Jeannie, at a football game. I saw him looking, you know? I didn’t think much of it, she is hot after all. But when I went to get some beer and a couple of dogs I came back and he was talking to her!”
Steve growled his disapproval. “What an asshole! What did you do?”
“Well, I went over and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. He said he was just being friendly, can you believe that? I told him to get back to his seat or i’d kick his ass.”
Arnie grunted and high-fived Frank. “You gotta keep those horn dogs in line, man.”
“So, what did he say?” Steve was leaning over his beer in anticipation.
“Well, he said there was no reason to get agro and he left, that’s what. He knew damn well i’d let him have it, you bet.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “Jeannie was kinda pissed off, but you know how women are.”
Arnie rolled his eyes, Steve just shook his head. “Yeah, what are you gonna do?”
Frank and Arnie were looking at Steve and he didn’t need any further prompting. “Yeah, a couple of months ago this guy at the airport tried to cut me off in the check in line, you know? Man, I hate it when that happens. Acted like he was there before me. I stepped in front of him and he got all bent out of shape. I put my finger in his chest and told him he didn’t want to mess with me. He tried to grab my collar and I slapped his hand away and told him if he touched me again i’d put him the trash can.”
Arnie was impressed. “Wow, then what happened?”
“Oh, a security guard came over and told us to chill out. The guy acted like I was lucky, but he knew the score.”
Frank tipped his glass at Steve. “Damn right!”
The Friday night sessions at The Dirty Dog Saloon had become a tradition since the boys were all unattached the last few months and with Guinness on tap and the easy camraderie of many years of friendship they really didn’t need much else. They moved to the pool table and started a game.
The Guinness was soon paired with shots of Jack Daniels and the evening was going well. Arnie kept looking at Steve, who seemed distracted. When Steve went to the bathroom Arnie said to Frank, “Hey, you notice something seems to be up with Steve?”
“Yeah, something’s on his mind. I think he misses his old girlfriend or something.”
When Steve came back he took his next shot and then put his cue down. “Listen guys, I just wanna say something, and I don’t know why, but I don’t want you thinking…well, you know, that i’m an asshole or anything.” He picked the cue back up and held it as if trying to hide behind it. “It’s just that, well, I didn’t really get into it with that guy at the airport.” He downed a shot of Jack. “He tried to cut me off and I just gave him a dirty look.” He looked back and forth between Arnie and Frank, looking uncomfortable. “I mean, I would have let him have it. I would.” He trailed off and called the waitress over for another round.
Frank and Arnie muttered their understanding, but the mood had shifted. A couple of shots and beers later Arnie spoke up. “Well, listen guys, you know how it is. We’re macho, right? I mean, we can handle ourselves.” Nods of approval. “I didn’t really tell that guy to shut his piehole.” He studied his next shot and didn’t look up. Steve and Frank waited. “Well, what I mean is, I didn’t have to, right?”
The pool game ended and they drifted back to the bar. Frank looked reflective and then blurted out, “Oh for Christ’s sakes, I didn’t really care about that guy eyeing up Jeannie, I mean, i’m a real man, you know?”
Steve and Arnie didn’t say anything. “Hey, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have let him have it.”
A couple of minutes of small talk later Arnie stood up and reached for his jacket. “Guys, i’m going fishing tomorrow. Got an early wakeup call, I better hit it.” The other two seemed relieved and they all said their goodbyes and headed out the door. They went their separate ways, but each looked back at the others as they went. The Friday evenings at The Dirty Dog were no more.