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Out for a Drink

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Cassidy is always up for a drink, especially when someone else is buying. When Jesse invites him to the roadhouse on Friday night, he doesn't think twice about it. When Jesse says, "I've been looking forward to this all week", he chalks the comment up to the fact that the guy has hang-ups and only has the occasional nip instead of staying righteously hammered.

They're fairly early. The culchies in these parts are probably still at home washing of the dust of their nine-to-five lives and changing into their finest Walmart glad rags. When he says as much to his companion, Jesse just smiles

It's a mischievous smile, and the glint in his dark eyes hints that he's up to no good. "I wanted to make sure I'd have a good seat."

Uh-huh. To Cassidy, that sounds like he's expecting something to happen, something more interesting that the usual braggadocio and brawls. "So I take it the circus is coming to town?"

For a man of God, Jesse certainly has a devilish grin. "It's been a slow week," he says obliquely, and asks for a bowl of chili and a beer when the waitress stops by their booth.

Cassidy orders whiskey--it's Jesse's tab, after all--and sips it slowly, wondering what the preacher is up to.

He's on his second when he swallows the wrong way and chokes for a minute. No one notices; they're too busy gaping at the figure at the bar. Jesse has paused in his chili consumption, keeping a mostly straight face as the scene plays out.

The guy who just entered the bar and demanded a beer is a beefy six-footer with a five o'clock shadow and mutton-chop whiskers the likes of which Cassidy hasn't seen since the 1970's. He's wrestled himself into--it's not even a kilt, it's a plaid skirt more suitable for a Catholic schoolgirl. It reveals acres of well-forested torso, legs shaggy as a sheep, and it's about an inch and a half away from showing what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

"Oh you tricky bastard," Cassidy breathes. "You did your brainwashing thing to him, didn't you?"

"Would I do a thing like that?" Jesse's tone is playful. "His wife's favorite movie is 'Braveheart', and Mr. Kowalczyk has decided to prove that anything Mel Gibson can do, he can do better."

"Shouldn't he be painted blue?"

"Damn, I knew I forgot something."

The Polish Scot is posing for pictures at the bar, his friends aiming their phones at him and chuckling.

"Think he'll go viral?"

"Absolutely. With the hashtag 'Eat your heart out, Mel Gibson'."

Cassidy knocks back the rest of his drink. Just as well, because the next person in the door is also male and making no attempt to be feminine in the clinging pink-flowered dress he's wearing.

"What's the story?" he asks Jesse as the impromptu paparazzi begin photographing the newcomer, too. "He wants to be Barbra Streisand when he grows up?"

"He's got four kids, and he bitches about how much weight his wife has put on. She looks a helluva lot better in that dress than he does. I think the pictures will prove who wore it better."

Too funny. Cassidy waves for another whiskey. He's starting to get a nice little buzz, and he wonders who else is going to show up.

"Aha. Miss McCurdy. She's been teaching high school English since Carter was in the White House."

The woman in question is 50-something, a solid 250 pounds, and Cassidy would bet she's never been in here before in her life. Her blue and grey striped dress hangs almost to her cankles.

She walks serenely past the fashion show at the bar, sets a chair beside the pool table and ascends to the green felt top like she's going on stage.

All those years of making herself heard to s classroom of students has giving Miss McCurdy quite s set of pipes. She's singing, "I'm on top of the world, looking down on creation. And the only explainable I can find--"

The dress fastens down the front--snaps, not buttons, they discover as she rips it open to reveal epic amounts of red and black lace unmentionables.

There are whoops from the other patrons, and some smart-ass hollers "The Scarlet Letter!"

Jess expels a mouthful of beer. "Lord God. I did not tell her to do that."

A man approaches the pool table. He's a little tubby himself, balding, about the same age as Miss McCurdy, neatly dressed in a navy polo shirt and grey Dockers. He holds out a hand to her, and she stops singing. For the first time, she looks uncertain, but he gives her a little nod, It's okay.

She steps down to the chair, then the bloke wraps his arms around her thighs and drapes her over his shoulder. He staggers a bit under her bulk as he makes for the door, but he's smiling.

"Young Lochinvar rode out of the West!" Miss McCurdy cries as the door closes behind them.

"Once an English teacher, always an English teacher," Jesse says. "Damn. That's something I'll never be able to unsee."

"What the hell?"

That guy who carried her off? Mr. Carson. Teaches shop. Been crushing on Patty McCurdy since his wife left him. Maybe this way, she'll have better things to do than assign book reports on 'The Red Badge of Courage' or 'Moby'-goddamn-'Dick'"

"Matchmaking? You old softie, you."

Jesse makes a noise that indicates he's not taking credit for that much altruism. "Getting laid should do her good."

"And those two?"

The plaid skirt and pink dress are dancing together--a little awkwardly, since they're both trying to lead. Plaid skirt finally decides anything Ginger Rodgers can do, so can he. He isn't doing too badly until his partner tries to dip him backward and drops him flat on his back. He goes sprawling, the skirt goes up, and that answers that question.

"Speaking of the great white dick...". Jesse smirks.

"I think you're gonna break the Internet," Cassidy comments, wheezing with laughter.

The front door swings open again, admitting a familiar face.

"There you are!" Tulip swoops down next to Jesse. "I hope you didn't start the party without me." When the waitress comes by, she says, "Drink up, boys. I'm buying."

As she's rummaging in her purse, Cassidy glances at Jesse, who winks. "Would I do a thing like that?"

..