“Can you imagine the first bastard to ever eat an egg?” This is Big Larry talking. Talking with a mouth full of omelette. “All those other cavemen must have looked at him like he’d lost it.”
Gil isn’t at all sure what Big Larry’s getting at. “I’m not at all sure what you’re getting at,” he says.
“Listen kid, what in the name of fuck would compel a person to eat cooked chicken menstruation?” A string of American cheese stretches from the corner of Big Larry’s mouth to his chin. One hand holding a fork, the other stretched across the pleather booth like he’s cradling an invisible date. The waitress approaches and Big Larry waves her off before she can speak. Doesn’t even look at her, just waves her off. “Because that’s all an egg is, a goddamn chicken period. But some nut decided to eat one, figured it was tasty, now we call them eggs. Much more appetizing.”
Across the table Gil nurses a cup of black coffee. Dark, like his prospects. Bitter, like Gil himself. “I guess you got a point.”
“Of course I have a point,” Big Larry says. “But I haven’t gotten to it yet. Just listen, pollen is nothing but tree jizz. I’m telling you kid, that’s exactly what it is. But nobody calls it that. Can you imagine people walking around all spring and bitching ‘This damn Elm cum is making me sneeze.’ That would never fly. So we call it pollen. Now, do you get my point?”
Gil has no fucking idea what Big Larry is talking about. But he doesn’t say as much. Gil, he just scratches at his two-day stubble and stares Big Larry straight in the eyes. All this, trying his damnedest to come off as thoughtful.
“Listen Kid,” Big Larry says. “What I’m trying to get across is, in this life you’ve got two choices. Either you look at things the way you want them to be or you look at things the way they are. Either you choose to be right or you choose to be happy.”
* * *
The omelette, gone. Gil, on his third cup of coffee. “I got a question,” he says. “You can’t be more than five foot nine, a buck forty. So why’s everyone call you Big Larry?”
Big Larry pats his not-so-big belly and says, “Kid, once was a time my reputation preceded me. My reputation, let’s say it entered the room about ten inches before I did. You get my point?”
“I get it, yeah,” Gil says. And standing up, he chokes down the last of his stale coffee, grimaces at the taste and says, “Yeah, I get it. But there’s places I gotta be. Get my point?”
“Your point is you’re a broke, shit-eating, ingrate,” Big Larry snaps. “So sit down and listen up. Sit down, and thank me for the three cups of joe I bought you. Listen up, and maybe you won’t be so goddamn broke this time tomorrow.”
To save a shred of pride, Gil stares right back at Big Larry. He stares for a beat, but there isn’t any doubt who’s in control here. There isn’t any doubt Gil’s going to sit back down. The waitress approaches and this time it’s Gil who waves her off before she can speak. “Okay,” he says. “But I don’t wanna hear no more about any tree busting its load.”
“Kid,” Big Larry says. “I can’t spit out a window without hitting someone you owe money to. Of this you’d have to agree.” Gil nods. “What I have for you is a proposition. Do what I ask, you’ll be rewarded. Will it be enough to wipe out your debts? No Gil, no it won’t. Will it be enough to keep your knee out of a cast for the next couple weeks? I would think so.”
“Okay,” Gil says. “Let’s hear it.”
* * *
“Right now Kid, right now relations between Missus Big Larry and myself are a shambles. We kept the flame burning longer than most, but right now, right now the connection just isn’t there. And you know, these days they'll stick a prenup in your Happy Meal. But back when the Missus and I tied the knot, wasn’t the case.”
“Jesus, man,” Gil says. And his eyes are so wide an onlooker would swear they’re Q-balls. The waitress approaches and both men wave her off before she can speak. “I don’t know what you heard about me but no, man. No. I won’t kill your wife.”
Big Larry’s head flings back so hard it bounces off the pleather cushions and he laughs something awful. Sounds like smokers cough. “Kid, you’re alright,” he manages before another laughing spell.
“Listen,” Big Larry says finally. “I can’t remember the last time the Missus and I had relations and I didn’t pretend she was someone else entirely. No different than masturbating really, if you had a right hand always bitching about the toilet seat being up.”
And while Gil is relieved that murder was not the deal to be brokered, he’s also a little disappointed. When he figured Big Larry was setting up a hit, it was the only time all evening Gil felt they were on the same page. Everything said before and since may just as well have been Greek.
“Here’s the point kid, I can’t divorce my wife on account of having no prenup. I can’t kill her on account of me not being a complete prick. What I’ve got to do is appease the lady. Keep her off my case. Keep her satisfied.” Big Larry winks a big wink. “However, as you might assume, half a lifetime married to a fellow with my reputation, Missus Big Larry has certain standards. But Gil, you have quite a reputation yourself.”
“So, you’re asking me to bone your lady?” Gil says, totally tactful. “And you’re gonna give me coin to do it?”
“Yeah Kid, that’s the offer,” Big Larry sighs. “Now, you can look at this two ways. Either you can look at this the way you want it to be. And then, you’re doing me a favor. Or you can look at this the way it is. And then, you’re nothing but a whore. Two choices kid, be happy or be right.”
For the first time all evening, Gil grins. “I don’t care much about being happy or being right. The way I see it, in this life the only choice I have is to get paid.”
“Kid,” says Big Larry. “We can shake on that.”