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Whistling for Dixie 

The bar was the kind that had a string of Christmas lights half-falling into the back row of bottles. Some of those bottles held liquor that hasn't been in business for seven or 10 years. This made that liquor half as old as the string of Christmas lights and the lights half as old as most of the jokes.

"This Dixie goes good with beer," I said, draining my glass with a belch.

"I order Dixie whenever I can find it," Yogi proclaimed. "We all gotta do something to help our city, right? Well, I can't exactly do the Habitat for Humanity thing, right? Hey, hon. Another round of Dixie over here."

The barmaid paid us not the slightest heed. She seemed to be paying most of her heed to Jimmy Chimichanga, who was throwing back his shot glasses of Jim Beam with a Budweiser chaser. She called them "Budbeams," and Jimmy thought it was a real cute name, mostly because he thought she was a real cute barmaid. She was a blonde with her left arm in a sling. After a time, she went to the other end of the bar to wait on a big guy with scraggly red hair. He seemed to think she was a real cute barmaid, just like Jimmy did.

"Geez, she's throwing herself at that redhead like she was a Frisbee," I observed.

"It's only about the money," Yogi observed. "Know how she's like a rubber? Because before their job is done, they gonna probably be in your wallet."

"You can't talk about my girl like that," Jimmy Chimichanga protested. "That's wrong."

"You've only been going out for approximately a week and a half," noted the Professor. "She can't claim Girlfriend Immunity yet."

"I seen her at Amadee's last Monday night," reported Yogi. "Who is her personal physician? It must be Elvis's doctor. She looked rigged for sailing."

"You got it all wrong," Jimmy argued. "She looked like that because she's got a lazy eye."

From the looks of her in them orange slacks Monday, she's also got a lazy leg," responded Yogi. "Maybe two."

"That color is tangerine," informed Jimmy. "It makes everything look bigger than it really is."

"Prof oughta paint his apartment tangerine," I suggested. "It needs to look bigger than it really is."

Prof ignored my critique of his lodgings to ask Jimmy how his fresh-egg girlfriend got her arm in a sling. Jimmy shrugged. "I dunno. I asked her once and she started to tell me, but it was a super-long story so I sorta stopped listening. Wait, here she comes. Ixnay."

She came back waving her sling in the direction of the redheaded guy at the opposite end of the bar. "See him? He gets one hair cut a year," she said. "He gets his head shaved on Ash Wednesday and then he just lets it grow back."

"Oh, he's peachy keen," grumbled Jimmy. "He taught Davy Crockett how to shoot. He taught Jim Bowie how to sharpen knives."

The barmaid said a word that little boys of a certain age spray-paint on a wall somewheres. ...

"Can we have a round of Dixie here?" inquired Yogi. "You got any Dixie left? We gotta help our city rebuild."

She said that word again.

Just then Roach comes in the bar with this grungy-looking kid carrying one of those weeney dogs. The kid's name is Dane and he is some relative of Roach's, step-nephew or something. That's really how we found this dive, how Jimmy Chimichanga found his girlfriend-with-a-sling. Roach hung out here and Yogi had come here looking for someone to hook him up with some discounted jewelry. Roach was clearly such a man.

"Yeah, I know this guy did some looting," Roach said admiringly. "He stole this truck and drove it through the front door of this jewelry store. BAM! Like that little cook says on TV ­ what's his name, Emile? BAM!"

So Roach and Yogi went over by the video-poker machines to do some whispering. Dane pulled up a barstool.

"I got Uncle Roach a job today," he bragged.

"Did you happen to procure yourself one while they were just lying around?" sweetly queried the Professor.

"Hey, I been driving these trailers around under contract with FEMA since Thursday. And Uncle Roach's gonna be my assistant. He'll ride shotgun, and when I go to park, he'll get out and guide me in."

"Highly skilled labor," remarked the Prof. "No wonder FEMA's in trouble." I asked Dane about his weeny dog.

"I live in the Quarters," he explained, "and there's lots of grunge kids there who keep dogs with them in case they get hassled by the cops. Nowadays cops have to fill out extra paperwork on the dog, plus drive the dog to the pound, so why bother?"

The Professor turned back to try again to get us refills. But the barmaid had headed to the other end of the bar, where she was shaking poker dice with the redhead.

Prof held his empty Dixie over the ashtray and poured the last two drops in it.

"So why bother?" he asked rhetorically. .. .


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