It was maybe twenty minutes later that he decided to take a leak. He started to pick up his money, and he realized that some of it was gone. He wasn't sure how much exactly, but he was definitely short at least a ten.
Puggy looked to his right. Eddie and Snake were both looking at the TV, looking interested, like it was showing naked women, instead of pickup trucks.
"Hey," said Puggy.
Eddie and Snake kept staring at the screen.
"Hey," repeated Puggy.
Snake kept staring at the screen. Eddie turned his head to look at Puggy, a hard look.
"You got a problem, chief?" he said.
"Gimme it back," said Puggy.
"What?" said Eddie, screwing up his face, trying to make an expression like he had no idea what Puggy meant, but overdoing it.
"I said gimme it back," said Puggy
"What the fuck're you talking about?" said Eddie. Now Snake was looking, too, both of them starting to turn toward Puggy on their stools.
Puggy knew, from experience, that this was one of those situations where he could get hit. He knew he should give it up. He knew that, but, shit, ten dollars.
"I said," he said, "gimme_._._."
Eddie's punch didn't hurt so much, because he was still a whole stool away, and the punch caught Puggy on the shoulder. But when Puggy fell over backward to the floor, that did hurt. Then Snake was coming around from behind Eddie, stomping with the heel of his flip-flopped foot, trying to get Puggy in the face. Puggy curled up and pressed his face in where the bar met the floor, not planning to fight, just trying to ride it out. The floor smelled like puke.
Snake was making his fourth attempt to stomp Puggy's face when there was a ringing "bong" sound and Snake went down. This was because the bartender had hit him in the head from behind with an aluminum softball bat. The bartender had never played baseball, but he had a nice, efficient swing. He preferred the aluminum bat because the wood ones tended to break.
With Snake down, the bartender turned to Eddie, who was backing toward the door, hands up in front of him, the peacemaker again.
"Listen," Eddie said. "This ain't your problem."
"YOU are problem," said the bartender, taking a step forward. You could tell he expected Eddie to run, but Eddie didn't. This is because Eddie could see that Snake --who could take a bat to the head better than most --was getting to his feet behind the bartender, picking up one of Puggy's longneck beer bottles. The bartender didn't see this, but Puggy saw it, and for no good reason he could think of, even later, he rolled over and kicked out hard, his left foot catching Snake's right leg just above the ankle. The ankle made a cracking noise, and Snake, saying "unh," went down again, dropping the bottle. The bartender spun back around, saw Snake on the floor, spun back to see Eddie going out the door, then spun back to Snake again. Leaning over, holding the bat like a shovel, he gave Snake a hard poke in the ribs.
"Out!" he said.
"He broke my ankle!" said Snake.
"l break your head," said the bartender. He gripped the end of the bat, cocked it for a swing, waited.
"OK OK OK," said Snake. Using a stool for support and keeping an eye on the bartender, he pulled himself up, then hobbled to the door. When he got there, he turned and pointed at Puggy, still lying under the bar.
"When I see you," Snake said, "you're dead." Then he pushed open the door and hobbled outside. Puggy noticed that it was dark.
The bartender watched Snake leave, then turned to Puggy.
"Out," he said.
"Look, mister," said Puggy, "I_._._."
"Out," said the bartender, gripping the bat.
Puggy got to his feet, noticing, as he did, that he had peed his pants. He looked on the bar. His voting money was gone, all of it. Eddie must have grabbed it while Snake was trying to stomp him.
Reprinted from Big Trouble by Dave Barry by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Dave Barry. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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