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By Jeffrey Bennett, Editor
|Jeffrey Bennett, Editor|
Old Weatherbys & 80 year old Winchesters - the stories, which make grown men cry.
When my family and I relocated from the mountains of Arizona to the Valley of the
Scum Sun 12 years ago – we only had one requirement of our house – it had to have a swimming pool. Living in the Arizona desert can have its rewards – even while roasting yourazz in 120 degree brain or egg scrambling temperatures. This is just once such story.
I’m down at Cheekie’s Café one Friday for breakfast (my favorite cholesterol hole) chewin’ the fat (no pun intended) with Charlie and Deb, when this guy walks in. It seems that this is his favorite place to eat on Friday’s as well (well, favorite may be stretching it a little). He grabs a copy of the Arizona Repugnant on his way to the booth, sits his azz down on one of the virgin vinyl benches, rifles through the paper (which serves as a bird cage liner in our house) and heads right for section D (for dummies) the Sports Section! Then the waitress approaches him….
She asks him what he’d like to drink and he probably asked for herbal iced tea – or something like that. As she returns to the drink station to retrieve his liquid libation – the schmuck decides that he doesn’t like his booth – so he gets up and locates another – and begins to mess it up as well. At this point it’s no big deal – I mean the joint ain’t exactly jumping – if ya know what I mean.
Nothing Could be Finer Than to Eat at Cheekie’s Diner
The first thing you need to understand is that this place is a diner – you know the kind of place – where the eggs are easy and so are some of the waitresses. Coffee is fifty cents all the time, and you’ve got your usual dogs & burgers, hot roast beef or turkey sandwiches (or cold ones if you prefer), Greek Chef’s Salads, soup and san specials (Thursday night’s include all-you-kin-eat B*B*Q ribs – Friday fish fry). The ketchup & mustard are on the table in little squeeze bottles along with old fashioned cups and saucers. No complaints here – just the facts – but the food is affordable and damned good – simple food from good folks who are just tryin’ to make a livin’ doing what they know – and I spent the first dollar they ever made in this place.
Got a Couple of Hard-boiled Eggs?
Charlie and Deb are driving to work one morning – coming down 32nd Street heading south – slowed down with turn signal on – and WHAM! Some Gonzalez – working for the Public Fool System is tooling along in the same lane doing about 60 and noticing nothing (probably having fantasies of a night with JLo) – smacks the back of their car. Whiplash city for Deb and lots of pain for Charlie! The joint opens late – cops all over the place – no habla – no wanna – the usual B.S. sob stories from the perp. Yet with weeks of therapy Deb is doing o.k. – not so Charlie. There are days when the place doesn’t get opened – I’m forced to suck up a couple of Egg McPukins on Mexican Muffins – ”hold the cheese please!” One morning I made it in to Cheekie’s to eat and Charlie looked like death – warmed over. He was yellow as can be and I knew something was wrong. Within hours he was on the V.A Hospital. It turns out that he was one damned lucky dude – during the accident, his liver had been lacerated and had not shown up in any of the preliminary exam. You ever heard the term, ”physician, heal thyself.”? Well, in this case the cook almost cooked his goose. Surgery first, then recovery! Lot’s of regulars came in to help out a friend and the joint stayed open – occasionally. For awhile it became hard to know whether they would be able to stay open or not. Plus the lawyers for the school was trying to pressure for a quick settlement. Figures – they get paid big retainers to screw the little guy.
As of this writing – over a year later – this still hasn’t been settled – and it’s been a tough row to hoe (that’s not one of the waitresses). It was during this time that I needed to do something about my pool. Enter Tom…
Do You have any Gray Poop On?
After a few years in the sweltering heat, and after feeding your swimming pool with enough chemical to blow up Iraq or anywhere else that some lame-brained Cummander in Cheat deems is worth bombing – the darn things need some maintenance. They need to be drained, resurfaced or acid washed, replace the cleaning heads then refilled. By the time you have completed the process (draining), you wind up using enough water to float half of Mexico City northward – legally! This year the problems of service had become too much for us too handle – the surface of the pool itself was becoming stained from calcium and other build-ups that we figured we had need of a professional to care for the major service.
It turns out that Mr. Table Hopper’s name is Tom – and he owns a swimming pool repair and maintenance operation - Tom’s Pool Service (that’s original). Not being the type to interrupt a movie star’s lunch for an autograph, I grabbed one of Tom’s business cards off of the counter and figured that I would call him later on. I did – and he called back and came over the following Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. sharp! Tom ran some chemical tests on the water and we discussed the various options, which were available to me. He suggested that the pool did not need a complete acid wash, but a diluted one on the upper surfaces of the pool, but that it was still too cool to do the work at that time and we should wait until the weather was holding at about 70 degrees. (Alarms should have gone up there – but what the hey – he’s a pro – right?). He gave me an approximate price, which I felt was reasonable and we walked back to his truck. To paraphrase an old song by Presley, ”that’s when the bullshit begins!” He bragged about his punctuality - how he always kept his appointments and that this was amongst the reasons why he maintained his customer base year after year. Yeah, Tom was a pro all right – a prophylactic! From that day on his story and excuses bounced around like a rubber - uh – ball. The days got longer and hotter – and da bum never showed up again – in fact he avoided Cheekie’s for awhile – knowing that I ate there almost daily. To really make things bad – the pool needed work badly and it turns out that this type of maintenance should always be done during cooler temperatures – and I now was approaching May – too damned hot in Phoenix! Exit Tom….
Like a Rubber Ball I’ll Come Bouncing Back to You!
A couple of more months go by and Charlie still isn’t feeling too hot. One Friday, Senora and Senorita Brasilia come waltzing into Cheekie’s with a wad of cash and offer to buy the place. Charlie ain’t no dummy and he still isn’t doing so well so he grabs his wife and the cash and disappears – much to the dismay of his regulars. Ever eat Brazilian rice for breakfast? Neither did too many other folks cause the joint was now a ghost town. Cheekie’s ain’t cheekie without Cheekie! A few more months go by – Charlie (in case you haven’t figured it out by now, Charlie is Cheekie) is completely recovered and the Brazilian bimbos (who have no personality and can’t keep the customers) call Charlie and say, ”Dees plaze don gotno beeezness for us. We donwanna to be here no more. Dojoowanna buy thee reestorant bach?”
Now understand, Charlie is Greek and he isn’t going to take it in the – uh - backside – if you know what I mean – so he buys the place back – for pennies on the Drachma. Hot dog! I’m back in breakfast! Re-enter Tom – sort of…
A Cup of Joe and a Hot Wax
The only thing that used to drive me crazy at Cheekie’s was this bottled in blonde bimbo that used to hang around the place – all the time. The café was located in one of these dime-a-dozen strip malls that you see in every city in the country. This one had a real estate joint, a brokerage office, a cosmetic retail outlet (which fronted as an MLM place) a ski & snowboard rental and travel office (only open during the snow season), which booked ski and snow-boarding trips to Utah and Colorado, a chiropracter, a finance company, a hairstyle place owned and operated by a couple of
gays guys of the third persuasion and one of these places that did machine sun tanning, french nails (manicures) and hot waxes.
Blondie ‘worked’ at the hot wax tables just long enough to make a few bucks for blow (cocaine) and crack. The rest of the time she was hanging out at Cheekie’s as if she owned the joint. Short skirts and nuthin’ on underneath ‘em. You knew it because she made sure you did.
When Charlie took the place back over, it took awhile for the old regulars to find him again – little by little… But while he was waiting for the business to return, Deb needed to go to work elsewhere – just to keep things going. Charlie needed a waitress and one day the Lord provided one. A local minister who ate there regularly came in with an attractive, quiet nice young woman. The minister told Charlie the gal's story – nice Christian gal who needed the work – as she was working her way through a local Bible College. She was hired right away and began work the next day. Within a week, we found out what her methodology of ‘working’ was – and there was nothing Christian about it. Got any stones anyone? Say bye-bye! Enter Blondie…
Charlie was in a pinch – he couldn’t do it all by itself, Deb was working for a large furniture store in the accounting department, their daughter was about to get hitched and Charlie was on his own. Miss Hot Wax apparently had had a falling out with the owner of the salon down the hall – something about money – but she slanted the story to make herself out to be the victim. Tweakers have a tendency to be good story tellers – and I don’t mean Mother Goose Nursery rhymes. Blondie was a friend of Deb’s – so the bimbo was hired – although she had never waited tables before. She was a body – but you never quite knew when she was going to roll out of bed in the morning – or with whom. Not the most reliable of sorts – but at least pleasant with the customers. But Tom was still an azz hole.
The Suns of August
Frankly, business just hasn’t rebounded for Charlie since he took the place back. August is the month when too many folk are on vacation – the dog days of summer for a guy who does a lot of business with school marms (ironically from the same district as the one that the demolition driver works for) and students. Of course, no business from the liberal yuppie cum hippie wanna-bees who support the ski chalet – they're still closed ‘til October – so Charlie decides to close for the month of August. (Probably not the wisest of moves.)
Now I like Charlie and Deb – and I like eating at this place. You make a few friends, who you see and shoot the breeze with several times a week, so you enjoy the company. September rolls around and Charlie reopens the doors. Advertising is running and the joint is hopping on Thursday and Friday nights – he’s turning folks away as he sells out of ribs and fish. Tom still comes in for lunch on Friday afternoon – but he is strange. This guy seems to think that the café is there just for him. Every week it’s the same old routine: get the newspaper, pick a booth, sit down – spread out, order a drink – and then move to another booth. ”Hey Charlie, got any bleu cheese dressing? How about some Gray Poop On? Got a couple of hard-boiled eggs?” This guy never orders off the menu – he just likes to jerk Charlie around. If Charlie does have one of the items Tom usually jerks his chain over – Tom won’t be in the mood for it. He’s almost as bad as the Jehovah’s Witness guy that used to come around and expect to get a finder’s fee for bringing in his church associates (who never tipped). I wonder if he knocked on Charlie’s door before he entered. Probably not – they’re usually pretty pushy.
Now, my son and I eat at Cheekie’s a lot and on Friday’s, we’re usually there when Tom shows up for his dog and puny show. Frankly, he’s a pompous ass, who doesn’t tip the servers – ever – not even the bimbo! I know that Tom is aware of me because he has asked Charlie many times if I still come in to eat – but the jerk never did call me back – and this story gets even better.
School’s back in session, I’m still doing the web-site and the daily radio program – but frankly – I’m getting tired. I can not continue the pace and badly need a distraction from my eighteen to twenty hour days. Louis has been a God-send to me in the continuation and development of The Federal Observer - so I do two things – offer my son’s help to Charlie in the café, and offer my own as well. My boy graduated from the Public Fool System last June, but wants to work hard for a year before continuing on with some form of education – but this hasn’t been a banner year for employment in the good-ol’ u.s. of A. So Charlie needs my son as much as Mark needs Charlie. The place is kind of laid back so you don’t need the experience of DelMonico’s in New York. And Mark was just what the doctor ordered.
My role in this? Thirty years ago, I was known as ‘Spoon’ – for those of you who spent time in country” - you’ll need no explanation – as for the rest of you – go figure it out. I had spent many years in the food service and restaurant business and to this day, really enjoy cooking. But I never could cook small! Soups, sauces (killer spaghetti sauce), dressings, chili and all the other stuff needed in a place like Cheekie’s. Don’t want any money – just the chance to help out and assist Charlie in getting back on his feet. And then came Tom… and the Hot Wax Mama – she must have fallen through the crack! No – they weren’t together.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
My son had been working at Cheekie’s for a couple of weeks – making a good bit of change each day as a waiter. It’s good for him as he’s learning how to deal with the public – and making a few bucks along with the deal – I mean, it sure beats tapping the First National Bank of Dad! One morning, Miss Hot Wax strolls in – as if she’s never been away - put on an apron and began working the tables. At first Charlie didn’t care because after all – the place was busy and she did have a way with the customers. Shortly thereafter, after the best week Charlie had experienced since reopening, in the wee small hours of the morning, a group of local thugs broke into the place – through the roof, from where they meticulously broke through walls from business to business – causing damage to each store and taking what they would. The night before, Blondie had helped close the café. For some strange reason, Charlie had chosen to leave the day’s receipts in the register. You’ve got the picture - the register was hit for about $800.00. When everyone showed up to work the next morning, Blondie (who was scheduled to work) was there right along with the rest of us and the police. I’ll not take the time to render the rest of that story – but suffice it to say – she hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Duh!
Now, Mr. Personality knows I’m working there – but do you think he’ll even acknowledge me? He knows who I am – but he just chooses to ignore me. He doesn’t even look my way. Oh well, maybe he’s just embarrassed by his lack of professionalism.
The Guns of September
Well, you’ve now heard the set-up – and you now deserve the end of this rather lengthy disorientation (spelling intentional).
When Tom came in on Friday – it was the usual. But we weren’t serving any Gray Poop On nor Bleu Cheese dressing – but we just happened to have two hard-boiled eggs. Do you think that he would order off the menu? Well – sort of. We had an egg salad sandwich on the menu-board today – but he didn’t want one sandwich – he ordered one and a half. Go figure.
But that is where the tale of Tom gets interesting. Now I understand why he really didn’t want to service my pool – there was no long-term return in it for him. He couldn’t just waltz in and hit me with his typical Scottsdale and Paradise Valley prices.
It seems that a customer of his kicked the old bucket a couple of weeks ago – a wealthy doctah in Scottsdale. Upon going to service the pool this past Thursday, the widow called Tom into the house, whereupon she took Tom into her deceased husbands study because she said that she needed some advice. The advice? The Doctah, it seems, had a collection of old rifles and handguns – Colts’s, Ruger’s, S&W’s, two 1930’s Winchesters, a Weatherby, a couple of British made shotguns and who knows what else. Tom hasn’t catalogued them all yet. The kicker? Tom was told that if he didn’t want them – she was going to call the police and have them all picked up and destroyed. I’m sure that Tom just about choked on his herbal tea and sprouts lunch at such an offer – but he took them all on the spot.
Other than what I have shared with you this day, I don’t know much about Tom – other than his obnoxious demanding eating habits and his people skills – but maybe there is hope for this world after all, when a guy like him refuses to allow beautiful old collectable firearms to fall into the wrong hands – those of the police and the globalist, anti-gun crowd – who, as modern history has shown, would just crush ‘em or melt ‘em all down – or steal ‘em for their own personal use. Of course, knowing Tom – he’s probably already sold them to some enthusiast or dealer for a handsome profit.
Jeez, give me a break – I’ll fix you up with egg salad – for life - but Tom - you're still an azz hole!
Without Apology I am,